Music Friday: Sprout Edition

Recently, I had a post about Covid Life with my daughter, Sprout, and I told the story wherein she listed her top five play list. So, here it is. I’ll skip Number 1, as it is what she called ‘Frozen songs’. These are obviously the songs from the Frozen movies, which I will not post here because anyone with kids has heard them too much, and I am afraid Disney will sue me. So, Number 2:

Mommy Songs – Mrs. MMT happens to be an award winning singer/songwriter. We listen to her songs sometimes, as well as other independent female artist. Not surprisingly, Sprout is a big fan, and this is my favorite song by Mrs. MMT, so I selected it as representative of Sprout’s ‘radio’.

Number 3:

Fire Songs – These are alternatively called ‘daddy songs’, her favorite, and mine (they’ve been posted multiple times here) is Wolves at the Gate. She calls them ‘fire songs’, due to the use of fire (at least three of their videos alone), which also feature prominently in this video. She has asked me when she can get a ‘ring nose’, as well.

Number 4:

Piano Songs – As mentioned above, Mrs. MMT is a bit of musician, and play the piano. We listen to a good bit of ‘Piano Guys’, so that may be what she is talking about, though we listen to true classical as well. Even more so, she is a big fan of Cello, especially during Christmas music season, so I’m going to go with these guys. Bonus points, some Frozen in there.

Number 5:

Pizza Songs – So, every Friday night for probably about a decade Mrs. MMT and I have had pizza for dinner. First, it was out, then frozen pizzas, then making from scratch. Probably since Sprout has been little, we’ve also listened to our Pandora station of Irish Pub songs, which includes a lot of folk, parody/comedy, and drinking songs. For whatever reason, likely the ease of singing, she has really enjoyed these songs. So much so, that when she was three and in pre-school, the week she was the ‘star-student’ she was able to pick the song of the week, and she chose the one above, from a 90’s Canadian fold band about loggers. These guys seem to be her favorite, and this is the song she knows best, along with ‘No, Neigh, Never’, ‘Good Luck to the Barely Mow’, and ‘Byker Hill’. As she had her whole pre-school class listen to this song, I thought it was best representative.

So, if Sprout could listen to five stations on her radio, this is what they would be. Hope you enjoyed. Should be fun for her to see this when she is older. You always wonder what will remain. Hopefully, at least ‘Frozen’ will be gone.

Covid Thoughts: Time with Sprout

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, today I want to note a few things about spending time with my daughter.

Sometimes I catch her dreamin’ and wonder where that little mind meanders. – Little Miss Magic

I remember hearing on a podcast, though I’m not entirely sure which one, but I think it was one of the Financial Independence ones, that roughly half of the hours you will ever spend with your child will happen by age eight (give or take a few years, I don’t remember the exact age). Which sounds wild at first, but it kind of makes sense. Teenagers don’t want to spend time with their parents, then they leave the house, and you have good, quality time after that, but really only a few hours every few months, or less. Of course, infants are just always there, but it isn’t really the best time. Anyway, I tried to find the article or whatever it was they were referencing, but to no avail. Then I found a few articles about naming children and really went down a rabbit hole when I should have been writing this post.

I ramble to bring up this point: I’ve been thinking about that ‘fact/stat’ often, recently. It dawned on me a few weeks ago (maybe Week 3 of Covid Quarantine), that this is probably the most time I will ever spend with Sprout, certainly it is the most time I’ve spent with her so far in her short, little life. As I mentioned in my ‘finding rhythm‘ post, she and I spend about an hour and a half every morning together, just the two of us. We usually walk, somewhere between three and five miles, all over our neighborhood and the trails in the wetlands and parks that it connects to. The trails take us by a creek to a little river, and many of the sidewalks on the larger streets boarder HOA property that has trees we climb.

She has learned how to identify deer (I had her draw some, and it was surprisingly accurate), raccoon, rabbit, and dog tracks; we followed some frog eggs through a few stages of development until the puddle dried up and they all died (that was a little disappointing, I think seeing frogs come out would have blown her mind); she can name about four or five birds (we’ve even been tracking a mama bird, named Gwenivere, build a nest and hopefully we’ll see eggs soon; she is either a mourning dove or a northern mocking bird, I’m leaning towards to latter due to the thrasher tail) and maybe 10 types of shrubs and trees. We’ve also ‘learned’ to use binoculars and maps. The seasons have changed from winter to spring to summer during this as well, so we’ve gone through bare trees on the trails, to everything blooming, to all the leaves being full and green. I think that has been a fun thing for her to track and see.

We’ve seen a surprising number of deer, I think our highest in one day was 11, and for some reason she seems to want to keep a running tally to tell my dad. We’ve seen a few snakes and fish. The other day, she decided to search for snails. She told me she was betting at finding them because she was paying attention. I told her it was because she was closer to the ground. Which, while hilarious, she didn’t understand. I’ve also tried teaching her the different types of animals, such as birds versus mammal (eggs vs. milk, because half my life revolves around trying to find groceries). You forget what things kids don’t know, like when I told her humans were mammals, she asked me what humans were. We’ve also baked a few different kinds of bread and started a garden.

I feel compelled to teach her things, but as a book I recently reviewed points out, play is far more important at this age. I also feel the pressure to make this a fun time, because she is not in school and doesn’t really have anyone else to play with and, as I mentioned above, this will be the most time I ever spend with her. Other times I wonder if she will even remember this time. There are days that I am excited because I don’t know what to do, and other times when I just really don’t want to have the same walk, to see the same things, to play the same games for the fourth day in a row.

Sprout is pretty wild. She is loud and friendly and full of personality. She has been called the ‘mascot’ of our church and I think she knows more people there than I (certainly more know her). Even in school, the other classrooms knew who she was. Most of this is her personality, she (as is apparently common in little girls) talks incessantly. Well, there are some times she isn’t talking, but if she isn’t, it is because she is singing (we were recently down at my parents and during lunch she was eating her sandwich while humming the whole time, my parent were laughing, but I didn’t even think to notice anymore). It is also physical, she is fairly tall for her age, but she also has giant, wavy, blonde hair. It has been mid back since she was about 2.5/3ish, so when you see her from behind, she is 25-33% hair. The combination of this leads to a funny visual as we walk down the sidewalk and so many of the other neighbors out walk, especially, women just look and laugh (even more so if they hear the stories she tells).

So, I don’t really have anything profound or interesting to say about either children or parenthood (both great, though), but in true journal format, I will just list a number of incidents or things she has said that I want recorded for my own enjoyment, and maybe you will like them as well.

First, her little ticks and ways of talking (maybe these are common, but I don’t care):

  • When it rains a good deal, the creek and river run pretty high, which she has concerns will ‘oversplode’.
  • When we wander off into the woods, the says we are going to go ‘splore’ and puts her hand to her head, as if shielding her eyes from the sun, and pans her face, as if spanning the horizon.
  • She merges the words hopefully and actually, and uses them as emphasis or transition words (the way people incorrectly use ‘literally’) and says, ‘hopecually’.
  • Excurses – I will fix these pronunciations, but I do enjoy them now. When she was maybe 3/4 she couldn’t say yellow, it was something like ‘le-to’, but it was cute and we let it go, maybe longer than we should, but corrected it when other kids were confused. 
  • We have been working on her excitability and that things all kids do where their little brains get rolling and their mouths can’t keep up. She’ll get wound up, put her hands up and say, ‘Hold on, let me collect my thoughts’ take a deep breath and then, ‘what I would like to say to you is…’
  • Similarly, a few times when she has started to get an idea, she’ll say, ‘I think I have a thought’
  • Like most children (I assume), she doesn’t quite understand how contractions work. So, she doesn’t know that ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ are similar. It ends up something like this, I will say I don’t want to do something, and she will say, ‘why do you don’t want to do it?’
  • The ‘happy and you know it’ song. For one, she says, ‘if you very want to show it’, but what’s more, she seems to have made up her own verse. At least I’ve never heard it before. I whistle too much, and we do this song as we walk often, so she came up with, ‘if you’re happy and you know it, give a whistle’, then waits for me to make noise, because can’t whistle.

Next, funny stories or other things she has told me:

Most people with small children know they take a very long, long time to tell any story. I like to joke that she can tell me the plot of a 12 minute PJ Masks show in an hour. One of my favorite ones she has told me was about a ‘dream’ she had (she conflates dreams with thoughts/wishes/fantasies/something like daydreaming). It involved a motorcycle that she designed in which she road around with her eponymous doll.

Her motorcycle was pink in the front, blue in the back and had her and her ‘doll’s name’ on either side. Also, the motorcycle had a seat for the doll. It also had doors, and four wheels, and a seat behind them. I explained that she just invented a car, she told me it didn’t have roof; I told her about convertibles. The motorcycle also had a radio that played her favorite songs, which were – Frozen Songs (she also told me there should be an Elsa doll that sings all the songs from both movies; if this doesn’t exist, it is a pretty good idea), ‘Mommy songs’, ‘Fire’ songs, Piano songs, and finally ‘pizza songs’ (these are Irish pub songs, long story). Maybe I’ll make a play list with all these. She started her description of this ‘motorcycle’ right as we left, and had not finished it’s description or features by the time we arrived back home over an hour and half later.

One of our neighbors cut down a nice tree in his front yard, a day later not only did another crew come out to cut another neighbor’s tree, but, as we walked, we saw the same crew cut maybe five other houses’s front yard tree down. She told me they were the bad guys from the The Lorax (book), she couldn’t remember the ‘onceler’. Except they were worse, because the didn’t even make Thneeds.

It has been raining a lot and we walk through the flood plain, so she has been learning about stormwater management and that some of the water becomes what we drink. So, she told us that when she grows up she wants to be a wastewater treatment engineer, make jelly, and be a mom.

I caught her dramatically counting with her hand (think the way refs do during boxing) as we were walking. I figured out later she was practicing holding her breath and was counting.

On one walk she was point a fake baby toy remote at trees, then waving her hand up and pointing somewhere else with the remote. She was pretending to relocate the trees to places she thought would be better.

She also had another similar ‘dream’ about her and her best friend from school, that took a good 30 minutes to tell me. The both had little powerwheels type ‘trucks’ that are the John Deere front load tractors that Lowes sells.  I’m certain she did not actually dream this, but I have no idea how she remembered those things, she saw them probably six or nine months ago.

Which kind of leads to some of the sadder parts. She often talks about her friends. Yesterday she listed off all the people from school she missed and how she wanted to go to their house to play or have them here for a sleepover. She tells me that the sickness makes her sad and that she wants to go back to school. At least a few times a week she asks me when the sickness is going to be gone. I really have no answers for her, I just tell her, ‘hopefully soon, but it’ll probably be a while.’ Schools have been canceled for the rest of the academic year. She is supposed to start Kindergarten in August. I am hopeful she will, but skeptical of what it may look like. Unlikely to be the fun milestone it usually is. So, that is about it. It certainly is an unprecedented time. When I’m stressed, I do try to look on the bright side and think about all the time I have to spend with her right now, all our exploring and experiences, all the conversations, all these moments I have with her, that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ll end with some of her chalk artwork.



Book Review: We’re Pregnant

This book will be released next Tuesday (April 24). I was excited to be contacted by a new publisher (or publisher’s agent) to request a review. Obviously, that means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

We’re Pregnant! The First-Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Quick, easy book. Reads much shorter than the roughly 275 pages.

If you are looking at it, I’m sure you’ve figured out it is a pregnancy book. It is definitely more ‘handbook’ than most other pregnancy handbooks and guides out there. The book is broken into four parts – the three trimesters and what he calls the ‘fourth trimester’. Within each part is a chapter for each month, and each month is broken into weekly subsections.

Each part has an intro to the trimester and a summary checklist for things to have accomplished for the trimester at the end of the part. Chapters (months) likewise have a shorter intro with a stats page with things like size comparisons and ‘new gear’, which is things the baby will develop that month (lungs, toes, etc.). The write-up for the week is about a page and has a separate text box with info such as baby stats, mom stats, and not-to-miss appointments.

The remainder of each sub-chapter is ‘family goals’, which include things like ‘plan ahead’, ‘budget savvy’, and ‘home CEO’. In the intro to the book, Kulp explains each of the 13 family goals that come up. However, each week only has two to four.

The ‘fourth trimester’ is a section devoted to the first three months of the baby’s life. He follows the same format as the other trimesters, which leads to funny comparisons as fruit no longer does the job (for 2 month old, he reference a house cat or Thanksgiving turkey).

My Thoughts
As mentioned above, the is the most handbook style pregnancy book I’ve read. I’d recommend buying the book as soon as you are pregnant and reading through the whole thing. Then, as each week comes up, flip back through and review the stats pages and text box, as well as family goals sections. The trimester checklist at the back of each part is incredibly useful, though it really should be in the front. As you enter each trimester, skip to that end and make yourself aware of the checklist and things you need to accomplish.

Kulp’s writing style is funny and quick, I had never heard of him before, but apparently he is big in the dad blogosphere. The book is a useful guide, the strength is probably the family goals. I didn’t like the names of two of them, because I don’t like the word ‘doula’ and I really dislike ‘daddy daycare’, because the implication being that a dad is not a caregiver. I would just call this parenting. However, the phrase was likely chosen for the alliteration, as Kulp is a stay at home dad with four children, I doubt he sees himself as being stuck on ‘daycare duty’, as I’ve heard to referred to before.

The ‘fourth trimester’ section is a novel concept, most books take you to a few weeks, maybe a month, after birth, if they don’t stop with birth itself. Similarly, the sub-chapters for weeks 41 and 42 are pretty funny, especially if you’ve had a child (or no of one) that stayed too long and the overwhelming feeling of the mom who just wanted to get the baby out of her. I like that he mentions the heartbreak and struggle of miscarriage, telling his personal story; this is a topic often skipped in most pregnancy books (and really life in general, as I found out when we went through one). I also appreciated his focus on keeping an eye on your wife after the birth for signs of  post-partum depression that can be much more serious than the typical ‘baby-blues’.

When I found out we were pregnant, I think I bought six books. I’ve since read and reviewed another four or five, and probably have to put this as the top two or three. Overall, it is a good book, and well written, and I particularly like the guide style, which makes the book very practical with useful tips. There is nothing in there about pre-pregnancy or trying to conceive, so if that is your focus, look elsewhere. He has geared the book to those dads who just found out there are pregnant. So, if that is you, put this on your list.

Book Review: The New Dad’s Playbook

The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life

Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Quick and easy

The book is basically what it says it is – a guide to fatherhood – just (sometimes too) heavily mixed with football metaphors. The book is 14 chapters broken into five parts, all based on a football season – training camp, regular season (pregnancy), super bowl (birth), postgame, and off-season(dad things, have another child). The attempt to put everything neatly into these categorise can be a bit of a stretch, especially in the ‘training camp’ section, but actually work out really nicely in ‘regular season’ and ‘post game.’

My Thoughts
This book turned out better than I thought. I was little skeptical at the beginning, with the intro chapter somewhat meandering, but Watson really got into stride with the practical advice. As mentioned above, training camp was probably the weakest, but I have to say, I was really surprised at how well the ‘regular season’ chapter turned out. It was a great pregnancy 101. Watson actually goes through the different terminology, stages of pregnancy, and medical options defining and explaining in quick and simple terms what they mean. Maybe it is because Baker is a ‘Christian’ publisher (who typically aren’t great a practical advise), but I was surprised at how useful and practical this section was.

‘Postgame’ and ‘Off-season’ where also good chapters, where he moves away from practical advice (in the step-by-step, playbook sense) and honestly moves into challenging men. Basically saying we need to step up for our family, work to keep the marriage strong, and then realize we will fail, regardless, and that it is alright, because you can’t be a perfect dad. To wrap-up and really expand the breadth of the parenting aspects, he ends on a solid discussion on what it means to have another child, and even differing thoughts on how long to wait and how many children to have.

For those skeptical that you can find a practical (pre)parenting book from a CHristian publisher, this one is the exception. For those maybe interested due him being a famous football player, but disinterested in the CHristian-y parts, I think it is still a solid option. The intent of the book is to be practical and helpful, he isn’t kidding with the ‘playbook’ part of the title. However, it is clear that the man loves God. He obviously takes his relationship with God, his wife, and his children very seriously. It was encouraging and convicting at the same time.

Any pre-dad should have a number of books and resources in mind, and this is definitely one to put on your list. If you have a friend that doesn’t like reading and might only read a book because it was written by a football player (and you probably know a few), this book is perfect. I can think of a guy right now whose wife is almost through the first trimester that I will give this book to. The practical advice, the sports references, and the quick and easy pace of the read will make this book one that anyone will finish.

* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

**You still have time to order this book and give it to a pre-dad as a father’s day gift, should you be so inclined.