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For the Whole Family: Musical Valentines

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  From now until February 14th, you’ll find great Valentine’s gift ideas for the whole family.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?

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Musical valentine’s for the whole family and my top family album picks for January 2010:

Sunflow’s Under the Stars is a lush collection of lullabyes and soothing songs by Dublin-based duo and parents Nancy Falkow and Fran King.  Originally intended to be a “children’s album” it surpasses the limitations of that musical genre, and is instead an inspirational album for the entire family.

The songs alternate between the James Taylor and Paul McCartney vocal inspiration of King to the ethereal yet earthy pipes of Patty Griffin-influenced Falkow.  These are songs that will inspire you to sing your own original lullaby to your little one…and at the very least, you’ll enjoy singing along.

Under the Stars is a rich, instrumental and vocal masterpiece–truly a valentine to little loved ones.  This album is cherished in our home for relaxing and peaceful pleasures for all ages.

Get your video preview on the Sunflow MySpace page.

Dr. Dolly’s favorite track: #2 I Wish You Love

Calvin’s favorite track: #7 August Moon

The 10-track album is available for purchase via download or CD purchase through It’s About Music for $12.99.

Wholesome fun with delightful lyrics and earthy vocals make Earthworm Ensemble a musical treat.  There’s so many musical artists that collaborated on this So-Cal folksy-country-rock-rappin’ project that I’ll refer you to earthwormensemble.com for the full list.

The album roars to a start with “The Traveling Train” that choo-choos by with the most delicious cargo before winding down to a full-stop.  The Pizza Moon is a recipe rap about a dad cooking up a pizza for the kids while mom is out with friends at a Dave Matthews concert–totally creative and fun.

Our family had a living room hoe down from tracks 5 (Bang a Drum) to 9 (Walking Boy).  Our family do-si-doed and circled around and back again.  During track 7 (We are Birds), Calvin spontaneously started flapping his arms like a bird (and I followed his lead) and he sang along.  Instead of indoor soccer, I think dancing along to Earthworm Ensemble will be our new indoor evening family activity.

Truly, this green-a-licious album will have you licking your chops, stomping to the licks of your imaginary drum, and urge you to impulsively plant an organic garden.

Calvin’s favorite track: #1 The Traveling Train

Dr. Dolly’s Favorite Track: #8 Mama Loves You

Available on Amazon.com, Earthworm Ensemble retails for $16.99.

WIN IT!

Three (3) winners will receive a downloadable copy of Under the Stars (retail value $12.99).  The downloadable version will be available to the winners for 5 days (and they can share the download login and password with as many people as they like in that time frame!).

Two (2) winners will receive a copy of Earthworm Ensemble CD (retail value $16.99).

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post prior to February 14th at 11:59 p.m.  Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog about the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide or this giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your post.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Tweet (include @drdolly) about this giveaways or the Valentine’s Day gift guide, then leave a second comment telling me that you did with a link.

FOR A FOURTH ENTRY: Enter another contest on the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, and leave a comment telling me which one you entered.

*I received product samples of Under the Stars and Earthworm Ensemble for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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*UPDATE* Congratulations to the winners: #1 Wehaf, #9 Julie L, #11 Laura B (Under the Stars); #4 MJ, #7 Henria O (Earthworm Ensemble).

For the Whole Family: Putumayo Kids’ A Family Christmas CD

Music is a key component to adding the finishing touches on atmosphere in a retail store, a restaurant, and of course, the home.  I can’t think of any other holiday where you can listen to themed music for weeks on end. Great Christmas music fills your cup with good cheer as you plan and prepare a Thanksgiving meal, string lights, hang greens, and read the Christmas story with your family.

I’ve accumulated quite a collection of Christmas music albums over the years, and there are a handful of favorite albums that I want to share with my son as we re-introduce wonderful family holiday traditions and build lasting memories.

1. Charlie Brown Christmas ($14.99) – An album that’s heralded as a favorite for more than 40 years is definitely a classic.  My all-time favorite track is “Linus and Lucy,” but I’m also sentimental about “Christmastime is Here.”  Vince Guaraldi’s jazz genius at its best plus Christmas hymns sung by sweet children’s voices.

2. Merry Chris Rice ($3.99) – Only 4 MP3 downloads that make you wish he’d recorded 10 more tracks of fun and upbeat versions of great Christmas songs.  His Beach Boys’ inspired rendition of “Let It Snow” will melt your heart as you sing along.

3. A Family Christmas ($14.98) – An instant Christmas classic by Putumayo Kids.  It’s the perfect accompaniment for a family gathering or a Christmas party with well-loved Christmas songs performed by well-known artists including Brave Combo and Big Bad VooDoo Daddy.  Deana Carter’s version of “Winter Wonderland” is thoughtful and cozy–just wait until you hear the ending!

WIN IT!

One winner  will receive a copy of Putumayo Kids’ A Family Christmas CD (retail value $14.98).

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post prior to Friday, November 27th at 11:59 p.m.  Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: complete a quick 10-question reader demographic survey. Then, leave a second comment telling me that you did.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Blog or Tweet about the Holiday Gift Guide (or about this giveaway), then leave a second comment telling me that you tweeted or blogged with a link to your tweet/post.

Thank you to Putumayo Kids for providing 2 copies of A Family Christmas for the purpose of this review and giveaway.
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UPDATE: Congratulations to the winner, #19 Heather M

Calvin’s Birthday Bash: Day 5

slide2 editAt the moment, my son is a a language sponge.  We’re seizing the opportunity to teach him a few words in Chinese, Hebrew, French, and a few other languages as we happen upon different cultures and languages in our city.

Although word repetition is the key to learning any language, even a first language, it’s also tremendously easy to learn new words and sounds with music.

Since last week, Calvin has been singing a discernible rendition of “Row Your Boat” and “Race Car”–I can’t wait to see what song he attempts to sing for me next!

My favorite way to share multilingual songs, cultural traditions, and exotic rhythms is through the quality selections available on Putumayo Kids’ albums.  One of their highest acclaimed and award-heavy albums of all time is the 1998 release of World Playground.  It was received with such praise and popularity that they created a sophomore release a few years later entitled World Playground 2.

world playground

The original World Playground started it all…soon thereafter were releases of country-specific playground or dreamland albums.  Putumayo Kids is the go-to label for fresh and ear-pleasing music with lyrics appropriate for children, yet full of world rhythms, instruments, and production appreciated by adults.

Calvin’s favorite track: #8 Manu Chaq ~ Bongo Bon

Dr. Dolly’s favorite track: #5 Home by Barna ~ Teresa Doyle

Calvin’s Dad’s favorite track: #1 Fatou Yo ~ Touré Kunda

World Playground retails for $14.99 on Amazon.com.  A portion of Putumayo World Music’s proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to the non-profit Putumayo Cross-Cultural Initiative.

WIN IT!

putumayo kids logoOne winner will receive a copy of Putumayo Kids’ World Playground album.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post before Sunday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the contest rules all generic comments are ineligible.).  At $14.99, World Playground is a wonderful gift for a birthday or just because.

For more in-the-know fun on Putumayo World Music new releases, artist interviews, and more you can follow them on Twitter, and become a Putumayo World Music fan on Facebook.

YOUR TURN:

I want to know…if you could travel with your family anywhere, what destination would you pick?

Thank you to Putumayo Kids for providing a sample copy of World Playground CD for the purpose of this review.

**UPDATE**

Congratulations to the winner, #2 Aline.

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Calvin’s Birthday Bash: Day 3

I was studying abroad in China in the late 1990’s when I first heard witnessed a breathtaking live performance of an erhu, an ancient Chinese bowed two-string instrument whose origins date back more than a thousand years.

It was breathtakingly beautiful and haunting.   You can watch a stirring erhu performance by Yu Hongmei.

Because I am half-Chinese (with some Japanese thrown in for good measure), I want our son to grow up with an appreciation for his cultural heritage through language, music, customs, and holidays.

One way to share the beauty of music and instruments from Asia is through a stellar release from Putumayo Kids: Asian Dreamland.  Lush, and peaceful lullabyes are performed with women’s (mamas’) voices and the rich orchestration of instruments from Asia.

asian dreamlandWIN IT!

putumayo kids logoOne winner will receive a copy of Putumayo Kids’ Asian Dreamland CD.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post before Sunday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the contest rules— all generic comments are ineligible.).  At $13.99, Asian Dreamland is perfect accompaniment for infant massage, mom and baby yoga time, or a romantic dinner for two.

For more in-the-know fun on Putumayo World Music new releases, artist interviews, and more you can follow them on Twitter, and become a Putumayo World Music fan on Facebook.

YOUR TURN:

I want to know…What kind of lullabyes do you sing (or listen to) with your child?   

Thank you to Putumayo Kids for providing a sample copy of Asian Dreamland CD for the purpose of this review.

**UPDATE**

Congrats to the winner, #5 AndreaT.

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Calvin’s Birthday Bash: Day 1

Calvin SmileI get to look at this precious face every day.  When he crinkles his nose in a smile, I can’t help but let the tensions of the day melt away as my face beams at his.

My son joins me at the office when I work three days a week.  On other days, we play together at the playground, in the back yard, or in the living room.

There is always music.

The soundtrack of our time together is full of laughter, applause, and clogging…well, at least foot-stomping.

As a nod to the year of my son’s birth, we’ve been jamming to Putumayo Kids’ 2007 release of Animal Playground.

animal playground

Picking our favorite tracks on this album wasn’t easy because there are so many marvelous musical treasures including a rip-roaring Italian version of Old MacDonald, Nella Vecchia Fattoria by Quartetto Cetra.  My heart soars from the ethereal beauty of The Littlest Birds by the Canadian band The Be Good Tanyas.  I enjoy grooving to the Latin and jazz rhythms produced with children’s voices and giggles in L’Otorhinocéros by the French group Les P’tits Loups du Jazz.

Putumayo Kids’ Animal Playground is on repeat in our CD player.  It’s the perfect album for a scenic drive, a birthday party, an afternoon of arts and crafts, or a living room dance floor.

Calvin’s favorite track: #1 Animal Crackers ~ Wee Hairy Beasties

Dr. Dolly’s favorite track: #11 Eagles ~ Terri Hendrix

Calvin’s Dad’s favorite track: #12 If A Dinosaur Was My Friend ~ Phil Melancon

The enhanced CD also includes a video for Asheba’s spirited Caribbean arrangement of the “No More Monkeys!” song.

Animal Playground retails for $14.99 on Amazon.com.  A portion of Putumayo World Music’s proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society in support of its activities that save wildlife and wild lands.

WIN IT!

putumayo kids logoOne winner will receive a copy of Putumayo Kids’ Animal Playground album.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post before Sunday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the contest rules all generic comments are ineligible.).  At $14.99, Animal Playground is a wonderful gift for a birthday.prizeypick

For more in-the-know fun on Putumayo World Music new releases, artist interviews, and more you can follow them on Twitter, and become a Putumayo World Music fan on Facebook.

YOUR TURN:

I want to know…what kind of music do you enjoy together as a family?

Thank you to Putumayo Kids for providing a sample copy of Animal Playground CD for the purpose of this review.

**UPDATE**

Congrats to #13, Jill L.

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Tuesday Travels: 5 Tips for Road Trip Solace with Toddlers

tuesday travelsWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a weekly 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.

Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing’s gonna be alright!

After going on several road trips with my son from the time he was two months old to twenty-two months old, I learned a few things that  help keep my toddler content on long journeys.

1. Traveling at night is conducive to keeping a baby happy–before he was a year old, our son would sleep while we drove.  Only problem, when we arrive at our destination er-lie in the morning, baby would wake up at his normal wake time while my husband and I were only 4 hours in to our rest.  Thus, our sleep-wake schedules were completely wasted for the next 48 hours.  I recommend, instead, driving by day, and stopping at a decent hour.

2. Pack plenty of healthy snacks to keep a baby content, especially those with high metabolism, like my son! We like to pack cheese sticks, yogurt, apples, bananas, or gorp.

3. Pack a few books or toys, and pass them out sparingly to decrease boredom. Our son loves Dr. Seuss, or books with lots of pictures.  Every few hours, I hand him a different toy car or book to help him pass the time.

4. Play games. Our son’s really into cars and trucks.  He won’t cease to point out every. single. one. that passes us on the highway.  Sometimes, when he just can’t take being in the car seat anymore, we’ll point out trucks, or red cars.  He’ll join in with eager excitement.  Sometimes we’ll point out trees, bridges, buildings, mountains, or other cool sights along the way.

5. Play tunes to set the mood, whether it’s playtime or sleepy time. We’ll play calm and soothing music around his standard nap time. As another way to encourage playtime while he’s strapped to a car seat, we play fun and upbeat music that keeps Calvin’s hands clapping and toes tapping.

trampolineDriving rhythms set the tone for the album from the first track “Imagination” with bright brass band embellishes and a nod to Fiddler on the Roof.  An album laced with novel lyrics and meditative prose celebrating children’s curiosity and innocence.  “Lory Loves Flowers” hearkens Acadiana-influence with a rousing beat and happens to be my son’s favorite track on the album.  My Trampoline is available for $15.50 on Minivan Productions or $16.98 on Amazon.

asheba4Rich calypso rhythms and a tapestry of stories intertwined in song. Check out Asheba’s version of some kids classics interlaced in original island-inspired tunes.  Venture to the Carribean on your next road trip with In the Kid Zone.  It’s available for $13 on CDBaby.

hot peas n' butterLet language immersion begin with a bilingual CD full of spicy guitar and buttery smooth vocals in Best of the Bowl, Volume 5 by Hot Peas n’ Butter.   Check out this yummy album and download all the lyrics for free on www.hotpeasnbutter.com for $12.95, or on Amazon.

CaribbeanPlaygroound Unique flavors of the Caribbean beckon you to play in the sun.  “Three Little Birds” sets a cheery and relaxing tone.  The strong vocals and harmonies of tunes like “All Aboard” and others round out another fabulous compilation from Putumayo Kids available also on Amazon.


labor day giveawayAs part of the Labor Day Giveaway on Traveling with Baby, you can achieve road trip contentment by grooving with your kids to the catchy tunes on some amazing albums.

WIN IT!

Two winners will take home acopy of Putumayo Kids Carribean Playground CD (retail value $14.98).

Two of you could win your own copy of Peter Himmelman’s My Trampoline CD (retail value $13).

Two winners will enjoy jamming to Asheba’s In the Kid Zone CD (retail value $13).

Two winners will groove to the latest album by Hot Peas n’ Butter, Best of the Bowl, Volume 5 (retail value $15.98).

(Primary entry method, this must be completed first!) Leave a comment describing your best tip for entertaining or calming kids on a road trip.  Also, tell me your CD preference.

EXTRA CREDIT

  • Earn two additional entries by blogging about the giveaway and linking to Traveling with Baby using “Road Trip Music Giveaway” as the title in your blog’s post.  Then, leave two comments here with a link to your post.
  • Earn two additional entries by subscribing to Traveling with Baby’s RSS feed.  Leave (two) comments stating that you’re subscribed.
  • Earn another entry by following me (drdolly) on Twitter and tweeting this contest with the following RT @drdolly Win award-winning children’s albums on Traveling with Baby! http://wp.me/p4s6M-Mr Leave a comment with the weblink to your tweet.
  • Earn another entry by adding Traveling with Baby’s button to your website/blog.

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 September 14th, 2009.

Two winners will be randomly selected (via random.org) and announced on this post and e-mailed sometime shortly after September 14th. If a winner doesn’t respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.

**UPDATE**

Congrats to the winners:

Peter Himmelman // My Trampoline: #6 Carlita, #8 Amy P

Hot Peas n Butter // Best of the Bowl, Vol. 5: #20 Julie, #1 Leslie

Asheba // In the Kid Zone: #13 – Shawn, #41 dianad

Putumayo Kids // Carribean Playground: #6 Carlita, #10 Jessica

–By Dr. Dolly
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Health Happy Round-Up: Prevent Picky Eating

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.

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Do you struggle to get your kids to eat their vegetables?  Are they having food strikes unless it’s a favorite cookie or mac ‘n cheese?

Mealtime doesn’t need to be battle time.  Here’s a few tips (with perseverance and patience) that will help your children eat their veggies and love it.

1. If you’re a picky eater, your kids will follow suit.

Nit and pick and your little one will copy you.  They’re watching every move you make.  However, if you regularly eat a wide variety of healthy foods such as fresh fruit, colorful vegetables, your kids will gobble up good food just because they know Mom and Dad get excited about it.

2. Eat meals at regularly scheduled times.

Kids (and adults) need a schedule for sleep and metabolism.  If meals are served at haphazard times on a daily basis, hunger and the body’s ability to efficiently process nutrition gets haywire.  Set regular mealtimes for breakfast and dinner (as a minimum), and soon you’ll discover your kids are regularly hungry around regularly scheduled mealtimes.

Regular mealtimes brings me to…

3. Don’t serve snacks 30 minutes before mealtimes. For some families, that window of time may need to be even greater.  The more physically and mentally active a child is, the greater his need for food to sustain his metabolism.  Some children need regular snacks between meals.  Make those snacks spaced well before meals, and make them count with good nutrition and energy sources: fruit, yogurt, low-acid cheese, or veggie sticks.  Skip the crackers and goldfish–tasty but just empty fillers that create insulin spikes and potential temper-tantrums.

4. Introduce your children to healthy foods in a fun way. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods on a regular basis.  Allow your children to help you prepare meals in the kitchen.  Even toddlers can help arrange veggie sticks on a tray or stir a yogurt sauce.  They can definitely help by tasting yummy foods while you prepare in the kitchen.  Name the foods, and allow them to see the colors and textures of produce from around the world.

The perfect setting for a lovely meal is music that enhances the appetite and sets a fun-filled mood.

Putumayo Kids produces yet another must-have collection of world music hits that is enjoyed by the entire family.  I’ve been thrilled with every release since we first started listening to Hawaiian Playground.  Putumayo Kids continues to unite exceptional artists from across the globe for a smorgasbord of yummy music in their July 28th release of Picnic Playground.picnic playgroundMy son loves to dance along to all of his Putumayo Playground CD’s, but I’ve never seen him quite so amused with an album as he is with Picnic Playground from the moment I first push PLAY.

Jumping.  Dancing.  Twirling.  Conducting.  Somersaulting.  Heaps of fun!

Folks, my son is singing along in French and English, and he’s only 20 months-old.  Song descriptions in the enclosed booklet are printed in English, French, and Spanish.

We love to play this album at dinnertime.  It’s perfect as background music for birthday parties, picnics, and cookouts on the patio.  This is the first album I’ve ever owned that features healthy and nutritional recipes for kids.

Dr. Dolly’s fave tracks:

  • #1 – Eat Like a Rainbow by Jay Mankita
  • #3  – Bolitas de Arroz con Pollo by Jose Conde y Ola Fresca

Calvin’s fave tracks (It was hard to narrow it down to just two):

  • #2 – Mes Parents Sont Bio by Pascal Parisot
  • #4 – Ice Cream by Asheba

Fret your palate with a delicious sampler.  Putumayo Kids’ Picnic Playground is available for purchase, beginning July 28th through Putumayo Kids website, or Amazon.com for $14.98.  Visit the Putumayo Kids site for more family fun.

If you happen to live in Massachusettes, New York, Washington, Oregon, or California, you could catch a live performance by artists from Picnic Playground.  Find out concert tour dates and locations at the new Putumayo blog!

Making the world a better place through music

To combat hunger and malnourishment, Putumayo Kids will donate 1% of proceeds from the sale of Picnic Playground CDs to Vitamin Angels, providing essential nutrients ot children in the U.S. and around the world.

WIN IT!

prizeypickTwo of you could win your own copy of Putumayo Kids Picnic Playground CD (retail value $14.98).

(Primary entry method, this must be completed first!) Leave a comment describing your favorite family picnic experience or memory.

EXTRA CREDIT

  • Earn two additional entries by blogging about the giveaway and linking to Traveling with Baby using “Putumayo Kids Picnic Playground” as the title in your blog’s post.  Then, leave two comments here with a link to your post.
  • Earn two additional entries by subscribing to Traveling with Baby’s RSS feed.  Leave (two) comments stating that you’re subscribed.
  • Earn another entry by following me (drdolly) and putumayokids on Twitter and tweeting this contest with the following RT @drdolly @putumayokids Win Putumayo Kids Picnic Playground CD on Traveling with Baby! http://tinyurl.com/ltvo4cLeave a comment with the weblink to your tweet.
  • Earn another entry by adding Traveling with Baby’s button to your website/blog.

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 August 7th, 2009.

Two winners will be randomly selected (via random.org) and announced on this post and e-mailed sometime shortly after August 7th. If a winner doesn’t respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.

Congratulations to the winners!  #15 Xenia and #6 Kim!

–By Dr. Dolly
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