parenting politics

Anytime you get a group of moms together, the topic will eventually turn to children and parenting. You'll begin to hear questions like: When did your child stop using a pacifier? What kind of music do you allow your child to listen to? Do you believe in spanking your child? Do you co-sleep or make them stay in their own bed?
It can be tricky to succesfully navigate the waters of parenting politics without offending someone. There are so many different ideas out there about what is best for a child, and deciding which of these ideas will work best for your family is a personal decision. So what do you do when you find yourself in the middle of this type of conversation? Here are a few ideas:
  • recognize that there will be differences in parenting styles among your friends, and that it's okay
  • agree to disagree (sometimes a parent has a really good reason for their choice that others might not understand)
  • Don't be afraid to say if a topic makes you uncomfortable or is too personal to discuss.
  • If your child questions why others are allowed to do something and they are not, use it as a teachable moment. Each family has to find what works for them, and different doesn't always mean it's wrong.
What ways have you found to deal with parenting politics?

Bedtime Stories for Pirates - Captain Bogg and Salty

Captain Bogg and Crew's first album, 10 years old now, containing, well, pirate music. A little bit Pogues-y, a little bit gypsy-ish - just imagine for yourself the kind of music pirates might sing, and you're probably imagining it right. It's got a little bit more musical theatre about it than the other albums ("I'm a singing pirate" its quite Gilbert & Sullivan-ish) and actually sounds quite like a first album, but although it doesn't have as many danceable tunes as "Pegleg Tango" it's just as good in its own way. The kids dig it as much as I do and "SCUUUUUUUURVYYYYY!" has become a great catchphrase in the house.

Click here to buy its successor, "Pegleg Tango" on

I'm Me! - Charlie Hope

A collection of quiet-but-quietly-fun acoustic-y songs from woman with a really gorgeous voice. It's split about 50-50 between well-known songs (like Raffi's "Mr. Sun" and "10 in the bed") and originals. Of the covers I really love "Zoom zoom", which reminds me a little bit of Woody Guthrie's children's stuff in that it sounds like she's been recorded singing directly to one of her own children (complete with WHSSSSSSHHHHHCCCH vocal sound effects indicating the rocket blasting off). The originals are really good too - she knows how to put together a tune, and her lyrics are simple but good (again a little like Raffi).

My kids seldom express an interest in gentle music, but a lot of this is lively in its own subtle way, evidenced by Heather dancing to it all around the kitchen on Saturday. It dips a little at the end (by which I mean it gets a bit too quiet to really hold our attentions), but even so it's a good album and well worth checking out.

Tiny cool - Princess Katie and Racer Steve

Princess Katie and Racer Steve are a husband and wife duo and one of the new breed of American kindie bands, going for both girl and boy demographics judging by their name. The first song - a cool and very danceable salsa number with an ace brass section - is great, but after that it kinda goes astray. The lyrics tend to be from a grown-up rather than a kid's perspective, and can be quite cringey in places ("I'm on the stage rockin out/So I can see all the kids and I believe") and although they have some nice melodic turns here and there (like the chorus of "Shy") the parts never really add up to songs that grab me.

What happened to my baby?!?

Here's the scenario. You wake up one day, only to realize that your once easy going baby has turned into a toddler size dictator! Some children reach it earlier, and some later, but rest assured, every child goes through some form of the "terrible two's". Even though this time can be frustrating, don't forget that it is also a time of wonderful growth for your child. They are learning more about boundaries, how to interact socially, and who they are as a person. This type of learning will often last well into the preschool years. Here's what to expect of a typical two-and-a-half year old:

• Strongly possessive of loved ones and toys.

• Speaks in a loud urgent voice

• May become demanding and dictatorial

• Has difficulty with transitions and changes in routine

Sound familiar? Remember to be patient yet firm with your child as they test boundaries that you have established. Prepare your child, in advance if possible, for any changes to the schedule. Keep in mind, that this is all part of their growing process, and every parent has walked in your shoes at some point. In the end, you will see what a "Marvelous Me" your child can be!

Here Comes Science - They Might Be Giants

The latest from TMBG, this one attempts to explain some fairly complex scientific ideas to kids like photosynthesis, elements, cells and The Scientific Method itself in language kids will understand. We're a very science-y household - me and Niamh met when studying science in university, and she's an actual working Scientist with a Ph.D. and everything (ooooo!) - so we were excited about this one. From my own perspective I was hoping it'd help stop me tripping myself up during my regular lengthy explanations of Everything to Isabelle, in response to questions like "Everything has something else inside it, doesn't it?".

The music, as you'd expect, is top notch quirky indie rock - maybe not quite as consistent as "Here Come the 123s", but the best ones are (I think) better. Not all the songs are actually educational - like Roy G. Biv, which it just a super-catchy excuse to personify the colours of the rainbow and make up some nonsense about him. Of the ones that are some that are pretty simple content-wise, like a list of the names of the planets, which are perfect for Isabelle, and while the more complicated stuff won't provide instant enlightenment to a 5-year old, the songs do provide great jumping-off points for talking about this stuff.

Like the other TBMG kids records there's a DVD of videos of the songs as part of the package. The videos on this are much slicker than "Here come the 123s", including "Electric car" which is one of the most gorgeous videos I've ever seen. Highly recommended.

The Wizard of Oz Soundtrack

Isabelle went through a mad Wizard of Oz stage when she was 3. We played countless games of Dorothy and Scarecrow, and she declared to anyone who'd listen "I'm obsessed with princesses, Power Rangers and Wizard of Oz".

The obsession with princesses is the only one that has persisted since (curse you Disney!), so I hadn't listened to this in a while until this morning. I was struck again by how good the music is - not just "Somewhere over the rainbow" (which was Isabelle's favourite song when she was around 4 months old), but "Ding dong the witch is dead", "If I only had a brain", "Follow the yellow brick road" and more. Despite that it was never really a hit in the house. It's a kind of odd album - the music is taken unedited from the film, so there's bits and pieces of songs scattered everywhere. "If I only had a heart/a brain/the nerve", for example, appears in a few fragments, one for each of Dorothy's companions. Other songs are similarly broken up, or, like all the little tunes the Munchkins sing to welcome Dorothy, extremely short ... I suppose what I'm getting at is that, good as the music is, the CD feels like an incomplete experience without the visuals.

Sing-Along Songs from Glasses Island - The Speks

The first Irish kids music act I've come across, this is a nursery rhyme CD containing many of the usual suspects, but played as (and in some cases set to) Irish traditional music - for example "Miss Polly had a dolly" is set to the tune of The Little Beggarman. It's refreshing to hear children's music sung in a Irish accent, and to hear some of the pre-school songs you get here that you don't tend to find on UK and US releases (like Michael Finnegan and The Scarecrow). It's well put-together by what sounds like proper trad musicians (flute, guitar, banjo, tin whistle, fiddle, etc) with a great line in close harmonies.

I like it. Haven't tried it out on the kids yet, but I reckon they'll dig it too. You can listen to it on bandcamp here.

***Dean Jones***

I've been a die-hard follower of Dog On Fleas since I found Cranberry Sauce Flotilla over four years ago. Became a bigger fan after getting to see them live at the Donnell Central Children's Room when I worked there. Got to the point of obsessive stalkerism when Dean Jones released Napper's Delight in 2007. Now Jones has upped the ante on his second solo disc by getting The Felice Brothers involved, resulting in one of the best family albums of 2010.

Check out a full review of Dean Jones' Rock Paper Scissors over at!

Outside Voices - The Pop-ups

There's a bit of chat about these guys on the kindie blogosphere at the minute, so I thought I'd check them out on bandcamp. Whoa! They're very good! It's pretty diverse - from the Flaming Lips-ish first track to the squelchy electronics of "Subway train" to the dubby reggae of "Balloon" ... and that's only the first three tunes. These are very well-produced real, proper songs (with a kicking brass section) that you'd be delighted to hear on grown-up radio. Even the weaker tracks here are head and shoulders above most of their kindie contemporaries. Very impressed.

You can listen for yourself on bandcamp here

We're growing!

We are so excited to announce that Delightful Sounds will begin offering classes at Peace, Love, Play in Plant City starting in July. They are a sister owned, indoor play center. It's a great place for moms to get out and interact with other moms and children that have the same ideas and family values. Our newest teacher, Mrs. Amy will be offering family style classes at this location. Our July theme will be the ever popular Zoo Train!!  You can click here to register today!

Cinderella - Prokofiev / Sleeping Beauty - Tchaikovsky (narrated by Brian Cant)

If you're introducing people to classical music, ballets are a great place to start as the music tends to be extra dramatic. This CD has music from the two famous fairytale ballets interspersed with the stories themselves as told by Brian Cant.

I especially like Cinderella as it's a bit more modern-sounding and less formal, but the music in both cases is very very good. I love the narration because it's so NOT dumbed-down - plenty of long sentences and no cutesy-ness.

Isabelle, alas, doesn't like it as much as I do, I think primarily because the musical pieces are quite long, and 5 minutes of instrumental music between story fragments is just too much for her, no matter how dramatic it is. Maybe when she's older.

Disney's Lullaby Album

One of the best-sellers on the kids tunes site. The tunes are all familiar - stuff like "When you wish upon a star" and "Wonderful world" - and it's played by real musicians. The arrangements are vaguely easy-listening-ish but very good - it works as pleasant background music for grownups as well as for sending kids to sleep (which it has done successfully in my house many times). The instrumentation is very lush (lots of strings!) which I expect means it's good at blocking out ambient noise and so work particularly well in noisy places (I can't vouch for this myself though as we live out in the countryside where it's quiet).

Buy it now on

Finger play fun!

I loved this little finger play poem. It was created by a grandparent of one of our Kindermusik children. Thanks so much for sharing it with us Karen!!

Five little blueberries juicy to the core

A bird swooped down and then there were four.

Four little blueberries as plump as can be

A bird swooped down and then there were three.

Three little blueberries shiney and blue

A bird swooped down and then there were two.

Two little blueberries ripening in the sun

A bird swooped down and then there was one.

One little blueberry left all alone

I popped him in my mouth and then went home.

Karen Gaiffe


Designed by a "neuroscientist", this takes itself very seriously - lots of science-y twaddle about the vestibular system and binaural beats and arousal centres in the liner notes, plus the hilarious warning "Do not use when operating heavy machinery".

Having said that, the first time I put this on for Heather she fell asleep almost instantly. I was impressed, but the feat was never repeated. It's actually quite a decent lullaby album if you ignore the foolishness - well-known classical pieces nicely played on violin and piano, although the sudden changes in the volume and whooshing effects are a bit off-putting.

***Roy Handy and The Moonshot***

Ever wonder what it would sound like if Neil Young and Crazy Horse made a kids' album? Think on it no more, music lovers, Roy Handy and The Moonshot are here! The "group" is actually Gerry Stanek doin' the solo thing, and his debut CD, (I'm Gonna Be) Your Best Friend, borrows heavily from the loud, loping sound created by Young and his legendary backing band.

Stanek says that the entire album was conceived and recorded in a mere three weeks. This, and the fact that half the songs are under two minutes long gives the album an immediate, shambolic, but not messy, sound and feel ... kinda like your uncle's band playing in the garage. Amusing side note: all the song titles are followed by three exclamation points, except, of course, the lone tender-hearted (but still pretty loud) tune "Sometimes You Need to Be Cuddled."

The album kicks off with a song from the canine's point of view, "I Am a Dog!!!" complete with guitar solo and howls, followed by the Who-like chordfest, and second single from (I'm Gonna Be) Your Best Friend, "Crayon Man!!!" And the loping "That's a Great Idea!!!" which includes a few suggestions that are sarcastically categorized as "great," would give Atlanta kindie rocker Daddy A Go Go a run for his money.

Stanek dips into Jason and The Scorchers' amped-up version of country rock to declare that "Socks are Overrated!!!" while the Crazy Horse influence resurfaces on Stanek's ode to his comforting "Blanket!!!" Some big ol' chunky chords, a la Bachman Turner Overdrive, describe the awesomeness of the "Playground!!!" and a great T. Rex boogie celebrates the "Hotdog!!!"

The lighter-hoisting "Sometimes You Need to Be Cuddled" slows down the pace a little with some Teenage Fanclub-inspired chord changes and the admission that we all need a hug every once in a while. But then the breakneck speed of "Pancakes!!!" wakes everyone up again, highlighted by a ridiculous solo that'll have yer budding juke box heroes air guitaring all over the living room.

The straight-ahead rocker "Shopping List!!!" details a trip to the grocery store, while "Space Kitty!!!" the first single from the album, would be a perfect theme song for a Saturday morning cartoon. The album ends with "Moonshot!!!" a raging tribute to space travel that would make Alabama garage rockers The Quadrajets proud. If you dig the rowdy, grungy, guitar-driven rock and roll of, say, Ragged Glory or Rust Never Sleeps, Roy Handy is right down your alley. Play this one LOUD!


We are so happy to welcome Mrs. Amy to the staff of Delightful Sounds. She holds a Master's degree in education and has over 15 years of experience in teaching music. She is going to begin teaching Kindermusik classes at one of our new locations in July, so be sure to stay tuned for more details! You can read her full bio here.

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Living label free

I am so privileged to teach several wonderful children who have special needs. They have taught me such amazing things over the years, and one of my favorite lessons has been the art of living label free! We are a label society. We love to stick tags on everything in order to identify and understand it, but labels can also have a very negative impact. A label usually comes with a grocery list of adjectives and boundaries. If you have (fill in the label), then you can't (fill in the blank) and you certainly will never be able to (fill in the blank). You get my drift?
I have one very special child in particular. He is the ripe old age of eight and outlived his life expectancy several years ago. He shouldn't even be here, much less running around my Kindermusik classroom every week-smiling, laughing, dancing, and singing!! I guess he never read that grocery list that followed his label. Time and time again, I've seen it with different children. What makes the difference? Why is one child able to accomplish more than another with the same label? Here's what I think:
  • Children are amazingly adaptive. If permitted and encouraged, they will find a way to do what they are interested in.
  • A parent's attitude about a label greatly influences their child's philosophy about it.
  • Use your child's strengths to encourage growth in the weak areas.
  • Make the learning experience as fun and interactive as possible.   
  • Find what motivates your child. They have to WANT to get past the label.


A 2007 compilation of (mostly original) music for kids from the underground scenes of Seattle and Baltimore. More left-of-centre than most stuff aimed at kids, this has songs that would very much fit in to the Dublin underground scene and so it feels like I'm on home turf here. There's indie rock with various degrees of poppiness and/or punkiness, there's electronic music, there's post-rock-y stuff. The standard is really high - there's only one poor tune (by the best-known band, funny enough (Mudhoney)), and the rest are good with a few fantastic ones like Mary Timony's "Clap your hands" and Young Fresh Fellows' "Picnic". The words are good too - no preachiness, no talking-down, no over-eagerness.

Niamh has an issue with some of the singers' pitching, but the songs are really good and Isabelle loves quite a few of them. Recommended.

Putumayo Kids presents African Playground

Mostly lightweight African pop, including a few tunes you might have heard before, like "Mbube" (European-ized as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight") and Them Mushrooms' "Jambo Bwana".

Surprisingly same-y, given the vast size and diversity of the continent. Although I like a few of the songs it's a bit light for my taste, and there's lots of African music out there that I much prefer.

***Heidi Swedberg***

Gotta admit, this CD had three things going against it from the start: kids' music by a famous person (Swedberg played George's fiance on Seinfeld), children's voices in the songs (tends to make tunes too cutesy), and venturing into classic folk territory (beloved material often gets too modernized or shined up to within an inch of its life). Not so with Heidi Swedberg's PLAY!

Swedberg and The Sukey Jump Band run through a veritable greatest hits of classic folk tunes on the L.A.-based ukulele teacher/enthusiast's debut album PLAY! From long-lost classics like "Paw Paw Patch," "Japanese Umbrella Song," and "Cricket's Lullaby" to well-known tunes like "Muffin Man," "Buckeye Jim," and "Dream a Little Dream," Swedberg infuses each song on PLAY! with warmth, joy, playfulness, and, most importantly, ukuleles!

PLAY! includes a couple of medleys: "Skip to My Shoo" joins "Skip to My Lou" and "Shoo Fly," while "Train Medley" ties together folk favorites "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "Rock Island Line," and "Freight Train." Swedberg also performs a nice cover Chubby Parker's version of "Froggy Went A-Courtin'" (remember that "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O" refrain?).

The most unique tune on PLAY!, though, has to be the Frank Zappa-meets-Spike Jones and His City Slickers version of "Pop Goes the Weasel," as a simple ukulele verse of the familiar rhyme is followed by a discordant, percussion-filled middle section.

Don't forget to check out the booklet insert, where you'll find a short background story for each song, as well as ukulele chords and finger placements. If you're a fan of Laura Doherty or Elizabeth Mitchell, you'll dig Heidi's quiet but fun-loving, sweet but not syrupy style on PLAY!