Family

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Breastfeeding is magical. OK. Maybe not magical. But there are quite a few perks, one of which is not having to make bottles of formula, and another of which is never having to take said bottles of formula with me when leaving the house. As a result, baby Juliza’s baby bag has always been free most feeding supplies. Of course, she’s a toddler now, and things have changed a bit. I wish I were at the stage when I didn’t have to carry a bag for her at all, but alas, toddler. So when Walmart asked me what’s in my bag, I thought I’d share all the things that help me keep my toddler happy.

The overview

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Our supply list honestly isn’t very long, but the things I do carry, we absolutely, positively need.

1. Diapers and wipes.

Juliza is a tough cookie. This seems to be especially true when it comes to potty training. I’m a toddler mom, so of course, I never get to go to the bathroom alone any more. So it’s not like she doesn’t have a good example of what to do, and when. She even has the words for it. But the child flat-out refuses to sit on toilet, or potty, or miniature toilet seat. She won’t do it. It turns into a battle of wits and full-on meltdown. So…I’m still carrying diapers around in my/her bag. Sigh. This phase will be over eventually. Huggies Little Movers is my favorite brand, and in my experience, I find the best price at Walmart.

Wipes are a toddler necessity whether they’re in diapers or not. Dirty faces, hands and well — elsewhere — will always need cleaning. I love the little wipes clutch from Huggies that’s shown in the photo. It’s cute, and it holds enough to last us a couple of outtings.

2. Snacks and drinks

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Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll be Juliza’s main food supply for the rest of her life. When we’re at home for most of the day, she’s all about mommy and her “titi.” But when we’re out and about, she will rarely nurse. But she WILL ask for snacks. And more snacks. And more snacks. So I’m very proactive about making sure we have a variety on hand. Among our favorites are Mott’s Medley fruit snacks and Goldfish crackers, both of which everyone else in the family eats too, so I have to work at keeping them stocked. Thankfully, they’re both really affordable at Walmart.

But in addition to edibles, I also have to carry drinkables, because she will ask for juice or water. On the occasions when I’ve forgotten her favorite spill-proof sippy cup, I’ve regretted it. I usually fill it with water or Motts for Tots juice, which contain less sugar than your average fruit juice, and take a second cup or bottle full as a backup.

Entertainment

I can’t believe I forgot to take a photo of this, but we MUST have some form of entertainment on hand, usually of the electronic variety. Juliza has a Kindle Kids, and we usually have it on hand. I just share my phone’s data with her when we’re on the road. Little Einsteins on Netflix has made many a road trip bearable, because my strong-willing little lady has only just started tolerating the car seat. The alternative is an old smartphone that no longer has service. I just let her play games on it.

There’s also an arsenal of toys in the car, just in case, but I don’t keep vary many in her bag. Just the occasional small stuffeed animal.

Change of clothes

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This is one that I rarely need, but I’ve made the mistake of not having it, only to regret. Definitely a case of “better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” So I’ve learned to keep a seasonally-appropriate change of clothes handy. It can be easy to forget what extra clothes you have in the bag if you rarely use it, but trust me — make sure it’s the right season and appropriate for the current weather.

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Right now, since Mother Nature can’t decide between spring and summer here in Georgia, that means a long-sleeved top and coordinating leggings. But with spring in swing and the weather warming, I’m preparing to switch out the outfit for something that’s warm-weather ready.

This cute Healthex outfit cost just $8.98, and it will be the perfect switch if (when) she ever messes up her clothes. It even comes with coordinating flip-flops, and she’s already obsessed with those.

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The best part about carrying all of this stuff is easy. Because I don’t have to actually carry it. Ja’Naya handed down a backpack that can hold everything, and Juliza is at the “I wanna do it” stage, so she is more than willing carry it herself.

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😉 Score 1 for mom!

So what about you, parents and caregivers. Does your toddler still require a “baby” bag? If so what are your essentials?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m a sucker for good design. What can I say? I love products that are functional, obviously, but if they can also serve up a good dose of form, I’m sold. Many baby products are heavy on function, but leave a lot to be desired in the design department. This is why I love Urbini. We having been using their Omni travel system since Juliza was an infant, and we still use the stroller to corral her on outings that will involve a lot of walking — or a lot of shopping. So when Walmart asked me to review the Urbini Turni travel system, I was excited to give another one of their products a try.

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The Turni system includes a Sonti infant car seat with a base, and a full-size stroller. Juliza is too big to sit comfortably in the car seat these days, but she was happy to pretend for the camera.

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You can see that her head is right at the top of the car seat because she’s so tall. Anyway, there are some features of the car seat that I really like. First, the base is easy to install with a seat belt or the LATCH belt system. It literally took a minute to get it strapped into our van. Compared to the pulling and tugging I had to do to install Juliza’s current convertible car seat, it was a breeze. And the car seat snaps in easily and slides out with the pull of a handle.

The seat itself is well padded and offers adjustable straps that can move as baby grows. It can accommodate baby up to 35 lbs. While Juliza hasn’t reached the weight limit yet, her height means that she’s definitely more comfortable in a bigger seat.

As such, the stroller is what I was really looking forward to trying. Our previous Omni system had a unique setup. The car seat and stroller seat snap into a free-standing frame separately. The Turni has a more traditional configuration, with the car seat, sans base, designed to sit on top of the stroller.

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Speaking of the stroller — I was not anticipating having to put it together. It came out of the box in several pieces, with the wheels and seat bar requiring installation.

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For the front wheels, that was really easy. They just snapped into place. The rear wheels were a bigger challenge, though. One wheel came attached to the axle with a place to attach the second. To do that, I had to first remove a washer and “hairpin” in place on the empty end of the axle, slip the wheel on, then replace the washer and hairpin. Removing the hairpin was a challenge, requiring a bit of elbow grease and coordination, but slipping the wheel and washer onto the axle was easy enough. The biggest problem, though, was replacing the hairpin. I fought with it for 15 minutes easy, and it slipped out of my hands a few times and flew across the room. Which meant I had to spend another 10 minutes on my hands and knees on the carpet trying to find it.

Finally, I slipped a flathead screwdriver through the middle to open it a bit before putting it on. That helped just enough to let me slide it into place grudgingly. I almost gave up, and my thumb was sore for a full day afterward from trying to install it. Not fun, and I hope that there’s a way to make this easier in the future. Once it was finally in place though, attaching the rear axle to the stroller was simple.

All of that aside, I really like this stroller. My little one can sit forward- or rear-facing, and making that switch is really easy. I just have to push a button at the top of the seat and slide it into the position I want. I LOVE this feature! No. Really. The reversible shade can work either way, and it is huge with a ton of coverage.

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Juliza was only too happy to try the new stroller, but she was a teensy tiny bit (read: very, very) mad that I took her out to try the rear-facing position.

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In spite of her unhappiness at being told what to do — because toddler — I really love the ease of switching seat positions and the fact that I can have her facing me in situations when she gets overwhelmed by the environment.

The only feature I really miss from the Omni stroller is the adjustable handle. My husband is quite a bit taller than I am, and my oldest daughter is shorter. We really miss not being to adjust the stroller handle to a more comfortable position for our varying needs.

Juliza found the height perfect, though, since pushing is her favorite way to use a stroller. SMH.

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Overall, the stroller is really easy to open and collapse, offers a comfortable and smooth ride, and has a cupholder for Juliza AND for me. That last detail matters. Trust me. The rear-facing seat can also lay all the way back and convert to a bassinet for small babies who are sleeping. The bassinet feature of the Omni system came in really handy for us when Juliza would fall asleep while we were out and about, so I can vouch for the usefulness of this faeture.

At $179, its an affordable travel system that offers great design, functionality and comfort. I’m really loving the Urbini aesthetic.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

My oldest daughter is a builder. She loves to take things apart and put them back together, or build things with pipe cleaners and tape, including huge elaborate blanket forts with multiple rooms, and doors and windows. I’m not exaggerating.

So when Walmart offered to send me a GoldieBlox play set, I knew she’d be overjoyed to play with a toy designed to encourage the part of her brain that loves to build. Plus, this feminist mama was only too happy to have her play with toys that were invented to empower girls.

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She chose the GoldieBlox Girl Inventor Zipline Action Figure, because zipline.

It took Ja’Naya all of 15 minutes to put the zipline carriage together, and another 5 to memorize the process so she could do it again (and again) without the help of the instructions. That can be explained by the fact that it is designed for kids ages 4 and up, so at 10, she was able to grasp it quickly and retain the information.

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The best part, of course, was letting the Goldie fly. And a week in, baby Juliza’s new favorite phrase is “Want dolly fly!”

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My two girls have been having so much finding different places to anchor the zipline at different levels of slackness and different inclines, and they’ve even tried to make Goldie land in baskets and bags when she reaches the end of the line. The line has suction cups at the ends, and they’ll stick to glass and metal, but it can also be tied off to an anchor point if necessary.

It’s hard to capture a photo of the action, so here’s a very quick video of Goldie doing her thing:

Ja’Naya has grown a little bored with the build process because it is relatively simple, but she has asked for more GoldieBlox toys so she can build her collection of parts, allowing her to use her imagination to create whatever she wants. She tried making other stuff from the parts included in this set, but there aren’t very many, so there wasn’t much she could make.

Thankfully, Walmart does have other GoldieBlox sets, including a Builder’s Survival Kit with a ton of parts that can be mixed and matched. So on Christmas morning, Ja’Naya will find another GoldieBlox set from Santa under the tree, and we’ll add to it throughout the year.

And because I’d be remiss if I didn’t say: The age recommendations on these sets are there for a reason. Many of the parts are really small, and while Juliza didn’t attempt to put any in her mouth, she could’ve easily swallowed some of them if she had tried. She did, however, manage to scatter the parts all over the house, and it took us 30 minutes of hunting to find all the little pieces. The next thing we need to find is a box to contain all the pieces.

But we are now huge fans of GoldieBlox, and any kid who is a maker will love them too.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I have a minor panic attack every time I see a story on the news about a baby dying after being left in a hot or cold car. Really, wrapping my mind around the whole situation is enough to bring me to tears. Why? Because it really could happen to anyone. Many kids who die this way are left in the car as a result of absent-mindedness. A mom breaking routine to drop the baby at day care when dad usually does it. A grandparent watching the baby one afternoon who needed to run a quick errand. A rushed day full of errands and pickups and dropoffs. It really only takes one horrible moment of not being mindful to ruin lives.

So when Walmart asked me to review a new car seat from Evenflo designed to prevent exactly this type of tragedy, I couldn’t wait to try it.

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The Evenflo Embrace DLX car seat with Advanced SensorSafe technology, available only at Walmart, is a sturdy option with removable padding and leg cover, designed for babies up to 35 pounds. But the most important feature is that it also comes equipped with a sensor built into the chest buckle that will alert the driver that baby is still in the car.

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I installed the seat in my mom’s car to try it with baby Juliza. The base was really simple to install using the car’s seat belt, but it could also be installed for a more permanent setup using the vehicle’s LATCH system. With the base installed, the car seat snapped right in with ease, and could be removed with a simple squeeze of the release bar on the back of the seat.

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The seat can accommodate a child up to 35 pounds, so technically, Juliza could still use this seat at 30 pounds. However, she is really tall, so it wouldn’t be a comfortable ride for her, and I’m sure she’d max out the height limit. I had to remove all the infant head and shoulder padding to get her in the seat at almost 2 years old, but this would’ve been a great seat to use when she was an infant.

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Still, I strapped her in for a quick ride around the neighborhood to see how the SensorSafe system would work.

The seat comes with a sensor that has to be plugged into the vehicle’s 16-pin OBDII port. In my mom’s car, it was far under the steering wheel on the left side, but you can consult your vehicle’s owner manual to find yours.

The first time you plug it in and start the car, there will be a long beep. That lets you know the sensor is properly installed and communicating with the seat.

Once you drive the car for at least 30 seconds up to at least 5 miles per hour, the sensor activates. The magic happens when you stop and turn off the ignition. Within 2 seconds, the sensor begins beeping to let you know that baby is still strapped into the car seat. And it is a distinctive, musical tone that you cannot miss. Here’s a quick video so you can hear it for yourself:

I honestly love the SensorSafe technology, and it will put so many parents’ minds at ease. I’m hoping Evenflo decides to expand the technology to all their other car seats as a standard feature, including the convertible and toddler seats. Juliza is too big to use this one regularly, but I plan to find a parent with a baby to give this gift of peace of mind.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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Anyone who knows me knows that I highly value my personal space. My home is my sanctuary, and I’m not a fan of anything interfering with that. Not even having company. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy having folks stay with me once they’re here. I inevitably have fun once we all get together and start talking and laughing. But the preparation is where I struggle. I overthink things, and wonder if everyone will be comfortable, and how long it will take before I have to go hide in a closet for some alone time. Still, my overthinking generally leads me to consider things I normally may not have. When Walmart challenged me to share how I get ready for guests in the fall, I wanted to share an extra comfort corner I decided to create for our guests.

Here’s the thing: We technically do have an “extra” bedroom. But by extra, we means that it’s my stepsons’ room. Since they don’t live with us for most of the year, the room is usually empty, but for their bunk bed and dresser. A bunk bed works for them, but let’s just say it’s not the best situation for adult guests who prefer not to hit their heads every time they sit up or fall whenever they roll on a twin bed. So we usually set up a queen airbed in the room to solve those problems. Of course, the airbed isn’t perfect. Sit on the edge of one and you’ll learn that in a hurry. The edges and corners usually sink under weight, even when the bed is at peak air pressure. So I decided to set up a cozy chair in a corner for those moments when climbing onto the bed isn’t my guests’ first choice.

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We have a great black chair that we found at a consignment store years ago that was the perfect starter piece. But the chair alone was just the start. I headed to Walmart and picked up this cozy Better Homes & Gardens throw blanket in a fun colorful print.

Being cold in someone else’s house always sucks, because you never want to impose by having to ask them to turn the heat up. So this is an easy way to avoid that issue.

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Next, I added a small side table with a fragrant soy candle by Burt’s Bees (yay for soy wax!), and a lamp to make reading easy and convenient.

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I hope our guests will appreciate this small gesture to help them feel at home away from home. The only thing missing is a good book and a hot cup of tea. We can provide both of those too :)

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

By some miracle, Juliza and I have made it 22 — almost 23 — months strong on our breastfeeding adventure. And though I had all these grand plans to be done with nursing by the time she turned 2, it seems my little one has other plans. I’ve decided to practice child-led weaning with her, so it may be a while yet before we’re done. As eager as I am to get back to “regular” clothes and undergarments, it seems that I will be stuck with nursing bras for the foreseeable future. So when Walmart offered me the opportunity to try some nursing bras and clothes from their Nuture by Lamaze brand, I was only too eager to add to my collection.

Let’s be real for a second: Nursing breasts are unique. They change in size throughout the days as they go from full to empty and back again. So quite literally, a bra that fit me well when I left the house may be overflowing by the time I’m a few hours into that outing. As a result, I’ve found that soft cup bras are much more comfortable than their more rigid underwire counterparts. The Nurture by Lamaze seamless sleep bras and seamless nursing bras were appealing to me because of the comfort factor.

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Of course, there needs to be a balance between comfort and support, especially when you’re a DD-DDD cup like me. And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from either, because I haven’t had much luck with this style of bra. I’m usually either spilling out of them, or they’re so unsupportive that I may as well not wear a bra. I have to say though, the sleep bras really provided more support than I expected. They are comfortable for sleeping, but I actually wear them around the house during the day while I’m working. They’re not quite supportive enough for — say — a grocery shopping trip, but they weren’t designed for that. At $12.50 for a pack of 2 bras, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

The seamless nursing bra provided a bit of a challenge for me in that they size out at XL. While the band fit me fine, the cups just weren’t large enough. They had padding, which is great in a nursing bra, because leaks. But I’d probably need an XXL or 2X for large enough cups. Still, I appreciate the no-seam approach, and the fabric was super soft and pliable.

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Walmart has other great nursing and maternity basics, like their Labor of Love seamless maternity leggings, tanks and belly bands. I gave up long ago on wearing nursing tops, because finding cute ones that are also affordable feels like an impossible task, but I LOVE a good tank top that I can pull down nurse without exposing all my parts. And this one is my new favorite. The seamless style and soft fabric feel like wearing nothing at all. Plus, it is really, really stretchy, which makes it easy to maneuver when I have a toddler begging for “titi please” in my lap. I can say the same for the leggings. I feel naked in them, and that is the highest possible compliment I can pay to any piece of clothing. The Labor of Love Belly Bangle belly band, for which I really thought I had no use this far postpartum, has also proven useful for being able to lift my top to nurse without showing my belly and back.

The best part of all these items is the amazing pricing. Each item costs $10 or less. And in a world where pretty much everything with the words “nursing” or “maternity” in front of the name comes with a high price, that is a refreshing concept. Juliza agrees. Mostly because they all make it that much easier for her to get her beloved titi. Which she’s requesting in this photo.

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Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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A few weeks ago, we bought a potty for my 18-month-old. And she promptly refused to sit on it. Unless she’s wearing clothes, of course. She has a great time lounging in the bathroom when she’s fully dressed, but when we take off her diaper and try to get her to sit on it, she’s not having it. At all. She’d prefer to stand 2 inches away from it and pee on the floor — which she has done on quite a few occasions. Toddlers.

All this to say, it looks like we’ll have to continue using diapers for a while, so when Walmart offered to send me a few boxes of my favorite brand, along with a couple of baby snacks, I couldn’t say no.

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Huggies Little Movers

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We tried Huggies Little Movers diapers a few months ago, courtesy of Walmart, and we’ve been buying them ever since. Seriously, they’re the best among a bunch of diaper brands we’ve tried, and every time we decide to buy a different (often less expensive) brand, we regret it.

Juliza tends to pee a lot all at one time, which can lead to leaks in the wrong diaper. Huggies Little Movers are really absorbent, and the waistband and leg holes are both flexible and secure, which means that she can run and jump and climb and do all the things she does without worrying about an uncomfortable fit.

Plus, come on. How cute is she toddling around in these?

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Honestly though, we’ll continue using these until she finally gets comfortable with the idea of sitting on the potty. Wish us luck in that department.

Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts

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We also received Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts to try. Juliza is definitely a snacker. She won’t eat much all at once, but she likes to graze from everyone else’s plate or grab something she can eat on the run. Every now and then, I need a break from chasing her with an arrowroot cookie in her hand (and all over her face and clothes and hair and…you get the picture). I like to sit her down in her high chair and dump some snacks on the tray. These yogurt melts are just the right size for her little hands, though I will say she’s gotten really great at picking up the tiniest things — like random crumbs from the carpet that I’d need a magnifying glass to identify.

I like the fact that they contain fruit and yogurt, though I wish they were organic. She likes feeding herself. I call that a win-win.

PediaSure Shakes

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The last product we received was PediaSure shakes. They’re designed to act as a nutritional supplement for kids ages 2+ who may be picky eaters and therefore not getting all the nutrition they need from the things they will eat.

My goal for the PediaSure is a little different. The thing is, I’m still nursing Juliza. I’m proud of myself for sticking it out with her this long, but I’m also wondering when she’ll wean, because some days, I really just need a break. I’m hoping PediaSure will help with that. At the moment, she’ll drink water and juice from a cup like a champ, but she flat-out refuses to drink anything that even closely resembles milk unless it comes directly from the source. The child knows what’s up. She wouldn’t drink the PediaSure from her own cup, but mama’s smarter than that. I put it in a cup for myself, and then she was only too eager to taste it. She seems to like it, so I’m hoping that when she’s old enough, I can get her to drink it in her own cup, and we can cut back our daily nursing sessions to first thing in the morning and bedtime. That would work for me. I love our special bond, but at some point, I’d like to be able to be away from her without worrying about her screaming for “titi.” I’m not in a huge rush, but I admit that I’m hoping that by the time she’s 2, we’ll be done. God, help us all.

Nursing mamas, how did you help your little one wean? Or did you let them completely self-wean? I’d love to get your advice in the comments!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I can’t believe that summer is already coming to a close. Seriously. Where did the days go? Working from home means that my kids are with me all day every day, so usually at this point, I’m counting the days until my daughter goes back to school. This year is different, though. I’m actually going to miss having her here. Probably because she’s an awesome big sister and helps me out a lot. Anyway, when Walmart asked me to share a cool summer story, I decided to have a mini bubble party for my little ones, who both love blowing bubbles. Yes. Even the 9-year-old.

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We blow bubbles often, usually with the little wands or the long, skinny bubble containers. This time though, we wanted something a little bit fancier. We headed to Walmart and picked a couple of really cool bubble blowers. Essentially, they’re battery-operated fans that are a lot more effective at blowing bubbles than we could ever be on our own. Coupled with some snacks, we had a great time picnicking in the back yard.

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The only thing missing was a cooler full of ice cold drinks. But at least we had bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles.

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The larger blower actually creates huge bubbles with smaller bubbles inside. You can pop the larger bubble and the smaller ones will float away. It’s kind of awesome.

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I genuinely wish I’d made video of how happy Juliza was to play with the huge bubbles, and how happy Ja’Naya was to humor her. It may have been the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. This week :)

But bubbles and snacks weren’t the only things we brought to the party. To celebrate the end of summer, we’re also planning to go see the new Minions movie. In honor of that, we picked up a bit of Minions merchandise. For Ja’Naya, how could we NOT love this “Perfect is Boring” Minions t-shirt? Isn’t it amazing?

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And because we couldn’t find any Minions tees for toddlers, we grabbed a pair of sunglasses, so baby Juliza could be styling too.

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I can’t help but think the Minions would enjoy a bit of silly fun blowing bubbles in the back yard, so it seems fitting.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.