Eli Turns 8 (with accompanying soundtrack)

February 12, 2014

This guy is 8 now. He likes to say he’s part Bigfoot. Which he might be. Since his feet are bigger than mine.

It’s been a few years since we’ve done a birthday mix, but Eli had enough songs he’s obsessed with right now to fill an hour. Need a snapshot into the brain of my kid? Here you go. I’ve included links to the music and “Monty Python skits” by my own kids.

I’ll leave you to figure out which songs Eli heard on his own, and which songs he heard in our house from his mother who treats every day like it’s her college radio show.

1. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson. Yeah, ok, this song is super catchy and now I love it too. Fine.

2. Dynamite by Taio Cruz. Thank you, last year’s 4th grade talent show, for this one.

3. Something Completely Different by Henry. A Monty-Python-inspired thought piece.

4. Mickey by Toni Basil. Yeah, sorry about that.

5. Tania by Camper Van Beethoven. Good song to inspire Eli, learning fiddle.

6. Ramona’s Mustache Song by Ramona. She sang this after the boys sang their mustache song, which is number 27.

7. Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard by Paul Simon.

8. Don’t Carry It All by The Decemberists. I just blew Eli’s mind when I told him that the people singing this song also wrote Wildwood. It was a mistake on my part. Now he’ll never think I’m cool. Also, Ramona thinks this song is about cleaning up your toys. Like: don’t carry it ALL, just carry whatever you can, bird by bird, to the toy box, until it’s clean, or until you throw a tantrum and get put down for a nap or whatever.

9. Britches Full of Stitches by Eli. I share this link, telling you that Eli hasn’t been playing fiddle for that long. I love these clips for what they’ll be later, when he’s better.

10. Rudie Can’t Fail by The Clash. Eli says, “I thought this song was total nonsense and gibberish until I listened to it more.”

11. Pressure Drop by The Specials.

12. Little Red Caboose by Zuzu. I think she’s supposed to be singing? It’s more of a monotone rap, really.

13. Bad Coffee by Ed’s Redeeming Qualities.

14. I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow.

15. It’s the End of the World As We Know It and I Feel Fine by R.E.M. I already said this somewhere, but I felt like I could check of some little parenting box when I taught Eli the importance of yelling, “Leonard Bernstein!” during this song.

16. Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.

17. Finale from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Eli considers this scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks to be the finest scene in the history of movies.

18. Bonnie Tammie Scolla by Eli. Another fiddle song. Henry sings on this one.

19. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins.

20. The ABCs by Ramona. It’s like she’s learning nothing in preschool.

21. Who Shot the Bartender? by Eli and Henry. This is audio evidence of our failure as parents. Our kids think British accents, bartenders, and guns are funny. I’m sorry. (I do super love Henry’s British Lady accent, though.) (And the part where he yells, “Avocado!”) (Ok, fine, I also maybe think this is audio evidence of our parental success. It’s hard to know.)

22. Vieux Amis by Victoria Williams. Another good fiddley song.

23. Friday I’m in Love by The Cure.

24. If I Should Fall from Grace with God by The Pogues.

25. The Lovecats by The Cure.

26. Little Red Caboose by Ramona. Her version of this, 12 seconds after hearing Zuzu’s version.

27. The Mustache Song by Eli and Henry. They’re justifiably proud of making this one up.



Happy Birthday, Zuzu!

June 14, 2012

Today we fete Zuzu, who is now 4 (and also celebrate this fun brief time when, until August, we have kids who are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old). We are making cherry cupcakes today, since apparently cherry cupcakes mean birthday. For her birthday dinner she requested:

  • meatballs
  • broccoli, for the people who want broccoli
  • carrots, for the people who want carrots, not me though, make sure you put down ‘NOT ZUZU’
  • smoothies
  • berries
  • salad for the grownups
  • bread with butter.

Sounds good to me. And I’ll leave you with this, which you’re going to have to view as a rare white unicorn glimpsed in the forest (I used to say “it’s like seeing Snuffleupagus” until I found out that now everyone can see Snuffleupagus). Zuzu often picks up a book, and reads it to herself in this incredibly hilarious (to us) fashion, making up the story based only loosely on the pictures and more on what people are saying near her at the time, and whatever else might be going through her head. We all, all of us, here, love watching her do this, BUT…if she knows she’s being watched, she stops immediately. Last week I saw her reading to herself in this manner, and tried to get a video, but I was too far away, and next to the humming aquarium, so you can’t really hear her. But you can get a sense of the drama involved, perhaps. (The drama of her reading, I mean.) (Though also maybe I mean the drama of stalking my children as I hide amongst the furniture, careful not to disturb them in their native habitat.)



Ramona’s birthday recap

May 30, 2012

Here’s Ramona (and Zuzu) on her birthday, playing with her excellent new trolley bus toy that my mom got for her at the Clark. She also has a new yellow bunny from Susan and the best, softest, cutest doggie ever from Rope Swing Studio.

And what better way to celebrate a dog-loving girl’s birthday than with a dog-shaped cake? Thanks to Martha Stewart for the recipe (cake here and frosting here) and templates and to Adriane for the extra-large pastry tip.

In retrospect, this cake was a bit much. It took the better part of the day to make and, as you can see, is the size of an actual dog. Still, it was kind of fun. And yummy.

And how old are you, Ramona?


CATEGORIES: Julie, Ramona


June 14, 2011

Another birthday, just like that, and Zuzu is 3! For months — months! — she has been requesting cherry-related items for her birthday. We all laughed about it until about a month ago, when I realized I’d better do something. Alas, I never did find the requested cherry horse, cherry house, cherry car, or cherry bigstuff (whatever that is), but I did find some cute skirts and a shirt and some pretend cherry pie.

And cherries are a great excuse for a cupcake theme, of course. We went with chocolate cherry cupcakes with black cherry cream cheese frosting (thank heavens for cupcake-related blogs!), and they were amazing.

Vintage rotating musical birthday cake platter thanks to Adriane. Come to think of it, piping bag for the frosting thanks to Adriane, too. These cupcakes would not have been possible without Adriane!

In this photo, the look on Zuzu’s face says, “It is at this exact moment that I have realized that no one in my family can sing.”



Ramona is 1!

May 25, 2011

Wow, that was fast. All of a sudden, Ramona is 1. She has graduated from rolling to full-on crawling, and just this VERY second, just crawled up one step from the back porch into the kitchen. In the past few weeks she is adopting more kid mannerisms and is much less babylike.

She’s very excited to be able to move with purpose and go where she wants to go.

Make sure you notice the bunny in Ramona’s hand in the beginning of that video. It was made for us by Susan, and it’s Ramona’s most favorite thing ever. She needs to sleep with it, and I often find her giving it big hugs.

What else? Zuzu has been asking for “cherry stuff” for her birthday since January (her birthday is in June). I’m having some trouble figuring out what this means.

I’m kind of into FlyLady right now, but I’m only halfway through the “beginner steps.” I think you’re supposed to get through the beginner steps in a month; I’ve been working on them since March. But still, it’s made a huge difference in what the house looks like. I’m excited to some day get through all the beginner steps and get into the real stuff.

I am very much looking forward to the end of school. While it means my free time goes from 60 seconds a week to 2 seconds, everyone seems much happier when we’re all home. Yes, there’s a lot of bickering, sure, but the day-long “let’s pretend we’re in these six books all mixed together” sessions can begin.

My 60 seconds are up. Posting this before someone lights something on fire.



Forty = fancy

March 31, 2011

Today, friends, I am forty years old. Hurrah! A birthday, and so: Why not dress up? I mainly blame the subscription to Lucky that Sutswana somehow got, and which she passes on to me. It makes me want to be just slightly more chic. You’d think it would also make me want to wear wedge sandals, but it doesn’t. Maybe this is because I am all mature and 40 and everything.

I apologize for making you all turn your heads. For some confounded reason, I can’t get this photo to rotate. I am not a computer idiot. It keeps saying it’s rotated, but it forgot that I have eyes and can see that it’s still sideways. Maybe I am so sleep deprived that even photos of me try to lie down.

So I pulled together this outfit, wearing one of my most favorite skirts, bought at the Gap on a post-birth wardrobe overhaul with Zeile about seven years ago. It goes well with this new Target cardi, non? I should dress up more often. It was fun. But I also need some nice flats. I put on jeans at noon because I couldn’t feel my toes anymore. Do women really wear heels every day? Maybe I’ll get some espadrilles like Liz.

And that’s way more about fashion than about turning 40. I kind of like the idea of being 40. A new start! Now I am officially a grown-up, and will be responsible, work hard, and clean my toilet without expecting praise for it.

Today’s birthday is also exciting because I finally made the salted chocolate tart that my cousin Christina recommended two years ago. I’m pretty excited about it. I haven’t added the salt yet because I know I’m going to be the only one who wants the salt, and I don’t feel like dealing with the grousing. Let’s have my birthday be the day where no one complains about the food I put in front of them.


My very own birthday CD

March 31, 2010

Every year (since Eli turned 1, at least), I make the boys a CD on their birthdays. It has all their favorite songs of the year, plus bits of them singing or telling jokes or just babbling. A few weeks ago I realized I had amassed a bunch of free downloads that I loved or found songs on Pandora that I loved, and that maybe it was time to make myself a birthday CD (without, however, me singing or telling jokes). Basically I just wanted to listen to all these good new songs in the kitchen while making dinner.

Here’s what I’ve got:

1. Belated Promise Ring – Iron & Wine. Oh, I love this song. This song is the whole reason I made the CD, really. I got this as a free download at some point, and just wanted to listen to it over and over. Only took me about 700 listens to realize it’s about a guy who is in love with his lesbian friend.

2. Longform – The Dodos. Another free download. Somehow I can never remember how this song goes, but when I’m listening to it, it seems like the catchiest thing ever.

3. I Don’t Know What It Is – Rufus Wainwright. Love this. I have absolutely no idea what it’s about. Mysterious bruises? Trains? Trying to get your life in order? Love it anyway.

4. All My Days – Alexi Murdoch. Dave and I watched “Away We Go” wondering how there could be so many Nick Drake songs we’d never heard before. Turns out it was Alexi Murdoch. I like the whole soundtrack, but this is my favorite song.

5. Stray Age – Daniel Martin Moore. A guy and a guitar. I’ll confess I’ve never actually listened to the lyrics. Could be about eating high fructose corn syrup for all I know.

6. Willow TreeChad VanGaalen. Guy with falsetto, singing about death. This song sounds like 70% of the songs I played on my radio show in college.

7. Hallelujah – Rufus Wainwright. I think I tried to download this song once, and you had to buy the whole Shrek soundtrack to get it, so I didn’t. But then it showed up as a free download on Amazon. I love this song, as well as the original, as well as pretty much every other version I’ve ever heard. Leonard Cohen is a god.

8. Hideaway – The Weepies. Who are The Weepies? If all their songs are this good, I need a whole album.

9. Friends – Lightning Love. A peppy little song about binge drinking and blackouts.

10. Hug the Harbour – Emma Pollock. Hypnotic and Beth Orton-y.

11. Turn Cold – Cut Off Your Hands. This song doesn’t quite go with the others, but it sounds like the Cure and New Order, and therefore I nostalgically love it.

12. Astair Matt Costa. Oh, this is a good one. I want to sing the refrain all day long, but it’s one of those songs that I’m not actually good at singing out loud very well. Ah, well.

13. 10,000 Stones – Adrianne. This song sounds a little like the music from a pharmaceutical ad, or maybe the theme song for an hour-long drama about women in their 40s. But maybe that’s the mindset I’m in right now. I like it.

14. Comin’ Up RosesZeile August. Zeile is a bona fide friend of mine. When she made her first album, Orion’s Belt, I was suddenly gripped by an unnatural fear that I would hate it. What do you do when a really good friend of yours makes an album you don’t like? But within four notes of the opening song, I knew all would be ok. “Comin’ Up Roses” is from her second album (Lucie’s Hobo Package) — I first heard the song when I went to hear her at what used to be Javanet. Afterwards I think I said something semi-coherent like, “I really liked that song about Papa not believing in magic” and she remembered that, and months later when the CD came out told me it opened with that song I liked (note that it’s the opening song because it’s a great song, not because I like it). I like all the songs, honestly, but “Comin’ Up Roses” and “Big Red Truck” from the first album are my perennial faves. I am especially loving the line in this one lately about “Give me a drink of water/or maybe something stronger.” Sounds good. New CD out in April! Can’t wait!

15. Buckets of Rain – Redbird. This was one from Pandora. I am usually massively against Bob Dylan covers, because, I mean, come on, are you really going to do better? But something about this one I really, really liked. After I downloaded it, I saw that Redbird is a band with Kris Delmhorst in it, who is not a bona fide friend of mine, but she is someone I’ve met in person before, and she’s super duper nice, plus I like her music. Anyway.

16. You and I – Ingrid Michaelson. How can you not love a song with the chorus, “Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance”?


Le Moustache

February 11, 2010

Thank you, Sutswana, for the Best Birthday Gift Ever.

See, Eli’s already well on his way to having that full beard by kindergarten. This also makes me think that anything from I Made You a Beard would be an excellent birthday present (especially if my children continue with the gnome obsession).

Though I will say that I found Henry in a moustache less hilarious and more frightening, since he just looks like a perfectly reasonable adult. It was a little creepy.



Eli is 4! Annotated birthday CD list

February 9, 2010

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.


Dance Madness

January 29, 2010

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.


CATEGORIES: Eli, Henry, Zuzu
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