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!

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.

 

Guest Post: How To Stay Mindful and Raise A Mindful Kid

Mindfulness. It’s something I aspire to, and yet I find myself feeling un-present almost constantly these days. Perhaps it’s the summer and the loss of a regular schedule, but I feel a bit untethered. I find it hard to carve out time to make it to a yoga class. I’ve abandoned my meditation practice in exchange for sleeping in. And my kids are even more squirmy than I remember them being during the school year.

Seriously, we could all use to be more present and enjoy the moment we’re in. This moment. And now this one. And this one. And so on, and so on.

But considering I’m having a hard time ensuring that we’re all getting showers every day, getting my kids to sit with me and meditate on a daily basis seems impossible.

Which is why this guest post comes at a perfect time! Allow me to introduce you Mansi, a yogi who offers some easy tips for helping you stay present as a parent, and techniques for raising a mindful child (without them even knowing you’re doing it!).

Mindful Guest Post

Have you ever wondered about the difference between these two words – ‘respond’ and ‘react’?

I did.

And surprisingly, I did it when I was yelling at my young niece for spilling milk at a time when I was running late for my office. I looked at her terrified face which quickly filled with an innocent giggle as she tried to wipe the milk off the table using a napkin.

I realized, the difference between ‘respond’ and ‘react’ is not of ‘speech’ and ‘action’, but of the number of breaths. The difference is of mindfulness.

Since I just introduced you this confusing word, let me also tell you that mindfulness is nothing but a fancy word for ‘the act of paying attention to the present’. It is by far, the easiest way to reap the benefits of meditative practice.

Exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating, rewarding, satisfying – these are some of the words which people use to describe parenting. No matter how many books you read or classes you take, you’ll never find yourself fully prepared for the parenting challenge. You feel pulled and pushed in every direction.

So, taking time out to breathe, staying calm and being mindful, can be another overload. But like they say – it pays to be mindful.

Being A Mindful Parent

Mindful parenting is all about taking a pause and breathing. A pause to let you know what your kid is feeling and then to ‘respond’ to his needs rather than ‘reacting’ to his behavior. So, the technique for the parents is – Stop, Pause, and Play.

Robert Fulghum once said, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

Science tells us that a kid develops and learns to comprehend emotions during his initial five years of life. The reasoning and judging center, on the other hand, develops between the age of  3-6 years. What we do as a parent then, and how we react can leave a lasting impression on the kid.

Also, teaching a kid mindfulness at that age will make him inherently grow into a cheerful, calm and creative adult. Now, we do know what a “battle” it is to make them sit still, let alone convince them to meditate.

Hence, today I’m giving you ways to introduce mindfulness to your kids without even letting them know. It’s like the two of you having fun together. You become mindful, the kid becomes mindful, and you both connect at a deeper level. Could there be anything better than this?

Raising A Mindful Kid

1. The most commonly used technique is mindful breathing, but it does not interests most kids. So, the first step is to choose an activity that resonates with your kid.

2. If your kid is a picky eater, teaching mindfulness through food and savoring flavors might not be a great idea.

So, for a kid who responds better when stimulated visually, make use of things like a glitter jar or a snow globe. Shake it up and watch them fall to the bottom.

3. Whistle blowing and listening to its echo is another good idea.

4. Older kids can easily learn breathing techniques but younger kids will need something to focus their breath on. This is what you can do – Take a stuffed toy and place it on their tummy as they lie down on the bed before going to sleep. Ask them to breathe in such a way that the teddy feels cradled up and down.

5. I once read about this flower-bubble method which I often use with my niece.

We keep a flower in one hand and a bubble blower in another. Then, we take a deep breath to smell the flower, make a smiley or funky face at each other while holding our breaths, and blow the air out into a bubble. This activity worked wonders for our bonding and we now talk about so many different things.

You must understand that you can’t give your children what you don’t have. So, begin with yourself. Don’t worry about dedicating a special space to this in your schedule. Next time, you feel like reacting, just Stop…Pause…Play…and respond.

mansiAuthor Bio:

Hi! I’m Mansi, a Yoga devotee at home and an Editor at Workout Trends Magazine. Dabbling with health and fitness news is my work while playing around with poses and poetry my passion. Reach out to me at @iam_mansi or add me to your Google circles and stay in touch.

 

 

Weaning…

So.  Week 1.  Done.

Weaning off of the meds is going.  Not really horrible, not amazingly easy.  It’s just…going.  I am proceeding slowly, so I don’t know if I feel what I’m feeling because I KNOW I’m not taking in as much, or if it really is a withdrawal symptom.  I’m down to a half-dose every other day, and starting today I will be taking a half-dose every day until next week, where I’ll cut down to 1/4 dose every other day, slowly phasing out until I’m done.  The first couple of days?  Intense headaches that lasted all day.  Those have gone away.  Now what I’m left with is a tiny feeling of anxiety most of the time, like a little mouse is running on a wheel in my chest.  And some sweaty nights.  I’m über-irritable.  I have snapped at just about every one in this house more than I should.  I’m not proud. 

Yet, it is time to suck it up and get a grip.  I know I have it in me to do this, to be the kind of parent and person I want to be without having to rely on anti-depressants to get the job done.  I just have to believe it and live it.  The times when I’m with just one kid, I feel like my old self again.  The Original Mommy.  One on one, I am Spectacular Mom.  Patient, playful, funny.  With two?  I’m Mommy Dearest.  And that sucks.  With two, I feel like I’m constantly in demand.  And then I become resentful.  Resentful of my darling husband that has the freedom to shower, take a shit, and get dressed, more often than not and more often than me, without interruption (knowing full well that this statement is a HUGE generalization, not always true, and that he works amazingly hard so that I can stay home with our kids and how dare I not feel grateful?).  I feel exhasuted and taken for granted when I spend an hour after the kids go to bed cleaning up after just about everyone.  And I find myself wanting to use that phrase I heard my mother say…”I’m not your maid.”

Even as I type that paragraph above, I feel like a brat.  My husband does way more than most, more than me even. And my kids are good kids.  Sure, they don’t pick up every toy.  But they are decent listeners and they just love to take inventory of their fun stuff.  Totally typical.  And really?  I shouldn’t take it so personally.  They aren’t tossing their toys out of toy boxes just to get at me and make me angry.  They’re doing it because they are 5 and 2 and that is their job.

See?  Removed from the situation, I can be calm and reasonable.  But in the thick of things, I let my emotions get the best of me.  And that is not what I want my children to remember about me or their childhood.  But that whole remembering to be mindful thing is just so hard. 

Lately I’ve been feeling as though wearing something at all times might help.  Something tangible, something I can see to remind myself to slow down my breathing, remember to be mindful.  Like a bracelet.  Is that why Buddhists where those beads?  Or Kabbalah’s wear the red string?  I don’t want to really purchase anything, so about a week ago I went rumaging through my jewerly box.  I’m still searching for the right thing.  The one bracelet I have been wearing this week is too bulky, and it’s difficult to type or write when wearing it.  I’ve also gotten my hair stuck in it a few times.  Ouch!

I do like how I can feel it.  I’ve tried another little beaded bracelet, and it was so thin and lightweight that I hardly noticed it was around my wrist.

Anyone have any ideas?  I’m open…