World of Julie

World of Julie

Mom on the edge.

World of Julie RSS Feed

Eli is 4! Annotated birthday CD list

Today Eli is finally 4. Three seemed to last forever, I tell you. I can’t believe there’s still another year-and-a-half until he goes to kindergarten. I feel like he’s going to have a full beard by then.

He’s been on a bit of a tear lately, pulling the same outrageous behavior he pulled before Christmas. Basically being awful and knowing it. I think it’s the build-up, and the knowledge that he has to wait just a little more to get presents (he was most excited about getting the Mighty World Fire Brigade from my mom).

He was fairly dictatorial about the songs that went onto his birthday CD this year. He demanded that they all be “loud” and that his “band could dance to them” (no, I don’t know exactly what/who is band is). Yesterday, after I had the CD pretty much done, he listened to it and axed half the songs, so I had to scramble to come up with some new ones that met his requirements (or end up giving everyone a 20-minute CD).

Here’s what made the cut:

1. Railroad Man – Eli. This is Eli singing a song that Laura sings in By the Shores of Silver Lake. Turns out that our completely-made-up tune is a lot more exciting than the actual tune.

2. Let Them All Talk – Elvis Costello. Eli says about this song: “I love it so much I can’t stop dancing!”

3. Iko Iko – The Belle Stars. This was on a mix tape that an old college friend (Krista Weaver, where are you?) made for me a million years ago. Eli heard it and was instantly smitten.

4. Song of the Troll – Eli and Henry. From the Gnomes book, as you all heard yesterday.

5. Ford Econoline – Nanci Griffith. A rockin’ song about a big van. Can’t go wrong in Eli’s book.

6. Paddy on the Railway – Daisy Nell and Cap’n Stan. This is one of two songs that Eli wanted but I initially resisted because they’re on other birthday CDs. But after he nixed a bunch of songs yesterday, I went ahead and put them on.

7. Old Man Tucker – Eli and Henry. Another song from Little House. I think this one may have been in Little House on the Prairie. Henry dutifully memorized all the words, taught it to Eli, and now they will randomly break into it, like when we were waiting for an appointment at the ultrasound place. I have no idea what the other people in the waiting room thought, but they all ignored it, believe it or not. And Henry and Eli were singing loud. My favorite part in this version is when Henry keeps singing at the end, and Eli tells him to stop, because “We just don’t sing it over and over again,” and Henry says, “Oh yeah.”

8. Old Man Tucker – C&B Media Chorus. A “real” version of the song, so people who heard track 7 know from whence it came.

9. I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad – Eli and Henry. Not surprisingly, one of Eli’s favorite songs. I like Eli’s indecision about what to sing at the beginning of this one.

10. I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad – Pete Seeger. Eli’s preferred version.

11. Whistling in the Dark – They Might Be Giants. I maintain that TMBG’s non-kid albums are just as kid-friendly as their children’s albums. In fact, my kids prefer the older, “adult” albums.

12. Mice Gingerbread – Eli. Why is this called Mice Gingerbread? I have no idea. He made up the whole thing on the spot.

13. Twist and Crawl – The English Beat. I’m not sure how he stumbled across this one, but it’s such an Eli song.

14. Town Called Malice – The Jam. Greatest Dance Song Ever.

15. Railroads Are Famous – Eli. Another improvised song, featuring some creative rhyming.

16. Happy-Go-Lucky Me – Paul Evans. A few months ago we happened to catch a funny song on “Down Memory Lane” which is probably my least-favorite local public radio show (the DJ plays songs that were hits 50 years ago this week, 40 years ago this week, etc., but he also reads headlines, and I always tune in as he’s reading something like, “Bay of Pigs a Major Concern” and it confuses me). Anyway, the song we heard sounded like the Chipmunks doing some sort of jazz scat, but a search when we got home yielded nothing. Finally I called the radio station, and the song wasn’t by the Chipmunks, but was by a rival Chipmunks group called The Nutty Squirrels. The kids loved the song, and the only place I could find it was on the “Pecker” soundtrack, and I had to buy the whole soundtrack to get the one song. Turns out the “Pecker” soundtrack is half a children’s album (like “In the Mood” sung by clucking chickens) and half completely child-inappropriate (“Don’t Drop the Soap (for Anyone but Me)”). The Nutty Squirrels song was one of the ones Eli decided yesterday he didn’t want, but “Happy-Go-Lucky Me” is one of the ones from that album that survived.

17. Anxious – The Housemartins. Basically this one was me enforcing my high school/college music tastes on my brood.

18. Stay Out of the South – Light Crust Doughboys. A surprise dark horse candidate, added yesterday morning. Every single time we listen to WMPG, Eli says, “I want this on my birthday CD” and then of course I totally forget, or the DJ never says what it is. Yesterday we were listening to South by Southwest (DJed by Portland’s very own Lincoln Peirce!), and I was starting to get nervous about Eli wanting to delete half the songs on the CD, so I payed more attention when he said he liked a song. And luckily this one was on iTunes.

19. I’m a Nut – Leroy Pullins. Another track from “Pecker.”

20. Old MacDonald – Eli and Henry. To all of you who are to receive a copy of this CD, let me now wholeheartedly apologize for this track, which goes on about six verses too many (in the great tradition of “Old MacDonald” whenever it’s sung).

21. Whammer Jammer – J. Geils Band. Another great dance song.

22. A Cowboy Needs a Horse – Fess Parker. When Dave is forced to play horsie with the children, he sings this song. For years I thought he made it up. Not only did he not make it up, but it’s even been done by Disney.

23. Vwa-pah (Zuzu Kiss) – Zuzu. You all know about Zuzu and her vwa-pahs. She really wanted to do something with the microphone, but then, when given the opportunity, would only nod at it. We finally got her to do this.

24. Foolish Frog – Pete Seeger. Eli’s most favorite song in the whole world. It’s been on birthday CDs before, but he really, really wanted it again. So here it is.

Free Valentines!

I get so sick of the Valentine thing every year. I mean, I really don’t care about it. I know Dave loves me and he knows I love him. I don’t want to spend our money on some bouquet of flowers just because Hallmark tells us to. (Though I’m always happy for an excuse for baked goods and chocolate.)

Mostly I can’t stand the enforced Valentines in school. I refuse to buy those stupid licensed character Valentines, so I force Henry to make them himself, and it’s a struggle. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? He’s hand-making 20 Valentines on a deadline. But this year Ohdeedoh came to our rescue, with a list of Free Printable Valentines. HURRAH! Just printed some out, and Henry has whipped out four in the last five minutes.

Children’s Book of the Week: Gnomes

Gnomes by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

When I was 7 years old or so, family friends of ours somehow acquired a copy of Gnomes. I honestly think I spent a good year looking at that book, ignoring everything around me, whenever we visited them. Recently it suddenly occurred to that Henry would love this too, but I was sure it would be long out of print. Not only is it still in print, but it’s been reissued. Hurrah!

I can’t even describe how completely magical this book is. It’s a coffee table book, and has a lot of pages, so not one to read in one sitting, or even to read all the way through at all. The way it’s written is like it’s a lushly illustrated research manual, ostensibly by some gnome hounds who studied the gnomes of the world and are presenting here all the information they have gathered. The full-color paintings are divine, and the level of detail is incredible. It really does make you believe that gnomes must be out there, and of course they don’t wear red caps until they get married, and live to be 500, and keep mice as pets. There are also gnome stories, and a Song of the Troll*. There’s also a topless female gnome, so be warned if that sort of thing might bug you (my own kids have seen me without clothes so many times I don’t think they even noticed the topless gnome).

*Eli has a cold, which is why he sounds like a craggy troll.

Your Weekly Zuzu

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what Zuzu is doing, and, of course, more specifically, how her hair is doing. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s now long enough for pigtails.

Although it’s funny how pigtails somehow instantly make her into Generic American Girl Child. She thinks they’re fun, though.

More avant garde and stylish, however, is when she lets Eli do her hair.

This is a look I think he calls “shove in a bunch of random barrettes.”

Random Product Endorsement: Architec Mixing Bowls

Recently I found myself with mixing bowl issues. For years we used the glass nesting bowls from Williams-Sonoma. They’re pretty and there are ten of them, so you’ve got all the sizes you need. They were great, until they started breaking. I guess at some point they just had too much wear or something, and started shattering. They’re made of tempered glass, which means that, when they break, they break into 3 billion one-centimeter-square pieces. Two of them had already broken when, last fall, the boys were at Sutswana’s and Zuzu was napping, and I was happily cleaning up the kitchen, when all I did was pick up one of the bowls from the dish rack and it exploded all over me. So I spent my two hours of kid-free bliss cleaning up tiny glass shard squares from all over the kitchen. I’d had enough.

I found some colorful plastic Kitchenaid bowls at Target, but the first set got oddly discolored after three uses, and the second set broke when I dropped one (isn’t the whole point of a plastic bowl that it doesn’t break?), and I won’t return something more than twice.

FINALLY, I found these great Architec bowls at Le Roux. They are much thicker plastic than the Kitchenaid ones are, but, even better, they’re actually sort of sculpturally interesting and attractive. When they’re all nested they look a bit like a flower about to bloom. I’ve been using them for about 6 weeks now, and I love the size and the shape. Perfect! And no more glass bits all over the kitchen and in my hair, thank you very much.

Naming Names

Children’s Book of the Week coming back soon, I promise. The next one I want to write up requires Henry to sing a song, so I just haven’t gotten around to recording him yet. (Plus I still have three more things — two small, one large-ish — to do for school, and those take priority over children’s book reviews, I’m afraid.)

So, in the meantime, you can all continue to think of good baby names for us. It has to be as awesomely cool as Zuzanna, remember. I don’t want this one to think, “How come I got the dud name?”

Dance Madness

We’ve been compiling Eli’s birthday CD. While Henry’s birthday CDs always tend toward the alt-folk-country genre, Eli has requested that all the songs on his CD be “loud” and also danceable. We’ve been testing the second factor as best we can.

Ok, so this first one isn’t so much for the dancing as to show how I get Eli to get some exercise when the weather isn’t suitable for outside play (this was on Monday, when it was pouring). He basically just runs in circles (although there’s certainly some dancing in there).

Here was a song that Eli and Henry thought needed some spoons. You can see Eli helpfully tried to give Zuzu a spoon, too, but that was not at all what she wanted. (Wow, you can barely even hear the song on this one; it’s “Happy Hour” by the Housemartins.)

And what I like best about this one (besides the fact that “Town Called Malice” is perhaps the danciest, boppiest song ever) is the fact that both Henry and Eli have created their own Peanuts character dances.

I know I’m big, but…

Yesterday a woman said to me, “Any day now, huh?” and I had to swallow and smile and say, “I’ve got four more months!” She totally backtracked and said something about, “Oh, but you’re gorgeous!” and it was all I could do not to say, “Yeah, whatever, shut up, lady.” (Instead I very diplomatically said, “Well, it is the fourth kid.”)

In other news, today is Dave’s birthday, and I’ve got the carrot cake from Smitten Kitchen baking in the oven. Once again I am Good Wife adding walnuts and raisins to a baked good, because I know he wants them.

Thank you for your patience…please stand by.

Two more weeks left in this class, and then regular blogging will resume.

Random thought of the day: if we name the baby something that starts with an A, then I can arrange the kids’ first initials to spell out HAZE. Not that there’s any need for that, ever.

More Resel

This, right here, is why I don’t understand how single parents manage. If it were just me, who would be the kids’ wrestling partner? I am no good at wrestling with the children. Any time I try I end up just hugging them and tickling them, which is not what they want at all. Or, they try to wrestle me, and I just snap, “Get off me!” and go to another room. But Dave loves it. Thank goodness. Usually when he gets home they are waiting at the door for him, ready to pounce.

This is a list of things that Henry was planning to do with Dave (and Eli) when Dave got home from work. In case you can’t figure it out, resel=wrestle. And “Blue Men” is a game that evolved from The Great Quillow that involves Henry and Eli yelling “Blue Men!” and jumping on Dave, who is acting as the giant. Dave then yells a lot and eventually falls down, screaming, “You got me!” Making Dave into butter has something to do with covering him in blankets and kneading him (the only one of these that I might personally be able to tolerate).

Follow Me on Pinterest

Follow Julie!



August 2014
« Jul