The Ultimate Musical Viewing Party on Netflix

The ultimate musical viewing party on netflixMost people have a favorite TV show from childhood. Me? I have favorite musical numbers. No, I didn’t grow up on Broadway. I grew up on a dead end road in a small town in a rural area. The cable company wouldn’t run lines to our house, and as we were nestled in a valley, we couldn’t get reception even with the good old rabbit ears.

Instead, my brother and I had a television, a VCR, and we had musicals — Rodgers and Hammerstein classics mostly. Oklahoma. The Sound of Music. The King and I. South Pacific.

My brother and I would waltz around the living room singing, “Shall We Dance? 1, 2, 3, 4” at the top of our lungs. We must have made quite a sight — him in my old bathrobe, a plastic sword slung through the belt as he played out Yul Brynner’s role. I was, of course, Anna, the school teacher.

A strange way to raise kids? I suppose to some. But music plays such an important role in what we do and don’t remember that I can say it certainly made for a memorable one.

And if you’ve heard of a certain Disney movie set in rather cold climes (cough, Frozen, cough, cough), you know musicals have no age limit. Little kids. Big kids. REALLY big kids … they’ve all proven themselves prone to “letting it go” and breaking into song at any moment.

So it only seems apropos that now we parents are all searching around for films and TV shows that will give the family that same feeling, will get us up off the couch for an old-fashioned sing into the hairbrush, dance around the living room family night.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yes … Netflix. [Read more…]

Before the ‘Frozen’ Sing-A-Longs, There Was ‘The Jungle Book’

Jungle Book Blu-RayIf there is one thing that the current national obsession with singing along to Frozen has confirmed, it’s that Disney knows how to produce musicals with songs that you will not get out of your head, no matter how hard you try. And to be honest, I haven’t tried that hard. Confession time … and this is a deep, dark one.

I dance around the house singing songs from Disney movies of old. Yes, I’m a dork.

But I’m a fun dork. And when Disney sent me an advance copy of the Diamond Blu-Ray edition of The Jungle Book, I did my own dorky (and off-key) rendition of The Bear Necessities to my daughter’s utter embarrassment. Fortunately for her, we were at home at the time, with only the dogs to judge me.

What can I say? [Read more…]

I Learned Who My Kid Is Through a Video Game

Dance Central 3 Xbox 360

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know my child at all. She comes out with something blasphemous like, “I don’t like breadcrumbs on my macaroni and cheese,” and I want to cry. Did she really come out of me?

And yet, other times, when I’m not nearly as hormonal, her preferences are so clear and so embedded in who she is that it leaves me awed. It doesn’t happen every day or even every week, but sometimes she’s doing something that makes me sit back and go, “Huh! So that’s who my kid is. And that’s WHY she is the way she is.”

The hardest part, I’m finding, is noticing when these moments crop up. Because they’ll come at me out of nowhere.

Take, for example, last week when she was playing the new Dance Central 3 game on our XBox 360. I recently partnered with Microsoft to take a look at some of their family-oriented games because we have long been an XBox family anyway.

But when I slipped the disc in, I expected more of the same. Music would play. She would dance. I’d actually get a moment’s peace.

It’s what happened. More or less (the Kinect has made these dance games much easier for someone her age to simply move, unhindered by some device held in the hand or strapped to the body, and the basics of this game are the same as the previous iterations). But there was something more.

I started noticing the songs she was choosing.

Vanilla Ice’s Ice, Ice Baby.

The Macarena.

Songs that were popular before she was born. Songs that she’s heard not on contemporary radio but on “throwback” stations that play the sort of things I sing along with without even noticing. Yes, I know the words to the Macarena. I’m OLD and a little bit dorky.

There were others sprinkled in too — Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger. Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. Newer songs, but the ones I would have chosen myself if I’d been choreographing the workout.

I realized how much my likes and dislikes do affect my child. I haven’t pushed them on her, but it’s happened all the same.

Ironic that this realization came to me while she was playing a game meant to bring families together (there are new party games in Dance Central 3 that we’re finding are a lot of fun … made more so by our common love of the same tunes)? Maybe. Maybe not.

Sometimes just being a room together with our kids isn’t enough to bond you two. Sometimes you need to do something that actually brings you together, makes you pay attention and look at who your kid is. This time it was a game. Next time, who knows.

Do you play family video games? What have they taught you about your kids? 


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Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Dance Central 3. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions expressed are my own. Unfortunately for my daughter, the same goes for my taste in music.

Selena Gomez Can Hear You Kid!

Selena Gomez concert
Selena Gomez and the Scene rock out at Bethel Woods

I got one of two responses when I let slip that I was taking my daughter to see Selena Gomez at Bethel Woods. “Who’s that?” most asked of the Disney Channel star. My explanation prompted the same response I got from people already acquainted with her body of work. “Oh, you poor thing. You’re braver than me.”

Brave I may have been. The lawn was a sea of bodies, most of them under 4 foot tall. The lines for shaved ice and kettlecorn were long and winding. And I had my 6-year-old out late for the second night in a row, tempting the “too little sleep” imp to bite me in the rear end. Janet Jackson was for me. Selena Gomez was for her.
But save for the status of my wallet after hitting the memorabilia booth for the t-shirt scoped out by kid and babysitter while I was busy taking photos of the singer for work, poor isn’t the word I’d use.

It was a warm night.

In a beautiful place.

And my 6-year-old clutched my shoulders as I held her high above her two of her best friends and the two teenagers she idolizes. And as she screamed out “I love you Selena,” she turned back to me to tell me “I think she heard me.” She wasn’t kidding.

It more than made up for the ringing in my left ear from the shrieks at a pitch never-before reached by my not-yet-tweenage daughter’s voice. I thought I had six more years. OK, five more years? At least some time before she reached the day when everything made her giggle, and she was professing her love for a celebrity.

But it was her certainty that out of thousands of girls, hers was the voice that her idol had heard that made me hold her just a little bit tighter.

That, right there? That was the innocence of childhood.

And as thousands of little girls stood at Bethel Woods singing along with Selena Gomez as she told them “You’ve got every right to a beautiful life,” I didn’t feel brave. I didn’t feel poor. I didn’t feel like I needed to get a drink to get through. I didn’t want ear plugs.

I felt relieved that I still had a little girl who wanted to climb up into my arms to be held up high enough to see the screens, to yell out to her idol because she just KNEW she could hear her.

I felt lucky to know that I’d just made magic happen. And all I had to do was say “yes, honey, we can go see Selena Gomez” and let her enjoy the ride.

Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?  

Want More Selena Gomez photos? Check out a look at her concert over at The Stir!

You’re Never Too Young for Headbanging

There are parents who believe that musical tastes should stay in the Baby Einstein’s Mozart and the nonsense rhymes realm for as long as possible.

In case you wondered, I am not one of those parents. So next time you’re feeling guilty that your kid actually knows the words to a song that WON’T play on Radio Disney, I offer your moment of zen . . .

You’re welcome! What song does your kid know but you don’t share (come on, it’s only the Internet, you can tell meeeeeeeeeeeee).

Image via S.Diddy/Flickr

She Dances When Everyone’s Watching


I could tell something had changed in my daughter this summer.

She’s sprouted up a few inches this summer – jeans that fit during the abnormally cold month of June are now Sullivan County flood weather appropriate. 
But it wasn’t that. 
She turned four this summer, graduated from the line between toddler and pre-schooler to fully the latter. 
It wasn’t that either. 
She’s been singing. And dancing. 

Signed up for a music class at Bethel Woods earlier this month so I could cover the partnership between the performing arts center and the Jeffersonville-based arts education facility, the Janice Center, she’s caught the bug. 
I’m afraid she may have her mother’s tone-deaf sensibilities, but it doesn’t matter. She’s also inherited my utter lack of modesty. 
Put them together, and you have a child who stands outside the ice cream stand in Callicoon hopping back and forth on the deck, her head back, her mouth wide open. 
No one had to tell her to dance like nobody’s watching – she’d prefer they are. And if they’re laughing, all the better. 
What was supposed to be a job for me, an opportunity to share the news with all of you has turned into one of the best experiences of her summer. She is at once enamored with the sounds she can make and the movements to match them. 
Allowed to beat two sticks together? It doesn’t matter if it’s in time, she’s in heaven. 
Told she can make a tambourine jingle? She’ll shake what the teacher gave her. 
While other parents in the western end of the county have raved about Music Together classes for their kids, I’ve held back for fear of buying into the new push toward over-scheduling our kids. 
What does she need classes for? She’s got fresh air and a backyard to play in. 
Leave the organizing for the city kids who don’t have a slide behind their houses or sandboxes to dig in. 
Forgive me, world, for I knew not what she was missing. 
Her life, it seemed, needed a soundtrack. And now mine is a string of crazy words . . . loud and off-key. 
I’ll dance to it too – just don’t look. 
Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?

Milkshake Brings All the Kids to the Yard – to Win

Milkshake has been making its way around the blogosphere of late, so I figured it was time to check it out to see what they were all shaking about.

One of those bands you see in the Noggin interstitials, heavy on the guitar riffs and rich with melody, Milkshake offers that rare chance to listen to music with your kids and not clutch your ears. It’s indie rock with a touch of bubblegum pop that makes this shake sweet to swallow.

With music that’s been likened at times to the White Stripes and the Cowboy Junkies, the lyrics are tight and intelligent, the themes kid-like but not dumbed down. Go out to the ballgame with Cal Ripken on Baseball or catch puddle jumping fever with Rainy Day.

Milkshake’s new DVD
, Screen Play, takes kids on a VH1 Behind the Music-type ride with a look at the rockers on stage performing songs from their third album, Play, and music videos that make you yearn for the days when music television still played music.

Want your own copy of the DVD? Check out their site and let your kid pick their favorite song. Leave it in comments for a chance at a DVD or a Milkshake comic book (more than one winner!). Get extra entries by grabbing my badge and/or blogging about this contest and all (remember to leave the link in comments as well).

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents, the contest will close on March 16, so remember to check back or subscribe at left to be notified right away. NEW SUBSCRIBERS for the month of March will all be entered to win a tee from Tees for Change.

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Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine

I’m not big on the word “best,” it seems to exclusionary.

But I’m pulling out the big guns for Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine.

It is the BEST children’s CD my daughter has ever become obsessed with.

The first album for kids from Apples in Stereo’s indie-rocker Robert Schneider, it’s a little bit pop, a little bit funk and a lot of fun.

The tunes are intelligent and catchy, short enough to keep the kids listening (the CD itself is just over twenty minutes long), long enough to tell a story. And the stories are some of the best bits of the disc – like the high pitched rodent tracked by a giant human (Fee Fi Fo, Fee Fi Fum) who raps about changing his ways from snack stealer to model mouse.

Drawing comparisons to everyone from the Beach Boys to Cake, Robbert Bobbert isn’t just bearable for adults, it’s an album added to the iPod and played in loops. Because they will beg for it again . . . and again . . . and again.

Get it at Amazon, or sign up for the giveaway over at Strollerderby.

Check out a few of the clips at Schneider’s Robbert Bobbert Myspace.

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Pink up Your Tunes – and Win

Ready for the big V-Day?

Me neither. But my iPod is. Decked out in the new iPod cover from OtterBox, I’m fighting breast cancer, celebrating the holiday and protecting my iPod all in one fell swoop.

The OtterBox Avon Breast Cancer line of super-strength iPod and iPhone covers are Superman with a bright pink cape. Like the rest of the OtterBox line, they defend the innocent little gadget from bumps and falls (with kids around, who hasn’t seen their iPod take a tumble?) and crumbs and jam hands.

The bones of the OtterBox case are plastic, with a silicone cover that stretches across for added bounce factor, and plugs that keep both the headphone and USB ports covered up when you don’t need them, easily accessible when you do. Made to cover the iPhone first generation or 3G or the iPod nano third and fourth generations, they’re also available in black, white, or yellow.

Buy a pink case anytime, and 10 percent of your purchase goes straight to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Buy one between Feb. 2 and Feb 16 to celebrate the holiday, and OtterBox is kicking in free shipping.

Or, you could comment on Inside Out and walk away with an iPod or iPhone cover of your choice. Want in? Check out the rest of the OtterBox site, come back and tell me what must have gadget you must have. Get extra entries by grabbing my badge and/or blogging about this contest and all (remember to leave the link in comments as well).

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents, the contest will close on February 9, so remember to check back or subscribe at left to be notified right away. NEW SUBSCRIBERS for the month of February will all be entered to win the Become Hand Smoothing Complex and Rejuvenating Hand Creme. An additional five winners will walk away with a Weekend prize pack! Already a subscriber? Refer a friend to be entered into the giveaway for five more. If they subscribe in February and shoot me an e-mail telling me who referred them, you’ll be entered to win!

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On the 13th Day of Christmas: We Give Away Sweet Dreams and Stardust

This is the 13th and final giveaway on Inside Out for the 2008 holiday season – the last giveaway of 2008 (I’m putting the weekly giveaways on hiatus so I can actually go shopping for my own kid!). There are several still open – the last won’t close for another week, so there’s still time to sign up.

In the meantime, I’m bringing back an old favorite, the Stardust Lullaby CD I gave away in one of my earliest giveaways when I finally brought reviews to Inside Out, to complement my newspaper columns which were already appearing here weekly.

The Stardust Lullaby CD comes from Cher Klosner Lane, a mom who was sick of the chintzy CDs on the shelves for putting kids to bed. Her beautiful voice is backed by brother Gene, who shares in her songwriting talents (although this CD also includes some of your old favorites). She’s offered another up for the holiday season for one Inside Out winner. If you haven’t already picked one up at the Stardust Lullaby Store, you can pick one up by going over, picking out your favorite track and coming back to comment (and you can get one for 30 percent off for a friend while you’re over there).

Get extra entries by grabbing my badge and/or blogging about this contest and all 13 Days of Giveaways (remember to leave the link in comments as well).

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents, the contest will close on December 23, so remember to check back or subscribe at left to be notified right away (and find out what the rest of our 13 days of giveaways have in store). NEW SUBSCRIBERS for the month of December will all be entered to win a Dancing Leaves Teapot courtesy of Numi Tea, so don’t forget to subscribe at left.
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