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Kids’ Music

Caspar-BabyPantsElijah loves music. He especially likes to listen to it in the car and when each song ends, he immediately makes the sign for “more.” Finding kids music that doesn’t make my head explode is a challenge, but we’ve locked onto a couple good singers so far.

  • Caspar Babypants – This is Chris Ballew who is/was the lead singer for Presidents of the United States. He lives in the Seattle area and now spends most of his time writing music for kids. He does lots of small, free shows which Tyla really enjoys attending. One of our favorite albums is his cover of a bunch of Beatles songs that have a fun kids message to them. I love the idea that Elijah and I are both enjoying listening to the same guy as we grow up!
  • Raffi – This is more traditional kids music, but he has a good voice and does a good job with his songs.

What else is out there? What albums do you fire up when your kids want music? I’m especially looking for ones that adults don’t mind!

Little Helper Tower

The ordering period is now complete. Thank you to everyone who placed an order!

  • Platform adjusts securely and easily within seconds to heights of 7”, 11”, 15” and 19”
  • The overall tower is 18″ square and 40″ tall (to the top of the arches.)
  • Edges are rounded and everything is sanded smooth to help keep kids safe as they climb in the tower
  • Built from beautiful unfinished pine boards ready for you to paint and/or polyurethane
  • Sturdy base helps to prevent tip-overs
  • This is a onetime offer! Orders must be placed by 10/31/2014. Payment is required up front.
  • Orders will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Two models are available. For the model with hinges, you can pull the platform out and fold the tower flat for storage. The model without hinges still has the adjustable platform but it cannot be folded flat.
    • Permanent, non-hinged version – $80
    • Fold flat, hinged version – $120
  • To order or ask questions, please send an email to tower@studio711.com or contact Tyla.
  • You will be contacted when your tower is available for pick up at our home in Woodinville. No shipping.

If you want to view the plans to see specific dimensions or even build one yourself, they are available for free online here: Ana White’s Little Helper Tower

Note: Adorable child not included. You must provide your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I pay extra, will you stain/paint it for me if I pay you? Sorry, no. Finishing all these would take more time than I’m willing to commit to. You can use them unfinished. It just means that spills might leave a stain.

Can you make a modification to the design if I pay you? Again, sorry, but no. I’m all set up to crank these out according to the existing plans and making changes will add quite a bit of time.

Nail Gun

I’ve wanted an air compressor for a long time, but I just couldn’t justify the cost. Until now. Part of this backyard project is building a fence and while, yes, I could build it without a nailgun, it would move along MUCH faster with one. I also wanted to pick up a little big bigger than average air compressor in hopes of being able to blow out my own irrigation lines (albeit much more slowly than the pros do it.)

To that end, I picked up an 8 gallon air compressor from Lowes. It’s nothing fancy but it should get the job done, at least for the construction part. It remains to be seen how long it will take to blow out my lines with this. After checking rental prices for nail guns from Home Depot, I decided I could get the exact same Hitachi model for about the price of 4-5 days worth of rental. Done! The last piece of the puzzle was a 50 ft retractable air hose.

Put them all together and I’m ready to build a fence! I look forward to picking up a smaller brad nailer for my woodworking too.

Home Improvements For Baby

When I look back at all the things I did around the house before our son was born, I’m amazed at all the free time I had. But there are a few home improvements that stick out and continue to pay benefits. If you’re having a baby and you’re a little bit handy, consider these projects:

  • Dimmer switches: Put one in the nursery so you don’t blind your child or stumble over toys when he’s crying in the middle of the night. If your child is going to spend some time in your bedroom, put one there too. The nursery can be a regular dimmer switch, but for the master bedroom, consider splurging a little on a dimmer switch with a remote control. I think that’s Tyla single favorite project that I’ve ever done. It’s so handy to be able to shut off the lights without getting out of bed or to turn them on a tiny amount in the middle of the night.
  • Tamper resistant outlets: You’ll probably want to buy these at Home Depot or Lowes instead of Amazon, but they will remove the need to cover all your outlets with those plastic plugs. I replaced every single outlet in our house with these, mostly because we had some flaky old outlets, but it’s paying off now.
  • Black out drapes and blinds: I added black out drapes and blinds to the nursery. His windows will catch the sun in the summer when it’s up the latest and you can’t make a nursery too dark. We might even have to add a bit more covering to catch the light.

There’s lots of other things that could go on the list but those are the big three that I recommend. Feel free to comment if you have anything to add to the list!

Finding A Sirius Station With Power Query

We got a 6 month trial of Sirius with our Ford Escape and then extended it for another six months once we finally got a good offer from Sirius. Listening to music without commercials is addicting and they have a lot of good stations to choose from. The one thing they are missing is a feature on their website that lets me tell them the artists I like and then gives me the stations that play those artists the most. But hey, it’s just data right? I should be able to figure this out. I do, after all, work on the team that is producing the premiere (I hope) data experience for Excel: Microsoft Power Query (part of the Office Power BI suite).

The first step was finding a playlist history for all the Sirius stations. A quick Bing search revealed http://www.dogstarradio.com/search_playlist.php. It has a bunch of search parameters and best of all, they are dumped right into the URL so you can easily build your own searches just by modifying the URL.

Next I built a function inside of Power Query that takes an artist name and returns one page of results. I wrote a function on top of that which calls the first function multiple times to collect each page of data. (Unfortunately there’s no way on the website to view the entire result list at once.) The last step was feeding in a list of artists I’m interested in. I grouped the data by radio station and the count of the songs that were played. Voila. I should be listening to channel 31 “The Coffee House” which features singer-songwriters, or as I call it “guy with guitar.”

I wish Sirius offered this feature directly on their website, but it’s really cool that I was able to answer it myself with Power Query in a few minutes between meetings at work.