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Friday random ten – Girls’ music of 2016, part 2

More of the music from 2016 that is in my library because of my daughters:

1. Stitches – Shawn Mendes
2. Side To Side – Ariana Grande
3. Same Old Love – Selena Gomez
4. Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers
5. 7 Years – Lukas Graham
6. Sugar – Maroon 5
7. Centuries – Fall Out Boy
8. Tom’s Diner – Suzanne Vega & DNA
9. Picture To Burn – Taylor Swift
10. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

If you are familiar with “Centuries”, then you know that it liberally quotes from the main theme of “Tom’s Diner”, which I pointed out to the girls the first time they played it for me. That enabled me to talk them into also buying the Suzanne Vega song. One of Olivia’s classmates got her into “Bohemian Rhapsody”, to my delight. I already had a ripped-from-vinyl version of it in my collection, but sprung for a better-quality version from the iTunes store. The rest I’m more “meh” about than last week’s list, but whatever. They like what they like, and for the most part it doesn’t annoy me. I’m fine with that.

Friday random ten – Girls’ music of 2016, part 1

The girls got their share of music last year as well, enough to span two lists. Here’s the first half:

1. Confident – Demi Lovato
2. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
3. Mockingbird – Eminem
4. Hello – Adele
5. Brave Honest Beautiful – Fifth Harmony
6. Chandelier – Sia
7. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching – Laura Marano
8. Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae – Silento
9. Wildside – Sabrina Carpenter & Sofia Carson
10. Grease (Is The Word) – Jessie J

I’ll be honest, I like a lot of these songs. “Ex’s & Oh’s” is a great tune, though one that (I hope) kind of goes over their heads. Thanks to the girls’ insistence on watching “America’s Got Talent”, I am now familiar with the Puddles Pity Party version of “Chandelier”, which I assure you is a sentence I never expected to type. We all enjoyed the live showing of “Grease” last year, including the opening number. And of course what kind of monster doesn’t like Adele? I’ll have more next week.

Friday random ten: Ladies’ night, part 21

I took last week off from my two regularly scheduled music-themed posts because I just didn’t have it in me. They’re back this week, not because I feel better per se, but because there’s comfort to be found in both the music and in the habit of experiencing it. So here we go again.

1. Self Control – Laura Branigan
2. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching – Laura Marano
3. Cluck Old Hen – Laura Veirs
4. Four Words – Lauren Anatolia
5. Astrodome – Leah White and the Magic Mirrors
6. Break It To Me Gently – Brenda Lee
7. Steal My Sunshine – Len (Sharon Costanzo)
8. Love Letters – Ketty Lester
9. Hello Stranger – Barbara Lewis
10. I Know Things Now – Lilla Crawford

Ketty Lester went on to play Hester-Sue Terhune on the TV show Little House on the Prairie, which I watched on occasion but was never really into as a kid. I have no idea who that character was, but I always enjoy stumbling across trivia tidbits like that while checking to verify that a given artist is in fact female as I suspect from the name. I read some of one of the Little House books to Olivia when she was younger, but neither of us was into it any more than I was into the TV show in the 70s. Austin and Ally, the latter of whom was portrayed by Laura Marano, and the movie version of Into the Woods, in which Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood character sang that song, were more her speed.

Friday random ten: New music for the girls in 2015

And of course, Olivia and Audrey asked for new music last year. Not quite as much as in 2014, thanks to Olivia’s newfound love of Spotify, but still. We put the music they like (along with plenty of music I like; I’m no fool) on the hard drive for our car’s stereo system, so that’s an extra value for downloads. Here’s some of what they got in 2015:

1. Umbrella – Rihanna
2. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
3. Jealous – Nick Jonas
4. That’s How We Do – from “Teen Beach 2”
5. Worth It – Fifth Harmony
6. The Heart Wants What It Wants – Selena Gomez
7. Geronimo – Sheppard
8. Starships – Pentatonix
9. Me And My Broken Heart – Rixton
10. Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon

There are a few names that come up regularly for them – Pentatonix, Jessie J, Fifth Harmony, Kelly Clarkson among them – and a few hits from acts that may or may not ever be known for something else. Walk The Moon did an a capella version of the Star Spangled Banner before a football game I happened to be watching this season; I recognized their name and scored some points by calling the girls over to see them do it. I should note that after last year’s Katy Perry extravaganza, the girls were nonplussed to hear that Coldplay was doing the Super Bowl halftime. “They’re good,” Olivia said “but I don’t know that they’re Super Bowl 50 good.” The kid has a future in music criticism, methinks. The news that Beyonce would also be performing was met with much greater enthusiasm, which means they’ll probably deign to watch. It won’t be the same without Left Shark, though.

Friday random ten: Olivia’s Spotify favorites

We’re going to do something a little different this week and next. I’ve got a couple of pinch hitters for me, Olivia this week and Audrey the next. They’re going to be sharing their favorite songs. Here are Olivia’s top ten, from her Spotify playlist.

1. Stitches – Shawn Mendes

2. (Chloe) You Are The The I Want – Emblem3

3. Masterpiece – Jessie J

4. A Capella – Karmin and the Pulses

5. Riff Off – Pitch Perfect 2

6. Fight Song – Rachel Platten

7. La La Latch – Pentatonix

8. Love Myself – Hailee Steinfeld

9. Stronger (What Does Not Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson

10. Wild – Jessie J

She has fewer artists on Spotify than she does in her iTunes library, but she listens to her Spotify playlist a lot. Trust me on that. Honestly, I like most of these songs, so it’s all good. And now you have some idea of What The Kids Are Listening To These Days. There will be more of that to come.

Friday random ten: My year in music, part 1

Among other things, 2014 was a year in which I acquired a lot of music. Some of this was music I wanted and got for myself, but a lot of it was music that one or both girls asked for. There were enough new tunes that I’m going to break this up into two post, one for the first half of the year and one for the latter half. Here were some highlights from January through June:

1. Royals – Lorde
2. Harlem Shake – Baauer
3. Let It Go – Idina Menzel
4. Never Never – The Tontons
5. We’re Doing A Sequel – The Muppets
6. Our Lips Are Sealed – Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
7. Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
8. Can’t Stop Singing – Ross Lynch & Maia Mitchell
9. Everyone Is Gonna Love Me Now – Ingrid Michaelson
10. Born Blonde – Wild Moccasins

Here’s my annual accounting from last year. TV shows (“Can’t Stop Singing”) and movies (“We’re Doing A Sequel” and (duh) “Let It Go”) were big drivers of purchases this year, as I expect them to be for the foreseeable future. The kids also often ask for songs they hear at school, either through their Creative Movement class or from other kids (“Harlem Shake”, “Moves Like Jagger”). After our Honda minivan was totaled by a guy that crashed into me while I was sitting at a stoplight, we had a rental for a week or so that had satellite radio, and I found myself listening to some kind of new-ish, indie-ish station (I wish I could remember what it was, and looking at the station descriptions now doesn’t help) and heard “Royals” for the first time. Olivia was with me, she said she was familiar with the song and liked it, so I got it. The Tontons and The Wild Moccasins are both Houston groups whose music came up as offerings on Noisetrade, so I picked them up. We saw Ingrid Michaelson at the House of Blues in May after I discovered that my second cousin Chris Kuffner was in her backing band; he scored us some tickets, and we bought the CD she was touring in support of at the show. As for Sweet & Hoffs, I’d heard a ton of their stuff on Coverville over the years and finally decided I needed some of it. So that’s the story so far.

Friday random ten – Olivia’s year in music

Olivia’s now been an iPod owner for more than a year, and last year she got a bunch of iTunes money that she still hasn’t fully spent. Here’s a sample of the songs she has added to her collection in 2013.

1. Applause – Lady GaGa
2. Come & Get It – Selena Gomez
3. Eat It – Weird Al Yankovic
4. Don’t Stop The Music – The Treblemakers
5. Cups – Anna Kendrick
6. Roar – Katy Perry
7. She’s So Mean – Matchbox Twenty
8. Gold – Britt Nicole
9. Good Girl – Carrie Underwood
10. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen

Perry and GaGa are two of Olivia’s favorite artists. “Eat It” was added after a friend showed her the video, which she thought was hilarious. “Don’t Stop The Music” and “Cups” are both from the movie “Pitch Perfect”, which again she saw via a friend; I think she may have seen that movie at a sleepover birthday party. Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie that involves a singer barfing, which she also thought was hilarious. Nine-year-olds, what are you gonna do? “She’s So Mean” was playing on the radio as I was driving her somewhere. She asked me what the name of the song was, and since I didn’t know I handed her my cellphone, gave her the call-in number for KACC, and told her to ask the DJ. That’s another great thing about that station – you can almost always get through to the DJ to ask those questions. And now you know what The Kids These Days are listening to. In February, Audrey will be getting my mom’s old iPod as a hand-me-down, so we’ll see what kind of music she asks me to get for her. So far her tastes overlap Olivia’s pretty closely, but this will be her chance to break out. I’m sure I’ll have a report on this at a later date.

Saturday video break: The updated elements song

Surely you know Tom Lehrer’s song “The Elements”:

But seeing that video, you can also see that there have in fact been many more that have since been discovered. So what we need now is an updated elements song that includes all the subsequently discovered elements. And it should also be in atomic number order, with a digression where the periodic table splits. Fortunately, such a song exists:

I for one did not know there were now elements with three-letter symbols. You learn something new every day. By the way, it was Olivia that showed me this video. She’s in the fourth grade. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have any chemistry in school till I was in the seventh or eighth grade. Kids today, I tell you. And now, for something completely different, here is Daniel Radcliffe singing the Tom Lehrer elements song:

And you thought Hermione was the smart one.

Friday random ten: The number of the count shall be three

School starts on Monday, which will be the start of third grade for Olivia. As I did in each of the last two years, I’ve got a Friday random ten in celebration of the number 3.

1. Three More Days – Ray LaMontagne
2. The Three Sunrises – U2
3. Three Drunken Maidens – The Mollys
4. Three Cool Cats – The Beatles
5. Three Babies – Sinead O’Connor
6. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – Meatloaf
7. Three Jolly Coachmen – Flying Fish Sailors
8. The Three Fine Daughters Of Farmer Brown – Eddie From Ohio
9. Three To Get Ready – Dave Brubeck Quartet
10. Three Sinners – Austin Lounge Lizards

I’ll have to check again for the number four, but my recollection is that there were not nearly enough songs to do another list. But then, it’ll be first grade for Audrey and I can revisit the number one. Good luck in school this year, kids.

Lemonade Day

It’s time for Lemonade Day again this Sunday. As was the case last year, Olivia will be running a stand. If you’re friends with me on Facebook you can click on my page for details. Olivia will also be helping out Central City Co-Op by offering a deal to folks who buy a car wash ticket to Bubbles Express. Anyone who purchases the $8 car wash ticket (half of which supports the capital campaign of Central City), gets a FREE glass of lemonade (1 to a customer). PLUS, 20% of the profits from her lemonade sales are going to be donated to the Houston SPCA, where she hopes to be picking out her new dog soon. It’s a win-win all around.

If you can’t wait till Sunday, Central City will also be selling their car wash tickets at First Saturday Art Market in the Heights on Saturday from 11-6. This is an awesome event featuring talented local artisans, and some really good food trucks and musicians. And it’s Mother’s Day next week, right? So you need to be gift shopping anyway. Whether Mom loves art, or a clean car or pickled veggies or local coffee, you can get your needs met at First Saturday Arts Market. Hope to see you at one or both of these.

Friday random ten: Grade two

Olivia is now officially two weeks into the second grade. As I did last year around this time, here to celebrate that are ten songs brought to you by the number two.

1. Two – Ryan Adams
2. Two Bends In The Road – Ellis Paul
3. Two Brains – Trout Fishing In America
4. Two Fine People – Cat Stevens
5. Two Good Men – Woody Guthrie
6. Two Hearts – Bruce Springsteen
7. Two Janes – Los Lobos
8. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – Meat Loaf
9. Two Princes – Spin Doctors
10. Two Tickets To Paradise – Eddie Money

Somewhat to my surprise, it appears I have enough songs to do this again next year. After that, however, I’m out of luck. I suppose I can always revisit the One songs for Audrey. I’m getting way ahead of myself, however. What’s your musical accompaniment for the start of the school year?

When do you get a cell phone for your kid?

From the Department Of Things We’ll Be Dealing With Sooner Than We Think, Whether We’re Ready For Them Or Not, the “when should we get our kids a cellphone?” question.

S. Craig Watkins, author of The Young and the Digital (Beacon Press, $26.95), says deciding to get a child a mobile phone is family specific. However he has noticed that in the past five years the question has evolved from “Should I get my child a cell phone?” to “When should I get my child a cell phone?”

In 2009, 20 percent of children ages 6-11 owned cell phones, up from 11.9 percent in 2005, according to an American Kids Study by Mediamark Research & Intelligence. The MRI breakdown of cell phone ownership by ages shows: ages 6-7, 6.5 percent in 2009, an increase from 4.9 percent in 2005; ages 8-9, 17.7 percent in 2009, 10.6 percent in 2005; and ages 10-11, 36.1 percent in 2009 and 20 percent in 2005.

Within a relatively short period, our norms for kids and technology, and kids and cell phones in particular, have shifted, said Watkins, a University of Texas at Austin professor of radio, television and film.

“Kids are requesting cell phones at a younger age, so it really challenges parents, teachers and others to grapple with a whole series of situations as a result,” said Watkins.

Olivia has not brought the subject up herself, which I strongly suspect means that none of her friends have cellphones yet. I figure we have a year, maybe two, before that changes. I suppose for me the main point will be whether or not we think Olivia will be able to keep track of it – like her daddy, she can be absent-minded at times, and at least last year would often forget to bring things home from school. That hasn’t been an issue so far this year, however, so perhaps it’s not so much of a concern any more. We’ll see how much longer it is before she asks. What’s your household’s policy on the matter?

Friday random ten: Songs for Olivia

My traveling companion for the trip to New York was my six-year-old daughter Olivia. We bring the iPod Touch along on plane trips because she and Audrey can watch videos on them. (Phineas and Ferb episodes are the hot property these days.) For this trip, and for the one that preceded it in June, I put together a playlist of kid-friendly and Olivia-approved songs for their listening pleasure. Here are ten tunes from that list:

1. America The Beautiful – Ray Charles
2. Bein’ Green – Rowlf the Dog
3. Born At The Right Time – Paul Simon
4. Dancing Queen – ABBA
5. Froggie Went A Courtin’ – Bruce Springsteen
6. If I Had A Hammer – Pete Seeger
7. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants
8. Jenny Jenkins – Lisa Loeb
9. Metro – The Vincent Black Shadow
10. Take A Chance On Me – Lager Rhythms

“Born At The Right Time” is the song that was going through my head the day Olivia was born. “Froggie Went A Courtin'” is an old family favorite that my grandmother used to sing to her grandchildren. “Metro” is the first song Olivia ever expressed an opinion about. “Jenny Jenkins” – the abbreviated Lisa Loeb version of it, anyway – was something we discovered when Olivia was into watching Jack’s Big Music Show.

And then you might notice the two ABBA songs. Olivia (and Audrey) loves ABBA. In particular, they love the movie “Mamma Mia” (thanks to my father-in-law, who has a thing for Meryl Streep, not that there’s anything wrong with that), and so I downloaded a copy of the soundtrack for her. Which in the end was the only thing she listened to. And sang along to, which amused me no end.

So there you have it. What’s on your iPod that’s suitable for a first grader?

Entire song list report: Started with “Join The British Army”, by Larkin. Finished with “Juke Box Music”, by The Kinks, song #2615. That’s 17 songs, which isn’t much but then I only got my hands back on my iPod on Thursday.

Ripping vinyl report: Still on break. Check back next week.

Saturday video break: Life’s great mysteries

For those of you of a certain age, the following needs no introduction:

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even know there was an extended version of this commercial. Truly, the Internet is a marvelous thing.

In case you’re wondering, my inspiration for seeking this out was the Father’s Day present I got from Olivia:

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a smart owl.

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a smart owl.

How cool is that?

Saturday video break: Waterloo

Like yesterday’s video, this one’s been making its way around the intertubes lately.

Here’s the context, in case you’re wondering.

I posted this mostly as an excuse to note that thanks to my father-in-law’s affection for the movie “Mamma Mia!”, Olivia is (without realizing it, of course) an ABBA fan. I am greatly amused by this.

It’s magic

I’ve always been a fan of magic acts – I still remember seeing Doug Henning’s “The Magic Show” on Broadway with my dad when I was a kid – so I’m really excited about Magic!, the new exhibit at HMNS.

Running through Sept. 6, the exhibit illuminates the craft of the world’s greatest magicians, from 19th-century titan Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin through 20th-century wonders Slydini, Cardini and Houdini to today’s Las Vegas headliners, Penn and Teller.

Realizing some exhibits can be staid, museum brass wanted Magic! to “leap off the shelf,” said curator Scott Cervine. To that end, they enlisted a cadre of the city’s top illusionists to flaunt their skills on a specially built mini-stage. Visitors beware: Magicians mixing with the crowd may occasionally extract handkerchiefs from the ears of the unwary.

Creating wonder is magic’s goal, said Cervine, a Los Angeles prestidigitator and filmmaker, and museum visitors shouldn’t expect to learn how the great tricks are performed. What they will learn is the science at their core.

“You couldn’t have miracles without science — they’re two sides of a coin,” he said.

Olivia helps magician Richard Hatch with a trick

Olivia helps magician Richard Hatch with a trick

Tiffany and I attended the preview party last Thursday. The exhibits – art, video demonstrations, and all kinds of props and paraphernalia from the history of magic, including a milk bucket and wooden box that were part of Houdini’s escape acts – are cool enough, but there are also a number of actual magicians present, doing stage shows and close-up magic as well, and that really puts it over the top for me. Olivia and I visited on Saturday. Photography isn’t allowed in the exhibit, but we were there on a special tour the museum provided for a few local bloggers and their kids, and we had permission to take pictures.

Seeing magic tricks performed right before her eyes really captivated Olivia, and she wasn’t the only kid in attendance to be mesmerized by the sleight of hand.

Magician Richard Hatch prepares to bedazzle the kids

Magician Richard Hatch prepares to bedazzle the kids

She watched all of the videos all the way through, and put herself right up front for each subsequent magic act we saw. There are regular performances through the day, and a couple of magicians I wanted to see but didn’t get the chance to. I’m thinking a return visit, this time with Audrey as well, is in order. If you like magic, and especially if you have kids, check it out. More info on the exhibit, including some videos, is here and on the HMNS blog. My thanks to Erin Flis for the invitations.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us

Merry Christmas from all of us

From ours to yours, have a very Merry Christmas. I’ll have a Christmas version of the Friday Random Ten up later today, but that’ll be it till tomorrow.

Eat your veggies, kids

Texas school children don’t have sufficiently healthy diets. I know, I can’t believe it, either.

Only 8 percent of Texas teens are eating enough fruits and vegetables, a new report finds, despite efforts to stock school cafeterias with healthier foods.

Nine out of 10 American high schoolers are short on fruits and veggies, which is only a slightly better rate than their Texas counterparts, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommended daily minimum is more than two cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit.

The findings come from a 2007 national survey of about 14,000 high school students. The report’s results were culled from six questions involving whether students drank fruit juices, ate fruit or green salad, carrots or other vegetables in the prior week.

The true percentage of teens eating enough fruits and vegetables may be even lower than the survey found, said Houston child nutrition researcher Tom Baranowski.

“The fact that it’s not assessing all components of fruits and vegetables may mean it’s overestimating,” said Baranowski, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine who works for the Children’s Nutrition Research Center.


In 2004, then-Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs set a public school nutrition policy that restricted fried and fatty foods but required more healthful offerings including daily fruits and veggies. This year’s updates to the law required schools to eliminate deep-fat frying as of Aug. 1 and restrict candy sales to after school.

Still, teens have more opportunities to eat what they want, which is why the survey results don’t surprise Sonya Kaster, a registered dietician and school nutrition specialist. She also consults at The Oliver Foundation, which aims to prevent childhood obesity.

“They are more in control of what they are eating than younger children,” Kaster said of today’s teenagers.

That’s why the Houston-based foundation focuses most of its efforts on elementary students, instead of trying to persuade older kids to break unhealthy habits.

Good luck with that, because speaking from my own experience, that control is more illusory and shorter-lasting than you might think. Audrey still eats everything I send to school with her, but Olivia is much more likely to simply not eat portions of her lunch, as she knows that she’ll be getting snacks later in the day both at kindergarten from a rotating schedule of class parents, and also at after-school care. On the plus side, she’s become a fan of the school lunches, which do include fruits and vegetables, so we let her buy them a couple days a week. Not perfect, and I don’t think she eats as well now as she did in preschool when we had essentially full control over her choices, but it’ll have to do.

Bourdain on kids’ TV

Anthony Bourdain gives a rundown of what’s on kids’ TV these days, mostly stuff on Noggin and Nick Jr. We are quite familiar with most of what he and his daughter watch – Olivia in particular loves “Lazytown”, somewhat to my chagrin – but I’d recommend he expand their horizons a bit to include PBS Kids and (really) Playhouse Disney. “Super Why” on the former, and “The Imagination Movers” on the latter are both worth checking out. And I’ve got my “The Best of The Electric Company” DVDs in reserve for when the girls are a little older. Thanks to Pete for the catch.

You kids today, you don’t know what it was like

And that’s a pretty good thing, as evidenced by GeekDad’s list of 100 things your kids may never know about – things like typewriters, relying on the evening news for all your sports highlights (am I the only one who remembers services where for a fee you could call a number and get a recording with more-or-less updated scores and game results?), and having to manually unlock a car door. My girls live in a world where whatever they want to watch on TV is available to them at any time, and where they can see and talk to their grandparents on the computer. I never fully appreciated the concept of a generation gap till I started realizing stuff like that. All I can say is I like their world better.

Terrible Yellow Eyes

Please allow me to introduce you to Terrible Yellow Eyes.

What I’ve wanted to do for sometime is make a collection of paintings inspired by Where the Wild Things Are as a tribute and celebration of the book. And now with the release of the film later in the year, the world of Wild Things has opened even wider.

My goal for this project is really just that, expressing of my love for the story. None of the art has been done for any profit but has all been created out of admiration for Maurice Sendak and Where the Wild Things Are.

Over the coming weeks and months I’ll display a growing collection of works created by invited contributing artists and myself. We share a love and admiration for Sendak’s work and the pieces we present here are done as a tribute to his life and legacy.

Simply put, like a visual love letter to the book, with Terrible Yellow Eyes I am seeking to celebrate and promote the original masterwork by Maurice Sendak in the best way I know how — with pictures.

Do yourself a favor and click here and scroll down through all the contributions he’s received for this. I dare you to stop without looking at them all. There’s some truly amazing artwork in there. Both our girls love the book, and I’m thinking maybe we’ll take Olivia to see the movie. I’m sure we’ll get the DVD in any event – we already have a Scholastic DVD with an animation of the book. And speaking of the movie, go watch this Film School Rejects trailer/feature about it, which if you’re not already giddy with anticipation about, this will help you get there. Maybe between the two, MeMo will finally come to get what it’s all about

Saturday video break: The stations are alive with the sound of music

Best reason I can imagine to have trains: So you can do this in the train station.

Awesome. Of course, it helps to have a train station like that one, but still. And have I mentioned how I can’t wait to watch “The Sound Of Music” with my daughters? Yes, I have. Thanks to ‘stina for the catch.

The IR Guide to Parenting

In honor of Father’s Day, I bring you this post by Stephen M. Walt on how parenting and international relations are basically the same thing.

First off, modern realist theory focuses on the structure of the system and especially number of major powers in it. Right off the bat, this perspective can tell you a lot about the dynamics parents face as the size of their family increases. When parents have one child, the balance of power is in their favor. They can double-team the lucky kid, and give each other a break by taking turns. Life is good.

But if you have a second child the dynamics shift. If one parent is alone at home and both kids are awake, the balance of power isn’t in the parent’s favor anymore. Instead of double-teaming them, they get to double-team you. And once the kids are mobile, you learn about another key IR concept: the window of opportunity. You’re feeding or changing Kid #1, and Kid #2 makes a bolt out the front door, just like North Korea tested a nuclear weapon while we were busy with Iraq. Or you’re in the middle of a crowded department store and they each decide to head down different aisles. The potential complications of a multipolar order were never clearer the first time this happened to me.

Read the whole thing – it’s hilarious in the way that makes you laugh and wince at the same time. Thanks to Hilzoy for the link.

And since I got a request for a current picture of the girls, here’s one from Olivia’s fifth birthday party:

Olivia and Audrey

Olivia and Audrey

Happy Father’s Day!

Travis Elementary closes for a week

Travis Elementary is our neighborhood school, where Olivia will be in the fall for kindergarten. They’ve had a lot of kids absent this week, enough to close the school through Memorial Day.

The number of Travis Elementary School students diagnosed with swine flu has jumped to 12, likely the largest cluster of the new influenza virus in Texas, health officials said today. The school will be closed until May 26, HISD officials said.

Nearly 400 of the Heights-area school’s 712 students stayed home sick today, and a steady stream of parents were removing their children from school throughout the day.


It’s not known how many children are sick and how many are being kept at home as a precaution. Some youngsters have had symptoms including fevers, headaches and stomachaches.

That’s a change from earlier today when they thought they’d keep the school open while encouraging parents to keep sick kids home till they’re fever-free for 24 hours, and washing everything in sight. I have a feeling some of my neighbors are going to be scrambling for child care arrangements next week.

Friday random ten: Couldn’t stand getting metaphysical

Time for your weekly dose of random music. Ready, set…

1. Banish Misfourtune/Rabbit’s Moon – Paisley Close
2. My Manda – The Mollys
3. Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Stevie Ray Vaughan
4. Let’s Get Metaphysical – David Gilmour
5. What Are You At? – Great Big Sea
6. Something So Right – Paul Simon
7. I Gotcha – Joe Tex
8. Her Modesty – Trish & Darin
9. Variations on a Theme by Eric Satie – Blood, Sweat, and Tears
10. Sometimes A River – String Cheese Incident

Today is an exciting day at our house, as Olivia’s preschool has its gradution ceremony/party for the kids and their parents. Olivia’s been telling us for weeks about the music they’ve been rehearsing for it. I’m about to find out just what’s in store for us. She’ll continue to be at the school through the summer, but will be saying good-bye to some friends now and many more in a couple of months as most of them will be going to other schools for kindergarten. She’s eager to move up, but I know she’ll miss her friends, and hasn’t realized what that means yet. It’s going to be an eventful year, that’s for sure. None of this has anything to do with music, of course, but it is the backdrop for today. What are you listening to?

Happy Easter!

People have been telling me lately that it’s been too long since I’ve posted a picture of the girls. So here you go:

Happy Easter! And now it’s time for a nap.

Movie night of the future

So I was reading this FireDogLake post that used the movie “The Wizard of Oz” as a metaphor for the changing of the guard in Washington, DC, and it got me to thinking about how I can’t wait till my girls are old enough for that movie so I can watch it with them. I remember how much I looked forward to that film’s annual airing on TV, back in the Stone Age days when that was our only option for viewing a favorite movie. Anyway, based on the warm fuzzy feelings I got from that spate of nostalgia, here’s a list of the Top Ten movies I’m looking forward to watching with Olivia and Audrey some day:

1. The Wizard of Oz. – I just hope the flying monkeys don’t freak them out as much as they did me.

2. Miracle on 34th Street – The original, of course. I love me some “It’s A Wonderful Life”, but this one is my favorite Christmas movie of them all.

3. A Christmas Story – And this is the first runnerup behind “Miracle”.

4. Star Wars – I wonder if they’ll love Han Solo as much as Tiffany does.

5. The Princess Bride – Some of these movies are here just to ensure they get the references I make to them. Well, that and the fact that they’re great movies.

6. Better Off Dead – This one will have to wait a little longer, but that’s okay.

7. Snow White – I could pick just about any classic Disney animated movie here (other than “Bambi”, which is a movie I do not want them to watch any time soon), but we’ll start with this one.

8. The Sound of Music – Yeah, I like musicals. Deal with it.

9. It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World – We recently watched the episode of “The Muppet Show” that had Ethel Merman as the guest star. She stole every scene she played in this movie, no mean feat given the vast amount of star power it contained.

10. The Harry Potter movies – And the accompanying books will be on the list of books I can’t wait to read with the girls, along with “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. But that’s a list for another day.

So. What movies have you enjoyed/do you plan to enjoy with your kids? Let me know.