Family

Every year, my family and I say that we’re going to take a vacation. Away from home. Preferably somewhere warm with white sandy beaches and clear blue water. And every year, we don’t. Time, money, circumstances, and a bunch of other variables usually leave us finding ways to have fun at — or near — home. Not much has changed this year — except that we’ll have company for our staycation. So last weekend, before to the Fourth of July, we’ve been getting our home ready for company. Here are some great tips:

A comfy place to sleep

We’re fortunate enough to have an extra bedroom. What we do not have, however, is a comfortable sleeping situation for adults — much less two. We have a twin-twin bunkbed that works when kids are coming over, but notsomuch for anyone older than 16. The first thing we did was invest in a raised queen sized air mattress.

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It’s 18 inches high, which is a lot better than the smaller camping-sized air mattresses that basically amount to sleeping on the ground. Outfitted with some nice sheets, pillows and a comforter, it will work great for our guests, and it rung it at just under $50.

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New towels, anyone?

The next thing on our shopping list is new towels. What is it about having guests that makes you realize how — ummmm — well-loved every towel in your linen closet looks? Seriously, we’re going to do our guests a favor and deliver new towels and washcloths, pre-washed, of course, to get rid of any pesky towel lint.

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These inexpensive towels by Mainstays from Walmart look great, but won’t cost a fortune. A 6-piece set costs less than $18.

Make outside comfortable, too

Who wants to spend the Fourth of July sitting inside the house, right? Luckily for us, we invested in a great popup canopy from Walmart before Memorial Day, so we have the shade situation in our backyard covered. Literally (haha!).

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But if you’re in the market for something that you can take with you when you head out to the lake or park, or something temporary for your back yard, Walmart has a great Ozark Trails canopy for right around $50. I know that in Georgia, when that afternoon sun hits, shade is an absolute must, so $50 sounds relatively inexpensive if it means you can spend more time outside during our staycation.

So what about you? What are your summer essentials for a staycation or having guests?

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.

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Weleda. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions and reviews are my own.

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When it comes to baby Juliza’s skin, I have no choice but to be very particular about what we put on it. First, there’s the fact that there are a lot of questionable ingredients in a lot of products, but there’s also the fact that her skin is very sensitive and prone to dryness. So when I got the opportunity to test Weleda’s new Baby Derma White Mallow Collection, designed specifically for sensitive skin, I thought we’d give it a try.

Weleda is well known for their natural, holistic products — has been since 1921 — and this line is no exception. The average organic content of the Baby Derma White Mallow products is 93 percent. It features organic white mallow, pansy and plant oils, the combination of which promises to soothe irritated skin and provide natural protection from future irritation. It’s also designed to help treat eczema. While Juliza hasn’t been officially diagnosed, she does sometimes have dry patches like many eczema sufferers.

We received the White Mallow body lotion, face cream and diaper rash cream to try, and I was excited to put them to the test.

Baby Derma White Mallow Diaper Rash Cream

We’ve been fortunate in that baby Juliza has never had a diaper rash. I feel like I’m going to jinx us by saying that, but it’s true. The Baby Derma White Mallow diaper rash cream is clearly designed for protection in case of a rash. It is thick and coats the skin really well, and I can absolutely see how essential that would be if she had a rash. However, it is a bit much for everyday use if your baby doesn’t need it. Because it is so thick, it does leave a white residue. That mostly fades by the next diaper change, so that’s not a really big deal, but it does take some extra attention to get it off when I wash my hands after using it.

Baby Derma White Mallow Face Cream

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The skin on Juliza’s face has always been super sensitive, and as such, she winds up with scratches on her face more often than I’d like. She also has some dryness on her face, but we usually just use a little coconut oil to help with that. Now, it’s really great having a product specifically designed for use on her face. A little bit goes a long way, and just a smidge is enough to moisturize her whole face.

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Since we’ve been using the face cream, her skin has been a lot smoother. And maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the marks from previous scratches have faded. I can’t tell for sure if that’s because of the face cream, or just because enough time has passed that they’re not as visible, but the face cream certainly hasn’t hurt.

Baby Derma White Mallow Lotion

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We go through a lot of lotion, because we like to keep our skin well moisturized. For baby Juliza, this is even more important because she gets dry really fast. So any lotion we use has to do a great job of adding and sealing in moisture. The White Mallow lotion feels light, but goes on thicker than you might expect. I had to train myself not to use too much. It rubs in easily with no residue and moisturizes pretty well. I had to apply it twice a day, but that’s true of most of the lotions we use for Juliza.

It is technically fragrance-free, but it does have a really slight, sweet smell that I like a lot. It’s nice without being overpowering. This is really a great option with ingredients I can use without worry.

And really, that’s the most impressive thing about these Weleda products: The way they are made. The White Mallow Body Lotion is 95% organic, the face cream is 97% organic and the diaper rash cream is 86% organic. That is exactly what I want in products I’m using for my precious little one, and I’m sure there are a lot of moms out there who feel exactly the same way.

You can find Weleda products at Whole Foods Market, select natural health food stores, buybuyBaby and at usa.weleda.com. Plus, if you’re shopping at the Weleda website, use promo code WELEDABABY to get 20% off your purchase. The code expires on June 30, 2015.

Over the last several months, I’ve tried a lot of diaper brands. A LOT. And my initial instinct is that they would all work equally well. They’d catch what they were supposed to catch and that would be the end of it. Well, that’s somewhat true, but I’ve found that some brands definitely work better than others — and Huggies is at the top of my list of favorites. In fact, they’ve spoiled Juliza and I, so now I don’t want to buy anything else.

So when Walmart offered me the opportunity to try Huggies’ new Snug & Dry Ultra diapers, of course I said yes.

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As the name would imply, this new diaper is designed to offer even more protection for baby’s skin in a wet or dirty diaper. To do that, it has a unique quilted inner liner that lock in wetness away from the skin and prevent leaks. In fact, they promise to offer up to 12 hours of protection so baby will stay dry and comfortable longer.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Baby Juliza’s bedtime is around 8:30 each night. Sometimes a little later, but I give her a bath or change her into her pajamas about this same time each night. I usually don’t change her diaper again until about 7:30 the following morning, soon after she wakes up. That’s cutting it pretty close to the 12-hour mark, and in the past she’s woken up with her pajamas soaked through. Not really the best way to greet the morning.

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Since we started using Snug & Dry, she has not had a single soak-through or diaper blowout. To be fair, both of those are less frequent in general now that she’s older and doesn’t need a new diaper as often, but the performance is still great. Plus, like the other Huggies diapers, the fit is really great around the waist.

So again, this product test just solidified the fact that Huggies is now our favorite diaper brand for performance and fit. I’m not mad at that at all.

You can find Huggies Snug & Dry at Walmart in sizes 1-6, at $24.94 a box.

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.

Remember how I recently said that I tend to be very brand loyal when it comes to the products I support? Well, if there’s one brand that could be a case study for that, it would be Shea Moisture.

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For years, they have been my family’s go-to products for our hair and skin, because we can trust them to be made with safe natural ingredients, and they’ve gotten a little more affordable and easier to find over the years. The fact that you can now buy them at Walmart is indicative of that. So when Walmart asked me to try Shea Moisture’s baby products, there’s no way I could say no to that. Especially since we’ve been using them since baby Juliza was born.

In fact, we actually put them on our registry before she was born.

We honestly love Shea Moisture products of all kinds, so we trusted that the baby products would perform just as well. And they have. Check out this video review of their Raw Shea, Chamomile and Argan Oil baby wash and lotion:

Juliza is prone to dryness, so it was important to use soap that wouldn’t dry out her skin, and lotion that would help seal the moisture in. The soap has been great at getting her clean without sucking all the moisture out, and the lotion is as thick and luscious as we expected based on past experience with their other lotions.

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In fact, my only gripe is that the lotion is so thick that it can sometimes be difficult to get it out of the bottle, even with the attached pump. When a bottle is almost finished, that means it’s really difficult to get to the lotion at the bottom without diluting it a bit with something like coconut or olive oil.

Other than that, we have no complaints. Shea Moisture baby products ring in at less than $10 apiece at Walmart, and we can make them last a couple of months for Juliza. They’re the products I put on my shopping list when we run out, and they’ll always be the first brand I turn to when I want to buy something I know is safe.

What about you? Have you ever tried Shea Moisture Baby products?

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.

Shopping for Baby, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I shared that I was trying to break out of my habit of buying the same products over and over again by trying a few new baby products, courtesy of Walmart. There is beauty in being able to go to one store and get pretty much everything I need for baby Juliza, but I never know if I’m missing out on something just because I’d never thought to try it.

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Like these three:

Pull-Ups Learning Designs

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I didn’t think Juliza was quite ready for potty training, but it can’t hurt to start early, right? Pull-Ups were an invaluable tool in my husband’s and my arsenal when we were potty training our oldest daughter, but we hadn’t really thought about using them for Juliza yet. We got the Pull-Ups Learning Designs training pants in size 2T-3T, and they’re still a bit big on her. Which means that though they didn’t leak when she was wet, they did when she pooped. I’m sure this won’t be the case once she grows into them. Juliza was really captivated by the idea of pulling up her own diaper. She’s not quite effective at it yet, but it’s easy to see that she’s going to enjoy being able to take matters into her own hands — literally. These are going in the closet until she’s a little older, but I imagine they’ll be invaluable yet again.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Bedtime Wash and Lotion

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Though I hadn’t used their products in years, when I think of baby products, Johnson & Johnson is still one of the first brands that come to mind. I usually don’t personally buy them because I’m not a big fan of the ingredients list, but I know a lot of parents do. And I tried their baby bedtime lotion and wash a few times just so I could give an accurate review. The good? They work. They work well. The soap and lotion both smell ah-mazing, the lavender fragrance really does help calm baby at bedtime and they are really moisturizing. Still, in the future, I’ll stick with products with fewer, more natural ingredients.

Gerber Graduates Grabbers Pouches

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Juliza is at the stage when she really likes to feed herself. As in she’ll throw a tantrum if we try to feed her instead of giving her spoon. This is fun for her, but tends to be messy for me. For those days when I’m not in the mood for a mess, these Gerber Graduates Grabbers pouches are great. They are available in fun flavor combinations like Banana Blueberry and Apple, Pear & Peach, and while messes are possible, Juliza already has gotten the hang of squeezing the pouch into her mouth, and so everywhere else. I’m still leery of pouches with contents that I can’t see, so I’ll always, always check the expiration date. Still, she really likes these, so I’ll let her have her fun sometimes.

I’m really thankful for this little product testing experiment. I learned some things. For example, Huggies diapers really are great and worth the money. And they’ve spoiled me for using any other kind. Aveeno has a pretty safe ingredients list and it’s an effective moisturizer. And Juliza will likely be ready to potty train sooner than we thought. So going out of my shopping comfort zone has its perks. I may have to try this again for other types of products 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.

Shopping for Baby, Part 1

I am a creature of habit. When it comes to shopping, that means I tend to be very brand loyal. Once I find a product that I really like, I stick with it, shopping trip after shopping trip. This is great for the brands that I love, but it means that I rarely try new products or find out if there’s something I like better than what I’ve already got. So when Walmart gave me the opportunity to try a bunch of different baby products, I was only to happy to oblige. After all, having a baby in the house does create some unique buying opportunities, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out.

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The great thing about Walmart is that I can get everything I need for Juliza in one place, from her diapers to her clothes, bath products and food. In spite of that, I had never bought any of these products before.

Huggies Little Movers Diapers

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Price often dictates which diapers I purchase, because they all work pretty much the same, right? Well, they all function the same, but I wouldn’t say they all work the same. Some are definitely better than others. And I have to say, Huggies Little Movers definitely goes on the list of better diapers.

Even when I unfold the diaper to put it on Juliza, I can tell the difference. The material feels sturdier than other brands I’ve tried, and the fit is really great for an active toddler. Juliza rarely keeps still, and we’ve started to see some shift in her diaper throughout the day. Huggies Little Movers are designed to accommodate all this activity.

The waistband and leg openings have great stretch, and in addition to the regular tabs that close the diaper, there are strips on the front that also adhere to keep it closed. Plus, they’ve proven to be very absorbent and keep her skin dry even when her diaper is wet.

They’re on the higher end of the price scale, but the features make them worth the money.

Aveeno Baby Wash & Lotion

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I’m very particular about what I put on Juliza’s skin, in part because she’s my baby and I’m protective, but also because she’s prone to dryness and I have to be vigilant to keep her skin well-moisturized. This means that she only gets baths every other night so we don’t dry out her skin, and I put lotion on her several times a day.

The Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo is very lightly scented and it’s not drying at all. After a bath, when I towel Juliza off, her skin already seems to be absorbing moisture really well when I use this. But the lotion is the real find.

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I like putting lotion on her immediately after a bath when her skin will best absorb moisture. But by morning, I usually have to apply it again, and then once more during the day. The Aveeno Daily Moisture baby lotion kept her skin well moisturized all day long. I only had to apply it one time. That’s it. It really did work better than anything else I’ve tried on her skin.

My only objection is that I’m not a fan of some of the ingredients. Aveeno has natural ingredients, but it’s not all natural. Still, both products score a 2 in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database — low scores that indicate they are pretty safe.

Gerber 2nd Foods

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Juliza already has 10 teeth, with a couple more coming in, so she’s a bit past the stage of eating pureed baby food any more. However, we still give her cereal and oatmeal, and she loves fruit, so we like to mix a little pureed fruit in with those. The Gerber 2nd Foods products include a lot of mixed fruit options. We tried the Apples & Cherries, and Banana Mixed Berries.

Juliza loved the Banana Mixed Berries by itself, which I predicted because she loves bananas. The Apples & Cherries she preferred mixed with her cereal. At just $1.08 for a pack of two, they’re worth keeping on hand for moments when we want to give her a little snack.

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In a few weeks, I’ll share a couple more baby products from Walmart that we’re trying, but I’d love to hear about your shopping habits:

Are you a habitual shopper like me, or do you like to try new things or buy what’s on sale?

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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My little lady is a soaker — meaning she soaks right through her diapers entirely too often. This is, in large part, why we don’t use cloth diapers. I just don’t have time to change her clothes several times a day. However, it still sometimes happens with disposables. So when Walmart asked me to try their exclusive new LUVS Super Absorbent diapers, I was hoping we could get rid of the problem once and for all.

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Here’s what we thought (plus, cute video of baby Juliza in a diaper = swoon!):

Since we started using the new LUVS, she hasn’t had nearly as many soak-through days, which means I haven’t had to change her clothes as much either. Plus, I really like the way they fit around her stomach and legs. The waistband has great stretch, and the pull tabs re-attach if necessary. This last part is especially important now that she’s learned how to take her diaper off O__o

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Another reason we may just start using LUVS all the time: We can now join the LUVS Club, which is a special program that gives us access to special discounts, diaper giveaways and more.

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Plus when you sign up and share the LUVS club with your friends, you will get access to a special coupon that’s only available to members. Head over to the Walmart website to sign up and get your coupon.

And tell me: Is your baby a soaker 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.

Baby Juliza likes to eat. No. Really. She has a knack for sniffing out whenever someone is eating, and she loves to sample a little something from everyone’s plate. This is her “I’m about to eat” face, so excited that I couldn’t get her to keep still long enough for a photo.

For the most part, I’m content to let her eat table food — fruit, veggies, chicken, fish — even macaroni and cheese and whole wheat spaghetti. But there are moments when we’re eating something she really just shouldn’t eat — pizza, for example — or we’re in a hurry and I want to provide healthy options for her. I know I can head to my nearest Walmart and find an abundance of organic baby food options, including Plum Organics, Gerber organic, Earth’s Best Organics, Happy Baby, Ella’s Kitchen, Beech Nut and more.

My little stinker loves the Plum Organics fruit and vegetable super puffs, in large part because she can feed herself with her fingers. I prefer to give her real fruit and veggies when I can, but these are a good stand-in that I won’t feel terrible about giving to her. She’s also a fan of their Little Yums teething wafers, especially now that she’s cutting the second of her molars and her gums are very swollen.
 

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of the squeezable packs of fruit and veggies because I can’t see what’s in the container, but I’ll give them to her as snacks at home when I can squeeze the contents into a small bowl. This is a packaging quibble for me though. The quality of the food is great, and I like the Gerber organic options because they tend to be a bit more affordable than some of the strictly organic brands. Plus, I’m happy to see a traditional baby food maker wade into the organic pool. 

The selection really is great, and everything is reasonably priced so I can get a lot for my money. This isn’t always true when buying organic for the rest of the family, so I appreciate that we can do what’s best for Juliza without breaking the bank.

What about you? Do you buy organic baby food? What are your favorite brands?

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.