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And The Song Goes
If you’re sure to use soap
Every time that you wash
You’ll always be healthy
The germs will be crushed

I was convinced that my Top 10 kids albums from 2010 was pretty much set, but Brian Vogan has created an album you can’t ignore. Breezy, jangle-pop songs have never sounded so good.

My musical tastes were formed in the early ‘90s Seattle grunge era with Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees and Mother Love Bone/Pearl Jam leading the way. Well, fast forward just under twenty years and what do we have? Seattle leading the way in music I’m listening to – this time it just happens to be children’s music. Recess Monkey, The Not-It’s, Casper Babypants and the artist I’m about to review, Brian Vogan, all hail from Northwest. I’m not sure what’s in the water in Seattle, but I need to visit ASAP.

Vogan’s first album was a stripped down solo record, but this time he brings along “His Good Buddies” for a fuller sounding musical journey.  Sing A Little Song’s great opening track 'How to Fly' gets a boost with additional vocals from Rachel Flotard (Visqueen). '27' is the funkiest song about counting numbers I’ve heard in a long time.  The 1950s era doo-wop and finger-snapping of 'Tow Truck' had me hitting the back button over and over again.

'Wash Your Hands' is a grunged-out rock track. If you have any trouble getting your kids to wash their hands, this song should do the trick. The country-tinged 'Last Thanksgiving' is about an escaped turkey that says: “If I’m the biggest turkey in the entire state, then there’s just no way I’m ending up on a plate.” Clever, without being corny. It is something Brian Vogan excels at.

Other topics on the album are familiar to kids music: space, dinosaurs, dogs, frogs, and crossing the street, but Vogan makes them each his own.

In short, Sing A Little Song is awesome. It has everything you’d want in an album: great harmonies, great song writing, memorable lyrics and stellar production.  All those qualities make this an easy entry into my Top 10 for 2010. It’s just a great record. Don’t believe me? Listen to song samples right here.  If I was wealthy enough to offer a money-back guarantee I would. I can’t see how anyone could not like this record.

Bonus – We were lucky enough to get a copy of the new album for giveaway. Who wants to win it? Leave a comment about what bands formed your musical tastes and we’ll randomly select a winner on Sept 8th.

CD: Sing A Little Song
Artist: Brian Vogan and His Good Buddies
Audience: 3-9 yrs old and their parents
Sounds Like: Marcy Playground, IRS days of R.E.M., Toad The Wet Sprocket
Buy from: http://www.brianvogan.com/store

Track List:
1. How to Fly    
2. 27    
3. Cross the Street    
4. Tow Truck    
5. Sing A Little Song    
6. Wash Your Hands    
7. Last Thanksgiving    
8. Gray Dog
9. One Tiny Little Frog    
10. Space    
11. Dinosaurs

I’ve been a card player as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of playing Crazy 8s with my grandfather in the hospital or trying to beat my father's obvious cheating at Old Maid. Throughout grade school I was playing Speed and Speed Solitaire with my older sister. In high school, I passed the time (in and out of class) playing Spades or a semester-long tally of Rummy. In college I mastered Cribbage, and even won a couple bar tournaments.

My kids are also fascinated by the endless entertainment value from one simple deck of cards. At a rummage sale this weekend we hit a double-decker treat, a deck of cards sporting Anika's favorite: Disney Princesses! I purchased them for the fair price of 25 cents. 

The prinecss deck has as many cards and suits as a standard deck. Spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds, numbered Ace through King. What I can't understand is the pictures. Four or five princesses, dancing, standing, riding a horse, but no coherent pattern—like Cinderella on the heart cards or Belle on the clubs. The only important thing to Anika is that they are cards, they are fun and they are princesses.

She can count, but doesn't recognize her numbers yet. And she loves the numbers 5 and 14.  Our game of Go Fish goes a little like this:

Anika: Do you have a 5?

(I hand her a 5.)

Anika: That not a 5.

Me: It is a 5.

 Anika: Okay (skeptically takes card). Do you have a 5?

 Me: No, but I have a princess on a horse, does that count?

Anika: Mom-meeeeeeee.... Do you have a 5?

Me: That was my last 5, and it’s my turn anyway. Do you have a 3, or a dancing Snow White? 

Anika: Here’s a 5. (hands me a 6)

Me: Let's match princesses. Do you have an Ariel?

Anika: Do you have a 5?

Me: How about any princess looking in a mirror?

Anika: Okay, here's a 5. Now, back to the game. Do you have a 5?

Me: (Handing her an ace) Here's an ace. Can I call it a 5?

Anika: Thank you, Mommy. Hmmm.... now.... do you have a 5?





Hi, I have a 25 month little boy who is very verbal. However, he replaces "F's" with the "P" sound and the "Sh" with "T". Is it to early to be worried about this?


So glad for you that your little guy is very verbal, that is a great. I would not be too worried about the /f/ sound as it isn't typically mastered until approximately age 4, and the /p/ is a very common substitution for this sound. If your child says the /v/ sound this is a huge plus as the /f/ and /v/ are very similar sounds to say. The /sh/ sound is also a later developing sound and not typically mastered until approximately age 7, and again a /t/ sound is a common substitution for this sound. 

I will go ahead and give you some ideas on how to elicit the /f/ and /sh/ sounds and you can begin showing your son the correct way to say the sounds, if you want. 

/f/ sound: Model for your child in a very exaggerated way, that you are biting your lower lip and push out the air loudly while saying the /fffffffffff/ sound.   Have child try to make the sound as well. Then you can do the same thing and add the ending of a short word onto the /f/ sound, such as /ffffffffffffff an/ or /ffffffffff un/ or /ffffffffff oot/. If your son has a hard time biting his lower lip then put some grape jelly or like consistency on his lip and see if he can get it off with his top teeth.

/sh/ sound: Again in a very exaggerated way, push your lips out (you can even put your finger up to your lips like you are /sh/'ing someone) and push air out while saying the /ssssshhhhhhh/ sound. Again, as you did with the /f/ sound, slowly add a short word onto the /sh/ sound, /ssssshhhhhh oe/ or /ssssshhhhh y/. 

Good luck, I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any other questions. Please email your comments or questions to amy@speechtails.com or visit my website at www.SpeechTails.com. 

A day at the Zoo!

Since summer is coming to a close, Kobi and i decided to take a trip to the zoo last Friday before it gets too cold.

Talk about feeling like a kid again!

The first place we headed was for the dinosaur exhibit. The dinosaurs were animated with sound so Kobi was scared to death. As a result, we didn't stay there very long.

We walked around and saw quite a few animals that Kobi was very excited about seeing. The only disappointment was that the goats weren't out yet so we couldn't feed them.

When we were through looking at the animals, we went on the merry-go-round which we both enjoyed very much and then we went on the train. There was a little boy about Kobi's age in the car in front of us so Kobi and the little boy talked and laughed the whole time.

Since we were out and about, we decided we would go to lunch with Erica and Maile. W had a nice visit with the girls while we were having lunch and Kobi told the girls all about the animals he saw.

Interesting fact though...he calls the zoo the jungle (not sure why) and what did he tell the girls was his favorite part...the dinosaurs. What a nut but what a great day!

I thought computers were supposed to make our lives easier.  Has that happened for you yet? 

In an age when we are always on the go and wearing different hats, it's tough to remember who you are each day.  Are you the cook?  The accountant?  The maid?  The wife?  The mom?  ha ... that's right, you're all of them and more.

Have I got the perfect wine for THAT crash day!

Roogle Shiraz from south eastern Australia imported by The Grateful Palate Imports and it's parent company R Wines.

Yep, on the bottle is a picture of something out of a Harry Potter series.  It's a creature that fell between a Kangaroo and an Eagle.  Do Kangaroos and Eagles even reside in the same geographic areas??

I have a feeling that this wine MAY simbolize the coming together of an Australian wine with an American importer.  That's just my theory.

I think this would be a great wine for all mom's over 21 at the next Harry Potter themed party you attend.  If you do bring this, let me know how it goes over with everyone.

For the taste ... not bad for a wine under $10 a bottle.  I picked this up at my local grocery store for $8.99.  I would encourage you to open it and let it air for a bit.  The wine has a initial "bite" but I found the next day, it was smooth and good to go! I detected a bit of blueberry taste to this wine along with a nice berry taste.  The tartness is something you'll notice and that's why I recommend letting it air a bit before trying.

For the price, this is a stunning wine to try and I don't think you'll regret it.  If you are looking for a sweet wine, this may not be one for you.  However, this just may be that great evening break you take to try a nice warm full-bodied wine to help you remember ... you're the best!

Cheers to Roogle!

P.S. -- I had a guest blogger the other day who has been a mom, an investigative reporter and a town justice.  I'm honored to have her do a guest post on Jennifer's Review.  At 73, she's my wisest guest blogger!  Stop by and check out her post! Rye and her wash day wine

What's in a name?

It's funny when we first adopted Kobi, I worried what would people think when he called me "mommy."

Would they look and think it was strange that I have a 2 year-old son? Would they stare at us? Would I have to explain?

Here I am, 51 and old enough to really be his grandmother. It is amazing, though, how through the last 10 months I have grown not to care anymore when people hear Kobi call me "mommy."

We were in the grocery store a couple days ago and Kobi is becoming very curious about lots of things. I try the best to answer all of his questions and it was, "Mommy, what's this...?" and "Mommy, what's that...?"

We got a few strange looks, but I am so proud of this little boy and I love him so much that I just held my head high and answered his questions the best I could.

When we got the strange looks at the grocery store, I just looked at Kobi and said jokingly, "We're busted! They know you're my son."

One lady smiled and said hi to Kobi and he waved back.

This week, I turn 52 and I look forward to all the "mommys" that will come out of Kobi.

You see, I will always feel blessed to have Kobi, and our daughter Erica, call me "mom" or "mommy."

Aside from dropping a jean size this week (which is cause to celebrate in itself), I have many milestones to celebrate today.

It was about this time (10 a.m.) three years ago when I was on the phone with metroparent’s then-editor about accepting a new job as associate editor.

If you’re wondering why I remember not only the date, but the time of the job offer, it’s because it was about six hours after my daughter was born. I was in the hospital (still dazed from my 12-hour labor experience) when I answered my phone, expecting another congratulatory call. It was my soon-to-be boss telling me I got the job I applied for months earlier.

Last night I told my bedtime-resisting daughter that three years ago this very night, I was very, very tired and couldn’t sleep, either.

I was eight months pregnant, working full time and sleeping was a challenge. When my morning alarm went off that morning, I snoozed without delay. 

 Eventually, I hurried into the office and did something I never do, especially when pregnant: I skipped breakfast. It was one of the busiest days of the year at work and I had a lot of work to do. I also had to prepare to take part of the afternoon off for an early afternoon doctor  visit. I was looking forward to catching a large—very large—veggie sandwich on the way back into the office.

I ran out the door, yelling to my boss in a nearby desk, “I’ll be right back!”

My doctor gave me some unexpected news. She told me I was going to be rushed to L&D to start a labor induction because my blood pressure was skyrocketing.

I wasn’t ready for my pregnancy to be over for a variety of reasons. First, I was enjoying every minute and my due date was almost a month away. And there were so many things left to do! My husband and I had yet to pick out a baby name (boy and girl names), set up a crib or pack a hospital overnight bag. At hearing the news that we were going to have a baby, my mind raced with a growing to-do list, and I wanted lunch so badly that a tear came to my eye.

The doctor said I couldn’t eat in case I had to have a C-section (which I didn’t end up having). When she left the room, I thought I'd try the nurse. Sadly, I received the same answer.

12 hours later, my 7-pound, 5-ounce daughter entered the world—and it was only minutes later when my sister snuck in some Chex Mix into my room.

Four hours after that, I re-connected with a dear friend, who surprised me in the hospital with a baby gift. Prior to that day, we had a disagreement about something I can’t even remember, but we hadn’t spoken in months. And she was my first visitor.

Two hours after that, my job offer came in.

September 14th was a whirlwind of a day, changing my life in more ways that I ever could have imagined‑and all for the better.

It was that day I learned how instantly and deeply I could love someone who I didn’t know much about (yet). If someone told me then I would love her even more than I did at that moment, I would have told that person they were wrong because it’s not possible. But as it turns out, it is entirely possible. 

Today, I’m so thankful for my daughters, their health, my job and last, but definitely not least, my friends (especially the ones who can see the big picture of friendship through a "talking strike").

ATSG On The Air

I was asked to be on the radio this past weekend to talk kids music and hopefully you’ll be hearing more of it in the future. Erik Bilstad the Sunday host of Wisconsin’s Weekend Morning News on Newsradio 620 WTMJ noticed that I wouldn’t stop talking about kids music. Intrigued, he was kind enough to offer me an additional outlet to let parents know about some great children's music available to them.

If you missed it, here is how it sounded.

In the coming weeks, I’ll focus on individual artists or albums and talk about them on the show. It won’t be every week because the Packers pre-game for noon kickoffs starts at 9am and shortens the morning show. When I find out when they are going to air, I'll post it on Twitter.

Thanks again to Erik Bilstad for asking me to come on the show.

Pom-pons ready? Okay…Go!

“Our backs ache!  Our skirts are too tight!  We shake our booties from left to right!”

Can you imagine how cute that would be coming from your six-year-old – with little motions, nonetheless?  Or…maybe not.

That, in fact, is a real cheer performed by real six-year-old cheerleaders someplace in Michigan.  However, one of the cheerleader’s moms didn’t think it was cute.  In fact, she raised her objections to the cheerleading coach, who had her speak with the cheerleading league’s general manager, who in turn, had her speak with the cheerleading association.  When that didn’t have the desired effect, the parents talked to local media.

In the end, the rump-shaking six-year-old in question was tossed off the team.  And now, the parents would like an apology.


At the risk of sounding like a prude, I’ll say right off the bat that I’m not comfortable with the whole notion of a bunch of little girls chanting about the movement (no pun intended) of their booties – and I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable with GG turning into a tiny Rump-Shaker.  But it seems that there were a few options here:

#1.  Talk to the coach (as they originally did)

#2. Have the child sit out when the cheer was performed (an option offered to them, but declined).

#3. Remove the child from the team

None of the above happened because they were expecting that the cheer be nixed from the repertoire altogether.

Hmmmm…My point here isn’t about the rightness or wrongness of the booty-shaking in question.  It’s more about what we want to model for our kids.  There’s a difference between taking a stand on convictions and being a brat.  However well intentioned (and they do seem like nice people), I think these parents showed their little girl that if things don’t go exactly the way you want, it’s okay to throw a fit and expect something positive in response.

And there’s nothing cute about that at all.

No musician will ever top Stevie Wonder performing Superstition on Sesame Street. But Sesame Street usually does a pretty good job of bringing in good musicians to perform. Feist from a couple years ago is a perfect example. Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Paul Simon and countless others have all performed on the show.

Since my daughter is on a hardcore Elmo/Sesame Street lovefest right now, it was hard to ignore this new Sesame Street video featuring Will.I.Am from Black Eyed Peas, so I felt like sharing. It's helping launch the 41st season of Sesame Street premiering next Monday the 27th. Enjoy.

In other random news, I'm trying to convince my wife to dress our daughter up as #13 on this Star Wars related costume list for Halloween. Her initial reaction is unprintable on this family blog.

Why Stay at MMS

There is a new gadget out there from France that is creating quite the buzz.   Ha ... actually it may be a literal buzz!

The Fill'er up wine tank!  Yep, you've seen the single serve wine dispensers before or maybe you've even seen the bottle vending machines .... but this one is even more interesting.

(Photo Credit: reserves-precieuses.fr )

The site is in french and while I get some words, the important ones are it's economical, eco-friendly and practical.  So much for my french classes in school ....

How it works?  Bring in your sealable container, select your "grade" of wine, fill up your container and print the receipt with your bill to take to the cashier.  The "grades" of wine are: White, Red and Rose.  Super easy ... and I don't see a size limit to the container!! 

Sadly, this product is only in France for now ... it may be some time before we see these pop up in our area ... but then ... you never know....

Cheers to french entrepreneurs!

For wine tasting notes ... okay I really don't do tasting notes on my blog ... but for some extra wine stuff ... stop over to Jennifer's Review!

 In anticipation of her first taste of food, I’ve been making and freezing baby food for my daughter, Eden, for a few weeks now.

 At 5 months, she watches us eat so intently. She knows she’s missing out on something good. She wants to try it, she reaches for it, but I’m trying to hold out for her 6-month “birthday.”

 Last week, her determination won over my insisted food plan. Here’s how it happened:

 As a special treat, sometimes Anika (3) and I will have dinner in the living room floor, picnic-style on a beach towel. On this night, Anika dropped a big dollop of honey mustard on the beach towel we were sitting on.

In the time I could spin around and turn back, there it was: her first taste of food, just days after she turned 5 months old. Eden had rolled over and shoved the towel into her mouth. 

I grabbed the beach towel out of her mouth. Mustard was in her hair, her hands and her mouth. She looked at me, smiled and let out a big baby laugh with her mustard breath.

 I got the message loud and clear. The next day I started her on tastes of her own fruits and vegetables—the condiments will have to wait, though.

And The Song Goes
Just give me your hand, some days I hold it
Some days I need help up from the ground
Just give me your hand, this friendship’s golden.
I just like to know you're around.

Kid-Hop? You better believe it. You may have some preconceived ideas about hip hop music for kids. Those should all disappear with one listen of Underground Playground. Lots of children’s music is engaging, relatable and entertaining. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s kid-hop is challenging, empowering and extremely entertaining. The messages in the songs are not dumbed down for the kids. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a trip back to old school hip hop: positive party jams about real life. These just happen to be from the perspective of a child.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is family project, often featuring 23 Skidoo’s daughter Saki (aka MC Fireworks) dropping rhymes and his wife Brooke on vocals to sing the hook. Underground Playground brings in a laundry list of guest musicians to play the banjo, horns, vocals, ukulele and turntables, giving each track its own unique vibe.

The album comes out of the gate swinging. ‘Road Trip’ is a bouncy, ska-flavored track about vacations in the car with the family, with lyrics relatable to parents and kids alike: “Us kids are always good, OK I lied, sometimes we yell like ‘dad she’s on my side.’” It reminded me of family trips we used to take with my brothers and sister piled in our station wagon.

‘Secret Handshake’ is a piano driven track that will have you headbobbing along.  A ukulele has never sounded funkier than it does on the track ‘Hula Hoop Soup.’ ‘Speak The Truth’ features Gift of Gab from Blackalicous and is about what happens when you lie instead being honest. Not your traditional kids’ music topic, which makes Underground Playground such a breath of fresh air.

I’ll be honest, the video for '13 O’Clock' kind of haunts me like Pink Elephants on Parade from Dumbo. Not scary? Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s video for the song 'Chase the Rain'

Also check out videos of songs from their previous album: Gotta be Me and Family Tree, which is awesome simply for the line dropped by his daughter “my style is kinda preschool

The closing track, 'Never Stop Asking' is aimed directly at parents: 'Hey kid you're my favorite child to play with, lets make this playground into a spaceship and grab mom then blast into outer space and stay there until the year runs out of days. keep teaching and I'll try to learn your lessons alright, just know I'm a proud pappa for the rest of my life." I love that last line.

Still not convinced? Listen to a couple more songs on their Sprockster page. The album is geared towards older kids, roughly between the ages of 5-10. At nearly 60 minutes, it is longer than your average kids CD and the album would be fine a couple tracks shorter. I highly suggest giving this album a chance. I think you'll be surprised by your reaction, along with how your kid reacts.

As always, we’ve got a copy to give away. Just leave comment below about your favorite old School Hip Hop artist.

: Underground Playground
Artist: Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Audience: 5-10 yrs old and their parents
Sounds Like: A mix between Boogie Down Productions and Biz Markie.
Buy from: http://www.secretagent23skidoo.com/

1. Road Trip
2. Mind Over Matter
3. Secret Handshake
4. Opposite Day
5. Speak The Truth (Featuring Gift Of Gab)   
6. Once Upon A Rhyme
7. Sticks And Stones
8. Wildlife
9. Ride The Butterflies   
10. Chase The Rain
11. Sky Music
12. Bored Is A Bad Word
13. The Whalephant
14. Hula Hoop Soup
15. 13 O'Clock
16. Never Stop Asking   

Being a high-risk pregnant mama makes you busy.

It also gives you a fun little window to peek through every month or so.

Not only do I have the standard once-every-four-week appointments with the baby doctor group, but each appointment is longer and more involved than that same appointment with Oliver. And, add to it that I’m a Stay-at-homer, I have to wrestle with my mom’s busy schedule to make sure that she is available to watch the Ollie while I’m tested and poked and prodded and listened to and whatnot.

Like, my last appointment, my 24-week appointment. With Ollie, it lasted maybe 20 minutes. Had he not been so dramatic in his appearance, I would probably be able to bring him along for all these doctor visits. Blood pressure taken, Doctor found the heartbeat, I was asked if I had any questions, and I’d be on my way. Easy-peasy.

With Little Brother here, I was gone for 2 1/2 hours. Yeah, no way I’m bringing Ollie along for a marathon appointment like that. I don’t want to make all the soon-to-be-moms in the waiting room wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into.

But I kinda love that, the detail work that’s happening this time.

Starting with this last appointment, we are getting into that scary time when things starting going downhill for Ollie, and my doctor group really wants to keep a close eye on my insides to make sure we’re not heading down any slippery slopes.

So I get an ultrasound every four weeks. They check for growth patterns and blood flow and movement and fluid levels all the things that Little Brother should be doing.

And he’s passing all his tasks wonderfully.

And he still has his boy-parts.

And, he’s apparently tall.

While the ultrasound tech was measuring him, she asked where he landed on the size charts last time. He was either at the 49th percentile or the 51st percentile, I couldn’t remember. But she’s looking at his head and hmmmm’s, and then she measured his belly and hmmmmm’d some more, and then she measured his femur bone length and finally asked:

“Is there anyone in the family who is exceptionally tall?”

I guffawed so hard, Little Brother danced around on the screen.

"Uh, yeah. His dad is 6′ 7″.

“ooooooohhhhhh! (laughs) That explains it, then!”

She was concerned about Little Brother’s size, he’s measuring about a week-and-a-half ahead. At 23-nearly-24 weeks, he’s measuring at a 25-weeker. And in the 91st percentile for size. And, so much for being “Little Brother,” at 1 pound, 11 ounces, his weight is already estimated to be more than Ollie at birth.

It’s hard to imagine a baby being 1 pound, 11 ounces and that’s bigger than Ollie.

Big doesn’t equal bad, though. At least not yet. It could be that, with my blood thinners and everything in good working order, I just grow big babies, or it could be that we caught him in the middle of a growth spurt and next time he’ll be back in the middle percentile. Next appointment, I get tested for gestational diabetes, which would suck to have developed, but that can be a reason for a baby’s bigness.

Either way, I may have been here before in terms of weeks-along, but I’ve never carried a baby this size before. We’re in our no-man’s-land again; I feel like a first timer.

Hard to believe that I’m already as far along as I am. And every appointment is so reassuring that I can grow healthy babies, I just need a little help. As we get further along into the pregnancy, my fears of having another micro-preemie are starting to fade and are being replaced by excitement to meet Little Brother.

At the end of 40 weeks, though, he may be the size of a toddler.

The Reason for the Wheezin'

I woke up with a raw, searing hot throat.  Then I heard what sounded like a pre-pubescent Peter Brady and realized that it was my own voice, followed by gasping, wheezing coughing fits.  Short story: what had begun as an innocent little throat tickle had morphed into a full-blown cold.  The timing for this was awful: not only was it the weekend, but the very day I scheduled to sing two songs for our niece’s wedding.

Nurse Jamie buttered me down in some leftover Vick’s Baby Rub; then I tried a steamy shower, followed by Chloroseptic throat spray, daytime cough syrup and lots of cough drops.  Truthfully, I was afraid of ruining the most important day of my niece’s life -- not to mention embarrassing myself -- and was thinking about bailing.  In the end, we hid my hoarseness by having the organist sing the higher-keyed soprano song while I sang the other, lower octave one.  Just to cover all bases, the organist had a back-up microphone ready in case my voice petered out.  She didn’t have to, and a minor disaster/embarrassing moment was averted. 

Little did I know the dilemma would be repeated only hours later.

During the reception that followed, GG said she wanted to sing “Sweet Dreams” for karaoke, so she and Jamie went to the deejay and signed up.   She came back and planted herself beside me; but she was very solemn and oddly quiet.  “What’s going on?” I asked.  “Well…I don’t think I want to sing.  Can’t he just cross my name off the list?”  She was nervous and wanted to bail.  Now, GG’s a great singer, and I knew that she could sing the song well.  So what was I to do? Go all Toddlers & Tiaras Stage Mother on her and make her sing; or cut the kid a break so she didn’t have to feel what she was feeling?

I tried something in between.

 “Where do you feel nervous?”  She pointed to her tummy.  “It’s booming in there.”  I told her that I feel my nervousness in my arms and hands. “In fact,” I went on, “when I was singing today, I was so nervous that the music I was holding was shaking like this” as I imitated how badly I was shaking.  Her eyes widened.  Then I asked her if I sounded nervous. “No.”  I told her that everyone gets nervous and that people feel it in different ways, but nerves shouldn’t stop us from trying.  I reassured her that once she started singing, the nerves would probably go away.  She agreed to sing...as long as I went with her. 

The plan was for me (like the organist) to “jump in” if she was too unsure (even though I knew my voice was shredded, and that there was no way I could help her if she needed me).  GG’s name was called and the two of us took the long walk up to the waiting mic, which she took in hand.  Meanwhile, I felt the nerves creep down my shoulders to my forearms and hands.  It'd make a great wonderfully dramatic story if I could say that she tentatively started to sing, but no, GG dug right in and channeled her inner Annie Lenox; and by the time she finished, (without any assistance from me), the crowd was on their feet.

You know, I think everything happens for a reason, and as much as I hated the timing of its onset, that nasty cold helped me connect with GG in a different way and get her through what could be the start of a big singing career. (Well, I can hope, can’t I?)

FYI: If you’re having a reception, reunion or other special event and need deejay services, check out Sweet Sounds of Music!

Kobi meets the family!

We finally got a chance to take Kobi home and meet my family, who live in South Dakota,  last week.

It was better than either Mark or I could have imagined. Kobi was met by my mother, sister, nephew, niece and great niece. He was given lots of hugs and kisses and made to feel right at home. They even made sure they had fruit snacks on hand which are Kobi's favorites.

The next day we took Kobi to Custer State Park and he watched the adults feed the donkeys. It was a bit intimidating for him. After wards we went to Piedmont and Kobi got to meet Aunt Dorothy and cousin Darcy. My aunt had cookies and that was a big hit with Mark, Kobi and my great niece Bailee.

The following day Kobi met Aunt Shirley who lives in Hill City so he got to see lots of animals on the way including wild turkeys on the highway. My Aunt Shirley has a swing set outside for her grandchildren so Kobi played on the swings and sat in the wet grass to pet the cat and dog.

We had the chance to take Kobi to Reptile Gardens and I think that was the highlight of the visit for him. He saw lots of crocodiles, snakes, turtles, prairie dogs and tarantulas. Every cage he saw with an animal in it was a thrill for him.

The last day there, we took grandma to McDonald's for breakfast because like Kobi that is her favorite place for breakfast. While at McDonald's Kobi proceeded to tell us that was his grandma and he wasn't going to share her. Try explaining to a 2 year old that sharing a grandma is a good thing.

It was hard for us to say good-bye and Kobi was determined that grandma was coming home with us to Wisconsin and my niece Chris as well but he finally let them go and cried for a bit. We then told him we were going to stop in Faulkton on the way home and he could meet Aunt Sharon and Uncle Morris so he was content. Like everyone else, they made him feel very welcome.

It was a great trip and now we have the joy of trying to explain to Kobi why he can't go see his relatives every day. He has learned that when he gets scolded or in trouble and asks for grandma that she can't come running to protect him. He misses them a lot.

I just want to say thank you to all my family for making Kobi feel like part of this family. He is a very lucky boy!

My cousin Darcy and I already have plans to take him to Storybook Island next summer. I can't wait. Thanks Darcy!

Pumpkins, Music, Stories, and More

Kick up your heels and dance along as we celebrate the season with music, crafts, and fun for the entire family!

Central Library
Saturday, October 2
10 a.m.-1 p.m.

The Chickadees
10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 noon

Fox and Branch
10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

Visit the Havenswood National Forest learning station.
Explore Milwaukee Public Museum learning stations featuring live frogs from the new exhibit, "Frogs, a Chorus of Colors".
Select a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.
Sip some apple cider after you decorate a pumpkin cookie.
Enjoy stories in the story nook and entertainment on the reading steps.

Fall harvest fun continues at neighborhood libraries with activities for the whole family.

Monday, Oct. 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Fox and Branch

Center Street
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2-3 p.m.
Fox and Branch

Saturday, Oct. 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Fox and Branch

Monday, Oct. 18
Special Harvest Celebrations during all Kids Clubs:
3-3:45 p.m. - 3rd-5th Grade
4-4:45 p.m. - K-2nd Grade
6-7 p.m. - Teens

Villard Avenue
Monday, Oct. 25, 5:30-7 p.m.
Fox and Branch

visit our website for more information www.mpl.org

Alright, so I'm woefully behind on reviews. Those are coming soon, I promise. Reviews of The Ditty Bops, Casper Babypants, Matt Clark, Buckwheat Zydeco, Frances England and some cool American Sign Language DVDs. But I need to play catch up on some items that deserve to be mentioned.

First off, yesterday the Laurie Berkner Band released its new DVD, called "Let's Hear It For The Laurie Berkner Band." It has 16 dance-along music videos that you've seen on Nick Jr. and Noggin. Check out the track listing and pick up a copy here. It's roughly 44 minutes long, which should be just long enough to keep the kids entertained on a drive across town. Outside of the nearly three-minute commercial at the beginning for Nick Jr., I really liked the DVD. My 17 month old can't get enough of Lauruie Berkner.

Here's the video for "Victor Vito"

What else is new? The awesome Flannery Brothers have a new CD coming out and they released a video for their song "Pirate or Parrot."  A full review of their new album is coming next week.

Great music for a great cause - Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti is another must have. It is a 'who's who' compilation album of kids music, with the proceeds benefiting the Haitian People’s Support Project and their long-standing work to help the people of Haiti. Please, give it a spin.

As an Omaha native, one of my favorite bands from my hometown is The Faint. They're appearing on the new season of Yo Gabba Gabba. Check out a rough version of their song Teach Me Teacher.

This Sunday morning I'll be back on Newsradio 620 WTMJ to talk about kids music. I just haven't decided which album to talk about.

Lastly, for some reason our blog software doesn't allow me to have a 'blogroll' in the right hand column. So here's a brief list of my favorite childrens bloggers who are million times better than I am.

Out With The Kids
Gooney Bird Kids
Spare The Rock, Spoil The Child

There is no hiding that one of my favorite childrens artist is Justin Roberts.(see my review from June) His latest album includes this Halloween gem, 'Trick or Treat'. Enjoy.

Trick or Treat SINGLE by JustinRoberts

Here are the lyrics to follow along with

Trick or Treat

C’mon mom the clock says 4
And I’m ready to hit every door
On this block in this town in this city
Watch out cause it might not be pretty

And I don’t know if this bag is big enough
To carry all this delicious stuff
Last year the bag was heavy as bricks
My baby brother ate too much of it and he got sick

Everyone’s outside, bags are open wide
Cause we’re ready to trick or trick or trick or trick or
Falling leaves will soar, we’ll go door to door
Cause we’re ready to trick or trick or trick or trick or

My brother can’t see at all with his new mask on
He’s just weaving through the neighbor’s lawn
I’m up the stairs so I ring the bell
What’s on the other side nobody can tell

My mother’s watching us from the front sidewalk
My brother’s nervous so he can hardly talk
But I’m just a ghost in an old bed sheet
When the door opens I yell trick or trick or trick or trick or

The sky is getting halfway dark
My bag’s up to the halfway mark
Hurry up there’s treasures on display
Pumpkins will light the way

I ’ve got so much candy in this bag it’s gonna last until November or December
January, February, March or April (April)
January, February, March or May or June or maybe April (April)

When I get home I pour it all on the table
Rearrange it by the color or label
My brother stands on the chair cause he’s shorter
Put every piece in alphabetical order

Suzy’s dad’s a dentist and he makes her trade her candy in for fruit
But there ain’t no substitute