tunes for tots

p>For the past few years, we’ve been building a collection of cool music for kids. Usually, we’d buy the CD in question mostly because an artist we like had something to do with it–but we also know that most children’s music is maddeningly terrible, so the more of a head start we give ourselves on staving off the inevitable pile of crap, the better.

Here are a few of our favorites so far. Most of them are worth owning whether or not you have kids (which, by the way, is my primary criteria for a good album of children’s music):

Jason Falkner – Bedtime with the Beatles

Falkner, a member of late-and-lamented bands such as Jellyfish, The Grays, and The Three O’Clock, is a giant on the modern power-pop scene, which means most people have never heard of him or anything he’s been a part of. That’s a shame, especially with regards to this lovely album. It’s exactly what the title makes it sound like–instrumental versions of Beatles classics, slowed down to lullaby speed. I love this record, and our little bean will be hearing a lot of it. For added excitement, you can choose between the pink or blue cover!

Various Artists – For the Kids

VH1 has always been MTV’s dorky kid sister, and in recent years its programming slate has grown increasingly lame; their Save the Music campaign, however, is pretty darn cool. This was released in conjunction with the program in 2002, and it’s great. We got it for Guster’s version of the Sesame Street classic “Got To Be Clean,” but there’s so much more: Cake doing “Mahna, Mahna”; Barenaked Ladies doing “La La La Lemon”; so on and so forth. The originals are solid, too, especially Glen Phillips’ “Have A Little Fun With Me.” And it’s hard to find fault with a children’s album that includes a Tom Waits tune.

Various Artists – For the Kids, Too!

Not quite as cool as the first installment, but that’s no big deal (and mainly, as far as I’m concerned, because of Jason Mraz’s lame version of “The Rainbow Connection”). Good stuff from David Mead, Ron Sexsmith, and Matthew Sweet–and Matt Nathanson’s cover of Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee” steals the show.

They Might Be Giants – Here Come the ABCs

Our friend Rahul is a big fan of TMBG’s first kids’ album, No!, which is a little too weird for either of us. Here Come the ABCs is weird too, but in a more educational way–songs like “Who Put the Alphabet in Alphabetical Order?” instead of “I Am Not Your Broom.” I can see this CD driving me crazy at some point, but it’s hard not to like their goofy enthusiasm. The CD even includes “Clap Your Hands,” the best song from No!. Also, it beats the pants off The Wiggles. There is a Here Come the ABCs DVD, too; we don’t have it, but we’ve given it to enough children-of-friends that we hope to eventually get some trustworthy feedback on its merits.

Various Artists – In Harmony

I love this album. It was released in 1980, so my kids will probably think it’s lame, but they’ll be buckled into carseats and won’t be able to reach the controls on the stereo. We’ll skip past some of the more painfully dated songs–George Benson’s “A Friend for All Seasons,” for instance–and zero in on classic tunes like James Taylor’s “Jelly Man Kelly” and the Ernie & Cookie Monster duet, “Share.”

And speaking of Sesame Street…

Various Artists – Songs from the Street: 35 Years of Music

Everyone from my generation should have this. If you’re like me and you look back fondly on the Sesame Street of the 1970s, you will join me in having no use for the more recent stuff on this box set–the Spin Doctors doing “Two Princes” on the show, for instance, or R.E.M.’s damn “Shiny Happy Monsters.” Not to mention everything involving Elmo. As far as I’m concerned, Telly is the most recent addition to the cast; everything else is a terrible nightmare that we will all wake up from someday. Anyway, Sesame Street albums have a bad habit of going out of print, so this box set is the only place you can find a lot of the older songs. I couldn’t believe how many of these I remembered.

That’s all for now. Do you have any recommendations?

I am now convinced that we are going to have a baby.

We heard it! Even though it’s been described to me dozens of times and even though I snuck on some website and listened to one a few weeks ago, hearing our own baby’s heartbeat was pretty amazing. My eyes were watering without me even realizing it.

So, I’m not even afraid anymore. I had spent the first 2 months paranoid and doubtful, but I think all of that is behind me now. Now I just walk around with a little secret. I may not look like it, but I’m going to be a mom! It’s crazy to think that inside of me right now is something that can swallow, wiggle, and feel things. It’s even peeing! It can do all that and more, but it’s just the size of a lemon. (It has progressed from an apple seed, to grape, then a strawberry, a small lime, half a banana, and now a lemon. Sounds like a tasty fruit salad, huh?) So our little lemon is perfect. Beating at 160 beats per minute.

I am 14 weeks and 2 days pregnant. (But I tell people I’m in my 15th week because I’m impatient and it sounds farther along.)

a message from the bean

So today was the big day–the heartbeat. I guess I had it marked down as a big red letter day without really realizing it–I didn’t know I was nervous, but when the doctor squirted the jelly onto Leah and started moving that magic wand around, I caught myself holding my breath.

“Sometimes it takes awhile to find it,” she said. “It’s still pretty deep in there.” And the wand kept moving…and moving…and moving. I started to freak out a little, to imagine her telling us that she was going to go get the ultrasound machine and that it was no big deal it happens all the time don’t worry, and then:

Whup bup. Whup bup. Whup bup.

The coolest sound in the world.

Everything’s wonderful.

the coolest bed ever

So I dragged Leah to Babies “R” Us a few weekends ago. We have no experience with baby stuff at all, so I thought it would be fun just to look at the new world of expensive gadgetry that awaits us. I was certain that massive leaps had been made in baby technology since my brothers and sister were in diapers, and I was not wrong.

Most impressive to me is this thing called CRIB2QUEEN. For $800, you get a crib that turns into a twin…and then a full…no, wait, now it’s a queen!

I think other companies make them, too–they’re also referred to as “lifetime” or “legacy” beds. I know the price sounds steep, but when you consider that you’d theoretically never have to buy another bed for the kid, not only is this one of the most AWESOME INVENTIONS EVER, it’s also a bargain!

my brain froze

Maybe froze isn’t the right word. It just stopped. I was completely dumb-founded. And it doesn’t make sense really, because we had been trying to get pregnant for about 8 months. So 8 months of looking at the calendar and anxiously awaiting the end of each month, and I still wasn’t prepared for those 2 pink lines. It’s happened only twice before, when Jeff asked me to marry him, and when Angela told me she was pregnant. Both were totally unexpected and rendered me completely stupified. I acted like an idiot. My brain just wouldn’t register what was happening.

That’s how it was this time. I saw the lines and just froze. I don’t even know what I was thinking. All I could do was pace, but it wasn’t a nervous pace. It was like those times you walk into the kitchen and suddenly stop because you’ve forgotten why you were there. I just didn’t know how to get to the bed to tell Jeff. Finally I managed to climb in next to my sick and sleeping husband.

“You need to go in the bathroom, ” or “There’s something you need to see in the bathroom.” I said something like that. I was aware that those words made it sound like there was some kind of bug or something that he needed to get rid of. But after he woke up, he looked at me and he just knew.

I’m just thawing now. I’m 11 weeks and 2 days pregnant.


For anyone reading this who does not know my wife, she is one of the sweetest, most even-tempered human beings on the planet. I think probably the main reason we tend to never argue is that she’s just great at putting up with me, and BS in general.

It is for this reason that the havoc being wreaked on her emotional stability by these hormones has been so noticeable. I mean, she’s got moods all of a sudden. She’ll be cranky for no good reason, laugh hysterically, cry at the drop of a hat.

The other night, we were looking at houses online, and she was suspicious of the prices. “What kind of place can these houses be in?” she hollered.

“Hey,” I said, “don’t yell in my ear.”

Her eyes filled up. “Why are you getting so upset?”

So on and so forth. The best yet was yesterday morning, when she cried about feeling bloated, then laughed at herself for crying. I’m so glad I’m a guy.

Fellas, if you get your woman pregnant, be careful of those hormones. It’s a whole new world out there.

bein’ a dad

From one of my favorites, Loudon Wainwright III:

Bein’ a dad isn’t so bad
Except that you gotta feed ‘em
You gotta shoe ‘em and clothe ‘em
And try not to loathe ‘em
Bug ‘em and hug ‘em and heed ‘em
Bein’ a dad can sure make you mad
Man it even can drive you crazy
It’s as hard as it looks
You gotta read them dumb books
And you end up despising Walt Disney

Bein’ a dad starts to get radical
When they turn into teenagers
You gotta tighten the screws
Enforce the curfews
Confiscate weapons and pagers
But a daughter and son
Can be sort of fun
Just as long as they don’t defy you
They’ll treat you like a king
They’ll believe anything
They’re easy to frighten and lie to

Bein’ a dad (bein’ a dad)
Bein’ a dad (bein’ a dad)

Bein’ a dad can make you feel glad
When you get paperweights and aftershave lotions
Yeah it feels pretty great when they graduate
That’s when you’re choked with emotions
But bein’ a dad takes more than a tad of
Good luck and divine intervention
You need air-tight alibis
Fool proof disguises
Desperation’s the father of invention
So sometimes you take off
For a few rounds of golf
And you stay away for half of their lifetimes
The result of it all is
You’re captured and hauled up
Before a tribunal for dad crimes

Bein’ a dad (bein’ a dad)
Bein’ a dad (bein’ a dad)

Bein’ a dad can make you feel sad
Like you’re the insignificant other
Yeah right from the start
They break your heart
In the end every kid wants his mother

I hope I’m a good one. I know my child will mystify, annoy, and sometimes hate me. But fatherhood is something I’ve looked at as sort of the ultimate goal of my life, and I hope I can live up to the responsibility enough of the time.


So Leah has been reading nonstop since we found out she’s pregnant — she’s got a pile of four or five books, all of them different, all packed with information about this little creature we’re brewing.

The reading list for fathers, as you might have guessed already, is somewhat lacking.

All of the books I looked at initially were like expanded editions of the “Tips For Dads!” in Leah’s books, which all basically say, as Leah’s friend Angela puts it, “Don’t be an asshole.” You know, stuff like “Make dinner once in awhile” or “Do the housecleaning” or “Tell her she’s pretty.” Not practical in any way, and borderline offensive to the expectant father who isn’t an idiot.

This is a long way of explaining why I was so happy to find The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year, by Armin Brott — a gift from my kick-ass mother-in-law. Brott has also written a book for dads-to-be. I avoided it because of the experiences I’ve mentioned already, but The New Father is so good, I think I might go out and get the other one.