• Welcome!


    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
  • Popular Reads

  • Shop

  • Categories

    • Alltop. We're kind of a big deal.
  • Stats

    • 315,678 Visitors

Site Re-Launch!

I’ve been waiting for this day for over a year now.  I’m graduating this blog from a wordpress.com site to its own self-hosted site.  Yay!

It’s a beautiful thing.  I mean, sure, there’s a little awkwardness from the changeover that I’m still cleaning up, but for the most part, it’s pretty exciting!

Please go to http://www.travelingwithbaby.net where you’ll find all the archived posts from this site, plus more.
traveling with baby blogSee ya over there!

For the Running Enthusiast Mom: Running Gear {Review}

Did you know that Elisa and I recently ran in our first 5k since each of us had a baby.  Hats off to Elisa who is less than 5 months postpartum.  You go girl! I’ve had 2 1/2 years of “recovery” since Calvin was born, but I just haven’t had the gumption to sign up for a race…until now.

Looking fresh-faced pre-race

For the record, Elisa and I both agree that races should offer a race award category for moms with small children.  Because the lack of sleep, on call 24/7, and breastfeeding support of a little one is one heck of an endurance wear on a woman…who will then attempt to run a race. Whew!

Elisa and I RAN. We ran for ourselves. We ran for our guys. We ran for each other. We ran for autism.

The Race for Autism 5k, supporting the Virginia Institute of Autism, took place on Saturday, April 17th.  We had perfect weather and a gorgeous spring day for a route near McIntire Park in a lovely neighborhood in Charlottesville.

Out of 465 runners, we finished 290 and 291 with a time of 34:54.  Not bad for a couple of mamas who didn’t even train for this event with running (and who were pretty sleep deprived).

Elisa’s been working out at ACAC on the elliptical trainer and taking some of their aerobics classes.  I did a month of Crossfit’s On-Ramp class plus some kettlebell squats and uphill sprints on my own, but neither of us ran much prior to the race, and we certainly didn’t run 3.1 miles since birthing our sons.  We felt pretty exhilarated afterward because we finished . . . respectably.For the race, I wore my new Mizuno’s Wave Elixir 5’s (courtesy of Mizuno USA). I’m going to make a confession–I only wore them for a few hours of walking a couple days prior to the race.  I didn’t adequately break them in (not something I’d ever do or recommend).  Guess what.  It didn’t even matter.My feet felt comfortable, supported, and blister-free.  Perfect amount of arch support, mid-range control, and adequate room in the toe box.  I felt as smooth on the downhill as on the uphill climb.  Plus, they’re really pretty with the silver and red accents.  Mizuno Wave has been my running shoe of choice since I used to run 3 to 7 miles a day several times a week before I became a mom.  It’s still my go-to shoe for running. LOVE it.  Super light (7.7 ounces) and super ride.

The Mizuno Wave Elixir 5 retails for $95 – $105, and they are available at most running shoe retailers and Amazon.com.

Thanks to GoLite who creates high quality performance wear that’s easy on the planet.  Simple and clutter-free (gadget-free) is their philosophy.  I love so much of what this company stands for, and I was thrilled to wear GoLite’s Tilly Jane running skirt for the event.  It was my first running skirt.  I’m never going back to running shorts again. Ever.

I always felt like running shorts would get bunched up and awkward while running.  Not so with the Tilly Jane.  This stylish and svelte running skirt features a hidden boy short with quick-dry material in the event you need some modesty while you’re doing warm-up squats prior to your run.  Plus, there’s a dandy hidden pocket to stowe your lone key or I.D. while running.  It’s totally comfortable from breathable fabric that moves with you and doesn’t ride up.  Plus, I think it looks way more cute than shorts during a workout, and it’s definitely way more feminine.  Not that I’m overly concerned about those things.

The semi-fitted Tilly Jane is available in X-Small through X-Large.  Three colors are available: Black/granite (what I’m wearing), granite/jade, coral/granite. The Tilly Jane is made from recycled polyester, elastic, and Minerale materials, and it retails for $60 on GoLite and Amazon.com.

GoLite also equipped me with a hydroclutch.  Think cycling water bottle with a reflective hand-grip for runners.  So, you don’t have to actively “hold” the water bottle while it’s strapped around your hand, and you can bring your water with you.

Thinking there would be at least one water station along the race route, I aptly left my hydroclutch in my vehicle to avoid being encumbered by one more thing.  It was a mistake.  NO water along the race route.  I was dehydrated from a long and sleepless night ameliorating a vexed and poison ivy-stricken toddler–so, having my hydroclutch would have been a life saver.  Or at least a breakfast saver (if you catch my drift).  Next run, I’m not going without my hydroclutch.  It’s available on GoLite and Amazon
for $15.

Note: I received a pair of Mizuno Elixir 5 shoes, GoLite water bottle, and skirt for the purposes of this review.

Get in the Picture with Gorillapod {Giveaway}

I love blogging and photographing my family, but sometimes I wish all three of us could be in the picture.  When my husband’s away from home, and there’s a sweet moment that I’d love to capture on film with my son and me, it’s helpful to have a portable and flexible tripod.

Gorillapod’s SLR by Joby is strong enough to carry the weight of an SLR body plus lens (holds up to 1.75 pounds).

Over two dozen flexible joints throughout the legs remind me of my organic chemistry model kit–ya know, legos for adults.  The legs look like a combo of a bunch of single bonds, except the joints on the Gorillapod SLR bend and rotate 360 degrees.

a girl’s best friend by gcfairch via Flickr

The rubberized rings and foot legs stay-put on slick surfaces like cars, recycle bins, or cedar trees.

I’m a total fan of the quick-release level that stays on my SLR camera for easy on/off access to the Gorillapod SLR.  I use it to make sure my SLR is level when I need to set the timer for shots when I’m not behind the lens.

I used the Gorillapod SLR with my Nikon D90 DX Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens.

There’s a period of about 6 months where I snapped gobs of photos of my husband and son…and I’m not with them in a single photo.

Since I received my Gorillapod SLR from Joby (Thanks, Joby!) I was able to share the frame with my family for Easter:

I also used it to snap photos of a gorgeous spring day while holding my son.  Definitely not something I could have done without a tripod.

When we go camping next month, I’ll be able to wrap the Gorillapod SLR around a tree or even a tent pole to snap some fantastic photos.  Later when I can afford to spring for an extra Nikon flash and diffuser, I can remotely mount the flash on the Gorillapod SLR while snapping away with my camera, and using a softer light from another angle.  It’s like having a portable photography studio (great for amateurs and aptly enjoyed by professionals).

This lightweight, portable, and super fun flexible tripod retails for $39.95 on Joby and Amazon.com

Win it!

Joby is sponsoring an awesome giveaway for one of our lucky readers!

One (1) winner will receive a Gorillapod SLR (retail value $39.95)!  To enter, hop on over to Joby’s site, then leave a comment on this post telling us something you learned about a Joby product that sounds totally awesome to you or what type of photograph you’d love to capture with your Gorillapod prior to May 15th at 11:59 p.m.  That’s it! Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

*I received two Gorillapod SLRs, one for me to review and keep, and the other to give away. Read my full disclosure policy.

————————————————————————————————–

We’re celebrating motherhood from now until the end of May.  Although, motherhood should be celebrated year round…don’t you think?  Join us for gift ideas and giveaways for Mom.

For the Foodie Mom: Tagine by Le Creuset {Review}

Tajine dinners are one of my finest memories of my trip to France with Edward. We went in the Spring and traveled for almost 4 weeks – first in London visiting friends and then in France. We hopped from city to city but one of our favorites stops was in Grenoble. Our vintage hotel had a balcony with a view of the Alps. We were walking distance from the city market. And the Moroccan food there was absolutely delicious. I had fallen in love with tajines on a previous visit to France, but it was Edward’s first time. That dinner was one of my favorite memories of our trip, combining three loves – my love for France, good food, and my husband.

You can find good Moroccan food almost anywhere in France in my experience and since our trip almost *gasp* two years ago, I have not been able to find a Moroccan place anywhere near Charlottesville that serves tajines. Finally, I decided I would have to buckle down and learn how to make it myself.

What’s a tajine?

Well, I will tell you. It’s a large dish, usually made out of enameled clay or cast iron, with a tent shaped lid. It’s a slow cooker designed for the stove top and keeps food moist and juicy as it cooks.

Kitchen Kapers, sent me one. A gorgeous yellow cast iron tajine made by the exquisite French company Le Creuset. I had read reviews on other cooking websites, but was warned that the clay version needed time to soak and several reviews mentioned that their dishes came damaged or even broken.

Not so with Kitchen Kapers.

It arrived quickly and safely, and as soon as it arrived I started planning my fabulous tajine dinner. I have to say that I was a little nervous about it – would my own cooking live up to all my wonderful memories of dinners in France?

I decided on a savory chicken dish to start out – with lemon and olives cooked in the tajine and then piled over couscous. We had Dr. Dolly and her family over to celebrate the arrival of the tajine in our house. It. was. wonderful!

Chicken cooked perfectly. It pulled apart beautifully. Lemons so tender, you could cut into them like a fork on dense chocolate cake.  The size of the dish was ideal, too – we fed 5 people without a problem, though we did gorge ourselves a little – no leftovers!

Just last week I tried another recipe. This time a sweeter dish with almonds, honey, cinnamon and apricots. WOW! If I had a glass of wine and some music on I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between my French experience and my home one. Edward raved about it from the moment he got home from work and smelled the spices in the air to bedtime as he crawled into bed full and happy. I’ve included the most recent recipe below. Enjoy!

Chicken Tajine with Apricots and Almonds

yield: Makes 4 servings

active time: 30 min

total time: 1 1/2 hr

ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (3-lb) chicken, cut into 6 pieces, wings and backbone discarded
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Special equipment: a 10- to 12-inch tagine or heavy skillet; kitchen string

preparation: Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat well. Heat butter in base of tagine (or in skillet), uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half of chicken, skin sides down, turning over once, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown remaining chicken in same manner, adding any spice mixture left in bowl. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Return chicken to the tajine to finish cooking.

While chicken cooks, bring honey, water or broth, cinnamon stick, and apricots to a boil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water if necessary). Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the apricots and glaze as well as the slivered almonds into the tajine with the chicken. Discard cinnamon stick. Finish cooking chicken and apricots together. Serve with couscous.

Note: I used 2 lbs of boneless skinless dark meat, and a package of wings as well. This meant less time spent cutting chicken.

You can find a 2-quart cast iron moroccan tagine by Le Creuset for the special mom in your life (or yourself) from Kitchen Kapers–an online store (with over 7 brick and mortar locations) that inspires homemade fun for $159.99, a $55 savings from retail prices listed on other sites.

———————————————————————————————-

From now through the end of May, we’re Celebrating Motherhood.  Join us as we share gift ideas and giveaways for mom.

Tuesday Travels: Music for Families

There’s some freshly released albums for families jamming in our CD player…

Ranky Tanky :: Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem

Incredible arrangements from a string quartet with rich, warm vocals.  Music Americana at its best.  Far more sophisticated and vintage than other albums in the “family music” genre–it’s simply a treasure trove of classic songs that all ages will adore.

Top tracks: #15 Bushel and a Peck, #16 Wildflowers

Note: As much as I love the gritty and bluesy feel of the title track, the entire song is about a woman whining about how depressed and down in the dumps she’s feeling while naming all the pains she feels throughout her body, including her “butt.”  I skip right over that track simply to avoid hearing my son repeat those words.  It’s not a foul-mouthed song, it’s just not the attitude nor vocabulary I want to hear from my two year-old.  Otherwise, I am in love with this album that is on repeat in my car (going on two months).

Ranky Tanky retails for $15, and it’s available at the Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem store.

More Story Songs & Sing Alongs :: Debbie & Friends

If Karen Carpenter performed songs for younger audiences, she’d sound like Debbie and Friends.  The sophomore release by a band with dinstinctly gorgeous lead vocalist who bring to stories to life through music with a style that hearkens back to the seventies (with a little rap thrown in for good measure).  10 tracks.

Download track #1 So, So Happy for free from the Debbie and Friends website.

Top Track: #3 Home Run Ronnie

More Story Songs & Silly Sing Alongs retails for $9.95 (plus $2 shipping) from Debbie & Friends and Amazon.com.

The Big Picture :: Uncle Rock

Eco-friendly message wrapped up in country rock–David Bowie, the Rolling Stones merged with Johnny Cash. Former bassist for the late 70’s punk group Fleshtones who’s also played a lead in a musical in London’s West End, Robert Burke Warren, (a.k.a. Uncle Rock) loves writing and performing for his son’s generation and their parents. 14 tracks.

Free download of There is No Way available on Uncle Rock’s website.

Top Track: #9 You Look Good in the Rain

The Big Picture is available for purchase on CD Baby for $13.97 for CD and $9.95 (MP3).

Note: I received samples of each album for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure.

Cloth Diapers for Toddlers and Bigger Babies

…because nap time and night time are a long time to go without a potty break.

Although my son wore most of his non-fitted cloth diapers for a very long time (4 months to 24 months), his bigger thighs have rendered most of the smaller cloth one size rather unwearable.

You may have already read my extensive review on cloth diapers and tips for how to care for them.

Since I wrote the cloth diaper review in August 2008, more styles and brands have landed on the market. So, it’s time for an addendum particularly targeting bigger babies and toddlers.

Again, a great benefit of cloth is how it makes babies conscientious of their wetness or diaper fullness, thus encouraging elimination communication at an early age.  Even once your child enters the potty training stage and transitions to underwear during the day, there’s the sleep time periods that require something other than underwear.

My son wore disposable training pants…once.  Never again.  He borrowed a pair from his cousin’s stash.  The extra amount of chemicals (polypropylene, polyethylene, polyacrylate) was irritating to his skin and caused an instant diaper rash.  No thanks.  We’ll stick with cloth.

————————————————————————————————

Kushies Ultra Lite

Kushies Ultra Lite, $12.49 – $13.99

  • Effectiveness at night: 4/5
  • Aesthetics: 5/5
  • Lack of bulkiness: 4/5
  • Ease of use: 5/5
  • Maintenance: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Value: 4/5

The  ultra lite is for infants is designed for babies who weigh 10 – 22 pounds, while the toddler-size is for babies who weigh 22 – 45 pounds.

This is a fitted diaper with hook and loop closure tabs using 6 layers of absorbent 100% cotton flannel plus an additional attached flannel soaker that can be folded up (boys) or down (girls). The roomy legs of the toddler version allow my son to run, jump, and walk without a discernible bulky cloth diaper waddle (totally cute in babies, but not desirable in walking and running toddlers). Compared to the Classic Kushies Diaper, the Ultra LIte feature two fewer layers of cloth and a lighter waterproof barrier.

My son used the classic Kushies beginning when he was 8 months old.  They were fantastic–and they were hand me downs used by 2 other children (talk about a long diaper life). I love everything Kushies makes regarding cloth diapers–definitely a workhorse that’s light weight and built to last, plus super easy to clean without pulling out stuffed pockets or removing snappies.

The Ultra Lite diaper is available in variety of fun and mod prints suitable for girl (pinks with brown accents), boy (blues with brown accents), and neutral (greens with brown or multi-color as shown above). As a day use diaper, I found it worked well compared to the majority of other cloth diapers that my son can barely fit into.  The slimmer legs are perfect for mobile babies and toddler.  As a sleep time diaper, I needed to use an extra layer of soaker for my son who is a heavy wetter.  There’s room to add soakers as necessary with this diaper.

Easy to clean since they’re washing machine/dryer friendly, comfortable for my son, and delightful to the eye.

Read product details from Kushies. Purchase Kushies Ultra Lite Diapers.

—————————————————————————————————

Envibum One-Size with absorbency pad $23.99, Absorbency pads $2.99

  • Effectiveness at night: 5/5
  • Aesthetics: 5/5
  • Lack of bulkiness: 3/5
  • Ease of use: 5/5
  • Maintenance: 4/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Value: 4/5

Envibum’s minkee soft outer features a PUL water barrier lining inside; plus, there’s an unbleached cotton waffle with extra absorbency.  It works like a pocket or with extra flannel soakers on top.  Washer-friendly and line dry to keep this super cute and super soft diaper beautiful for the long haul.  It’s designed to fit the tiniest newborn to a growing toddler for babies weighing 8 to 40 pounds.

The soaker pads are optionally fit with hook and loop closures to keep them in place (no need to deal with stuffing and unstuffing soiled soakers in pockets!)–or you can get them without the hook and loop closure.

Envibum has a high commitment to creating green products that are useful for moms from all walks of life.  This is a very high quality diaper that feels like a super soft stuffed animal.  You’ll want to snuggle your little one in this beautiful diaper.  My son stroked the minkee fabric saying, “So soft!  My diaper!”  It’s definitely his favorite cloth diaper and easily one of mine.

I LOVE that Envibum is owned and operated by a family who gives back $2 toward every all-in-one cloth diaper sale to a non-profit (based on the color of the diaper).  Read more on their giving back page. Available colors include green, pink, red, aqua (each color related to a specific non-profit).

Envibum

Mom4Mom diaper cover $12.99, t-shaped liner $9.99.

  • Effectiveness at night: 3/5
  • Aesthetics: 4/5
  • Lack of bulkiness: 4/5
  • Ease of use: 3/5
  • Maintenance: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5

This is Envibum’s take on prefolds with a cover.  The t-shaped prefold is made from flannel–it’s much less bulky than a rectangular chinese prefold, yet just as absorbent and durable.

Envibum claims you don’t need to use pins or snappies to keep the front flaps of the prefold in place before applying the waterproof, hook and loop closure diaper cover, but I thought it was very hard to keep the prefold in place while applying the cover (and my son is old enough to hold relatively still for diaper time).  Snaps  or hook and loop closures would help with securing the prefold. 

For every Mom4Mom diaper cover purchased, Envibum gives one to another mom in need.  Reading about how moms in third world countries re-use disposable diapers as diaper covers…for months…made my heart heavy.  Learning about the hope that Envibum provides for these moms (there and here in the US) and why they use brown velcro makes me want to support this company with all future cloth diaper purchases.  Period.Read product details from Envibum and purchase diapers.

Note: I received diapers, soakers, and cover samples for the purpose of this review.

Hug the Earth

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

Ancient Native American Proverb

My generation and my son’s generation are at a point where we have lost the art of “waste not, want not.”  The skill set of taking and using only what we need, reusing items for practicality, and being intimately aware of our carbon footprint on the earth is something we must learn. . . chances are, these things have never been demonstrated or taught to us beyond tossing a plastic bottle into a recycling bin.

As a parent, I think the greatest impact I can make to help the future of this planet is to make smart choices about green living every day.

My son won’t learn about green living through a television special or even an educational pamphlet, but he’s going to learn about growing and culling food, cooking from scratch, re-using fabric scraps, avoiding items of waste, and other green practices by learning from his mom and dad.

————————————————————————————————

I grew up in the eighties where littering on the side of the road was common practice (until the famous Don’t Mess with Texas anti-litter ad campaign put a grinding halt to that mess).

Recycling wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary until I attended a girls’ leadership, math, and science camp where I turned into an eco-activist overnight (with a letter from the city Mayor to thank 11 year-old me for my fervor and passion).

Years later, I’ve toned down my passion and put it into practice with breastfeeding and cloth diapers.  I’ve picked up a few sewing skills to create loving handmade gifts (instead of buying things with wasteful packaging), and I’ve learned some fun options for food preparation and stretching leftovers to improve my family’s health and to stretch our dollars.

Green living may be the “cool” thing to do these days, but if the trend ever swings the other way, I hope that my son appreciates the practicality of being resourceful and thoughtful of the earth.  May he teach his children to leave this place better than they found it.

————————————————————————————————-


National Geographic recently published the Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents by Catherine Zandonella.

Printed on recycled fibers, this 400 page reference book gives eco-friendly and budget-friendly tips for raising baby and minimizing your footprint and toy closet.

Chapter 1 includes tips on creating a safe and eco-friendly home to purchasing and making your own household cleaners, parents are armed with tools to have a toxin-free home.

It’s not a super comprehensive guide to cloth diapers, but there’s a basic intro with extra green tips that will help a new parent get started well in this arena in chapter 6.

I like the ideas for eco-friendly holidays, parties and celebrations in chapter 9.  Those are definitely times where pretty packaging and decor lead to unnecessary waste.

Beyond the home, this guide arms families with ways to introduce recycling and reducing toxins in schools  (chapter 8 ) plus how to take “green” vacations (chapter 10).  To urge the next generation to care about green living, chapter 5 is dedicated to that purpose.

Overall, the book is mostly positive toward breastfeeding, but on page 196, it mentions “toxics in breast milk” discussing various chemicals that mom can absorb through skin, environmental contact, or pharmaceuticals that can be passed along to baby via milk.

I thought it was a little unusual that this section of the book states, breast milk can contain toxic substances that have negative consequences to developing babies, leaving some of us to wonder if breast milk could be harming the cognitive development of babies.  All of the chemicals listed below have been found in breast milk and are known to cause cognitive deficits. . . these contaminants are no reason to choose formula, however.

Unfortunately, the editor failed to mention the studies that indicated breastfed babies tested with higher IQ’s than those who weren’t breastfed.  True, she’s referring to the chemicals and decreased IQ, but she links the chemicals directly to breast milk.  By generalizing the statement, she makes it sound as though all breastfed babies are exposed to those chemicals, when in fact, it’s babies who’s mothers are taking prescription medications, using shampoos with phthalates, and around heavy metals and toxins.  I hope that moms on the fence about breastfeeding won’t read this section of the book and think that perhaps they should use formula instead.

There’s a lot of info that’s touched upon in this book, as a result, it skims the surface of some topics that have more detailed options, discussions, and information.  There are no pictures, drawings, or diagrams in this book.  It is purely a text reference.

I hope the future revised edition includes pictures of the different types of cloth diapers, pictures of examples of green baby toys and party decor, and it changes the misleading negative paragraph on breastfeeding.

Otherwise, I think it’s a fairly comprehensive resource to help new parents embark on the journey of green parenting with a great start.

The Green Families Guide retails for $21.95 from National Geographic, and it’s also available through Amazon.com.

Happy Earth Day!

Your turn: How do you teach your child about green living practices?  What’s the easiest (and most difficult) green practice that you do in your home?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.