Dear David

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Dear David,

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with you. I read the test wrong, didn’t think I was, and then took a second look. I was thrilled and scared.

I remember having an ultrasound on my gall bladder, and asking the tech to look and see if she could tell the gender of my baby. She was 90% sure it was a boy. Even though I’d always thought I would only have girls, I had felt since the start you were a boy. I was thrilled and scared.

I remember your birth: the crazy pain of my only unmedicated labor and delivery. I tried to give up and go home, but you came anyway, fiercely and fast, tearing up my body and my heart. Your little head was so round and covered with dark hair. I was thrilled and scared.

I remember all the sleepless nights, how I nursed you for so long, how I put you in Mother’s Day Out at barely a year because I was so tired, depressed, and shaken. I hope you don’t remember me from then; our life was a little in shambles and I didn’t know where to go.

I remember your putting together a 60-piece puzzle at two-and-a-half and knowing life with you was going to be wild. You told me at age 4 you couldn’t read, you could just sound out words. I love that you help your friends, read to them on the bus, and have no idea how brilliant you are. I am always, always thrilled and also scared that I am doing the wrong things or holding you back.

I remember knowing how ready you were for kindergarten but how unready I felt to let you go.

And this morning, I crawled into your bed and held you before you got up. I kissed and smelled your head. It’s your last day of kindergarten and I am crying because growing pains are hard for Mama.

I asked you if you were ready for first grade, and in your typical, no-nonsense way, you just answered, “Yes.”

Not surprisingly, I am thrilled and scared.

I Have So Many Questions about Paw Patrol

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Back in February, my now-4-year-old son, Joshua, was pretty sick. He didn’t have the flu, but he might as well have, because he ran a high fever for about 5 days straight. He was REALLY puny. And so I let him lay on the couch and watch what he wanted. And what he wanted was – what else? – PAW PATROL.

He’s more than slightly obsessed. And if you’re anything like me, you find yourself wondering so much about the logistics of these kids’ shows. 

To see my 8 burning questions, visit the Chattanooga Moms Blog, where I am a regular contributor.

(If you ever want to see all the posts I have done for the CMB as well as other places I have guest posted, check out my Featured Elsewhere page!)

The Big List of Star Wars Songs for Kids

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Star Wars Playlist for Kids

My 5-year-old son, David, is obsessed with Star Wars. I mean, obsessed. Seen every movie, including number 7 on opening night (his birthday present). It’s basically all he talks about. He probably has more toys than is healthy and a Star Wars shirt for almost every day of the week. (When spring came, he was sad he didn’t have any short sleeve shirts. So we got this, this, this, and this from Amazon, because at the time they were all $3-5. Gotta love some Amazon.)

My greatest endeavor, however, was finding all the kid-appropriate Star Wars songs that I could. He and his 3-year-old brother ask to listen to this playlist constantly and have every song memorized. Since tomorrow is Star Wars Day (May 4th), I thought if you, too, were searching for this, I could help you out!

I think you can find these all under the “Star Wars Kids” list on Spotify under Jessica Weaver. But if you’re not a Spotify person, there are links to find the songs elsewhere, too.

  • “Yoda” – Weird Al – (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “The Saga Begins” – Weird Al (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “Oh, Lando” – Recess Monkey (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “Tatooine” – Phineas & Ferb Star Wars (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “Sith-inator” – Phineas & Ferb Star Wars (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “Star Wars Disco” – Little Apple Band (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “Star Wars” – The One World Ensemble (Amazon) (Just the theme played by someone else)
  • “Star Wars: A Capella Strikes Back” – BYU Noteworthy (Amazon / iTunes)
  • “Why Is Dad So Mad?” – The Board of Education (Amazon / iTunes)
  • “When I Was a Boy” – Drew Worthley (Amazon / album on iTunes) – Not strictly a Star Wars song, but it has a verse about it and is generally just a sweet song.
  • “The Greatest Story Ever Told” – Good Clean Fun (Amazon) – This is a punk rock song, and I don’t think there is any foul language in this song … but I can’t find the lyrics anywhere. My kids think it’s hilarious, and the chorus is fun, but here is your warning.
  • “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” – Meco (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “The Empire Strikes Back (Medley)” – Meco (Amazon / album on iTunes)
  • “Lightspeed” – Joel Henriques (Amazon / iTunes) – This one isn’t available on Spotify, but we’ve heard it on Kids’ Place Live on SiriusXM.

Let me know if you’ve run across any kid-appropriate Star Wars songs that we’ve missed! Do you have a mini-Jedi at home?

My Kids’ Favorite Music

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Notice I did not title this MY favorite kids’ music. These are not necessarily the tunes I would choose, day in and day out. (I’m a big fan of The Rizers and Yancy, personally.) But these are the albums my kids ask me to play – especially in the car – over and over and OVVVEERR again.

kid music

Raffi in Concert with the Rise and Shine Band – Raffi

Who loves it? All my kids, but especially Joshua (almost 3).

Their Favorite Song: Joshua likes “5 Little Ducks,” because of all the quacking

My favorite: “De Colores,” because I have listened to this album so much I can sing a whole song in Spanish, which I have never studied.

This album was released in 1989. For reference, I was 7 years old in 1989, the age my oldest daughter is now. Ha! And I remember some of these songs, like “Apples and Bananas” from my childhood. (And “Baby Beluga” from Full House.) Despite the fact that it’s 25 years old, the album doesn’t really seem dated, other than the names-around-the-world in the song “Like Me and You.”

I’m not sure whether Joshua just likes it because he can say “Raffi” (or “Ralphie,” usually), but he will always ask for this one.

I’ve Got Music in Me – Jack Hartmann

Who loves it? It was Libbie and David’s favorite a few years ago.

Their favorite song? What they call “The Fish Song,” really “Five Little Fish.” They just call this whole album “The Fish Song.”

My favorite song? “Be the Best You Can Be.” Who can resist a song with a message?

Jack Hartmann composes and records songs from his role as a teacher. This album is from 1995, and while it teaches letter sounds, body parts, and more, it’s the album of his that seems most appropriate for the car and not the classroom. (Several of his others, like Math in Motion, have songs recorded with places for kids/teachers to fill in blanks, etc, if that makes sense.) This one is just music other than the last track, which is one of the songs in instrumental for performance. I credit Jack Hartmann with teaching David his letter sounds! Hartmann is kind of cheesy, but he knows what works, and we enjoy these songs a lot.

The Family Garden – Billy Kelly

Who loves it? All my kids (ages 7 to nearly 3)

Their favorite song? Probably a tie between “I’m Thinking of an Animal” and “Rock Lobster”

My favorite song? “That Old American Flag” – it is a sweet song about patriotism and family.

My LEAST favorite song? I hate “Straw,” because it’s a bunch of nonsense lies and I am rule-follower. But oh well. Haha.

Billy Kelly is pretty much insane, which might be a prerequisite for being a children’s artist. This goofy album celebrates gardening, flags, pen pals, and nonsense; remakes a few songs, like “Coney Island Washboard” and “Rock Lobster”; and adds some total nonsense with “Straw.”

The Merry Goes ‘Round – Jewel

Who loves it? Libbie (7)

Their favorite song? “Sammy the Spider”

My favorite song? “Snooze Button Blues.” Because every morning.

In her standard Jewel style, The Merry Goes ‘Round is folksy, with some pop and blues built in. She remakes the classics “O Susannah,” “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain,” and several other old favorites, while adding peppy tunes like “Sammy the Spider” and “Supermarket Song.” The album is kind of weighted toward the beginning tracks, in my opinion, but overall it’s a fun listen and one my kids are starting to get into.

The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band – Laurie Berkner

Who loves it? All of us, Mom included. We like many of her albums, but this one is a good compilation of the best tunes.

Their favorite song? Libbie – “Five Days Old”; David – “Buzz Buzz”; Joshua – “Boots”

My favorite song? “Victor Vito,” although they are all super catchy and you will find me singing “Moon Moon Moon” all the time.

According to Amazon, Laurie Berkner has nine albums for children. We listen to three of them on a regular basis, but this best-of compilation is really fun. My kids basically have every one of these songs memorized, and that includes the 2-year-old.


If we aren’t listening to Kids Place Live on the satellite radio, we are probably listening to one of these in the minivan. What are yours kids’ favorite tunes?



Tossing Pennies into the Toll Booth

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source: Marjorie Lipan via Flickr

When I was in high school, I had to drive each day – once I was old enough to drive – through a toll booth. Back then, it was a straight-up 50 cents. (Our recent trip to Richmond revealed that it is now 70 cents – plus it didn’t take one of my first quarters, so we ended up tossing nearly a dollar at the thing. A travesty! Almost as bad as Ukrop’s being gone.)

Usually my co-pilot and I were armed with quarters or tokens, ready to throw the coins and get through quickly. But one day, I was alone for some reason. Maybe I wasn’t even going to school that day. I found myself approaching the toll booth and realized I had nothing but some loose changing floating around in the console of my Eagle Vision.

Quickly I gathered up as much as I could. And I remember vividly watching the numbers slide above the toll basket, praying that I could find enough to change to equal those 50 cents. I was tossing pennies by the fistful. And finally, breath escaped, I saw it click down to zero and the bar raise.

I don’t even know what happens if you don’t have those 50 cents. I bet it happens a lot more now than it did in 1998, although maybe EZ Pass-type things help.

I’ve felt a little bit of that same panic in these last weeks of summer.

School supplies were purchased, I’ve been stocking my freezer with items for school lunches, and Nana bought Libbie a new backpack. We’ve registered and before that vacationed and traveled and visited and swam and played to our hearts’ content.

And yet the day before Libbie started back to school, I still felt panicky. Unprepared. With first grade there wasn’t the same sense of preparation there was for kindergarten. There are no more phase-in days, no staying with her on the first day, nothing but a messy and loud thirty minutes of handing in paperwork and handing over school supplies to her teacher.

Did I forget something important? She’s armed with summer projects, a reading log, a poster timeline of her short life. It’s all there. We have the first-day picture with her printed-that-morning-off-the-Internet sign. David’s registered and ready for his preschool class.

Perhaps it’s that the whole summer I have felt confused. Apparently having three kids at home full time will do that to you. I just always felt like I had more to remember than I could keep in my brain. I forgot deadlines, to mail things, to call back. Embarrassing and a little wretched.

When I was pregnant with Libbie, one of my coworkers told me that after he and his wife had their first child, they just wanted to get back to normal. Then when they had their second, they wanted to get back to normal – the one-child normal they’d found. But with kids, normal is an ever-fluctuating concept.

Right now, I am looking forward to returning to normal, knowing that it will likely be a different normal than last school year. Even though the kids are at their same schools on the same schedules, they are a year older. Joshua is a maniacal two-year-old instead of a toddling, babbling guy. Things will be different.

But I’m hoping soon I will feel like I have two quarters instead of a handful of pennies.

Please Stop Growing Up

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Please Don't Grow Up

Joshua is my first baby I don’t want to grow up.

(Coming from a family that knows child death, OF COURSE I want him to grow up. But you know what I mean.)

It’s probably just that he’s most likely our last child. But at 2 years and 3 months, I think he is quite likely the cutest thing that has ever happened to Planet Earth.

Don’t get me wrong: he is trouble and a half. I spend half my time trying to keep him from hurting himself. But it’s well worth it.

Joshua making funny faces

Because every morning when I get him from the crib, he makes some proud declaration like, “Nemo sleep my bed!” His curls go every which way and he smiles his trademark giant, goofy, toothy smile. Joshy has been giggles and grins since he was born and is almost always happy. (Except when he’s not. Like when I won’t give him “another one cup milk.”)

I know how much kids change between 2 and 3. I’ve been through it twice before. I know that soon he’ll start using more real grammar, he’ll stop running his silly gallop around the apartment, he won’t be so eager to give me “hug and a kah-iss.” I might have to cut the curly mop. He won’t fall asleep cuddled to my chest nearly as often.

Sleepy nap with Mommy

Oh, there are so many sweet things about them growing up. I love the stage Libbie is in, where she still likes me but is old enough to do fun stuff with. But I’m scared. I’m scared of moving on past the baby-and-toddler stage we’ve been in for nearly seven years now.

Who will give me slobbery kisses? Whose sweet baby language will make me shake with laughter?

Who will need me like a toddler needs his mommy?