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Record Snowfall

We’re having a record snowfall in Virginia.  At present, we have 22 inches of snow accumulation in our backyard…and counting!

Here’s our street, 12 hours after the snowfall began last night.  Obviously, the plows haven’t made it to our street.

Steve and our neighbor drove around in the 4-wheel drive truck to help folks who were stranded, and to transport hospital personnel who were stuck at home.  They also dropped a woman off to a local nursing home to care for her mother since the nurses weren’t able to make it in.

When Steve came back with our neighbor Tim, I had a huge pot of warm butternut squash soup waiting for them.

Calvin was eager to check out the snow.  So, I bundled him up in 5 layers of clothing, and let him tromp around in snow as high as his chest.You think this is a lot of snow?  First notice Calvin’s height…his boot hits just below his Daddy’s coat line.

Yep, it’s a lot!

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Eat Pancakes – Help a Widow and Her Children

You may have heard about the University of Virginia medical student, John Jones, who recently died in a spelunking accident in Utah over Thanksgiving.

John Jones passed away at the tender age of 26, leaving behind his young widow Emily who’s now the sole parent for their 14-month-old daughter Elizabeth.  Emily is also expecting her second baby in June.

Friends to this family are rallying together for a memorial fundraiser to help this family continue.  Visit www.johnjonesmemorial.com for information on how you can donate to help this family.

If you live in Charlottesville, join the Pancake Fundraiser this Saturday, December 19th at the Applebees on 29 North to eat your fill of breakfast and donate to the memorial fund.  During this Christmas season, let’s shower this family with love and support from the people in their community.

Breakfast Pancake Fundraiser for the John Jones Memorial

When: Saturday, December 19th, 2009 from 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Where: Applebees on 29 North (next to Toys R Us); 571 Branchlands Boulevard, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

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Playground Fun

Calvin’s physical skills have advanced considerably since the spring, when I first took him to the big kids playground.

Initially, he was a little timid.  He’d NEVER go down the slide without Mama or Daddy.

But, he’s almost two, and things have changed with this little climber…Climbing at the Playground (19 seconds) from drgarnecki on Vimeo.

Once he ascended the ladder, he announced greetings in English and Chinese.

Nei Hao (10 seconds) from drgarnecki on Vimeo.

Just in case you’re not a video fan, here’s a couple of my favorite snapshots from this afternoon.

tunnel editPeering at Mama in the tunnel

swing2 editGetting Daddy kisses on the swing

slide2 editSerious slide fun

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Health Happy Round-Up: Backpack Safety

health happy round-upWelcome to a weekly series on Traveling with Baby, Health Happy Round-Up which focuses on multiple aspects of wholesome living and optimal health for the entire family.  Each weekend, Traveling with Baby will share some insightful news, recipes, and tips to help you consider fresh new perspectives on wholesome and happy health.

Back pain only happens to adults–right?  I mean, I don’t recall kids telling other kids about headaches and how much their backs were hurting them when I was a kid.

In chiropractic school, we learned a key point:  It’s very unusual for children to experience head, neck, or back pain.

Adults, yeah well, that’s par for course from driving in cars (the average American adult experiencing a car accident at least once every 4-6 years), sitting in desks in poor posture, and just not taking care of overall health and posture.  j0439398

But, children.  They’re not supposed to get neck pain or low back pain.  When that occurs, it should be a red flag that something is wrong.

According to a recent article by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), a recent and troubling trend has found that:

young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations, and the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor, according to the American Chiropractic Association. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that backpack-related injuries sent more than 7,000 people to the emergency room in 2001 alone.

The article by the ACA goes on to cite studies of backpack-related back pain in children in France and Italy.

j0439539But there’s hope!  Learn smart tips on ways to make backpack carrying safe for your children by reading the rest of the article from the ACA here.

For more information on backpack related back pain in children, read the abstract published by the Scoliosis Research Society, “Backpack Use as a Risk-Factor in Children’s Back Pain“, as well as the abstract “Back Pain in Adolescents Using Backpacks“.

Interestingly, both abstracts note that females tend to have more backpack-related back pain compared to males.

These trends are disturbing, and I don’t want to sit around while the kids in my community continue to over stuff their bags with too many books and chronically wear away on their posture.

What have I decided to do about it?

Well, I’m glad you asked!  First of all, I was asked by Scholastic to provide my expert opinion on my top 3 choices for children’s backpacks and reasons why.  My choices will be available in the September issue of Parent and Child Magazine . . . so, don’t miss it! For the record, I did not receive any compensation or products for review when writing my opinion on backpacks.  I’m familiar with the brands and styles, and there were key features regarding backpack safety, ergonomics, fitting, and weight-distribution that weighed in on my decision.  If you e-mail me, I’d be happy to share my top recommendations for backpacks with you!

back to schoolSecondly, my practice, Spinal Health & Wellness, is partnering with Whole Foods for their Back to School Taste Event on Thursday, August 20th from 4-6 p.m. to provide healthy recipes and after-school snacks.

  • I’ll be on site to help children with backpack fitting and sizing.
  • I’ll also help them determine the max amount of weight they should carry in their backpacks.
  • Take home some healthy and yummy snack recipes
  • Try out great snacks throughout the store
  • Whole Foods is also providing free re-usable lunch boxes to the first 100 school-aged children to come to the event.  What a sweet deal!
–By Dr. Dolly
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Weekend Update: Runners, Balloons, and Tigers. Oh, My!

Calvin’s been gnawing on his fingers all week long.  The chewing combined with excessive fussiness, picky eating, and constantly needing mommy to hold him tells me that he must certainly be teething.

Here we go again!

Two year-old molars are the next to surface, and I hope they don’t take months and months to break through the gums.  I don’t know if Calvin Steve and I can take it!

I packed away my mei tai carrier a couple months ago since Calvin’s running and jumping and yearning for more and more independence all the time.  But, this week, I rummaged through every bin and shelf until I located it.  Babywearing my teething toddler has been such a sanity check in the early evening while I’m trying to prepare dinner.

Saturday morning, I woke up very early to make it to the University of Virginia track by 7:15 A.M. to set up a table for the Women’s Four-Miler Training Program.  I was cordially invited (representing my chiropractic practice) to attend to answer questions about running injuries, stretches, and other similar inquiries.  This super-energized program is mostly geared to helping new or first-time runners safely and effectively train for 11 weeks to complete a four mile race.  Proceeds from the event raise money for breast cancer research.

There were over 1000 women at the track early on Saturday morning doing their run or walk workout, stretching out together and listening to pumped up music blaring over loud speakers.  This phenomenal program is currently led by the friendly and mega-energetic Joan Esposito.

Joan Esposito at the Women's Four Miler Training Program on the UVa track

Joan Esposito at the Women's Four Miler Training Program on the UVa track

That morning, I left the home before my son awoke.

Once I got home, Steve told me that he took Calvin with him to the City Market to buy produce and grass-fed beef.  Calvin was grumpy and fussy, and he said “Mama” non-stop.

So, what happened once I walked into the door to greet him?

Nothing.  He looked up casually as if to say, “Oh, you’re here now.  Whatever.”  Then, he kept playing with his toy cars.  If his world was falling apart because I wasn’t around, he certainly wasn’t going to let me know it.

However, he didn’t have another fussy meltdown for the rest of the day.  So, I guess that’s a plus.

We breakfasted together as a family, then Steve dashed off to complete some tree cutting work.  Meanwhile, Calvin and I attended the fun and lively open house of the UVA Child Development Labs.  Calvin had participated in some studies earlier in the summer, but it was loads of fun to play with balloons and bubbles, listen to live music, finger paint, and eat yummy snacks.

Up and away at UVA's CDL

Up and away at UVA's CDL

Pssst.  It’s free to sign up your child ages 0-10 to participate in studies that help the psychology undergraduate and graduate students.  I was a psychology major in undergraduate, and I would have loved to observe or learn from studies with children instead of solely reading about childhood learning through a textbook.  The tests are short, usually playtime fun, and you get to observe your child the entire time!

Calvin's first tattooWhen Calvin got his first temporary tatoo, he didn’t know quite what to do with it.  He sorta scratched at it and looked puzzled.  I told him it was a Tiger booboo.  That seemed to make sense to him.

finger painting at the UVA CDL open houseHands down (no pun intended), Calvin’s favorite activity of the day was the finger painting.  He kept running back to the table, butting in front of other kids and smashing his hands on the table.  I think I’ll look up a recipe to create washable homemade finger paints so we can continue the fun at home.

Old Time Music received a standing ovation from Calvin

Old Time Music received a standing ovation from Calvin

Calvin had a busy day with us.  I love the free family fun in Charlottesville!  Hope y’all had a great weekend.

Tell me what you did with your family!

–By Dr. Dolly
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Country Capers

There was a great turnout to yesterday’s Happy Green Baby class at Rebecca’s Natural Food.  I saw some good friends and made some new ones.  After the class, our friends invited us to their cottage located on a country farm 8 miles west of town.  We arrived just as the sun was setting over the emerald fields and beautiful master garden.  Take a peek at some of the beautiful things we saw.

I love natural lighting at sunset.  It makes everything glow!  All photos are taken on my Canon powershot SD700 IS on manual portrait setting.

Chicken coop window boxIsn’t this the prettiest chicken coop you’ve ever seen?

Calvin by a horse pasture near CharlottesvilleAs soon as Calvin spotted the horses grazing in the pastures, he started making horse sounds.  Ya know the one where they put their horsey lips together and make a puttering sound?  Calvin’s version sounds just like a whispery “puh” as if you’d say what sound the letter “P” makes.

thunderhead over pastureThere was a magnificent backdrop of thunderhead clouds in the evening sky flecked with sparkles of lightning while Calvin and his Daddy visited the mares.

john deere driverWhat’s more fun than driving a truck, espeically a John Deere tractor type of truck?

fresh pick appleAlong the country lane were a few apple trees that beckoned to be picked.

Eating a fresh-picked appleSo, Calvin obliged.

master gardenWe ambled through the master garden on the way back with perfectly trimmed cone-shaped shrubs.  It was teeming with carrots and strawberries that were ripe and juicy.

thunderheadWe enjoyed the amazingly beautiful sunset to the west of Charlottesville.

–By Dr. Dolly
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Tuesday Travels: Baby Carrier for Sunny Adventures

traveWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a summertime series at Traveling with Baby.  This season, my son and I are excited about sharing some local day trips and field trip ideas for families with little ones.  This weekly series will also feature travel tips for families with kids-in-tow and related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

We’ve had an unusually mild summer for central Virginia.  The weather’s been perfect for spontaneous hikes and camping trips around the Blue Ridge that we often refer to as our backyard.

Calvin in Kokopax (Espresso) at Mint Springs Park, Virginia. Photo by Elisa B. Photography.

Calvin in Kokopax (Espresso) at Mint Springs Park, Virginia. Photo by Elisa B. Photography.

Just this past weekend, we had a blast picnicking, splashing on a Logosandy beach, and hiking on trails with deer at Mint Springs Park.  In the photo above, Steve is comfortably wearing Calvin in the Kokopax Classic Carrier in a photo snapped by my very talented photographer friend, Elisa of Elisa B. Photography.  (Her wedding portfolio is AMAZING–check it out!)

Here’s one more photo of my favorite little guy.

Calvin Kai in Kokopax

Calvin Kai in Kokopax

In June, we first gave the Kokopax Classic Carrier a hearty go as we traversed the Rivanna Trail which winds through urban and forest areas in Charlottesville.  Read more about our family hiking and camping adventures in Shenandoah National Park earlier this summer.

kokopax_logo_colorThe Kokopax carrier may not be the type of carrier you want to use for rugged trails in Shenandoah, but the lightweight aluminum frame is easy to throw on your back for a brisk walk or short hike.  If you prefer to wear baby/toddler on your back, this carrier allows your child more room to move about (and keep cool) compared to many wrap or mei tai-style carriers.

Calvin likes the Kokopax because even though he’s secured with a safe 5-point harness, he’s got room to breathe, reach for blackberries, and stowe his sippy cup.  Heck, it’s even got a plastic ring where you can clip toys or a soother, if necessary.  The bottom of the frame provides a comfortable footrest for baby and prevents blood from pooling in baby’s feet.

The classy fabric is cotton canvas, and it’s available in 5 other styles.  I love the beautiful fabric and contrasting storage pocket in the back (great for a spare diaper and wipes) secured with a chic wooden button.

Calvin resting in Kokopax after a long hike
Calvin resting in Kokopax after a long hike

The kickstand allows easy loading and unloading of baby.  The frame size is adjustable for varying torso lengths.  The contoured and padded waist support doesn’t chafe or rub.

This lightweight baby carrier weighs in at 2.7 pounds and fits in overhead compartments in airlines.  Travel friendly!  If you need to stowe it long-term, it comes with a green polka-dot cotton storage bag that’s breathable, yet it protects the carrier.

The Kokopax Classic Carrier is available for purchase directly on the Kokopax website, or Amazon.com, and it retails for $179.99.

TWB Reader’s Exclisive: Mention code twb2009 and receive 10% off ANY purchase from kokopax.com

Note: The manufacturer recommends the carrier for babies/toddlers 6 months to 2 years or up to 35 pounds.  At 19 months and 26 pounds, my son was too heavy for me to wear him comfortably in this carrier, however, it’s perfectly comfortable for my husband.

This carrier is best for babies who are old enough to support their own heads (6 months is a good rule of thumb) and it’s most comfortable for babies that are smaller or less than 20 pounds.

The manufacturer plans to add a hip belt in future models which will reduce strain on the neck and shoulders and allow parents to distribute baby’s weight on the hips and low back which should be decidedly more comfortable for bigger babies.

Kokopax also created a very stylish Blakely Ring Tote.  So, you can look very chic 2009 on the beach or at the local farmer’s market.

BubblesToteThe fabric styles coordinate with the options available for the Classic Carrier.  This roomy bag with comfortable grip also features a very cute mini-tote with a zippered-closure which hides loose change or chewing gum.  It can easily double as an easy-to-find wallet within the blakely tote.

The key fob, extra roomy pockets, and beverage compartment make this bag a beachy fun diaper bag or all purpose kids bag.  Yet, it’s cute enough that you may want to use it as your re-usable shopping bag or airline carry-on.  The durable nylon liner keeps internal spills from creating a mega-disaster.

The blakely is a modern day tote that rivals the endless satchel of fun carried by Mary Poppins.  Create your own Supermom bag with the Blakely which measures 18” x 4 ½” x 18”.

The Blakely Ring Tote by Kokopax is available for purchase on the Kokopax site or Amazon.com for $79.99.

Mention code twb2009 and receive 10% off the Blakely Ring Tote or ANY purchase from kokopax.com

–By Dr. Dolly
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Weekend Update Part II: Family Hike

We decided to trek on the Rivanna Trail on Sunday evening.  We parked at the UVA Fontaine Research Park and headed over to the trail.

Pre-hike on the Rivanna Trail
Pre-hike on the Rivanna Trail

We each donned hats for shade (not that we needed any more shade under the treetops) and to protect ourselves from pesky bugs.

Steve wore his aerated sandals and suffered a few bites.  I sported my trusty Asics runners and tried my best not to slip in the muddy puddles into patches of poison ivy.  As far as I can tell, I succeeded.  I did find a tick crawling on my arm when we drove home.  I smashed the little sucker before it could bore into my skin and give me Lyme disease.

Aside from a few bugs, we had a refreshing hike on a 2 mile loop of the trail.

IMG_5996I love this photo with the gauzy sunlight overhead.

We hiked up several steep hills, around a mountain, over a stream, and through countless muddy puddles.

About the time Calvin grew a little antsy, we found sweet treasures.

IMG_6032We pulled lovely blackcaps from the bushes hanging over the trail.  Calvin plucked them from Steve’s fingers and said two words non-stop, “mmm” and “please”–the later word coupled with the sign language for extra emphasis.

The only way to get him to quit asking for more berries was to finish them up and tell him there were no more…until we found another bush heavy with berries.  We found quite a few.  We also noticed the raspberry bushes were jeweled with green berries which will be ripe in about 2 weeks.

IMG_6023The sunlight peeked through the heavy canopies at a few spots along our hike, but we were mostly shrouded by the dense treetops as we continued our way down the mountain, past the stream, and toward the muddy puddles (which is exactly where the berry bushes were ripe and beckoning).

IMG_6008The RTF trail blaze was easily identifiable when several paths split off.  However, when we made it through a clearing to a fire station and police station, we had to guess to find our way back to the trail and into the forest.  Steve’s a pretty good guesser when it comes to trail navigating.  Soon enough we were back on the right path after following a gravel road for a short distance.

IMG_6009We chanced upon 1 trail runner, 1 mountain biker, and  two women walking 4 little dogs who were not attached to their leashes.  That was evident when they came bounding up to us and tickled our legs with their wet tongues.  I didn’t mind slobbery kisses from strange dogs, but my bare legs didn’t appreciate the sharp scratches from the dogs’ claws.  Owch!

We continued on our way and found bright yellow fungus, and a billiant orangey-red mushroom that was too beautiful not to photograph.IMG_6013

Sturdy foot bridges allowed us to stay dry when crossing the streams.  While bounding through the trails, Calvin sang to hear the rhythm of his voice percuss with his father’s footsteps.  He pointed at trees, beckoned for more berries, and enjoyed the lush and green surroundings.

IMG_6038At the end of the hike, he was anxious to go home.  1) He was hungry. 2) He was sleepy. 3) Nature was calling.

IMG_6040A truly happy hiker who enjoyed having his berries before his dinner.

We had so much fun that we’re planning on an overnight camping trip in the near future.

If you haven’t yet, read Part I of this week’s Weekend Update for more Traveling with Baby fun.

–By Dr. Dolly
Twitter me: drdolly

Trompin’ and Stompin’

When the sun’s shining, we love to go on hiking adventures outoors.  A few weeks ago, we visited Dunrovin Farm near Crozet (west of Charlottesville) for a church parish picnic and worship event.  There were free roamin’ cows.


There were breathtaking vistas.


There was a large mountain/hill which we ascended for worship just before sunset.


My 17-month old tromped through the hip-high grass in his new Keen® Newport H2 sandals which provided a steady tread, generous toe protection, and comfortable breathability as he tackled this hillside hike.

The hike was worth it, because afterward, we got to do this:


. . . enjoy the languid sunset on the emerald grass while singing praises to the Creator of this vasty beauty.

My son liked the dogs, the strawberries, the cows, running through the tall grass, and he especially loved his new shoes.


The most amazing waterproof sandals for sand and surf are now available for little feet.  Babies, toddlers, and kids can all have a piece of this unstoppable footwear action by Keen® with the Newport H2, just in time for summer hiking fun!



Toddler’s Perspective

My son thinks they’re the coolest shoes evah, probably in large part because they look just like a pair of Keen® sandals owned by his Daddy.  Of all of my son’s shoes, and he has quite a few, the Keen® Newport H2 water sandals are hands down, his favorite which he hand selects for outings.  Once I help him strap ’em on, watch out!  He’ll start running in place, stomping with a frenzy, and emitting the deepest and loudest little-man roar you’ve ever heard.  Then, I’ll find him walking around admiring his Newport H2’s, every so often picking up his leg to hip height to admire his cool sandals in all their glory.

Mom’s Stamp of Approval

Waterproof, easy to clean, and quick-drying  means super low maintenance on my part.  Hook and loop closure ensures a snug fit on the ankle and that my son will eventually be able to slip them on and off by himself (one he increases his toddler manual dexterity skillz).  The sole wraps up over the toes for some seriously intense toe protection for my toddling walker.


keen_logo1prizeypickKeen® is a fabulous sponsor of Traveling with Baby’s Blogaversary Bash is offering  1 winner (U.S. only) their very own pair of of  Keen Newport H2 sandals in infant, toddler, or youth sizes (retail value $50).  The winner will be randomly selected via random.org

1. To enter, a) first leave a comment  on the TWB Blogaversary Bash post about your ideal way to spend Mother’s Day.  Then, b) leave a comment on this post with your favorite place to hike or play in the water with your kids.  Finally, c) visit Keen®’s site and tell me which size and color you’d prefer in Newport H2’s.

2. Earn a second entry by blogging about the giveaway and linking to Traveling with Baby using “Traveling with Baby’s Blogaversary Bash” as the title in your blog’s post.  Then, leave a comment with a link to your post.  Non-bloggers can participate by subscribing to Traveling with Baby’s feed .

3. Follow me on twitter (drdolly) and tweet about this contest “@drdolly Keen sandals for kids giveaway on Traveling with Babyhttps://travelingwithbaby.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/kids-shoes-kee…n-surf-or-sand/“.   Leave a comment saying you tweeted.

Leave a valid e-mail address, so I can contact you to claim your prize, or it’ll go to another amazing person.  The contest is open to U.S. shipping addresses only.

This contest runs until 11:59PM (EST) on May 16th, 2009.

One winner will be randomly selected (via random.org) and announced on this post and e-mailed sometime shortly after May 16th. If a winner doesn’t respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.


Congratulations to the winner: dreamer

— By Dr. Dolly

Ellis Paul – Live in Charlottesville

Please welcome critically-acclaimed folk musician Ellis Paul to Traveling with Baby.  You may have heard him on the soundtrack of Me, Myself, and Irene with Jim Carrey or perhaps, Shallow Hal with Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow.  This American songwriting icon has recently released his first (of many) children’s album titled The Dragonfly Races.  It’s story-telling folksy tunes targeted for young audiences, but definitely enjoyed by the whole family.

I am so excited about this interview exclusive.  I pondered Ellis’ answers for several days afterward, and they’ve given me a fresh perspective in choosing great children’s music for my son.


The Dragonfly Races national tour kicked off in Roanoke, Virginia in early April.  On May 13th, Charlottesville’s Explorations Play Studio will showcase Ellis in two family shows at 10 AM and 3:30 PM.  Tickets are $5 per person, and they’re in limited supply.  Please, call in advance to reserve yours! Call434-227-0258.

Venue: Explorations Play Studio, 1919 Commonwealth Dr, Charlottsville, VA 22901

Interested in learning the inspiration behind the album?

Do you want to know the difference in writing music for children versus adults?

How do you get a famous songwriter to pen a heroic tale named after your child?

Better yet, what’s one of the best ways to create a love of music among children?

We tackle those questions and more in an interview exclusive with Charlottesville’s own Ellis Paul.

So, grab a steaming cup of your favorite beverage, and get ready to enjoy learning more about the artist behind the album.  If you pay particular attention, you might even win a copy of the album or win tickets to the Charlottesville family shows.

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