Connecting through stories: Sharing Holiday Traditions

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For the past couple of years, our family has been taking little weekend trips during Thanksgiving. Our extended family is scattered throughout the United States so we typically focus the rest of our holidays and travel efforts on visits with them. This Thanksgiving, we spent some time at Legoland in San Diego. While we were waiting on line for the 4D Legends of Chima movie, we met a family who has been coming to Legoland every Thanksgiving for the past 12 years. Chuckling, as he was talking about family holiday plans, the dad said “I know we’re crazy but we love it. It’s just what we do.” What he said didn’t strike me as crazy, though.

Family traditions are special and memorable, and quickly become beloved habits. They form bonds, are reliable, and give children a sense of ownership and something to look forward to. It made me happy to think that traveling with just my husband and my daughter could turn into a special holiday tradition for us.

Our family celebrates both Chanukah and Christmas. Chanukah brings songs of peace and celebration as we light the menorah. With regard to Christmas, we prep in our own home by playing the CD A Charlie Brown Christmas as soon as our tree is up. No decorating takes place until the music is playing. It’s simply something that sets the tone, and gets us in the mood for the holidays. We also visit with our extended family for Christmas, and watch as Em wakes up to find filled stockings and gifts under the tree. In the evening, we launch into a post-dinner dance party battle. It’s a rager and it’s so fun! No surprise that music is the centerpiece of our holiday celebrations.

Sharing stories of tradition and hearing from the family during our Legoland trip, added a feeling of connection and another element of joy for me this holiday season. It was a nice reminder that amidst the hustle and bustle of it all, there are sweet, sentimental moments to be grateful for. Besides, it’s always fun to hear other people’s stories.

As an addition to holiday music posts, today’s post features friends and artists sharing their holiday traditions from their own childhood, things they do with their families now, and of course some music. Continue reading

Fresh Press Digest 002 – Laurie Berkner partners with Simon & Schuster, Lisa Loeb’s new album with Amazon, and a Mighty Mo Productions debut

Hello Everybody! Welcome back to the Kids Can Groove Fresh Press Digest!

Edition 002 is full of new and exciting news.

unnamedLaurie Berkner & Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers to Publish Three Picture Books

This is a HUGE announcement! Laurie Berkner will publish three picture books with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Starting in Spring 2017, Berkner will release the first book based on one of her most popular songs, We Are the DinosaursShortly thereafter, Pillowland, a gorgeous lullaby destined to become a beloved bedtime book, is due out in Fall 2017 and will be illustrated by Camille Garoche. Monster Boogie, a hit at Berkner’s live shows, is scheduled for Summer 2018, also to be illustrated by Ben Blanton.

Laurie Berkner, as many of you may know was a former preschool music teacher and indie rocker. Her latest album, Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs, hits stores this month (October 23, 2015!). The album includes 51 well-loved, traditional children’s songs, plus 6 bonus tracks of popular Laurie Berkner originals. Click on the album link in this post for more info.

“It is no wonder that Laurie is beloved by children and adored by parents,” says Christian Trimmer, executive editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “Her songs, besides being incredibly catchy, are crafted with the utmost care and respect for her audience. She understands what kids, parents, and educators want and need. On top of that, she’s just really cool. I’m very excited to be making books with her.”

“I could not be more thrilled about my collaboration with Simon & Schuster,” says Laurie Berkner. “I’ve always imagined my songs being made into picture books. Now Ben’s and Camille’s stunning talents will bring them to life in ways I can only dream of! Their talent and Simon & Schuster’s expertise (with the gifted Christian Trimmer at the helm) is the perfect combination to help me create many wonderful books to share with my fans.”


516KOzNrsUL._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0Lisa Loeb’s Nursery Rhyme Parade is available through Amazon Music! 

Lisa Loeb’s fourth children’s album, Nursery Rhyme Parade! is now being offered exclusively to Amazon Prime members through Amazon Music HERE. This album is also one of two children’s albums to debut on Amazon Music this fall. Loeb’s new recording will be available in both digital format and as a CD package, available on-demand.

Nursery Rhyme Parade is chock full of familiar nurser rhymes and songs  – 35 to be exact! – perfect for building a musical foundation for teeny tiny and toddling ones. Songs on the album include guest artists such as singer-songwriter Renee Stahl of Renee & Jeremy and Renee & Friends, with children’s voices rounding out the joyful tome of the album. Acclaimed children’s book and magazine illustrator Ekaterina Trukhan created the bright animal art for the album.

Many of you may recall from her hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film Reality Bites. Her music career has stayed strong in both adult and family genres while also designing Lisa Loeb Eyewear, writing children’s books, and supporting non-profit causes. The Los Angeles based mother of two is well known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon (with Elizabeth Mitchell) and Camp Lisa (with sales benefiting the Camp Lisa Foundation). She published her second picture book-CD for Sterling Children’s Books: Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’, in 2013. Lisa recently collaborated to co-write the children’s musical “Camp Kappawanna,” which debuted at New York City’s Atlantic Theater Company.


6PAN1T-C PSDNew Kindie lablel, Mighty Mo Productions, releases debut compilation featuring award-winning artists.

On October 16, 2015 Mighty Mo Productions released its first album called Smiles Ahead. The compilation is filled with award-winning artists like Grammy winners The Okee Dokee Brothers, Grammy nominees The Pop Ups and Secret Agent 23 SkidooBrady Rymer and The Verve Pipe, Billboard Top 100 artist Rissi Palmer, and multi-award-winning artists like Frances England, Kira Willey, Grenadilla, Johnny BregarMista Cookie Jar, Caspar Babypants and a debut artist, Katydid.

Smiles Ahead can be purchased through the label’s site, Amazon,  and iTunes.

Check out previously published interviews and videos with featured artists Frances England and Rissi Palmer.

Video: “Gather Round” by Renee and friends featuring Lisa Loeb

downloadRenee Stahl of Renee & Jeremy will be releasing a new album called Simpatico (under the name of Renee & Friendswhich contains a wonderful collection of songs featuring special guests such as Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Colin Hay (from Men at Work!) and Lisa Loeb. Heads up, this album is simply gorgeous.

“Gather Round,” the first video off of Simpatico, makes it’s debut into the world today. The song, featuring delicately balanced harmonies between Stahl and Loeb, is just beautiful both in its sound and its meaning. I love the bare naked rawness that is also so comforting in the spirit of family and community.

Little things like a close up of a girl’s freckles, and Loeb playing her guitar barefoot, underscores the “just bring yourself” aspect of the song. The welcoming lyrics which ask “What can you bring to the table?” feel symbolic in a greater, more profound way. What we can bring to the table in any situation (parenting, work, life, relationships) is ourselves because that’s enough, and as the lyrics remind us “what you bring is always what we need.”

Simpatico will officially release on August 28, 2015. You can download the single for “Gather Round” and preorder the album via iTunes SimpaticoAmazon and Google Play.

Keep up with Renee & Friends on Facebook and Twitter for updates and stories and visit the official site to learn more about the project and special guests on the album.

Music and presence for the holidays

The best part of the holidays is Sharing Presence

The best part of the holidays is sharing presence

When I first saw the above comic, I was instantly struck by the profundity of its meaning. Amidst all of the holiday hubbub, I tend to overlook the true end result as I focus on finding just the right gifts, braving the lines at the post office, and getting ready for travel. Whether it’s being with family, pets, friends, or a larger community, being in the presence of people/loved ones really brings the best kind of presents.

Music is another source of joy, especially during the holidays. We’ve been listening to classics from previous playlists, as well as a few new items mentioned below that have definitely added to the sentiment of presence.

Below you will find a nice mix of Chanukah and Christmas music. Enjoy!

Light” – Lisa Loeb

Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with just the right words to describe a song. Sometimes, a song’s composition is so striking that I can’t help but first “feel” the song. I hear it, yet the music is so rich, so deep that the sounds take me away.

Lisa Loeb’s new Chanukah single, “Light,” does exactly that. It’s a gorgeous song that radiates like the warm glow of freshly lit candles. Renee Stahl, singer-songwriter and one half of the kindie group Renee & Jeremy, harmoniously echoes Loeb with a quiet intensity, filling the air with a special sense of hope. Loeb wrote the song in honor of Chanukah, and to remind us that we can all continue to shine brightly and steadily, with or without the flame.


All I Want For Chanukah is a Ukulele” – Alison Faith Levy with Karla Kane of The Corner Laughers

What can happen in a matter of two weeks? One of the Bay Area’s finest musicians, Alison Faith Levy, expertly answers that question with grace and ease. Inspired by the ukulele tutorials we have been doing over at Moms Making Music, Levy went out and bought herself a uke, learned how to play it AND wrote and produced an original Chanukulele (Chanukah + Ukulele) song and video! In just 2 weeks! And it’s a great song! If you don’t own a uke yet, you might just be inspired to pick one up after watching this video.

You can sing along with Alison by reading the lyrics she posted on her official site.

Interested in learning how to play the ukulele? Learn along with us through our tutorials at the Moms Making Music Facebook page after you enjoy Alison’s performance in the video below.


Got the SpiritMist a Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips

Back with another holiday jingle, MCJ and the Chocolate Chips come together to spread love, warmth and spirit with a soul-filled throwback to the classic sounds of the 50s. “Got the Spirit” captures the essence of being present during the holiday season by encouraging us to slow down, take a breath, and rock on with our Superbad selves as we soak up the good vibrations of those around us.

Dance because it’s chilly.
Shake until we’re silly.
Slow it down…take a breath.
Now think about the little things
That make you feel so blessed.


One Blue Candle” – Readeez

Michael Rachap, creator of Readeez, produces original songs and pairs them with animated, lyric videos in an effort to promote a better understanding of the quirky “rules” of the English language, i.e. knowing how letter sounds change when they are next to a vowel. By pairing music with lyrics and illustrations learning is reinforced through visual prompts that aid in pronunciation and foster a deeper understanding of basic concepts. We love watching Readeez videos and with each one, I can point out and talk with my daughter about the differences between what we see, hear and speak.

Readeez’s latest video is an original Chanukah (or Hanukkah depending on your spelling preference) song called “One Blue Candle,” which is in honor of the one blue candle that diligently lights each candle on the menorah every night of Chanukah. It’s part counting song, part holiday song. Simple, but like any Readeez video, colorful, informative and meaningful.


Favorite Cousin” – The Pop Ups

The Pop Ups bring a “family jam” to the fold with “Favorite Cousin” which, as the name indicates, is about celebrating with your favorite extended family member(s).


I Walk So Slow Under the Mistletoe” – Walter Martin feat. Kat Edmonson

If this song happened to show up at a holiday party and pour itself a cup of egg nog, it would not be weird at all. “I Walk So Slow Under the Mistletoe,” is a whimsical little song that captures the spirit of tradition sprinkled with just the right amount of kitsch. Martin pairs up with singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson whose unique voice blends in a nice dose of retro sweetness.

Martin explains, “I love holiday music, and I tried to pump up all of its wonderful clichés: dreamy romance, choral singing, sleigh bells…etc. I want people to feel like they’re sitting on a gumdrop sofa inside a gingerbread house while it’s raining candy canes and eggnog.”

Edmonson also appears on Martin’s debut children’s album, We’re All Young Together, in “Hey Sister.” I really love the pairing of these two timeless-sounding voices.


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Bobs & Lolo – Wave Your Antlers (Album review)

I love holiday music that doesn’t try too hard to be holiday music. Sure, most holiday music is covers of covers and renditions of originals but some carry a particularly nostalgic sound that captures the joy of the season in a way that feels authentic and is wonderful to hear on repeat.

British Columbia duo, Bobs and Lolo, created a holiday album called Wave Your Antlers with 15 songs that make things warm and cozy with both originals and classics (“Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” for example). There is a lot of fun packed into these songs which includes the introduction to a Christmas moose, named “Chris Moose,” naturally (see video below). “Go Freeze” offers the opportunity for a family game of freeze dance, while the unexpected rendition of “Dona Nobis Pacem,” which is latin for “Grant us peace,” gives you some downtime and pairs beautifully with candlelight.

Robyn Hardy (Bobs) and Lorraine Pond (Lolo) harmonize in a way that is reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks which is most notably heard on “Old Toy Trains,” a sweet song which is a slight lullaby or soft nudge encouraging little ones to get some sleep in preparation for the arrival of the man in red. Their joy is infectious which is another part of what makes this album so lovely. You can’t help but get happy as you sing right along with them. This album has become a family favorite which I envision being a part of our collection for years to come.

Enjoy the below video playlist which features a selection from Wave Your Antlers, including: “Chris Moose” (official), “Frosty the Snowman” (lyric), “Old Toy Trains” (lyric), “Up Up Up” (official), and “Go Freeze” (official).

FREE MUSIC: Somethin’s cookin’! Thanksgiving Playlist before the feast!

Thanksgiving is the holiday before the holiday rush starts. It’s the pause, the calm before the holiday storm. Although, this year it felt like Christmas started the day after Halloween as Christmas villages, gold garland and colorful striped candy canes made a fresh appearance on fully stocked shelves.

As I was thinking more about today’s post, the general food theme, and the feast that comes along with the upcoming holiday, three words came to mind: comfort, memories and gratitude. Each of the following songs filled me with an unexpected eagerness for the holidays. Feelings of comfort flooded through my body as I thought about spending time with family I don’t get to see very often. Memories of being glued to the television, wide-eyed, watching big balloons float along in the parade filled me with joy. Gratitude for accomplishments, friends and the love that I am surrounded by every day swelled my heart. Sure, there’s a bit of wacky in there, too, but what would the holidays be without a bit of madness?!

It’s funny to think that songs, related to food, would bring forth these emotions, but that’s the power of music! And now I get to share them with you. As Cathy Fink says in her song below, “Bon Appétit!”

Spread the love by sharing these tracks with your family and friends. Download the Soundcloud playlist for FREE through Friday, November 20, 2014 . If you like what you hear (I promise you will!) consider supporting the artists by clicking on their corresponding links below.

Having trouble playing the Soundcloud songs? Follow this link.

Song List

1. Kira Willey music – “The Mixing Bowl
2. LisaLoeb – “The Disappointing Pancake”
3. Heidi Swedeberg and the Sukey Jump Band – “My Cup Of Tea”
4. Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – “Eggplant Man
5. Brady Rymer – “Picky Eater
6. Danny Weinkauf – “Whipped Cream
7. Okee Dokee Brothers – “Big Rock Candy Mountain
8. Cathy Fink – “Bon Appetit

Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips – “Gratitude

Naturally, Mista Cookie Jar, Miss Ava Flava and the rest of the Chocolate Chip crew bring heartfelt words with a big bang of soul. On the below track, MCJ gets brassy with the sax, adding some pizazz to the mix (this guy has endless talent!) while reminding us to “give thanks” by spreading our love everywhere because “Gratitude is contagious“! So true! Check out the rest of the song’s lyrics here.

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Morning Wake-up Call with Lisa Loeb! Featuring special guest videos by The Not-Its! And Sugar Free Allstars

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Ok, I’m just gonna say it: I hate am not a fan of the morning rush before school! Once that alarm clock beeps or my child runs in with an egregious amount of joy as she jumps all over the bed, my mind starts racing through all of the things I have to get done, including getting to school on time. Have you ever gotten a tardy card before? I was handed one this year, and I really don’t want another one. Not that I’m all about perfection. My fear is really more related to the word “tardy.” It just screams “we know what you did this morning” in an “I know what you did last summer” way for some reason. But, I digress…

I love listening to music in the morning and really, throughout the day. But, unfortunately, depending on when everyone makes it out of bed, popping that CD into the CD player or, if you are a “streamer,” queueing up that song/playlist just doesn’t happen. I wish we listened to music more frequently during the week because it’s mood altering effects are awesome. Everyone seems to stay focused and the milk goes back into the refrigerator instead of the cupboard with the drinking glasses.

There are songs that I’ve turned to in the past that certainly help, but what has recently brightened the mood are chants. I know, that word “chants” seems strange, but read on!

Lisa Loeb – remember her? She’s the master of that awesome 90’s hit “Stay” which was featured in the movie Reality Bites? In the last few years, Loeb has released several children’s album’s that are focused on camp-themed songs. You can read more about her Camp Lisa album and the Camp Lisa Foundation here.

Last year, Loeb released a song/book combo called Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’: The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes.” Aside from the fact that there is a song about being a total rockstar in your own air band, there are a couple of songs that have been perfect for getting through the morning. One of them in particular, “Everybody Wake Up,” is an updated version of “The Wakeup Song” from the Camp Lisa album. It’s a great song you can clap and stomp along with. Heck, you can even substitute your own lyrics and instead of stomping have everyone march to the breakfast table.

The actual book that the CD is packaged with provides additional fun if you are home with a little one or need some activities for everyone after the school day. The 24-paged book promises to “get you up out of your chair!” To inspire her audience, Loeb included lyrics and dance instructions, i.e. clapping for “Miss Mary Mack,” how to scare away a monster in “Monster Stomp,” how to tell your left from your right (because your LEFT hand is the only one that can make an “L” shape with your thumb and pointer finger), and even some helpful reminders like hitting the hay earlier for an easier rise and shine. And for those that like a morning stretch or two, “Hello Today” offers some yoga-inspired poses. Ryan O’Rourke adds to the book’s charm with colorful, retro-style illustrations.

I definitely recommend checking this book/CD combo out!

Do you enjoy the morning rush? Have you gotten a tardy card before? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share any tips that help you remain sane and calm whether it involves music, chanting or something else.

ps – the other songs I referred to that relate to this topic are “Busy” by The Not-Its! and “Gotta Get Up” by the Sugar Free Allstars. Videos below.

A Mother’s Day Playlist + Free Download (limited time)

Mother’s Day is a special day! It’s a celebration of time spent watching, playing and growing with your little ones. Maybe you are getting a special homemade card that says “I LUV U MOM” or a kiss and a super duper leg squeeze from a little person (or two) who is just about as tall as your knee. Whatever the case may be, mom’s rock!

Speaking of mom rockstars, Beth Benz-Clucas of Sugar Mountain PR put together an awesome playlist featuring some of serious kindie talent. The best part? Starting today you can DOWNLOAD THE SONGS FOR FREE. But hurry because they are only downloadable for about a week. Although, the playlist will be available to stream beyond then.

Music has been a major “bonding agent” for me and my daughter and to have a collection of great music to share with her is already making Mother’s Day that much sweeter!

https://soundcloud.com/bethbcpr/sets/a-playlist-of-songs-for-moms

Please note that, according to Soundcloud, the download function works only on computers and laptops. Mobile devices and tablets ONLY allow for streaming of all of the songs.To Download, go to soundcloud and highlight the track you’d like, then click the download icon to the right.

The artists that make this playlist rock are:

  1. “Motorcycle Mom” – The Not-Its! (from their upcoming album Raise Your Hand)
  2. “No Fairy Tale” – Lisa Loeb
  3. “Ice Cream Girl” – Brady Rymer  
  4. “Our Love Fits” – Danny Weinkauf (feat. Laurie Berkner)
  5. “Red Piano Rag” – Brady Rymer
  6. “Black Bear Mama” – The Okee Dokee Brothers
  7. “Mockingbird” – Zee Avi
  8. “Mama’s House, Daddy’s House” – Suzi Shelton
  9. “Smile In My Heart” – Suzi Shelton
  10. “Tu Eres Amor” – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band