May 28, 2012

Read only web

Back to the good old days of the internet - currently I'm enjoying only reading and not writing the web (and, yes, the sun and my new bike and of course, more than anything else: family life) so much that I culpably do neglect this blog.

More: Some other time. Soon?

May 13, 2012

Choreos and milk

Hey, if a piece of music is kind of virally spreading all over the kid-related blogosphere (look at Slomo or Rockstar Diaries for examples) does it automatically qualify as a kindie song? Well, I don't really know. But this one positively deserves to be fanned out once more. Plus: As I don't really care about the choreography in the original Gotye video (hey, I'm over with boy-bands since... ever. Though, right, KleineC might have a different opinion on this...) I'm very grateful I found this alternative version at über-blog Swiss Miss. And this one is kindie for sure. Enjoy! Happy Mother's Day!

Gee, is it only me who thinks that it's the driver running the videocam?
Kids, don't try this at home!
(Video: YouTube)

May 6, 2012

Without words

"Licensed to ill" was the first record (on tape of course) I ever bought with my own (allowance) money back in the late 1980s. In retrospective a very wise decision for an otherwise unwise 13-year-old kid whose cassettography was more on the Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue side those days.

Feels unreal to hear the sad news this weekend.

Adam Yauch, 1964-2012
(Image: Fabio Venni, Wikimedia Commons)

May 3, 2012

May come, may go

Imagine your own birthday, your father's, your spouse's plus Mother's Day - all within one week.

Well, welcome to my life!

It's not only the planning of festivities and visits (which grandmother gets to see her grandchild when). What really stresses me out is the gift issue. Hey, the internet is doing a great job for that, you might say. I'd counter with pointing to my inability to chose whenever I'm in a crowded, overabundant warehouse - which basically is what the shopping aisles of the internet are.

May I?
(Image: Jason Antony / stock.xchng)
But hey, no complaining! May is one of the greatest months of the year. Unlike in the sweaty heat of summertime you're grateful for every ray of sunshine now. KleineC just made her first serious barefooted rounds in the sandbox and through dewy meadows last weekend and has developed a habit of performing risky slide rides- watching her curiously do so more than compensates the hassle we're in these days.

May come, may go - and maybe faster than you realize those small magic moments are gone. Let's take advantage of it while it lasts!

April 30, 2012

Today's menu: Big Apple

If Kindie can make it there, it can make it anywhere? There are times in my life when I only feel a slight need to live in a town like New York. And there are times when I desperately wish I was right there. Finding the following CBS news broadcast about Brooklyn's fourth annual kindiefest - guess what's my current sensation! Oh, and the subtitle of the event which took place last weekend, "The Family Music Conference", makes it even sound like a mandatory workshop that's reimbursable with your boss, doesn't it?

Start spreading the news / we're leaving today / we wan't to be part of it...

April 21, 2012

Norwegian Wood

Learning Norwegian one pic at a time: Friends who moved to Norway sent us a little parcel for KleineCs first birthday last autumn containing Kari Grossmann's "Pekeboka Mi". Which, as we've been told, means "My Show-Me-Book" and basically describes what the book is about: Illustrations of objects found in daily life. In case parents can't immediately tell what kind of animal or toy their child is pointing at (which might be the case after a waking night...) there's a written description under each picture.

What's that? "Pekeboka" means show-me-book.
(Image: Gyldendal Forlag)
But what's even more convenient: Not only KleineC learns what the pictures stand for - her favorites so far: elefant, bleie (diaper) and grill-pølse (bratwurst) - but we are picking up a few words in a language we never would've considered studying. Even within Europe the sparsely populated but immensely growing and awfully wealthy Kingdom of Norway, counting roughly five million inhabitants, for many remains terra incognita. Including us.

Actually we're planning to change that: We've not only decided to order some more Norwegian children's books, for example from wonderful design-minded Magikon Forlag. But we'd also love to visit our friends, who have a two-and-half-years old son and live close to the capital city of Oslo, sometime soon.

By then we'll hopefully be able to tell the customs officers (Norway isn't part of the European Union) that all we're carrying in our heavy luggage is knekkebrød and bleie. And, no, that sound in our bags doesn't come from bottles of schnapps (which is believed to be a favorite souvenir in a country where alcohol is extremely expensive) but KleineC's weekly supply of melk.

April 14, 2012

Everything is going to be okay

This week wasn't exactly one for dancing. KleineC developed a three-day-fever with temperatures reaching 40 ° Celsius which caused her to constantly alternate between the darkest of all moods and medicine-induced manic behavior. Not funny. Every parent knows it's heartbreaking seeing your child suffer. A sorrow shared is..., well, basically it is a sorrow shared.

No real need for a subtitle, right?
(Image: Chronicle Books)
At times like these, when your main job - day and night - is to keep up the morale (at least we had learned that a three-day-fever usually is an arduous, though not critical situation) parents might need a little pampering, too. Good to have a book like "Everything is going to be okay" at hand, available through one of my favorite publishing houses, Chronicle Books (actually, whenever I'm looking for a nice present I'm consulting their website).

Sounds like a self-help guidebook? Well, I can't really tell if it belongs to that genre as I don't read a lot of self-help literature. So to me it basically is a fabulous photo collection of graphic design and urban art statements, that, yes, highlight the positive side of things. Or, as Maria Popova, wittily writes in a review on her fantastic über-blog Brain Pickings: "Aesthetic Anesthesia for your soul: An antidote to cynicism by way of typography" (go to the blog post for plenty of pictures from the book).

"Everything is going to be okay" has become something like a household item at our place, being stored in the kitchen right next to our favorite cooking books. Oh, and writing this text I found out about a web page that might add an extra dose of positive vibrations:

Fortunately KleineC finally got better and all the three of us are going to practice one of the mottoes in the book: "Do something good today". That will be: Sleeping!

April 9, 2012

Style Council

Modfather and father of seven Paul Weller (The Jam, Style Council) talks about kids, musical choices, his own dad, class struggle and - of course - shirts and shoes in an interview with German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (unfortunately the text isn't online yet):

"I respect my children for making their own musical choices - and for listening to 
Rihanna and the Beatles. They are much more open than I was in my own youth.
Back then you were only allowed to listen to a certain breed of bands".

Sunglasses recommended when visiting Paul Weller's website

Though we might imagine Mr. Weller's own musical coming-of-age in a British working class environment (to which he refers in about every second sentence) as, uh, decidedly decisive, I'd like to point out that boring middle-class me also went through those awkward schoolyard inquisitions.

You had to show proof of being a true devotee (by displaying iron-on band stickers or marker scribbles on any part of your wardrobe) of either 1980s Euro-Pop option A (Norway's A-Ha) or B (Bros - does anyone remember those peroxide blonde Brits and their cheesy smash hit "When Will I Be Famous"?) - or punk rock. Actually I chose both Bros and punk rock. You're only young once...

P.S.: Gee, Paul Weller, what's it with your haircut...?  Anybody with me?

April 8, 2012

Sunday Art School

Looking for the perfect soundtrack for your Easter Sunday family brunch? At our place alt-folk band The Welcome Wagon is on heavy rotation. It's got hymns, choirs, spiritual lyrics, pious artworks and some blithely tacky guitar play. But above all the songs from their only true longplayer, 2008s Sufjan Stevens-produced "Welcome to The Welcome Wagon", are utterly comforting and downright joyous. And KleineC loves it, this time not ecstatically dancing to the music like a yé-yé girl but rather smoothing it out.

The Welcome Wagon asks: "Would you Come and See me in New York"? 
Hell, yeah! Ooops, sorry, Reverend!
(Video: AsthmaticKitty)

It is intriguing to learn about the heads behind The Welcome Wagon, Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique: Their recording company, prestigious Asthmatic Kitty, tells us of a midwestern upbringing, chamber music origins (in its original meaning) and Vito currently serving as senior pastor at Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn's hipster neighborhood Williamsburg. For a preview to Welcome Wagon's second full-length album, "Precious Remedies", announced for June 2012, you're linked to très chic Christian magazine Relevant.

Coming from a non-practicing European-style part protestant, part catholic background, at first I suspected The Welcome Wagon's biography and their field-recording aesthetics to be a very clever art school spoof. But actually it seems to be more sunday school, though The Welcome Wagon's gospel  definitely is more than just a weekly variation on the same theme. Actually this kind of very contemporary, pop-culture savvy and yet down to earth spiritualism seems quite simpatico. If only there was more of it to be found at places outside the New York avant-garde microcosm. Amen!

Have a precious Easter weekend!

April 5, 2012

Holidays in Smurflandia

It's the third year now that we're living as a family (counting pregnancy as the first year). And yet in many aspects we haven't fully arrived at the point of disciplined self-organisation and optimized routines that are believed to facilitate day-to-day life. Take vacation planning: It's April now and we haven't decided on where to spend our week off in June.

Blue Note
(Image: Manuel Floresv / Wikimedia Commons)
Back when it was just the two of us we'd hop on any train passing, going wherever we wanted. Now this won't work anymore and none of us would have much fun spending half a day on board of a trans-continental flight. But still, as we learned yesterday, we could do, well, amazing things that please the whole family...

The Andalusian village of Juzcar has earned a reputation for being the capital of Smurflandia: As the story goes, the public relations firm that was to promote yesteryears 3D Smurfs movie approached the economically struggling town and convinced its mayor to paint every building smurfish blue - including il municipio and la iglesia. Now Juzcar has its steady flock of tourists, many of them dressed up as... right, you guess it!

Even if you don't feel the immediate urge to fly to Spanish Smurftown now, it is strongly advised to consult your Smurfs library from time to time. Re-reading the stories as an adult, you discover all so many new aspects and finally learn what a strange, disturbing world our small blue friends live in: Basically it is a group of males all dressed in exactly the same egalitarian fashion, babbling along in a very basic language, living in mushroom houses and getting highly distracted whenever a female fellow appears.

But maybe the most unsettling phenomenon surrounding Smurfism is its musical universe: Ranging from the late 1970s pan-European chartbreaking Smurfs theme song interpreted by white-bearded Vader Abraham (who, a few years later, also brought us the "Smurfs Beer" song...) to contemporary "smurf techno". You better get your children out of reach while listening to whatever version - or you'll spend the next years with a new convert begging "Smurf it again". Hey, wait a second... Is this you, KleineC....? What are you hiding behind your back...? Your dancing shoes...? Damn!