Video: “Too Much Junk” – Elska feat. Mikael Jorgensen

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As we approach Earth Day, many of you may be thinking about or getting involved in eco-friendly activities. Each year, Em is obsessed with cleaning junk off the street. The amount of trash and litter thrown on the sides of the streets is very disappointing to her, and I am happy to support that!

So it only seems appropriate to post this video for “Too Much Junk” by Elska. It was released a little bit ago, but I’ve been saving it for this week, in honor of Em’s feelings about cleaning up the streets, and because Earth Day tends to kick my spring fever up a few notches. I start to itch and get restless as I notice that my surroundings are growing bigger with clutter by the day. Or so it seems.

For “Too Much Junk” Shelley Wollert (aka Elska) teamed up with Mikael Jorgensen, the lead keyboardist and pianist for the band Wilco. Together they have created a fresh new track that is filled with the same dreamy electro-pop signature to Elska’s sound. The song and corresponding video present a wonderfully minimalistic perspective in that Elska’s voice is prominent and the only thing surrounding her is the beautiful Icelandic landscape. It’s a perfect metaphor for the reduction of clutter. And as Elska sings “I don’t need a lot/ no not a lot” I feel moved to breathe in the openness of my own space by cleaning out all of my own (and my daughter’s) junk.

Now, since this video was released during the wintry months, there is snow. I realize that many of you have your sights set on greener pastures (and flowery spring colors) so I offer you this: Watching Elska romp around in this wintry wonderland reminds me of how fresh the air feels when you give yourself the space to take it all in.

Plus, I love how she dances at minute 1:13! Adorable. Seriously.

Enjoy!

You can purchase the track, and find more Elska at her official site.

“The Siblings Shake” – Happy National Siblings Day with The Mother Company And Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

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It’s hard enough navigating through this world as a single child, and just when you feel like you’ve got a handle on things a sibling comes into your world and changes up the dynamic. I have heard from many moms with multiples how intense the fighting can be at times. On the other hand, there are beautiful moments where siblings just hug it out like crazy and play together like the best friends.

The Siblings Show,” the latest installment in the “Ruby’s Studio” series, a multiple award winning show produced by The Mother Company, aims to encourage harmonious relationships between young siblings. Through animation and problem solving skits The Siblings Show offers relatable scenarios and tools to help siblings learn to understand and express their feelings, embrace teamwork and celebrate family. The show also addresses topics such as birth order, adoption, and anxiety around a new baby. Em has been very outspoken about not wanting a sibling for fear of losing time with us so being able to watch something that speaks to her and can comfort her is reassuring.

In honor of National Siblings Day, The Mother Company released a video performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band for the song “The Siblings Shake.” As expected, Lucky and Alisha pour their infectious, sunny personality into this song with a bit of whimsy and humor. It’s hard not to feel the love when watching these two!

The Mother company is an awesome group of moms and experts who aim to provide rich entertainment to young children, and advice for parents. In addition to their latest installment, they also offer episodes empowering kids in areas of friendship, being the boss of their own body and safety. There is something for everyone in the family! Visit The Mother Company’s site and check it all out.

You can learn more about “The Siblings Show” and purchase the full-length DVD here.

Can you KaraOkee? Sing along with the Okee Dokee Brothers!

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The Grammy winning (and 2-time Grammy nominated) adventure dudes have a present for all of their fans! The Okee Dokee Brothers recently produced KaraOkee videos for songs from their Grammy winning album Can You Canoe? and their recently Grammy nominated album Through the Woods. 

The KaraOkee versions of the videos feature the same HD footage from the Brothers’ Mississippi and Appalachian Trail adventures along with lyrics and a bouncing ball (or hat or tree or boots) to guide you along. It’s a lot of fun and a nice way for families to spend time singing along together.

So, can you KaraOkee?  Join the band and, as Joe and Justin say, “Don’t be afraid to sing out of tune!”

Below are some of our favorites. Be sure to visit The Okee Dokee Brothers’ YouTube page for more KaraOkee fun!

Watch This: Twinkle Time – Kidz Rock feat. Mista Cookie Jar

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Los Angeles-based Twinkle Time and fellow SoCal artist Mista Cookie Jar join forces for a new song and video.

Together MCJ and Twinkle bring celebrity style and commercial production value to the screen with a little help from all-star producers Matthew Gerrard (Kelly Clarkson, Big Time Rush, High School Musical and Hannah Montana), Peter Amato (Miley Cyrus, LeAnn Rimes, Ricky Martin) and James Dallas, who has had had his songs placed on the George Lopez Show, Bring it On, The Bratz, and co-writes/produces with Twinkle for the “Bilingual Pop Music Show for KiDS, Twinkle Time!”

If we were teleported inside a disco snow globe, it wouldn’t be as much of a rush as what’s happening in this video. Kidz Rock is like a whirling, swirling, EDM, pop, hip-hop, confetti explosion!  Or, as lyrics say “This here’s a kidpaloooza  where the  music don’t stop.” Next stop: Disney channel!

“Kidz Rock” is the first single from Twinkle Time’s 3rd album due late summer/early fall, 2015.

You can listen to and purchase the single here.

Cultivating mindfulness with Charity Kahn from Charity and the JamBand

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My routine of unwinding for the day usually involves looking at social media. It’s a habit, and I get sucked right into it.  The problem is that when I finally pull myself away from the screen, I still feel unsettled. I feel anxious and have a hard time falling to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle, and I see that it affects my daughter in the same way. If she is on the iPad for a certain amount she comes out of  it agitated and off-kilter. The rush has ended yet our brains are still seeking input.  To help with transitions, we’ve been winding down with softer music in the evenings, and a reading or drawing activity.
Charity Kahn, the lead vocalist for the Bay Area group Charity and the JAMband, has been working to introduce mindfulness as a reliable resource to help others find relaxation and peace. Below Charity talks about her own practice as well as her recent project, “Sit Breathe Love: Guided Meditations for Children and their Grown-Ups” which offers guided practices to families, children, and schools.

I have had a meditation practice for about eight years that has dramatically transformed and improved my life. About four years ago, I decided it was time to bring some of these principles and practices into my work with children and families. People of all ages are looking for relief from stress and way to calm down their bodies and minds, which mindfulness practice directly addresses. And children are incredibly receptive to the related concepts of kindness, gratitude, generosity and peace. No surprise there!
Our most recent project in this vein is Sit Breathe Love: Guided Meditations for Children and their Grown-Ups. We’ve so far released three guided practices for families or classrooms under this umbrella to enjoy together: “Ball of Light Meditation”, “Mindfulness Experiment”, and “Meditation on Non-Harming”. Our plan is to release one per month.
But it all started with the music. I had always integrated mindfulness themes like peace and love into my songwriting, but I took this intention more seriously as my practice deepened. Our most recent album, charityandthejamband3Family Values”, is built around sixteen mindfulness-related concepts: lovingkindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, patience, understanding, generosity, community, intention, non-harming, gratitude, respect, mindfulness, waking up, truth, and peace.
For example, there’s the “Lovingkindness” song — a sweet little singalong based on an ancient practice — that starts by sending goodwill to oneself (“may I be happy, healthy, safe and at peace”) and then extends these wishes for goodwill outward to others, and eventually to everyone, in all directions. Listen to the songView the dance video (filmed by Peace Is The Way Films).
There’s also the “Lemonade” song, a favorite at our concerts. This one is a rock epic that follows the adventures of a community of fairies living in a land called Lemonade. They are visited by an angry dragon who threatens to smite them and their land. Instead of resorting to fight, flight, or freeze, they end up using non-violence, compassion and generosity to solve the problem by making the dragon a special batch of their magical lemonade and bravely welcoming him into their community. Listen to the song.
And then there’s the funky little “Grateful”, which explores some of the life experiences for which we have gratitude: the sun, the rain, our home, our school, our friends, and our family. This song includes musical performances by my kids (on trumpet and trombone) and my partner’s kids (on voice and piano)…it’s a family affair! You can listen to the whole “Family Values” album here.
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Since all of our music has accompanying choreography, there are dances that go along with these songs,and we sing and dance these themes with children all over the place — at our “Charity and the JAMband” family concerts, at my solo shows at libraries and schools around the Bay Area, at my JAMcamps for school-aged children, and in my early childhood music and movement classes, JAMboodas.
I also practice mindfulness-inspired exercises with the children in my camps and classes, and with the families at my concerts. One of my favorites is Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Mindful Movements” — basically some simple yoga-like opening stretches that are done while staying connected with the breath. I’ve also written his Pebble Meditation practice into a song which has accompanying dance moves. I also share lovingkindness meditation, body scans, mindfulness of breathing, mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of emotions, mindful listening, mindful eating, mindful speech, and many other related practices as part of my programs.
In parallel, I teach weekly Mindfulness Meditation classes for adults, and offer periodic workshops exploring Mindfulness practice and its intersection with various topics like relationships, stress, parenting, and joy. Some of these workshops are for adults only, some are for parents, some are for families.
I have trained with Mindful Schools and combine their curriculum with my own to create a broad foundation of exposure for the children. I’ve also done retreats at Spirit Rock and the Insight Retreat Center, as well as training with Against the Stream, Insight SF, and IMC in Redwood City. For more information or if you’re interested in attending a concert, class, camp or other program, visit www.jamjamjam.com, or contact me at 415.425.0372 or charity@jamjamjam.com.

Learning about Passover with Shalom Sesame

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This weekend our family celebrated both Pesach (Passover) and Easter. As we transitioned from finding Easter eggs to finding the afikoman (matzah), I was reflecting back on my own childhood. I didn’t grow up in a religious household, but I was raised Jewish, and and we celebrated major holidays. Now that I am a parent, and still observe Jewish holidays with my relatives, I feel as though I want to give my daughter a little background about what it all means.

shalom-sesameAs I was reading about the story of Passover, I was also looking for some videos to help visually explain some of the details. While I was searching around, I found Shalom Sesame, a co-production of the American version. Shalom Sesame was created in an effort to introduce Israeli life and Jewish culture to American audiences. The episodes feature Hebrew and English words, which is nice for bilingual families. Monolingual families (like ours) can also benefit from these episodes since English translations of Jewish literature use the Hebrew form of certain words. For example, the afikoman is a piece of matzah that is broken in half and set aside to be eaten as dessert after the Passover seder (dinner).

Children will get to see certain American muppets in some of the episodes of Shalom Sesame, and meet new ones. Moishe Oofnik, for example, is Oscar the Grouch’s cousin. Naturally, Moishe also lives in a garbage can (in Israel).

I am so glad I found something relatable to share with Em as we were preparing for our own celebration. Below are videos we enjoyed the most, but I would encourage any family interested in learning about other cultures to explore Shalom Sesame.

 

“Here Comes Peter Cottontail” – The Hipwaders

 

yearroundsounds.jpg.w300h275 Happy Easter weekend everybody! Today, I am reposting my favorite Easter song of all time, which is featured on The Hipwaders‘ most recent release, Year-Round Sounds.

*”Here Comes Peter Cottontail”

In this holiday single The Hipwaders deliver a swingin’ rendition of Gene Autry’s classic, “Peter Cottontail.” “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” is the perfect companion for your Easter related activities. This bouncy “tail” will make you want to kick off your shoes and do a little (sock) hopping of your own. Always upbeat, the Hipwaders deliver straight rockin’ grooves while introducing us to one of the coolest bunnies in town as he hip hip hoppa hippa hip hip hop’s down the bunny trail. Get your Easter baskets ready, kids!

You can listen to the song via the SoundCloud widget below.

*The original post, which featured “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” and “Gaia She Knows,” can be found here.