My Solution For Indecision

Decision making is not in my wheelhouse. I will hem and haw over the simplest of choices for what feels like years. The title of this post? Yeah, I grappled with that for hours.

Get my husband in on the mix, and something as simple as what restaurant to eat dinner at becomes several rounds of “I don’t know, what do YOU want?”

I don’t know what makes me so indecisive. Perhaps it’s the fear of making the wrong choice. Or it could be that I like all of the choices laid out in front of me that I can’t just pick one.

And if the price tag or consequences of my choice is greater? My indecisiveness reaches a fever pitch of spreadsheets and pros and cons lists.

My Solution For Indecision

Recently my husband and I booked a family vacation for the summer. Several calls with travel agents narrowed down our choices to two all-inclusive resorts that, on paper, looked pretty much identical.

I could have picked either one and we’d probably have a great time, right? Except, I stressed out over each choice, second guessing myself every time I narrowed down a reservation. The internet doesn’t make this kind of decision any easier, providing reviews that run the gamut from “This is the best resort ever!” to “There is no amount of alcohol that can make this resort a great place to stay!”

So when I had to title a dance piece I’d been working on all semester, I went in to a total panic.

What if this title says the wrong thing? What if it’s too cheesy? What if it sucks so bad the audience won’t even bother coming back from intermission to watch it?

One of the dancers suggested I create a Doodle survey to get their advice. And it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

If you’ve never used Doodle, you need to. I think the Doodle website’s primary function is to make scheduling meeting times with large groups of people easier. But there’s this fancy polling option that I’m now in love with.

I had about eight choices, threw them in the poll, sent them all emails, and within an hour, I had crowd sourced my title selection. How freakin’ easy was that?

And now? Yeah, I plan on Doodle polling every decision I need to make from now on.

Imagine the possibilities!

When I can’t decide what should I cook for dinner? Doodle that, yo!

Not sure if I should wear this black dress or pants and a shirt? Poll, baby poll.

Undecided as to whether I should start binge watching Scandal, The Walking Dead or The Last Man Standing? DooooooooOOOOODLE!

I mean, I could NEVER have to make a decision by myself again!

Of course, this wouldn’t work for major life decisions. Doodle polling a house or how many kids you should have sounds like a recipe for disaster. Or a new Fox reality show. I’m not sure which one yet.

But if it means I don’t have to hem and haw over decisions that cause my head to hurt, I’m all in.

I think. Maybe I am. I don’t know yet. Let me send you a Doodle poll link.

The Pop Ups New Webcast Series

As a child of the 80’s, I vividly remember the birth of MTV and the music video. I remember being surprised at how the artist’s vision for their song either matched up perfectly with what my tween brain imagined, or differed so much that it changed my view of the song forever.

Videos are like that, right? They provide insight in to the musician’s views about a song and enhance your experience of their music and mission.

Some of my favorite family musicians, The Pop Ups, are doing just that.

Pop Ups New Webcast Series

Starting today, The Pop Ups are debuting a new webcast series on their YouTube channel. In their latest endeavor, duo of Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein serve up a delicious mix of educational and musical videos that range from cooking, crafting (like puppet making), informational (including helping kids write their letters) and, of course, animated videos to their hits.

One of the first videos to launch is “Robot Dance.” The look is crisp and bright, with a vibrant landscape and quirky characters. It’s everything you’d expect from The Pop Ups. I imagine the rest of the videos to continue in this vein of the bands’ strength – the right mix of humor, whimsy, art and smarts.

If I were you, I’d subscribe to their channel – they’ll be debuting a new video to their series every few weeks through the end of 2015!

You can check out the trailer below, and be sure to check their new series out to experience The Pop Ups on a whole new level!

Follow The Pop Ups on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

 

New Family Music For Spring

I know, I know, it’s been a while since you’ve seen me ‘round these parts. To say that I have been extremely busy would be an understatement. I’m trying to make my way back, I promise. I’m like that pathetic red maple tree in my backyard. Eventually I’ll make myself shown, but in the meantime, you might think I’m dying.

Speaking of spring and things blossoming, I decided to step back in to the blog to introduce you to some pretty fine family music that is blooming this spring.

New Family Music For Spring

First up, right on time for Earth Day comes a new release from Earthworm Ensemble.

If you’re looking for upbeat, sweet music, look no further than this group, who releases Backyard Garden today.

EarthwormThe thirteen tracks that appear on this critically acclaimed group’s latest album spans a broad range of music genres, and with its focus on nature, this CD feels like the perfect accompaniment to spring.

Animal lovers will devour songs like “Ladybug,” and “Bees Make Honey” and the ode to the herbivore dinosaur with the pop track “Sparko the Stegosaurus.” I love the witty dueling tracks between the underground mole and the sly coyote. These are two songs with distinct sounds from distinctly different perspectives, one slow and lopping (“Mole vs. Coyote,” in which singer Sherri Nourse really shines) and the rocking track “Coyote vs. Mole.”

An introduction for young ears to ecological and sustainable practices can be found in the tracks “Compost” and “Chicken Coop,” and you may even find your kids helping you with landscaping this summer after hearing “Backyard Garden.”

“I Didn’t Give Up” emphasizes the importance of persistence in the face of everyday challenges. “Picture This You’re a Fish” sounds like the light punk I grew up on. “Reduce Reuse Recycle” is a slow, dreamy track to finish the album that emphasizes recycling and is one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Also included the album is the airy “Invisible Wind,” and the adorably cheery “I Like You.” Want to feel all warm and joyful? Check out their video for the track here:

 

Earthworm Ensemble’s Backyard Garden is available on iTunes, Amazon and their website.

In the music industry, I feel like there are two kinds of songwriters, the poets and the story tellers, and Keith Munslow is a fantastic story teller through and through. He’s back with his latest album Tiny Destroyer, which was released April 7th.

Munslow has a knack for storytelling injected with spot-on humor. His tune “Leftovers” was a big hit around our house, and his latest album has provided some new family favorites.

Keith MunslowLet me just start my mini-review about this album by stating that we’re obsessed with a few tracks on this album. My kids adore the title track “Tiny Destroyer” about a toddler who destroys the place (with a musical hint of “Final Countdown.”) The song reminded us of my daughter when she was a toddler, a phase we affectionately called her Godzilla phase. This is one of those songs I gladly wake up playing in my head in the morning.

Another favorite of the kids is “Coffee Breath”, a scenario they are all too familiar with. My personal favorite is “The Last Chicken Wing.” It begins with a lovely piano melody that makes you think the song will go one direction, but heads in a completely different direction. Consider it a torch song for the fight that occurs over the last remaining food item.

Munslow’s brilliant storytelling appears on the spoken word tracks “Old Joe’s Bones” and “Princess Pepper’s Story.” Kids will relate to tracks like “Too Much Sugar” and “Dad Is Takin’ a Nap.” And parents will nod their heads to the closing track “I Can Still Say I Love You.” Other tracks on the album include “Intelligent Clam,” “Seeing Monkeys,” “Magic Bike,” and “Get Along Little Kitties.”

Keith Munslow’s Tiny Destroyer is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and his site.

Lloyd H. Miler, who leads The Deedle Deedle Dees (“Ah Ahimsa”) released Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!, a collection of original and traditional songs about the Civil War April 4th.

Think Schoolhouse Rock for the next generation.

Recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Miller covers topics ranging from slavery to Civil War heroes to abolitionists. Geared towards those who relish in historical information (adults and kids can even download a PDF curriculum guide from his website), this album serves as a great list of talking points for this country’s history and the abolishment of slavery.

Don’t let the historical references turn you away – the album offers catchy tunes in tracks like “John Brown,” “Henry Box Brown” and the funky track “Baldy” (about the Civil War’s toughest horse with a sound similar to The Imagination Movers).

The Underground Railroad spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd” and the war ballad “Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground” are traditional songs with beautiful melodies. The touching track “The Gettysburg Address” is even more poignant for my family, as we just returned from a trip to DC and read this at the Lincoln Memorial.

Other tracks include “Marching Through Georgia,” “Trapped in the Attic,” “Weeksville,” “Keep the Hate Mail Comin’,” and a setting of Walt Witman’s “O Captain, My Captain!” to music.

Lloyd H. Miller’s Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

 

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!

New Music: Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer “Dancin’ In The Kitchen”

It’s been a while since I’ve suggested new kindie music here. But like those persistent tulips that insist on trying to bust through the ground despite the inches of snow still littering my landscaping, I’m resurfacing from my winter fog and getting back in to the swing of things!

Today I’m talking about a new album that was released March 10th from the GRAMMY award-winning duo of Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Dancin’ In The Kitchen is their 44th album. Let that number sink in a bit. 44 albums. Pretty amazing.

Album cover photo credit: Rip Bang Productions

Album cover photo credit: Rip Bang Productions

Fink and Marxer say they took inspiration for their latest release by Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be…A Family, and Dancin’ In The Kitchen extends the idea of inclusiveness and diversity to a new generation of listeners. Both of these albums should be included in any family’s music library.

Photo credit: credit Sara R. Coats

Photo credit: Sara R. Coats

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have called upon a great range of guest stars to create an album full of variety in tone, instrumentation and messages. The title track “Dancin’ In The Kitchen” starts off the album with a celebration of family life, aided by The Savoy Family Cajun Band who provide a fun zydeco feel. They also collaborate on the track “Home,” incorporating the mandolin, fiddle, accordion and other instruments to produce a dreamy waltz that’s as comforting as your favorite blanket. “From Scratch” was written by Justin Roberts, recalling fond memories of baking with a loved one and the strong bond that activity creates.

A focus on what family means and can look like are prominent themes throughout the album. “Family Song”, a toe tapping, sing-along written by Uncle Ruthie Buell and sung by The Canote Twins, celebrates the diversity of what defines family. “I Belong to a Family” reiterates that while not all families look the same, the foundation of love and belonging is constant.

“Soccer Shoes” is about a kid whose parents are divorced with joint custody, and the solutions parents make to ease the transition and make kids feel care for and loved. John McCuthcheon’s “Happy Adoption Day” celebrates the journey a family makes through the road of adoption.

“Howdy Little Newlycome / Ceildh House Polka” is probably my favorite track on the album, though I do have a soft spot in my heart for Irish folk music. Cathy Fink received permission to use the poem written by Woody Guthrie (which welcomes a new baby in to the family), but puts in Irish spin on it with the help of the band Cherish the Ladies.

Also appearing on the album is “Everything Possible”, a lovely lullaby about a parent’s undying and unconditional love for their children, written by Fred Small, originally appearing on Fink and Marxer’s 1992 album Nobody Else Like Me: Celebrating the Diversity of Children. It received some controversy as a family song because of reference to gay and lesbian families, and Cathy writes about this experience and the decision to re-record this song recently in an article on The Huffington Post.

Storytelling is featured on this album on tracks like “Dinnertime,” told by Kim Harris, about the individual phrases and noises that folks in a large family make to be heard at dinner time. “Who’s In Charge of Naming the Colors?” by storyteller Andy Offuitt Irwin is a poignant essay from the point of view of a child in a mixed race family who questions why colors are named the way they are, especially skin tones.

Other songs included in the album are the math-driven “Birthday Pup” (which sounds like a distant relative of the Chicken Dance); the complex family tree of “I’m My Own Grandpa” with Ryders in the Sky; “Twins”, with another appearance by The Canote Twins; and “Dancin’ in the Kitchen Reprise”, a faster, instrumental faster first of the first song, bookending the album with a sense of joy.

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer’s Dancin’ In The Kitchen is out now and available on iTunes, Amazon, and their website.

However, I’m also giving away a copy here on the blog to one lucky reader! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter widget below by 11:59pm on Friday, March 20th. Open to anyone 18 and over in the contiguous United States.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy this album with your own family, no matter how it’s defined!

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!

10 Types of Parents You See At Practice

With two kids each involved in some type of sporting activity, we’re at some kind of practice three to four times a week. Which means I have a lot of downtime to People Watch. Sure, I could bring a book and feed my brain something other than Trivia Crack so it doesn’t turn to mush. By why do that when watching the other parents are more interesting than watching my child not pay attention to their coach?

In doing so, I’ve noticed the different kinds of parents that hang out at practice. Sure, the sport might differ from venue to venue, but there tends to be at least someone doing the same thing wherever we go. And if I don’t see anyone else being these types of parents, it usually means that I am being one of them.

Here are the some of the types of parents I see at practice.

10 Types of Parents You See At Practice

The Multitasker. This parent gets shit done. And they’re usually able to do more than one thing at a time better than I can uni-task putting my daughter’s hair in a ponytail. Sometimes they’re catching up on work – breaking out the laptop, phone, briefcase and fax machine to maximize practice time so they can play later with the kids. Or maybe it’s the parent that uses those 60 minutes of alone time to return phone calls, pay bills, write thank you notes and pluck stray hairs. Time is money, folks.

The Sous-Coach. I admit, I have fallen prey to this one MANY times. One of my kids is out on the floor or field, farting around instead of doing what they’ve been asked, and without even hesitation, I’m yelling at them from across the room to get to work. OR, alternately, I’m mouthing suggestions from the sidelines. Seriously, I just need to let the coaches do their job.

The Candy-Crusher. These are the parents who, for 60 glorious minutes can focus on making it past that next level of Candy Crush, beating that opponent on Trivia Crack, or outscoring their mother in Words With Friends. Kid practices can be about as exciting as watching paint dry at times. Thank goodness for apps! Again, guilty as charged.

The Commentator. This parent gives Bob Costas a run for his money. “Oh, look at Suzie’s backstroke!” “Did you see the swing that kid had on him?” “Oops, she’s fallen out off the balance beam.” “Jimmy made a solid pass to Luke there. Team’s looking good this year!” or “Look at that little girl in the corner trying to get her ballet shoes on, how precious.” When I hear these, all I can think is “Could you keep it down? I’m trying to think of a word I can use three ‘E’s’ in” (see above).

The Power Napper. Hands down, these parents know how to utilize their time. The most experienced ones hang out in their car during soccer practice and cozy right up with their seat warmers.

The Socialite. This parent knows everyone – all the coaches, the staff, the guy who comes in and restocks the soda machine. I envy these parents, because they make practice look like a party, while I hide on a bench in the corner trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

The Toddler Wrangler. If you’ve ever had more than one kid, you’ve been this parent at a practice. The younger sibling can be a handful, even if you’ve brought your entire playroom with you. There is just too much excitement in a gym/pool/soccer field/baseball stand to keep little ones still. I’m always jealous of the parents who can do keep up with the younger ones with grace and ease and still fire off a “Great hit, Stevie!” to the one who is practicing.

The Paparazzi. This parent makes sure to document everything. I’m grateful for these folks and have begged them to send me a pic of something I missed. Because as every parent knows, the one time you don’t have your phone out to take a video or photo is the one time your kid finally acquires that skill they’ve been struggling with.

The Chauffer. You rarely see this parent. They’re elusive, like the Yeti or the Lochness Monster, usually because they’ve already left the premises to bring another sibling to a different practice. I am about 93% positive I will be this parent one day, and all I can say is, thank goodness for fuel perks.

The Loving Parent. This is my favorite type, because we’re ALL this type. We’re all at practice to support our children, foster their love of physical activity, and watch them grow. Sure, watching our kids practice can be mind-numbing, frustrating or exciting, but in the end, we’re there to show we care.

But I’m still counting down the days until they get their driving license.

 

 Any of these sound familiar?