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Tuesday Travels: Get Hydrated

traveWelcome 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.

Drink Water

So, how much water do you really need?  The very general formula that I share with my patients is this:

Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half.  That’s the amount of fluid ounces you should drink in water throughout the day.

For example, a 100 pound person should drink 50 fluid ounces of water per day.  Since there are 8 fluid ounces in 1 cup, that means a 100-pound person should drink about 6 1/4 cups of water per day.  That’s equivalent to about 2 of the .75 Liter (or 24 oz.) capacity Camelbak Better Bottles per day.

However, a pregnant or breastfeeding mom, someone living at high altitudes, in extreme climates, someone who exercises several times a week…these are all factors for how much water you should drink.

So, check out the Hydration Calculator on About.com.  Nine quick questions will tell you how much water you should drink.  But, the answer will probably run pretty close to half of your body weight in fluid ounces.

Take a sip of water every 15 minutes throughout the day, and you’ll easily get there.  It’s that simple!

Nay for BPA

The information available about BPA in plastics is so in-your-face that you’ve probably heard about it.  In fact, you don’t have to turn to mom blogs and PBS to hear about it, the BPA news has gone mainstream.  There was an article about the dangers of BPA in plastics in Time magazine, and more recently, the Washington Post.

Instead of worrying about whether or not a product is BPA-free, I’d prefer to stick to companies that have a long track record of producing safe, BPA-free, pthalate-free containers for food or beverage consumption.  Camelbak is one of those companies that maintains a high level of integrity and quality in their products–those are traits that make sense to me as a doctor mom.

camelbak-corporate-logoLast fall, I reviewed Camelbak’s Better Bottle.  For the record, I still take that purple bottle with me EVERYWHERE.  It has endured numerous road trips, bounces on tile, and a toddler who’s perfecting his spiral pass.  I love it.

New and Improved

This year, Camelbak released new products that are appropriate for small children and they beefed up their bottle line for big kids and adults: stainless and insulated stainless.  No more slightly strange water taste if it’s been sitting in there for, oh–say camelbak-stainless-steel-bottlea couple days in the car under the blazing sun.  Also, cool water stays quite cool with the insulated stainless bottle.

So, if you drop it on your bare toes, you might feel a little regret.  But, if you’re not clumsy with your water bottle, then you’ll probably love it more than any water bottle you’ve ever had.  EVER.  Not only is it uber-practical, but you can get one for everyone in the family and not get them mixed up since there’s really run and rad designs available.  Try to pick just one–not easy!

The Camelbak 0.5 Liter Insulated Stainless Steel Better Bottle is available for $26 – $30 on Amazon.

For the Kids

Camelbak 12 oz. Kids Bottles

For the little ones, you get spill-proof design with the incredible bite valve that comes apart for easy cleaning and re-assembly.  But, you don’t have to worry about choking hazards since the parts are kid-friendly.  Did I mention that the style options are super cute, too?

Camelbak sent us the kids’ stainless in butterflies, and the kids’ plastic Fire Pirate bottle.  It holds 12 ounces of water (0.4L), and for a boost in vitamin C, I’ll throw in a wedge of lemon.

Instead of snagging MY Better Bottle, my son is totally content to have his own.  I’m content to have a cleaner, and spill-proof drinking solution that travels well in the car.

IMG_7636Camelbak Stainless Better Bottle I love the safe and hazard-free Big Bite Valve on the kids bottle.  The bite valve is slightly different on the 0.5 liter insulated stainless.  All parts are easy to disassemble and clean by hand or dishwasher.

Get your BPA-Free Camelbak 0.4 liter Kids Bottle for $12-$14, or the 0.4 liter Kids Stainless Steel Bottle for $18.50 – $23 on Amazon.  If you live in Virginia, you can also find them at your local Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.

bottles n bagsThe next time I’m on a trip to a museum or park with my son, I think I might want to stowe my Camelbak bottles in this cool Bottles ‘n Bags Stroller Organizer by J.L. Childress–among other baby gear designed for travel, you can find it at BabySafeTravel.com.

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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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Tuesday Travels: Backcountry Babywearing, Part II

As part of Tuesday Travels, once again, I ventured into the Blue Ridge mountains for babywearing on the trails.  The air was full of rich oxygen, and each breath left me feeling invigorated.

Dr. Dolly and Calvin in Sherpani Rumba Backcountry Baby CarrierCalvin’s first experience in the woods was a little strange and unnerving, but now, toward summer’s end he acts like a seasoned pro–throwing rocks in the creek, running on the trails, and gratefully accepting sweet, sun-ripened berries that we plucked along our way.

To make the baby carrying a little more pleasant when the sun is beating down on a non-shaded stretch of the trail, I asked Calvin to massage my neck.  Lo and behold, I was absolutely astonished that he knew exactly what that meant.  He proceeded to rub the sides of my neck with his little paws, although sometimes getting a tight squeeze on my carotid arteries.  Hey, I’ll give him credit…he gets the concept.  That must be due to the fact that he spends several hours a week in our chiropractic office.Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

Recently, we visited one of the more popular waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park–Dark Hollow Falls with a 70 foot drop.

Brrrr!  The water was cold, but the view was staggering.  Eventually, Calvin wandered to the water’s edge on his own to wade and splash.

Shenandoah has over 1300 species of plants, 50 mammals, including black bear, 27 species of reptiles including 2 types of poisonous snakes, 24 species of amphibians–the waters are teeming with salamanders, and over 200 species of birds.

It’s such a pleasure to venture into creation and to see the world through my son’s captivated eyes.

I’ve tried other carriers on day hikes and full-boar ascents in terrible weather, and I’ve finally found a carrier that’s comfortable for me to confidently navigate uneven paths while also stowing extra gear.

sherpaniSherpani recently sent me one of their most popular product for review: the Rumba, a unisex backcountry baby carrier in sea mist.  Initially, our son, already quite familiar with baby carriers, tried to climb into it himself.  He was already quite taken with it.

Steve sporting Sherpani's Rumba in Sea MistMy husband was the first to give it a road test, for safety’s sake, before he handed the pack over to me.  Although my husband isn’t quite 6 feet tall, his long-ish torso is just a smidge to tall for a perfect fit with the carrier’s suspension system–designed for torsos 16 – 22 inches long.  The padded waist belt fits waists 29 – 42 inches in circumference.

Even though the Rumba didn’t quite hit low enough on my husband’s hips, we were still able to adjust the internal padded bucket seat height (with hook and loop closure adjustments) and 5-point safety harness on the chest plate so that our tall-ish 21-month-old could distribute the majority of his weight on the middle of the pack–making baby carrying extremely comfortable for my husband AND me.

Hills. Mountains. Logs. Streams.  No matter–I felt I could safely and comfortably carry my son’s 30 pounds on top of the 7 lbs. 8 oz. Rumba by supporting the majority of weight on my hips.  The padded shoulder straps, and back pad are just bonus, and luxurious bonuses they are!

Dr. Dolly and Calvin in Sherpani Rumba baby carrierFor Calvin’s enjoyment, there are 4 elastic toy loops.  You could slip in a sippy cup, attach teething toys, or stowe a favorite stuffed lovable creature.  With a baby’s comfort in mind, Sherpani designed foot stirrups with elastic loops on the back  to help with a child’s leg circulation.  The length of the stirrups is adjustable.

There’s not one, but two storage bags.  The main compartment is permanent and located in the lower part of the carrier.  It could easily hold two small stuff sacks, a camping stove, and clothes for a couples days of travel.Sherpani Rumba in sea mist

The Rumba also has a removable Diaperbag that can dually function as a daybag with adjustable backpack straps.  If your child is anything like mine, hats don’t remain on his crown very long before he flings them off.  On bright and sunny days, it’s nice to have an alternative with the topper sunshade.

Sherpani’s Rumba is designed to carry up to 70 pounds–whether that’s a large toddler or a baby and loads of camping gear, you’ll be set to enjoy traveling with baby in the great outdoors.  The Rumba is available in 3 colors: sea mist (shown above), rhubarb, and black.  It retails for $199.

Sherpani is sharing an exclusive discount for Traveling with Baby readers.  Order anything on Sherpani’s site from now until 9/30/09 and receive a 10% savings with coupon code: TravelingWithBaby.  While you’re there, check out their great backpacks, perfect for urban errands and the school scene.

When you click on the Sherpani link above, I get kudos of praise for directing you to their fun site.  So, only if you wanna, please show me some love by clicking.  Mwah!

Stay tuned for your chance to win your very own Sherpani Rumba in the near future!

–By Dr. Dolly
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Tuesday Travels: Backcountry Babywearing Part I

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.

—————————————————————————————————

The first time I tried babywearing  while hiking, I was on a moderate-to-difficult trail that was slick with rain.   I shuddered every time my worn out running shoes slipped on a log or stumbled on a rock.  After all, it wasn’t just about falling and skinning my knee–I had the most precious cargo on my back, and I didn’t want anything to compromise my son’s safety.

Montrail Mountain Masochist GTXI knew I needed something that had more capability than my sneakers intended to absorb the shock of pounding the pavement.  However, I didn’t want overheated and leaden hoofs to haul around either.

I think it was love at first sight when I first spotted these light and springy Mountain Masochist GTX trail runners when I wandered into the local outdoor gear shop in my town.Mountain Masochist

Montrail sent me a pair to review while babywearing and backpacking in the Shenandoah National Forest.  “Eat my dust!” is what I wanted to exclaim when I slipped on these light-as-a-feather-and-tough-as-leather all-terrain runners.

Hoo boy! I spend most days wiping yogurt from my son’s face and cleaning up the spills from potty training.  But, when I don these trail runners, I can bound tall buildings while wearing a baby on my back–at least, small boulders and logs, thanks to the Gryptonite traction that keeps me steady on my feet.

Dr. Dolly in Mountain Masochist GTXSharp rocks and hidden crags are no match for the lightweight and flexible trail shield (aptly named).  I tested the shoes on a steep incline and through a few creek beds.  The Goretex kept my socks dry, and even in mud, my step was sure.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner who loves a comfortable and lightweight shoe that can hold up to a gnarly trail, or you’re an outdoorsy babywearing hiker, Montrail’s Mountain Masochist will surpass your expectations and allow you to enjoy the trail without distraction.montrail_logo

You can purchase your own Mountain Masochist GTX kicks directly from  Amazon.com for $115.  Visit Montrail’s site to read more GTX specs from the manufacturer.

Stay tuned to win your own pair of Mountain Masochist GTX in the near future!

–By Dr. Dolly
Subscribe // Twitter me: drdolly

Tuesday Travels: Spelunking while Babywearing

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.

Last Friday, Calvin and I ventured with his cousin M and grandparents to the largest caverns east of the Mississippi at Luray Caverns.  They’re located about one hour away from Charlottesville in the Shenandoah Valley with a stunning backdrop of piercing mountaintops.

On a very hot and sticky summer day, the cooler temperatures of the caves were a soothing relief.

Dr. Dolly & Calvin at a stalactite and stalagmite column

Dr. Dolly & Calvin at a stalactite and stalagmite column

First, we descended several stairs to get to the paved walkway.  We did bring a folding umbrella stroller, and I wouldn’t recommend anything larger.  There are several narrow passageways that won’t accommodate a large stroller.

I also brought my mei tai baby carrier because 1) my toddler is teething and he has been very clingy lately, and 2) I knew he would be more apt to take a nap while being carried than in the stroller.

When viewing the cave, we came across magnificent sights such as the Dream Lake with a perfect reflection of the ceiling on the still water’s surface.  We also chanced upon beautiful stone fabric as thins and textured as a piece of silk hanging.

Valley stalagmite illusion in the mirror of Dream Lake

Valley stalagmite illusion in the mirror of water

Stone drapes

Stone drapes

We saw a formation that appeared as though a gushing waterfall was frozen in time.

Frozen waterfall

Frozen stone waterfall

The self-guided tour included an audio narration available in two versions: a more detailed one for adults including interviews with geologists and personnel with a long history of working in the caverns.  There was also a kids version with fun special audio effects.

Overall the content of the kids version included the same facts as the adult version, only it was far more entertaining.  I listened to both versions at almost every station, and I definitely preferred the kids’ version.  Most of the other cavern travelers commented about how much they enjoyed the kids’ version, too!

Cousin M enjoying the kids' guided tour copy

Cousin M enjoying the kids' guided tour

The most memorable part of the tour was the stalactite pipe organ.  When keys were played, magnets caused hammers to strike various stalactites throughout the cave creating perfect instrument.  It’s considered the largest instrument in the world with some of the stalactites as far as 3 acres away.

Stalactite pipe organ

Stalactite pipe organ

When under the arch of the Ballroom (where live bands used to play while folks danced the night away), the sounds of the organ were beautiful.  They played Martin Luther’s hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God.  It was breathtaking and haunting.

Admission to Luray Caverns for children ages 6-12 is $10.  Ages 12 and above is $21.  There are some discount options available. Admission provides entrance to the caverns, an audio-recorded self-guided tour, admission to the adjoining Car and Carriage Caravan museum, and admission to the colonial re-enactment village (still under construction when I visited).  Tours begin at 9 a.m. and the last tour of the day is at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. depending on the time of year.

–By Dr. Dolly
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Tuesday Travels: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

tuesday travelsWelcome 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.

Last week, Calvin and I traveled to Indianapolis to visit my sister and her family.  I hadn’t seen my 2 and 1/2 year-old nephew since he was 6 months old.  Besides having fun watching Calvin play with his cousin J, I was excited to meet my new niece A.

My sister and her husband have a family membership to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, a highly-acclaimed one-of-a-kind hands-on museum.  There were rooms and exhibits for all ages.

Rousing greeting by a trooper captain

Rousing greeting by a trooper captain

Before we even made it through the admission turn-style, we were greeted by storm troopers, jedis, and some adults dancing to a raucous Hannah Montana song at the Disney radio booth.  I think all the commercial hype was around to entertain the very long line of folks waiting to purchase day passes to the exhibits.

Since we’re talking commercial in a Disney or Lucasfilm reference, the Children’s Museum was like Walt Disney World’s Epcot park, without the thrilling rides, and it’s definitely geared for younger audiences.

Cousin J enjoys the light sabre

Cousin J enjoys the light sabre while Calvin is distracted by a life-sized brontosaurus climbing in through the window.

While we walked through the main atrium, I saw folks nabbing photo opps with Darth Vader and Star Wars bounty hunters.

The floor-to-ceiling Dale Chihuly sculpture was breathtaking.  It could be viewed from the escalating ramp that spiraled through five floors of exhibits (similar to New York’s Guggenheim museum).

Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture in Indianapolis

Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture in Indianapolis

The first room we visited had an area where children could watch and participate in a very large rube that moved billiard balls in conjunction with clanging pipes and dinging bells.  Children also shoveled and dumped buckets of sponges camoflaged like stones and rocks.  In that particular room, most of the exhibits were too old for Calvin, although he and Cousin J had fun helping build the arch.

kid's eye view of a fish pond

kid's eye view of pond life

Calvin’s favorite attraction was the pond with a small window just at his level where he could gaze at the fish swimming underwater and the monstrous bullfrog sitting on a rock.

The boys loved sitting in an real Indy 500 race car.  They both bawled their eyes out when we removed them from the drivers’ seat and told them someone else needed a turn.

Calvin and Cousin J in an Indy 500 race car

Calvin and Cousin J in an Indy 500 race car

Next, we ventured to the playroom for babies to children aged 5.  This room had some fun climb-on toys, but it was mostly a large playroom with many commercial toys that you’d find in most toy stores: trains, sand toys, water toys, and more.

Calvin gravitated to the trains over and over again.  But, he also had fun playing in the sand box and water trough with his Cousin J.

Water fun at the Children's Museum

Water fun at the Children's Museum

There were many more exhibits, and Star Wars themed crafts and science projects that kids could build and take home with them, but patience was tried when we were pushing two toddlers past lunch AND nap time.

If I lived in Indy, I’d definitely want an annual pass to the Children’s Museum.  Unfortunately, it’s not a member of the national chain of children’s museums where a membership to one affords you admittance to all.

If you have children between ages 2 to 16 and you’re in the Indianapolis area, it’s definitely worth a visit.  Don’t miss it!

–By Dr. Dolly
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Tuesday Travels: Everyday Sombrero

tuesday travelsWelcome 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.

Since I no longer live in Texas, a black felt Stetson with silver buckles isn’t the most practical (although beautiful) accessory for shading the eyes.  I’ve transitioned to a more practical hat that stores away much easier than a Stetson.

STYLIN’

Check out the irresistibly cute and insatiably practical Halcyon Sombrero by Outdoor Research.

Dr. Dolly in Halcyon SombreroThe Sombrero is also Indiana Jones-esque handsome on rough and rugged guys.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of Steve wearing it for added proof.

FIELD TESTED / DR. MOM APPROVED

I LOVE the way Schoeller® 3XDRY® fabric repels water better than an oil slick.  It also wicks away moisture from skin, dries in a jiffy, and breathes well.  I absolutely do not leave home without it.

I first tested out the Sombrero on our first family hike on a sweltering afternoon.  In my military past, I’ve worn fabric hats in extreme temperatures.  Think Saudi Arabian deserts in the middle of summer–that equates to an easy 130 degrees Farenheit on the tarmac.  Military issue hats and boonie caps only trapped the heat and made your hair feel like it was only 120 degrees.  Totally gave a new meaning to the term “hat hair.”  Based on past experiences with other fabric hats, I was stunned at how cool I felt wearing the Sombrero on a hot day–a first!

I’ve also worn the Sombrero in the midst of a drenching downpour while hiking on slippery rocks and carrying my a 40+ pound pack (toddler included) on my back.  My clothes were soaked through, but my hat and face were dry.

If the decision-makers in the military ever discovered the Schoeller® 3XDRY® for uniforms, it might not be available for the rest of the planet to enjoy.

I’ve also worn my (sand/khaki) Sombrero at the Market

Dr. Dolly & Calvin at City Market…at the (national) park. End of the Hike in Shenandoah National Park…on a train, on a plane, in the dark, and with a fork.  Yes, I read Green Eggs and Ham. WAY. too. much.

From the photos above, you’ll notice that there’s a couple of ways to sport the hat.  The sides can snap up for a more Outback look (or as I’d prefer to think of it as a cowgirl look).  The chin cord with cordlock is removable, or you can just cinch it at the base of your skull to keep your Sombrero secured when a swift gust breaks through the trees on your scenic outlook.

One size fits all since the Sombrero has an external drawcord adjustment to allow you to decrease the diameter of the headband.  Absolutely brilliant.

EASY CLEAN

Mountain berry stains, smokey campfire debris smudges, mud, and grass don’t stand a chance on the Halcyon Sombrero.  For all the “stains” mentioned above, I used a small amount of hand soap on the hat.  I barely rubbed soapy water on the hat, and the stains had vanished lickety-split.  How’s that for low maintenance?

BUY IT

outdoor_research_logoThe Halcyon Sombrero can be purchased directly from Outdoor Research or Amazon.com.  It retails for $36.  Besides the sand/khaki sombrero that I’m wearing in the photos above, it’s also available in khaki/forest and slate/khaki.

There are more headwear options available on the Outdoor Research site to outfit the entire family.  While you’re there, check out their other products to help you enjoy the great outdoors through any season.  I’m drooling over the extremely versatile Reflexa jacket in amethys/eggplant that would be fantastic for our autumn and winter adventures.

WIN IT

prizeypickYou could win a sand/khaki Halcyon Sombrero by Outdoor Research (retail value $36) just like the one I own.  You’ll make all the other moms jealous.

(Primary entry method, this must be completed first!) Leave a comment describing your family’s favorite place to hike/camp/or enjoy the Great Outdoors.

EXTRA CREDIT

  • Earn two additional entries by blogging about the giveaway and linking to Traveling with Baby and Outdoor Research 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 ORGear on Twitter and tweeting this contest with the following RT @drdolly @ORGear Win a Halcyon Sombrero on Traveling with Baby! http://tinyurl.com/l3rk86Leave 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 11th, 2009.

One winner will be randomly selected (via random.org) and announced on this post and e-mailed sometime shortly after August 11th. If a winner doesn’t respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.

* UPDATE*

Congratulations to the winner, ChristieC!

–By Dr. Dolly
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Tuesday Travels: Snack Sensation

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.  If you have an idea for Tuesday Travels, please e-mail me: drgarnecki[at]gmail[dot]com.

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FC-DISNEY-MICKEY-APPLE-4X6-24PACK_PictureMy son and I just tried the best fruit snack to hit the stands: Fruit Crisps by Brothers All Natural.  Finally, I’ve found a snack that helps appease a growing toddler’s ferocious appetite even through rush hour traffic, road trips, and hiking in the woods.

My toddler and I both love fresh fruit, but unless the apple is completely peeled, cored, and sliced, he ends up throwing apple bits and chunks all over the floor.  That’s not the case with the 100% Fuji Apple fruit crisps which boasts one and one-half apples per bag.

ban_logoThese melt-in-your-mouth fruit crisps aren’t tough as leather like other dried fruit.  Instead, they’re bursting with flavor without added preservatives or ingredients.  Even a baby with a couple of teeth can enjoy them.

I love that they’re not baked, not fried, not dehydrated, and not sweetened dried.  They’re just 100% pure fruit that has been freeze dried without any added sugar or preservatives resulting in a 1-year shelf-life.  These great snacks pack lighter on backpacking trails compared to fresh fruit, and they’re a lot less gooey and sticky on toddler hands when they’re stuck in the car seat for several hours.

If I could create a meaningful award to give to Brothers All Natural for their innovative and nutritious travel-friendly snack, I’d bestow them with the “Dr. Dolly Garnecki Healthy Ingenuity Parenting Award” for this AWESOME creation which yields nothing short of two-thumbs up, 5 stars, and endless happy smiles.FC-VARIETY-24PACK_Picture

The 100% Fuji Apple is definitely a big hit with me and my son: simultaneously crispy and spongy with a ton of sweet apple goodness.  We also love the slightly crunchier texture of the 100% Asian Pear flavor.  However, my favorite flavor is the tart-and-tangy-with-a-hint-of-sweet 100% Strawberry/Banana.  All three flavors were available in the variety pack.

WHERE TO PURCHASE

Fruit Crisps are featured at a variety of retailers from national and regional grocers to theme parks. You can also find them online at Amazon.  A Case of 24 packs retails for $21.99 or $0.92 per bag.  Orders online directly through Brothers All Natural have FREE shipping.

Brother’s current special is buy 3 cases of Strawberry Banana, and get 1 case FREE.  Check their specials page for updates.

*WIN IT*

Brothers is offering one lovely winner a case (24 bags) of their fabulous Fruit Crisps in any flavor of choice (retail value $21.99 per case/$0.92 per bag).  Oh yes,  you can have whatever flavor you want!  The winner will be randomly selected via random.org. You’ll have up to 5 opportunities to win.  How ’bout those odds?

1. Primary entry method (must complete primary entry in order to be eligible for other entry methods), first sign up for Brother’s e-mail newsletter list for rad coupons and specials, then leave a comment on this post telling me you did so including the e-mail address that you used.

EXTRA CREDIT

2. Earn a second entry by blogging about the giveaway and linking to Traveling with Baby using “Brothers Snack Sensation Giveaway” as the title in your blog’s post.  Then, leave a comment here with a link to your post.

3. Earn a third entry by subscribing to Traveling with Baby’s RSS feed.  Leave a comment that you’re subscribed.

4. Earn a fourth entry by following me (drdolly) on Twitter and tweeting this contest with the following “RT @drdolly Win a case of Brothers All Natural Fruit Crisps on Traveling with Baby! http://tinyurl.com/n6d8sx”  Leave a comment with the weblink to your tweet.

5. Earn fifth 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 July 14th, 2009.

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

*UPDATE*

Congratulations to the winner, #17 Courtney!

–By Dr. Dolly
Twitter me: drdolly

Tuesday Travels: Holiday Parade

traveWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a summertime series at Traveling with Baby.  This summer, my son and I are excited about sharing some local daytrips and field trip ideas for families with little ones.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.  If you have an idea for Tuesday Travels, please e-mail me: drgarnecki[at]gmail[dot]com.

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parade of tractors

parade of tractors

We drove 8 hours to northeastern Pennsylvania so that Calvin could experience his first parade. Alright, so that wasn’t the only reason we traveled such a great distance, but we did experience a lovely parade in a town with population close to 2000. Chances are you live in a place that has an annual parade and city-wide celebration. Whether it’s for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day or for a local produce festival, a parade is a free and fun for the whole family.

horse-drawn wagon

horse-drawn wagon

Memorial Day parade

Memorial Day parade

We arrived 30 minutes early to ensure a decent parking spot. Depending on your city population size and parade route, you may need to arrive even earlier. Many spectators brought folding chairs or blankets since there were no roadside barriers to obstruct the view. We always keep a spare blanket in our car, so we pulled it out and spread it on the grass. We also brought along an umbrella stroller just in case Calvin needed an extra comfy seat or we wanted to take a stroll afterward without having to do the toddler carry all morning.

marching band in Tunkhannock PA

marching band in Tunkhannock PA

We knew it was going to be sunny and warm, so I packed water and Calvin’s sun hat to protect his face. Parades often shell out gobs of sugary junk to anyone who looks like they’re under 12 years of age. If you’re not a fan of candy for your child (that’s 100% me) then be aware of this traditional parade gesture. Calvin had a wonderful seat with his cousins who were more than happy to make sure he wasn’t tempted to eat any of the candy handed out to him.

Multitude of firetrucks

Multitude of firetrucks

As a family, we enjoyed the relics of the parade. As a mom, I enjoyed my son gawking over the tractors, firetrucks, and muscle cars even more. He pointed and shouted “car” waved in response to the drivers, and he clapped his hands when the band finished playing. I was able to snap some fun photos of my son enjoying the parade.

Cousins enjoying the parade

Cousins enjoying the parade

Afterward, when everyone was packing up their chairs and making mad dashes to their vehicles so they could sit in gridlocked traffic for the next 20-30 minutes, we chose instead to take a casual stroll downtown to hang out in the karate studio. We were out of the sun, Calvin could run around without me having to hover or chase him, and we didn’t have to sit in our non-air-conditioned car waiting in traffic.

Prancing miniature donkey in PA

Prancing miniature donkey in PA

Some parades are probably better when viewed on the little screen. You don’t have to fight crowds or show up 5 hours early just to get IN to the theme park to view the parade.

Things to Remember:

1. Know the parade route and available parking areas in advance. Scope out shady areas to offer some sun protection.  Also, look for some of the least crowded observations spots.

2. Pack the essentials: water, blanket or folding chairs, or seat cushions if there are bleachers available.  If there’s a long wait for a long parade, pack a few light snacks such as fresh fruit to keep hungry kids (and adults) content.

3. Protect your skin and shade your eyes. Use UV protection clothing or sunscreen.  Don’t use sunscreen on children less than 6 months of age unless the product is purely from natural oils or vegetable-based.  You’re safer using a big hat and protective clothing with babies and small children.

4. Don’t forget your camera! If you’re into photos and scrapbooking or blogging, a camera is essential.

I highly recommend taking your kids to a parade, especially if it’s a local parade in a small city or town.

Your Turn

Have you taken your family to a parade?  How was your experience?  What tips would you suggest to spectators with small children?

–By Dr. Dolly

Tuesday Travels: Local Fire Station

trave1Welcome to Tuesday Travels, a summertime series at Traveling with Baby.  Now that the weather’s warming up and we’re about to launch into summer, my son and I are excited about sharing some local daytrips and field trip ideas with you.  This year, we’d like to share about local options, most of which  are places and activities that are available at almost any community or town across the country.

I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.  If you have an idea for Tuesday Travels, please e-mail me: drgarnecki[at]gmail[dot]com.

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img_5221Do you have kids who are fans of fire engines?  There’s just something mesmerizing about the shiny read trucks with flashing lights and whirring sirens that makes kids squeal with delight.

We recently visited the local fire station in downtown Charlottesville with two of Calvin’s friends who were ages 2 (almost 3) and 4.  My son’s friends pretend to be firefighters every single day.  They have drills where they quickly dress up in their boots, coats, and hats and ride off to fight the fire.  Before bedtime, their mom tells them to get in their bunks and rest up because firefighters need their sleep to have strength to fight fires.

So, we took our crew of 3 young boys to the local fire station for a tour.  It turns out that Calvin’s friends had a cousin who was on duty at the station that day.  The firefighters were in the middle of routine testing of ALL of their water hoses to make sure that they work appropriately.  However, they were kind enough to allow Firefighter Steve to sneak away from the testing to give our little guys a grand tour.

img_5187Each of the kids got their turn at the driver’s seat of the big fire engine.  Even the oldest had at least 2 feet to go before his feet could reach the floor.  Although Calvin may not have fully absorbed the fact that this was a special type of truck (because he kept calling it a “car”), he was livin’ large at the wheel of the fire engine.

img_5201Firefighter Steve showed us all of the buttons, pressure gauges, and switches on the side of the fire engine.  The boys were especially impressed with the hydraulic lifts on the steps leading up to the doors–they close automatically once the doors are shut.  We also learned that a firefighter’s uniform and gear weigh an additional 35 to 45 pounds.  That doesn’t even include carrying things like a water hose, axe, or other special equipment for fire and rescue.  I told Calvin that it was almost like carrying around two of him (he weighs 26 pounds).

img_5203Just so you can appreciate the size perspective on the wheels of the fire engine, check out my 2 foot 7 1/4 inch toddler next to one.  Wow!

img_5215Now, you can see a 1.5 year-old, almost 3-year-old and 4 year-old next to a wheel and engine.  The two brothers were doing their best to hold Calvin’s hands prevent him from running away while I was snapping this photo.

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Inside the garage, the engine and water truck are parked very close together.  We wanted a chance to capture the boys next to the engine and Firefighter Steve.  The boys are also looking at the ginormous ladder truck that’s the length of both the engine and water truck combined!  It is so large that I couldn’t possibly capture it in a photo while so close to it inside the covered garage.  But, I did get to catch the logo on the ladder.

img_5210Ladder trucks aren’t very common.  Firefighter Steve has served at the local station for over 7 years, and in that time, the ladder truck has only been used 4 times.  He said it’s mostly for times when they need to get on top of a roof to fight a fire.  The massive ladder can span up to a 3-story building.  The truck is SO large that it requires a driver in the front AND the back.  Wow!  Let’s hope they both know where to go.

img_5213Each of the boys got their souvenir photo with a brave firefighter in front of Engine 7 which has emblazoned on the front grill “America’s Bravest.”  There’s no doubt in my mind that each of those men and women are indeed among some of the bravest Americans who cheerfully and dutifully serve and put their lives on the line.  It was such an honor to meet Firefighter Steve and to learn more about their role in fire fighting.

The boys were ecstatic to receive a special tour of the upstairs quarters where the firefighters eat, sleep, and relax on duty in some very cozy recliners.  The walls of the upstairs quarters were painted with murals of popular childrens’ characters along with fire safety tips including how to use a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm safety.  The word on the street is that the kid-friendly approach to fire safety at Charlottesville’s downtown fire station inspired the Liberty Mutual “Where’s the Fire?” exhibit at Disney’s INNOVENTIONS at Epcot.

In Charlottesville, the firefighters don’t slide down poles to get to the engines, rather, they have to run down 3 flights of stairs in the hopes of not tripping over one another.  However, their inspiration is an ever-growing mural comprised of the hand prints of the young visitors which reads “The Hands We Protect.”

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If you’re in town, stop by Charlottesville’s station on Ridge Road and have your little one trace his hand on the wall, add his name, date of visit, and which color he’d like to have painted for his hand.

Calvin had one of the smallest hand prints on the wall.

img_5234As an extra special treat (as if this visit couldn’t be topped), Firefighter Steve presented each of the boys with their very own Firefighter’s hat (courtesy of Liberty Mutual) and a glow in the dark key chain.  Calvin’s been asking to wear his hat everywhere.

img_5238So, aside from the fact that these heroes train hard and work diligently when there’s a fire, they also teach little ones in the community about fire safety.  Charlottesville’s station sets up a some cool community education classes (click on “community education” in the sidebar) which includes a free smoke detector program, pre-school fire safety training, and home fire drills.

img_5181So, call up your local fire station to ask about a tour.  Or, if you live in Charlottesville, stop by the downtown station any time.  You can watch them wash down the fire trucks every day at 5pm.

–By Dr. Dolly