New Family Music for February

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Ohio, this February has been pretty mild and warm. However, I know that as soon as I hit “publish” on this post, a massive winter storm will sweep in and I’ll be cursing the moment I commented on the easy weather we’ve been having.

I’m not too afraid though, because I have some great new family music releases to listen to that will warm me up, keep me calm and get me rocking hard when I get cabin fever. I’m sure it will give you and your family those warm and fuzzy feelings this Valentine’s day as well!

New Family Music for February

Heart BeatsFirst up, Mighty Mo Productions is back after their last album, Smiles Ahead, with Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families, a collection of 12 lovely love songs from some of the best children’s music artists, including some of my personal favorites.

I guarantee you’ll be eager to spread love and joy to your loved ones after listening to this album. It includes a wide variety of wonderful voices in offerings of zydeco (in “Light of Love” by Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could, perfect for Mardi Gras day!), rockabilly (Katydid’s “Love My Lovely” by), lullabies (“E’s Lullaby” by Ratboy Jr.) and quirky, boppy tunes like “Because I Love You” by Caspar Babypants.

The album opens with a charming and infectious song you’ll be singing all day, “Litta Bitta” You by Andrew & Polly. The softly sweet “When One Became Two,” about a growing family, is one of my favorite tunes by the Verve Pipe, and I was delighted to hear it on this album. Jim Cosgrove, Mighty Mo’s “Chief Groove Officer” also appears on the album with Jazzy Ash in the adordable rockabilly-swing “Love Comes Back.”

Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families by Mighty Mo Productions is available on their website.

 

If you’re snowed in and need something to get your body up and moving, The Not-Its! Are You Listening? can take care of that for you.

The-Not-Its-Are-You-ListeningThis Seattle band’s sixth studio album is set to release February 19th, and it’s an album that this punk rock-infused band says is inspired by their daily family life.

Drums and guitars drive this album to rock, and rock hard. What I love about The Not-Its is their commitment to creating music that is accessible to young ears without compromising their distinctly edgy sound.

Are You Listening? opens with “Dance with Me,” reminding me of Tony Basil circa “Mickey.” “Done with the Science Fair” is a song that will sound familiar to both parents and kids who have suffered the woes of a school science fair project.

“Don’t Fear the Dentist” reassures young listeners that there’s nothing to worry about when getting your teeth checked, in serious punk-rock fashion. “Washington DC” is my favorite track on the album. I love how the track starts with a tourist attraction slant, but turns halfway through the song to the importance of democracy and getting your voice heard.

My only criticism is that most of the songs on the album have roughly the same tempo, and I would have loved to hear  tackle a semi-ballad.

“Traffic Jam” provides respite from the driving music of rest of album with a lilting harmony and endearing canon of voices towards the end of the track.

The Not-Its’ Are You Listening? will be available February 19th.

 

Once you’ve rocked your hearts out and need to feel grounded, you could pop in Kira Willey’s  latest album, Mindful Moments for Kids.

mindful-momentsA yoga instructor and children’s musician, Kira Willey (also known for the enchanting tune “Colors”) has released an album that includes 30 short guided mindfulness exercises to help children manage stress, find calm moments and use mindfulness to focus their energy.

While it’s geared towards children, I have to admit that I’ve been sneaking this CD when I’m alone in the car on stressful mornings. The breathing exercises and self-awareness principles are beneficial to anyone of any age.

The album is divided in to five distinct sections: Calm, Focus, Inspire, Energize and De-stress. Each exercise is backed by music that is upbeat without being distracting, setting a intentioned mood.

Willey’s exercises encourage listeners to become aware of their breath, get in a positive mindset and let go of tension in their body through fun and imaginative imagery. The album also includes two bonus tracks: “Just Be” about relaxing and being content with yourself; and “Dance for the Sun,” in which Willey showcases the strength and pliancy of her voice as she sings through yoga sun salutations.

Kira Willey’s Mindful Moments for Kids is available on iTunes, Amazon and her website.

 

Finally, if you’re feeling nostalgic, you might want to check out Raffi’s newest album, Owl Singalong.

Raffi-OwlSingalong_CVR_RGBIf you’re reading this blog because you are the parent of young children, you’ve probably heard Raffi as a child yourself. With a career that spans over four decades, and most known for “Baby Beluga,” Raffi paved the way for children’s music, and he continues to leave his mark on the industry with his newest album.

A mix of both original tunes and cover songs, Owl Singalong weaves animal and environmental themes with Raffi’s unmistakable melodic vocals.

Young listeners will recognize songs like the classic “The More We Sing Together,” and delight in the fun animal spins to standards like the Hokey Pokey (in “Lion Pokey”) and The Wheels on the Bus (in “The Dog on the Bus”).

Two standouts on the album are “Who Hoo Could I Be” (with moments that nod to the vocals of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan) and the charming French song “Dans La Forêt Lointaine.”

Raffi’s Owl Singalong is available on iTunesAmazon and his website.

 

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!

What Makes You Smile?

Now that the weather has produced some grey, cool days, I’m finding myself, more days than not, behaving like Mrs. Crankypants.

It’s as if my smile and good mood disappears with the sun and gets packed away with my sundresses and sandals. Sure, there will be some gorgeous days ahead, but as I type this, my family has spent the past few days trapped indoors, watching the rain and questioning whether we’d be the neighborhood idiots if we turned on our fireplace this early in the season.

So, it requires a lot of mental recognition, focus and decision to turn my frown upside down. And to do this, I have to take stock of what makes me smile. Things like my kids laughter or funny things they say, Nutella, otters and awesome friends and family members.

And there’s a new family music album out that I can add to this list!

Smiles Ahead

Mighty Mo Productions is a new music label out of Kansas City that launches this fall, and its first release, Smiles Ahead, is one fantastic coming-out party, filled with hit songs from top artists in the family music biz.

Started by Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove, in an effort to “more broadly distribute quality family music by cross-pollinating artists into new markets,” this album is a collection of some of my favorite family music artists like Brady Rymer, The Okee Dokee Brothers, The Pop Ups, Kira Willey, Mista Cookie Jar and The Verve Pipe.

It also features artists that are making their debut in the family music genre like country musician Rissi Palmer with “Best Day Ever” and Katydid, with “Together Song.” The Verve Pipe, who may very well be one of my favorite cross-over artists, also penned a new song for the album, titled “Get Happy.”

The album jacket lists some of the things that makes the featured artists smile, and even these will make you grin! The Okee Dokee Brothers, obviously, mention “Taking a walk through the woods,” “My boys, my family, my dog” makes Frances England smile, and Mista Cookie Jar beams from “Kickin’ it with the fam-bam!”


Verve Pipe 1Brian from The Verve Pipe says “I’m always very happy when I’m performing, (above w/Channing Lee), but I’m even happier when the whole family gets involved! (below with Evangeline, Willow and Lux Vander Ark).”Verve Pipe 2

Check out a sneak preview of Smiles Ahead below!

 

Mighty Mo Productions’ Smiles Ahead is available October 16, but because I adore you lovely readers so much and want to make YOU smile, I’m giving away a free copy to a lucky winner! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below by Monday, October 12th at 11:59pm EST. Open to contiguous U.S. residents only.

I’ll be posting throughout the day and week with things that make me smile, and I’d love to see what turns up the corners of your mouth! Be sure to let me know what makes you smile in a comment below, or even better, share your  pictures and stories on my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #SmilesAhead.

Good luck, and get smiling!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of this product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. 

Post-Christmas Recharge Tips From Kira Willey

Well, we did it. We survived Christmas.

It was a lovely day spent at home, just the four of us, sowing around, eating and playing hard. The kids had a great time, and it was wonderful to spend that time together.

And today, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

I’m sluggish and depleted. I’m pretty sure my kids feel that way, too.

Post-Christmas Recharge Tips

Since I’d much rather sail than crawl through the end of this year, I’m taking small measures to make sure we all feel relaxed and ready to face the rest of the year’s festivities. Which includes integrating some of Kira Willey’s easy yoga breaks in to our day.

Not only do these little yoga breaks help us move a bit to shake off that holiday goop, they also help us find some quiet moments to recharge in the hubbub of the holiday season.

KWCoverArt-106OutlinedYou might remember that I recently reviewed Kira’s latest release, her third yoga-for-kids album, How To Be a Cloudfeaturing 12 new original songs and 9 bonus tracks with yoga instruction (which might be a great album to purchase with those nifty iTunes or Amazon gift cards you received this holiday, no?)

What I love about Kira is her mission to help children learn how to find quiet moments in their mind and bodies through yoga. If your children are like mine – always MOVING – you may just find Kira’s short yoga breaks to be a great way to help them become more present and focused.

Kira Willey has been appearing on PBS TV eight times a week, introducing children to some quicky and easy yoga moves. Feel free to check that out HERE. And, Kira’s “Backseat Yoga Breaks” have become a daily hit on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Kids Place Live.

What a great concept, right? I mean, you’re trapped in the car anyway, so you might as well take advantage of the down time and become focused. Kira presents easy relaxation techniques in a way children can relate to. For instance, her “Hot Soup Yoga Break” gently introduces children to breathing (pranayama) techniques similar to the Breath of Fire by having them inhale, and then exhaling in short spurts as they say the word “hot.”

Today I’m sharing with you three of Kira’s easy, quick and tension-relieving yoga breaks. Don’t be fooled – these work for people of all ages, so take a moment with your children and get centered!

Gentle Neck Stretch

Sit up nice and tall, and close your eyes. Gently shake your head like you’re saying no, and then nod your head like you’re saying yes. Slowly and gently let your head fall to the right. Now, bring it down and forward toward your chest, and roll it to the left side. Lean your head back just a little, as if you’re looking up toward the sky, but keep your eyes closed. Now,  let’s roll the other way: gently lean your head to the left, roll it down to the front, and lean your head to the right side. Come back to center, take a long breath in, let it all the way out, and open your eyes.

Shoulder squeeze 

Sit up tall, and pull your belly in. Squeeze your shoulders up toward your ears, take a big breath in, and let it out as you slowly drop your shoulders back down. Once more, squeeze your shoulders up toward your ears, take a breath in. Let it out as you slowly drop your shoulders back down. Do this a few more times if it feels good.

Full body squeeze

Let’s wake up our bodies by squeezing all of our muscles. Start with scrunching up your toes, then squeeze all the muscles in your legs, make your belly really strong, and squeeze the muscles in your arms. Make your hands into fists, scrunch up your face and squeeze your eyes shut. Take a breath in, and as you let it out, slowly let all those muscles go, and relax your whole body.

Don’t you just feel more relaxed and recharged already? Let’s face 2015 a little lighter and more present, shall we?

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! If you get a second, drop a comment and let me know how your holiday went!

Tunes To Get You Ready For Thanksgiving

Look at me, posting three times in one week!

No, it’s not the apocalypse. I’m back again this week because there’s something cool I think you need to check out.

Thanksgiving tunes

The lovely folks over at Sugar Mountain PR have put together a fantastic playlist about food to get your palette ready for Thanksgiving. It features some songs by great musicians like Lisa LoebDanny WeinkaufKira WilleyBrady RymerThe Okee Dokee Brothers and Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, among others. That’s a pretty tasty lineup right there!

Oh, and did I mention that you can download these songs FOR FREE?

To download your free tunes, simply GO HERE.

 

New Music: “How To Be a Cloud” by Kira Willey

If you know me, you know I’ve been on a journey towards mindfulness for some time now. Sure, it waxes and wanes, but I’m showing up to my weekly yoga class, signing up for those 21-day mediation challenges, and in general trying to focus on telling my mind to, in my best Cheri Oteri, “Simmer down, now!”

For instance, I challenged myself to do yoga every day for the month of September, which meant trying to squeeze yoga in on the weekends when the kids were home. One day, instead of using the iPads to babysit them while I practiced in my bedroom, I decided to find a family yoga on YouTube that the kids could do with me.

Wouldn’t you know it, they loved it. Heck, I loved it, too.

No, it wasn’t as much of a work out as I would get by myself, but it was fun having the kids by my side, letting them experience a practice that fuels my spirit, and watching them persevere through challenging poses and feel successful.

And now, I have one more ace up my sleeve if we want to do this again. Yoga instructor and acclaimed musician Kira Willey will release her new album, How To Be a Cloud: Yoga Songs for Kids Vol. 3 on November 18th.

Kira Willey

You might remember Kira’s intriguing voice from her release “Colors”, which was used in a 2008 Dell commercial, and was featured here on the blog. Her latest album combines upbeat tracks and mellow tunes with vivid imagery that would be a perfect album for a preschool classroom, a Kindergarten physical education class, or a stuck-at-home-with-cabin-fever snow day.

Kira Willey’s compositions beautifully strike a balance between effervescent and relaxing.  Her musical strength lies in the inviting and uplifting quality of her solid voice, and this is clearly evident in songs like my favorite track off the album, “When You Sleep” (a sweet prayer for a little one that’s tender and lovely). Think Suzanne Vega singing lullabies. Pretty great, right?

Another poignant track on the album is “I Will Be Here,” a tune written from a mother’s perspective reassuring her child that she’ll always be there for them through life’s ups and downs. Willey’s popular tune “Colors” appears on the album as a remixed version, backed by 75 kindergartners, and is just as vibrant as the original.

One of the things I like about this album is Kira Willey’s attention to the mindful benefits of yoga and mediation, and how she introduces these concepts to young listeners. The title track, “How To Be a Cloud,” is a great approach to meditation for little ones, with its dreamy tempo and imagery that invites young minds to take a moment to be still and aware.

The mid-tempo “Great Big Starry Sky,” “Bloom” and “When You Get Bigger” not only draw attention to the awesome beauty that is nature and our universe, but also introduce young bodies to great yoga poses like Star, Flower and Mountain poses.

“Gotta Lotta Happy” is a joyful song that expresses the importance of gratitude, something I’m trying to cultivate in my own children’s lives. The soaring “Wings On a String” reminds me of my own yoga practice in that no pose is ever completely still, but instead shifts slightly like a kite. Or, in my case, sometimes swoops down and drops like a rock.

There are some great tracks on the album that are sure to get kids up and moving around, such as the infectious first track, “My Favorite Day” (for which Willey suggests kids sizzle and flip like pancakes),  “Dancing With My Daddy” (a fun little rhumba), and “Jazzy” (the more “edgy” song of the album, about a kid who loves and lives music). With a funky groove and syncopated lyrics about cookies and treats, “Cookie Jar” appears on the album mostly because, as Willey explains, “it’s not really a yoga song, but I just really wanted you to hear it.”

The CD for How To Be a Cloud also includes 9 bonus yoga tracks, where Willey talks through yoga poses for kids inspired by the mood and lyrics of the songs. These sequences can sometimes feel quick, so it might be a good idea to listen to these with a finger close to the pause button so that you can get in and out of them easier.  But these bonus tracks provide a wonderful opportunity to introduce your little ones to the benefits of yoga.

Kira Willey’s How To Be a Cloud is a great CD to jumpstart the chaotic holiday season and get your family practicing yoga! How To Be a Cloud:Yoga Songs for Kids Vol. 3 will be available November 18th on iTunes and Amazon.

 

I was provided a copy of this product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through my links, Amazon or iTunes will provide me with a commission.  It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but helps me keep this site running.  And I’m providing links because I think it’s music that would be awesome in your collection.  You and your kids will thank me.