Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MMM - November 2014

I'm starting to plan the Monthly Maya Mix (MMM) for March 2015, so I thought I'd start recapping some of her MMMs to date.

The first 10-song mix I made for Maya was in November. After listening to her 5th birthday CD for a few weeks leading up to her party in late September, then for a few weeks following, I was ready for some new tunes by late October.

By the way, this is a good time for a little PSA: If you're a parent and you encourage your children to like some of your favorite songs, and they actually do like them, hooray! ... Within 3 weeks, you'll hate those same songs. Because no matter how great the tune is, if you listen to it on repeat for weeks on end, it will become the most annoying sound in the world. So, you know, proceed with caution.

Anyway, the November mix incorporated "mommy/daddy" songs Maya had shown an interest in after hearing them on the radio, plus a few songs I knew were sure-fire kids' hits, plus some songs that had some relevance to the time of year or plans we had for the month:

1. Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes
This is one Maya has heard me sing along to on the radio, and due to my over-animated sing-alongs, became a quick favorite. The songs gets really quiet, then very loud, à la "Shout." What could be more exciting for a five year old!?

That said, when the same five-year-old sings, "I'm so strung out. I'm high as a kite; I just might stop to check you out," in public, cue the parental embarrassment.

2. How You Like Me Now - The Heavy
I thought this might be upbeat and repetitive enough for preschooler enjoyment, but no dice. Maya's not a fan.

3. Behind Blue Eyes - The Who
By and large, Maya likes any song that include lyrics about blue eyes (because she has blue eyes) or blonde hair (because she had blonde hair). What she doesn't know is that I've secretly been attempting to make her a fan of The Who since Superbowl 2010. This plan has been somewhat successful, although for this particular song, she only likes the first 2 minutes and 19 seconds. So in other words, the boring part. Once it gets good, she loses interest.

4. Touch the Sky - Julie Fowlis (from the "Brave" soundtrack)
This is my favorite of the recent Disney movies, so Maya pretends to likes this song for that reason. Otherwise, I don't think it's her favorite.

5. Changes - David Bowie
Another excellent song I can attribute to the Shrek franchise. A cover of this plays during one scene of Shrek 2, and that's enough to capture Maya's attention. Thank you, DreamWorks!

6. Nasty Dan - Johnny Cash
I gotta give props to Melinda for introducing this gem to our repertoire, back when Maya was born. We're now fans of the whole Johnny Cash Children's Album.

7. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - The Beatles
My first of many attempts to get the girls to like The Beatles. I mean, c'mon, it was the theme song to "Life Goes On." What's not to like!? Apparently all of it, say the girls.

8. When the World - Lea Michele (from the "Legends of Oz" soundtrack)
A cartoon sequel to "The Wizard of Oz" came out a while back starring Lea Michele of "Glee" fame. I actually always liked Lea Michele, so I gave this cartoon a chance on Red Box one night. The verdict: It's one of the worst movies ever made. I honestly could not watch this movie from beginning to end without getting up and pacing angrily around the house for the Wizard-of-Oz blasphemy taking place before me. For a sample of this horror, let me offer this clip from the movie:

If you couldn't sit through that clip (and I don't blame you) let me give you the abbreviated version: a soldier made out of marshmallows brings his miniature porcelain doll love interest back to life by removing parts of his marshmallow body, melting them in a fire, and using those melted body parts to glue her broken body back together.

OK, first of all? Ew. And second of all? Eeeeewwwww.

Still, I'm a parent. And like most parents, I'm a pushover and will do things that go against all my moral fibers just to see my children smile. So I put a different song from this movie on Maya's November mix to make her happy. And it did, immensely. What can I say? I'm a big meltable, marshmallow softie at heart.

9. Oh My Sweet Carolina - Ryan Adams
Every year, we head to North Carolina to visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving, so I thought this was an appropriate choice for Maya's November mix. I suspected this song might be too slow and quiet for her tastes, which was a correct assumption. But at least I tried.

10. Mexico Lindo (Pretty Mexico) - Nati Cano's Mariachi Los Camperos
In November, we started talking to the girls about our upcoming January trip to Mexico. So in an attempt to get Maya in the Mayan spirit, I added some mariachi to the mix. She was mildly intrigued, but mostly chose to skip this tune. Once again, at least I tried.

You can also listen to the mix here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Paradise Coast Marathon Half & 5K - Race No. 3 of 35

After some internal debate, I decided not to do the Cupid's Undies undies run, mostly because it wasn't timed and was only a mile. That just didn't feel like a real race to me. But that left me needing to do another race in February just to keep pace for my 3.

Fortunately, a planned family trip to Ft. Myers, Fla. happened to coincide with a race in Naples, so I got to stay on track.

The race was a marathon, half and 5k, and because I'm nowhere near able to do a marathon or half, I opted for the 5k. Although this race took place in Florida, and the highs that day were in the mid-70s, at the 7 a.m. start time, the temps were in the 40s, so it was a little chilly before the race. While running, though, those chilly temps were perfect. That, plus the location — a swamp buggy race course — made this my favorite race of the year.

I also clocked one of my best 5k times, so this race will be tough to beat. Here's to Race No. 3!

Race Summary:
Race name: Paradise Coast Marathon Half & 5K
2015 Challenge Race No.: 3
Location: Florida Sports Park, Naples, Fla.
Organizers/Sponsor: Elite events
Beneficiary: None (from what I can tell)
Cost: $35
Distance: 5k (3.1 miles)
Best parts of the race:
- Location!

Worst parts:
- Early start time

Upcoming events:

Next race: Mardi Gras Chaser 10K, TODAY @ Montrose Harbor, Chicago, IL

  • Fight For Air Climb (180 floors stair climb), March 8 @ Presidential Towers, Chicago, IL - I need some donations for this one, so if you can spare a few bucks, please donate! Full disclosure: This is probably not the last time I'll hit you up for donations this year, so you know, keep that in mind when choosing how much to donate. Seriously, even $5 helps.
  • Get Lucky 7K, March 14 @ Jackson Park, Chicago, IL
  • Shamrock Shuffle 8K, March 29 @ Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Playlist for the Ages

When you're a parent, you hear numerous children's songs on repeat. Constantly. They all get irritating. Even the good stuff, like Yo Gabba Gabba! and the They Might Be Giants kids CDs, get annoyingly repetitive after a while.

Starting before age 2, Maya often wanted to hear the same song over and over again. Many times, she'd insist we start a song over again only 15 or 20 seconds into it. As she got older and started talking — and singing — more, we realized she was committing every verse to memory. She needed to know every word and sing along.

So, although we indulged this request, hearing one song everyday on repeat for the 30-40 minute commute into to the work, then again for the drive home, was insufferable. So we made a deal where Chris and I listen to the radio (almost exclusively WXRT) for at least half the commute, then Maya gets to pick her song(s).

Over the years, she has started to like some of the songs on the radio, and — being a child of the modern era with no concept of a live, non-DVR'd broadcast — would ask us to play them again or restart them halfway through.

That interest in our music, plus the frustrating task of navigating between her two favorite kids songs of the moment, which were often located on different CDs, led me to start making her mixes. This also gave me the opportunity to expose her to different music, even though some of my choices may be questionable for her age.

Many she deemed "too long" or "boring," but some stuck. And I now have a 5 year old who knows all the words to "Brass Monkey" and "Blister in the Sun."

Starting with her 4th birthday, I started making a mix of her favorite songs as a goodie bag giveaway for her friends. Full disclosure: I straight up stole this idea from my cousin who does the same thing for her daughter.

In addition, I also started making Maya a monthly mix of just 10 songs. Each is a mix of stuff I know she'll love (Disney, mostly) and stuff I want her to like. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. A few themes have emerged: She does NOT like The Beatles (sniff), but one Paul McCartney song has won her over ("New"), simply because it was on the soundtrack for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Same goes for any song even remotely associated with the Shrek/Puss in Boots franchise. Hence, Maya now likes Rodrigo y Gabriela.

I'll write more about the monthly mixes in the future, but for now, here are her last two birthday mixes:

Maya's Favorite Songs - 2013 (age 4) edition

1. Pool Party - Aquabats (Yo Gabba Gabba! Music is Awesome! Vol. 1)
2. When Will My Life Begin - Mandy Moore (Tangled soundtrack)
3. These Boots Are Made For Walkin' - Nancy Sinatra
4. Wombo Lombo - Angelique Kidjo
5. Sing After Me - Madeline Kahn & Grover
6. I Can Add - They Might Be Giants
7. I Love Bugs - Yo Gabba Gabba!
8. What I Like About You - ROMANTICS
9. Pirate Girls Nine - They Might Be Giants
10. Sisters and Brothers - Free to Be...You And Me
11. Hold Still - Yo Gabba Gabba!
12. Hot Dog! - They Might Be Giants
13. Baby Beluga - Raffi
14. Baa Baa Blacksheep - Patti Dallas and Alura Baron
15. Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67 - Sergei Prokofiev - Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic

Maya's Favorite Songs - 2014 (age 5) edition

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2. Hey Ya! - Outkast
3. Americano - Lady Gaga
4. La Seine and I - Vanessa Paradis & Sean Lennon (A Monster in Paris soundtrack)
5. Let It Go - Idina Menzel (Frozen soundtrack)
6. Blond Hair And Blue Eyes - moe.
7. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon
8. I Love Rock N' Roll - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
9. Diablo Rojo - Rodrigo y Gabriela
10. Papa Paris - Vanessa Paradis (A Monster in Paris soundtrack)
11. For the First Time in Forever - Kristin Bell & Idina Menzel (Frozen soundtrack)
12. Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys
13. Sweet Adeline - Elliott Smith
14. Poor Unfortunate Souls - Pat Carroll (A Little Mermaid soundtrack)
15. Get Off Of My Cloud - The Rolling Stone
16. Everything is AWESOME!!! - Tegan and Sara (The Lego Movie soundtrack)
17. Tick Tick Boom - The Hives
18. A Monster in Paris - Sean Lennon (A Monster in Paris soundtrack)
19. Lovely, Love My Family - The Roots (Yo Gabba Gabba! Music is Awesome! Vol. 1)
20. Ladies First - Marlo Thomas (Free To Be...You And Me soundtrack)
21. Power Puff Girls End Title - The Hit Crew (The Power Puff Girls Theme Song)