DZ Take 2

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 No comments
My sister just sent me the article below. It was on Newswe* this morning and in case you were wondering who the heck DZ is and why did I rave on so about him in the last post...I think this article sums it up pretty well. This journalist was at the earlier concert, but it was pretty much the same. You can link to the article here.

Dan Zizzie in the Hizzie
Monday, February 25, 2008 11:41 PM
By Brian Braiker

Sunday we met up with some friends and took the kids to see Dan Zanes, who is of course the reigning Pied Piper of family music (without, I'm hoping, that whole leading-children-off-to-their-deaths motif). Sometimes, as much as I'd like to deny it, it's hard to be a young parent in Park Slope and not endure the creeping suspicion that I am a craven yuppie scumbag hipster-lite stereotype. Thankfully I am not self-aware enough to be plagued too painfully. So, with due cheer, the fam hopped on the 5th Avenue bus yesterday after breakfast and headed north to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In no time it turned into the Dan Zanes express: every person who would board the bus was either a parent or a toddler. Or horrified to discover themselves on some bourgeois nightmare re-imagining of Ken Kesey's Further schoolbus packed with midget Merry Pranksters.

The opera hall at BAM is gorgeous—DZ called it the Carnegie Hall of Brooklyn, and so it is. When we got to our seats we were astonished to find that $22 placed us third row center. The Man Himself was a little jarringly onstage doing last minute sound-checky things. He smiled and waved at folks as they walked in. It felt like he was welcoming us into his living room—the performer/audience wall thus shattered, it never fully reconfigured for the duration of the show.But, I mean really, check the proximity:

Ah, I am getting ahead of myself.Now, I am on record as having certain, well, grown-up feelings for one Ms. Laurie Berkner. But I have to say, in recent months one of Zanes's bandmates has been catching my eye on the concert DVD (and late-night Google Image searches). Barbara Brousal is raven haired, slinky, sophisticated and mysteriously sultry—a deeply compelling contrast to Laurie's bouncy, sproingy, cutesy colorful playfulness. Now, don't get me wrong: I still love me some Berkner. But I was verrrrry much libinously looking forward to seeing BB in action yesterday.You can imagine my dismay upon a pre-performance perusing of the program tha t included no mention whatsoever of Barbara Brousal! O, heartbreak! Mrs. Breeder took, I thought, a bit too much delight in my obvious deflation.But! Then the show started. Zanes had previously vacated the stage to change into one of his top-drawer suits. Collin Brooks, his usual dapper drummer, was the first to bound onto the stage. Then came Saskia Lane on upright bass, followed by John Foti on accordion and Elena Moon Park on fiddle. Who, I wondered angrily, would dare to take the place of my dearly departed Brousal? Barbara! Even though you share a Christian name with a woman who drove my first grade carpool, I hardly knew ye. Agh. Fine. Let us get a good look at the person that doth claim to replace you ...Oh.My.Oh my. My oh my. It is, it seems, a lady named Sonia De Los Santos, who hails from Mexico. She may have some pretty mighty shoes to fill, people. But, let me tell you, I learned yesterday that there is no such thing as global warming. The reason the polar ice caps are melting is because of Sonia's smile:


Uh, sorry. But. I mean, COME ON THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A KIDS' CONCERT. Hmph. Dan Zanes has some serious mojo working for him in the painfully adorable bandmate department, I'll tell you that much. Can I get an amen, fellow dads?Ahem. So anyway the Man of the Hour tells us that he's got a new album coming out in a couple months called Nueva York or something and it's got a lot of Latino and Hispanic roots flavors to it—salsa, meringue, norteƱo, etc. (probably not too many narcorridos, though, sadly). So we were treated to a few ditties from the new rekkid. And this being Brooklyn, his home town, he played "Wonder Wheel," his lovely homage to the Coney Island Ferris wheel. I keep waiting for the Dan Zanes Backlash, but astonshingly it fails to arrive. Maybe it's not so astonishing. The sound mix was perfect, the lighting warm. His song choice was tasteful, his dance mov es endearingly ridiculous. There were songs about monkeys and songs about Mary Mack, silver buttons and all. There were anti-war stalwarts ("I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield ...") and pro-immigration tunes. At the end of it all, he did his James-Brown-I'm-Exhausted-to-the-Point-of-Collapse bit, hand towel and all. Then he played the traditional Zanes end-of-show waltz, "Sidewalks of New York." He stepped down off the stage and slinked through the unwashed masses out into the lobby. He vanished. Dan Zanes can put on a hell of a show.

There were, per usual, a smattering of guest appearances: tap dancer Derrick K. Grant brought, um, 'da noise and i guess 'da funk. The Filipino Arts & Music Ensemble was adorable with their twelve-thousand mandolins played with huggable awkwardness by 13 year olds ("the most strings I've ever seen on stage at one time ever!" says ZanesHimself). Anna Zanes, Dan's daughter, was there in all of her early-teen glory and she played the flute and Daddy Dan sang along and she had a friend-in-braces with her and it was cuter than baby pandas. Bless.Then, of course, there was Father Goose. He didn't just hop on stage. He swarmed it. He had a posse. He brought his boys. He had a hype man! At a kid's concert! A hype man! A hype man who I am pretty sure had a glass eye for reasons we'd be better off not knowing about. Dan Zane s is rad for many reasons—the all-inclusiveness, the you-can-too vibe, the exquisite choice of songs. But chief among the reasons that he is rad is turning Rankin Don into Father Motherfriggin' Goose. If Brooklyn is the dollhouse that Dan Zanes built, Father Goose is the guy who tore the damn roof off of it. Jaysus.

So, yes. Dan Zanes puts on a hell of a show. But "children's music?" Pishposh. This was as good a performance as a performance can get. You could ask for no better critic than my three-foot-tall daughter who weaseled her way to the front of the baby mosh pit. There she was, palms down on the stage, bouncing up and down for a solid hour. When she woke up from her post-concert nap, we asked her: "Do you remember what you did this morning?" She paused and furrowed her tiny brow with a gravitas that would make Walter Cronkite look like Pee Wee Herman. "Ummmm," she replied. "I can't remember."


Monday, February 25, 2008 No comments
Chloe's signed concert t-shirt.

Chloe and Daddy in the box prior to the concert.

Chloe and Dan Zan*es after the concert. She acted all shy but afterwards told him, "You Rock!".

The band coming out of the concert hall.

Father Goo*se's autograph on Chloe's concert shirt.

Yesterday was a milestone...Chloe's first live concert. Chloe is very into music and musical instruments. Whenever we get into the car, Chloe insists on listening to "her music" which is children's music (with the exception of Shani*a Twa*in and Alici*a Keye*s). Children's music generally is comprised of two major components...easy to sing along with and a catchy, bouncy tune. So, needless to say, as an adult, listening to said music over and over again can begin to really grate on ones nerves.

Two of the CDs we listen to most often in the car are by The Laur*ie Berk*ner Band. While I adore her music, after listening to it for 2 years, I'm a little tired of it. So, in an effort to regain some sanity I introduced Chloe to a new artist, one that we can all appreciate as a family. In other words, a children's artist that makes music we can all enjoy. Enter Da*n Zan*es! His music is hip and cool and features a wide range of musical influences. We have been listening to his Gramm*y-winning CD, Catch That Train!, for the last two weeks and really enjoying it. So, when by chance I came across an ad that he was in concert I jumped at the chance to buy tickets for all of us

On Sunday, after church, we drove to Brooklyn to see Da*n Zane*s and Friends in concert and let me tell you we ALL enjoyed ourselves. After the band came out and played the opening number, DZ invited everyone to "party" in front of the stage. Parents and kids alike rushed the stage creating what Matt and I referred to as the "mosh pit". During the rest of the concert it parents and kids were dancing in the aisles and in the mosh pit. It was great fun and highly entertaining. The concert featured a number of local artists, many of whom are featured on DZ's latest album. One of the featured artist was Fath*er Goo*se, who was on the front page of the Arts & Leisure section of the NY Time*s last week (in case you're wondering, here's the link to the article).

Chloe enjoyed watching the band play the different instruments. If we tried to talk to her though, she got very upset if we interrupted her "experience". Later in the concert, Matt took Chloe down to the mosh pit for some dancing. It was SO wild that she fell asleep on Matt's shoulders. We joked and called it the mosh pit, it was just a crowd of kids having a good time dancing with mom or dad. But, it was right in front of the stage and it was loud. The concert seriously wore Chloe out for her to fall asleep while all this was going on around her.

After the concert, DZ and band came out into the entry of the concert hall and met the fans. We bought Chloe her 1st concert t-shirt and had DZ and Fathe*r Goo*se sign it. Chloe also had her photo taken with DZ. We had a great time and are already planning on going to another one of his concerts in the summer.

It's the Simplest Things...

Sunday, February 24, 2008 No comments

Whenever it is laundry day (which, HONESTLY, is about once a month as I despise doing laundry) Chloe always drags out the laundry basket and turns it into a kennel for her. She becomes "Bow Wow" the puppy and plays in the laundry basket barking. Its quite funny and cute. We don't keep our dog Lizzie in a kennel, so I don't know where she came up with this idea.


Saturday, February 23, 2008 No comments
This past week has been a vacation week from pre-school. When we woke up on Friday morning to see several inches of snow had fallen I began to panic a bit as Chloe would be "indoors" all day. However, Chloe has come to love the snow and wants to be outside in the snow...all day if I let her.
Chloe put on her snow suit and helped me clear the sidewalks in the morning and then later in the afternoon we went back out to make a snowman.

The snow man.

Making a snow angel.

Throwing a snowball at Mommy.


Friday, February 15, 2008 No comments
Honestly, I feel totally compelled to chime in on this one. I generally try to stay out of politics on this blog as it is about my child and her doings, but give me a break! I truly believe Congress is fiddling while Rome is burning! Have they lost their minds or their desire to be re-elected?

We have recession looming, foreclosures at record levels, a war in Iraq, tainted this and tainted that entering our food supply and children's toys, global warming, a weak dollar.... And what is Congress doing about any of that? No, they are attending to more pressing matters by holding a special hearing to get to something that effects virtually NONE of the American population...steroid use in baseball. ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDIN' ME? There is nothing else more pressing on the Government Reform Committee's agenda than questioning an over-paid professional athlete/star on his steroid use?

What's the next issue to hold hearings on...whether the 24 chosen competitors on American Id*l really are all truly undiscovered talent?

So, I went here to see who serves on this committee and to whom I could address my letter of displeasure. I also went here to see what sort of business they usually occupy their time with. Oh, and of course, I had to go here to read all about the MRI results on Roger Clem*ns right buttock to see if indeed there was evidence he had given himself a steroid shot in his booty because we all know that's a pressing matter in the U.S. today!

So please, feel free to check out the above listed sites and see your tax dollars at work. Oh, and if you want to send them a message, you can go here.

Our Valentine

Thursday, February 14, 2008 1 comment

Apparently too much candy, too many parties and playdates was too much for Chloe. She fell asleep in the chair while I was making dinner this evening.

Valentine Delivery

Chloe and I had a surprise delivery this afternoon--flowers from Daddy! I got a big bouquet of red and yellow roses (love and friendship...but yellow is my favorite color and it's the rose of Texas) and Chloe got 3 sweet roses too.

Happy Valentine's Day

The photo is a shot of Chloe (far right) and some of her pre-school pals taken this morning.

Some have said that Valentine's Day is cheesy and overrated, but I disagree. I think this is one of the best holidays with kids. I love the handmade gifts Chloe made for us at pre-school and looking through the handwritten valentine's cards from her classmates. It's darling.

Now, Chloe is completely wired for sound, but hey its a holiday and she has a playdate at someone else's house! ;)

Random Acts of Chloe

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 No comments
I thought I would share some random events in the life of Chloe lately....

  • Chloe's pre-school teacher told me that Chloe decided to stand up in circle time and tell everyone that she can spell the month, "F-E-B-R-U-A-R-Y". Where she learned this I have no clue. Her teacher was so impressed. She would not spell it for me though.

  • Chloe has her 1st "BIG girl" playdate without Mommy. She has been invited to a friend's house to play on Thursday afternoon. She is quite excited about it.

  • Bingo, Chloe's Betta died Monday. True, this is Bingo #4 or something like that, but the big difference was that we thought we would be honest this time (instead of just replacing the fish while Chloe is in pre-school like nothing happened) and tell her what happened. I explained that Bingo died, he lived a long life and that he was a good fish and that it is the cycle of life. Chloe's response, "OK, can we go to the pet store and get a new Bingo right now?" She was over that one quick! So, the next day Chloe and I went to the pet store to get a new Betta. She promptly informed the lady who assisted us that she is getting a new Bingo because old Bingo died and the new fish MUST look like old Bingo---red with long fins. We then looked at 20+ Bettas to find the one that looked most like old Bingo. This was a bit of deja vu...wasn't this what I did when I snuck the new fish in the tank?

    During our visit to the pet store Chloe also told me that she knew her spotted fish (i.e. male guppies)in her aquarium died--she had noticed they were missing. This was Chloe putting me on notice that I hadn't been pulling any fast ones over on her by just removing the fish and thinking she wouldn't notice they were missing. Apparently she did.

  • Matt had to go to Chicago for business and he returned yesterday...during the light snow fall that the weathermen reported. Hearing, "light snow fall" I thought nothing of it and Chloe and I went to pick up Matt from his flight yesterday afternoon. In what would normally be 30 minutes one way took us 2 hours. When Chloe's movie ended she than began to sing songs. She got a little creative and started re-mixing some songs and combining them with others she knew. Here are the lyrics to my favorite Chloe creation:

    Go Tell It On The Mountain,
    Over The Hills and Everywhere,
    Go Tell it on the Mountain, that Jesus Christ was Born.
    Go Tell It on The Mountain That Man I Feel Like a Woman!
    Dun, Dun, da dun, da dun dun. Woooo!

  • Chloe's favorite new phrase is "What say?" Literally every 3rd statement you make to her gets, "What say?" as the response. At first I thought she had hearing loss, but I have determined she has caught on to my family's annoying trait of "selective hearing" and has developed this statement now out of habit. Of course, it has entered Matt and my vernacular as we now say it to one another.

Yes, This IS NJ

Saturday, February 09, 2008 2 comments
Attempting to sleep in on the weekends isn’t a possibility when you have an alarm clock that is always set at 6:30 a.m. Our alarm clock is named Chloe and she generally wakes us up with, “Mommy, get up! I’m hungry and thirsty!” This morning it came with an additional eye-opener…turning on Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom lights.

Since we were up early, we decided to go into downtown for breakfast at a regular haunt. It’s probably the most famous eatery in our town, winning many “People’s Choice” awards for the low-cost, myriad of choices and obscene amount of food given. Because of this, it attracts a large crowd on the weekends and as we learned this morning out-of-towners.

We had just sat down and were perusing the menu when a married couple sat at the table next to us. They had the “deer in the headlights” look on their face as they admired other diners food choices and asked, “Oohhhh, what did you order?!” while invading their personal space. “Isn’t this place charming?” the woman asked her husband in her booming NY accent. She didn’t wait for a response because the lady sitting at the table behind me had just gotten her strawberry-banana pancakes delivered, and she was all up in her space wanting to know if they were good and if they ate at this restaurant a lot.

The woman sitting behind us responded in a WAY too loud voice, “No, we’re from Long Island. This is our first time here.”

“NO! You don’t say! We’re from the Upper East Side in The City!” yelled back the other woman. “What brings you here?”

“Our daughter is at a sleep-over so we decided to get out of the hustle and bustle and stay at some place rural. We’re staying up the road in a new Marriott. The concierge told us about this place and this charming, little town.”

OK, the last statement nearly made my head spin around! Well, at the very least it made Matt and I nearly choke up our coffee. Go someplace rural? You’re 16 miles from downtown NYC you fool! Now, maybe it’s me. I grew up in Dallas, Texas but 16 miles outside of Dallas is still suburbia, full of shopping malls, chain-restaurants and neighborhoods. Hardly, rural. Now we live 16 miles outside of NYC with the greatest population in the U.S. How could 16 miles outside of The City possibly be rural? You can see The City from our town!

Before I continue with this story, let me make one point clear. I wasn’t snooping into the conversation of these two couples. This restaurant does such a bustling business in the mornings that it creates a buzz that makes it hard to concentrate on what the person across from you at your table is saying much less people at nearby tables. But, somehow these two couples managed to speak at decibels above the crowd. They spoke like they had headphones on blasting music at the highest volume while trying to have a conversation.

After sharing that they were on a rural getaway, the other couple shared that they crossed the George Washington Bridge this morning (shock, from the other couple…they made a day trip to NJ? There are plenty of hotels nearby) to bring their daughter to take her ACT test at the high school in our village.

They then began, and I will try to be accurate, possibly dumbest exchange I ever had to listen to---

Upper East Side Lady: “This town is soooooooo cute. I thought it would be goombas with mullets and trucks.”

Long Island Lady: “I know. It seems nice. Not like Jersey at all.”

UES Lady: “I can’t believe how many NY plates I have seen parked here downtown. I wonder how they found this place. We only found it because we had to come for the ACT.”

Long Island Lady: “We had heard this is a nice place to live and a nice town. A friend of ours came for a weekend.”

UES Lady: “When we were on line to register our daughter for the ACT someone said that this school district is one of the best in the nation. Can you believe that?”

UES Lady’s Husband: “I thought the whole state was like Newark.”

Let me state again…we are 16 miles from Times Square in NYC in one of the most densely populated and wealthiest county in the U.S. We aren’t rural and we aren’t stereotypical NJ. I mean, I have come across hayseed hillbillies when I lived and taught in Texas. It’s a big state and many people I met and taught had never left Texas and had a very limited and narrow “view” of the world. But, we live in NYC suburbia. Surely, that limited a view could not exist here. Well, those two couples proved it does.

I know I live in a state that is stereotyped. Heck, when Matt told me he was being transferred to NYC and that he wanted to look for houses in NJ, I nearly flipped! NJ! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! How can I ever tell my friends and family I lived in NJ? The disgrace! I love our village now and I love NJ. Sure, if you drive up the NJ Turnpike and watch The Sopran*s you might get the wrong idea. Two years after moving to NJ I still find myself fighting the stereotype and saying to myself, “I can’t believe this is NJ!”

So, for those of you who think you know NJ, and would find yourselves in our village eating breakfast and feeling compelled to share with the entire restaurant your shock at the real NJ, read this first (I found this in a discussion thread about the real NJ).

  • When the rest of the world thinks your home is all gigantic hair and hypodermics on the beach, you kind of have to find a way to laugh about it. Not every residential dwelling in the state faces onto the NJ Turnpike. Look, people: owning The Sopran*s on DVD and really liking the song "Thunder Road" does not equal "knowing anything about Jersey," and when you think it does, you annoy the natives.

  • "Joisey" is a Brooklyn pronunciation. We don't talk like that. Don't say it that way, or write it that way. Ever.

  • A North Jersey accent is like a NY accent and is a bit different from a South Jersey accent which favors a Philly flair.

  • Contrary to popular belief, it's not called "the Garden State" as a joke. Jersey is something like fifty percent arable land. The Pine Barrens is a forest, and it's big. The Watchung Reservation is horse trails and trees with a road running through it, and it's a fifteen-minute bike ride to a U.S. Open championship golf course. If all you see is the view out the window on the Parkway, yeah, it looks like a concrete hell, but the state is really pretty. Go through the Delaware Water Gap sometime; it's a nice drive.

  • Newark isn't Mayberry, but it isn't the gold standard of dangerous crappy urban blight, either. It has a spiffy arts center and great restaurants, and a minor-league team right near the train.

  • The Mafia is not something most Jerseyans deal with in their day-to-day lives.

  • Bon Jovi is really not as strongly identified with Jersey, in a weird way. It's more of a time-period thing than a Jersey thing -- like, we'll happily claim Bruce and Sinatra, but mention Bon Jovi to us and we're kind of like, "Oh, this is about the hair, isn't it. Okay, fine." We didn't really decide he was A Jersey Emblem; everyone else did, because of the perm. I mean, yeah, we all listened to their music, because everyone did, because they had two huge albums in a row and were all over MTV.

  • Big-hair is like Bon Jovi in that it wasn't a function of Jersey; it was a function of the eighties. When the eighties ended, so did that hair.

  • The fact that Thomas Edison is from NJ and Princeton U. is in NJ doesn't seem to count for anything. Come on, people. At least try to see the good.

  • A Jersey beefsteak tomato is the apotheosis of tomato-ness. If you don't agree, you've never eaten one in season.

Chinese New Year

Thursday, February 07, 2008 1 comment

Today marks Chinese New Year--The Year of the Rat. To celebrate, we provided the snack today at Chloe's pre-school. I went to the local Chinese supermarket and purchased New Year's Rice Cakes and mandarin oranges. Chloe also handed out red envelopes to the kids in her class filled with gold-wrapped chocolate coins. When I picked Chloe up from pre-school she was quick to share that she did not like the rice cake.

I recorded "Ni Hao Kai Lan" for her and Chloe can't wait to get nap over with to watch it.

The Dairy Best

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 No comments

I interrupt my daily blogging on the life and times of Miss Chloe to interject a message near and dear to Chloe and Chloe's PaPaw---organic milk.

Milk is Chloe's preferred beverage of choice. Seriously, at least 5, 8 ounce glasses a day. She will drink juice, only if milk is not available, and is only recently come to drink water. So with a child that can easily go through a gallon of milk (1% BTW) in 2 days, serving her organic milk not laced with growth hormones (BGH) is important.

Chloe's PaPaw was in the dairy sciences industry until his retirement recently and has always informed us of the little known differences among those producers of so-called dairy products. Buyer Beware!! Just because it says organic does not organic make.

This morning, as I met with the other mom's of the children in Chloe's pre-school class, several of us began discussing what we feed our kids and the topic of organics came up as several of the mom's talked about how they only give their kids organic milk. This struck a cord with me as my Dad (Chloe's PaPaw) has always been adamant on serving Chloe the dairy best without BGH. As I stated earlier, just because it says "organic" doesn't mean it's good organic. A lot of producers have jumped on the organic bandwagon and think that if they slap "organic" on their label they can squeeze a few more cents out of us. So, I shared this link with the mom's and I will share it with you in bloggy land...if you buy organic dairy products, check out this link as it ranks organic milk producers. If you're going to pay more, then make sure it is what you think it is.


Monday, February 04, 2008 No comments

Fuhgetabout the Cowboys...we don't live in Texas anymore. We live in Joizey now! (BTW the Giants really are a NJ team).
Chloe has rooted for the Big Blue all season so we had to go out this morning and get her a championship shirt.


Sunday, February 03, 2008 No comments
A view from the top of the mountain at the farms in the valley below.

We met some friends today at a nearby ski area, just over the NJ border in NY. The temperature today was in the high 40s, so it was a bit slushy and balmy out. Nonetheless it was great weather for skiing with young children because it was beautiful and sunny and we didn't have to listen to the complain that it was too cold outside.

Chloe had a great time skiing and really put a lot of effort in it. I think she has a competitive streak in her and didn't want to get "shown up" by the 3 other little boys in our group. We did have one meltdown on the tow-rope because she didn't want Mommy to teach her to ski, she wanted Daddy (thanks a lot!). But, once Daddy arrived back on the scene all was well.

Chloe went up on the ski lift for the first time and it was her favorite thing. She did several runs on the bunny slope using the tow rope and then she did two runs down the mountain before we called it a day.

Chloe making her first downhill run after taking her first ski lift ride.

The family getting set to ski down the mountain.

Happy Groundhogs Day!

Saturday, February 02, 2008 2 comments

I love this video...I can watch it over and over. Chloe is convinced that the Groundhog will not see his shadow today because she did not see hers. So, there you have it, you can leave Punxsutawney Phil in his warm burrow.

We would also like to wish Aunt Deanna a happy birthday.