Family

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.

Throughout my years as a blogger, there has been one question that I get a lot: How can I work with Walmart when one of the major areas of focus for this blog is sustainability? Well, the answer to that is simple: Because Walmart really is a big part of my life, and was even before I became a Walmart Mom.

When my husband and I first got married, we were broke. I had just graduated from college and he’d just gotten out of the military, and money was in short supply. So as much as we would’ve liked to be able to shop wherever we wanted, not just for groceries, but for clothes and everything else, we had no choice but to shop where our money would go the furthest. Even back then, that was Walmart. We could go to the grocery store with less than $100 and be able to eat for a week or more.

These days, with two kids at home and self-employment as our only source of income, not a lot has changed, as far as our shopping habits.

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We still need to patronize the store that’s going to let us stretch our dollars as far as possible, especially with a growing gymnast at home who probably eats her body weight in (healthy) snacks every day. We still go to Walmart, where we know we can find the lowest prices on the things we buy all the time. Plus, with the addition of Walmart’s Savings Catcher tool, which we use for every single receipt, we know if any competitor is offering a lower price on anything we bought, we’ll get the difference back.

This is why I’ll continue to work with Walmart and encourage (or sometimes challenge) their sustainability efforts: Because I, along with my mother and sisters, are just a few among millions of Americans who rely on them to feed, clothe and generally take care of our families. How could I turn my back on that?

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

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“The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold wet day.”
— Dr. Seuss, from the Cat in the Hat

My family has always loved Dr. Seuss, and The Cat in the Hat was one of my favorites. It was, though, surpassed by my love for Green Eggs and Ham. This was likely a result of the fact that my mother was an English teacher who encouraged me to read everything in sight, and our collection included more than a few Dr. Seuss books. Plus, that collection has been passed through my family from my mother to my sister and her kids, now to mine. And it has been awesome sharing stories that span generations, equally as interesting, and funny and memorable today as they were when I was growing up.

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Walmart is offering special pricing on all his books from February 8 to March 14. Beginner books that usually start at $8.99 will be just $5, board books which are normally $4.99 will be $3.50, and even the classic titles, typically $14.95, will be just $10. We no longer have our copy of Green Eggs and Ham, because it was damaged from so much love throughout the years, so I’m going to use this opportunity to replace it. It’s a great time to build a collection if you don’t already have one.

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Kids You’ll Move Mountains Contest

Also, do you have a kid writer in the family, they’ll have an opportunity to write an essay to win some great prizes, including a scholarship and a trip to Universal Studios. The contest celebrated the 25th anniversary of Dr.Seuss’s last book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Kids ages 5-18 who excel in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) are invited to submit essays about how they will move mountains in their chosen subject. They’re looking for kids who are STEAMing ahead.

The contest begins March 2, and kids, parents and educators will vote at www.kidsmovingmountains.com, and the 10 most popular essays will then be judged in each area. Judges will select the final winners, one from each discipline, for a total of five winners. Each grand prize winner will take home a $10,000 scholarship grant, a ride on the Goodyear Blimp (how cool is this?!), and a trip to Seuss theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. Plus, four winners in each discipline will receive a $5,000 scholarship grant. Visit www.kidsmovingmountains.com for more information.

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.

When I started my green living journey 7 years ago, my oldest daughter was already out of diapers, but I had all these grand intentions if I ever had another child. I just knew that I’d use cloth diapers and be super successful with it. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always match the fantasy. And with baby Juliza, cloth diapering just never really worked for us. They leaked, or blew out, or the elastic on the covers left nasty marks on her skin. So we use disposables. Still, those things get pricey in a hurry. When Walmart asked me to try their Parent’s Choice diapers, I couldn’t wait to find out if a value brand could compare to the national labels and hopefully save us some money in the process.

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So what exactly do these diapers promise? Well, they’ve been made more absorbent and stretchy for a great fit, and offer up to 12 hours of overnight protection. That last one is particularly important, because even though Juliza still wakes once or twice a night, I rarely change her diaper in the middle of the night because I don’t want to wake her fully.

But how to they perform, right? Well, let’s talk about it.

Juliza is a big girl. By that, I mean she’s been wearing size 5 diapers for a few months now because even though she fell in the weight range for a smaller size, none of them fit well, especially in the belly area. These diapers have great stretch on the fasteners, and the back panel is nice and wide, so it’s really easy to secure them around her waist with a comfortable fit that’s not too tight. And I think someone agrees.

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Plus, she likes playing with the box.

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Parent’s Choice diapers are a bit thicker than some of the other options we’ve tried, but the absorbency is worth it. In the few weeks she’s been wearing them, we’ve only had one leak, and it was mostly because I took my time changing her diaper on morning when I usually do it as soon as she wakes up. Trust me when I say that this qualifies as a great result for us, because we’ve had a lot of issues with leaks and blowouts. These keep everything intact.

I can honestly say that we’ll be switching diaper brands from now on. The cost savings is great, at $13.97 for a box containing 70 size 5 diapers, but mostly, I was really surprised by how well they’ve been performing.  The regular diapers have been working for us both day and night, but we plan to try the overnight diapers to see if it’s worth buying both. The difference is that the overnight version has a hypoallergenic inner liner with Vitamin E and aloe to better protect baby’s skin.

If you’d like to try the standard or overnight Parent’s Choice diapers, they’re available at Walmart in sizes from newborn to 6. For newer parents, there’s a wetness indicator on sizes newborn, 1, 2 and 3, and an umbilical cord cutout for newborns.

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: Month 12

It’s officially two weeks into the new year, and I have been pretty silent everywhere on social media — even here. I figured if there was a great reason to break my radio silence though, it’s this: Baby Juliza is one!

All these months have been leading up to this moment, and it’s finally happened. My little lady has crossed the threshold into official toddlerhood. She’s not a baby any more! And if this face is any indication, Daddy and I are in trouble:

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She is a chatterbox, and in this photo, she was no doubt telling me off for making her sit still long enough to take it. On the plus side, though, she’s finally started saying “mama” with some consistency. Still not as often as “dada” or even “daddy”, but I’ll take it. Her doctor says she’s far ahead of the curve in terms of her vocabulary, and trust me when I say that she’s only too happy to use it. All. Day. Long. I can’t imagine what it will be like once she starts stringing sentences together.

Lord, help us. Ha!

Really though, she’s a round little bundle of personality — hands on hips and all. Need some evidence? Well this is what she did when my hubby and I tried to take a Christmas photo together:

A photo posted by Jennae (@jennaepetersen) on

A kiss not involving JuJu? Nope. Not happening.

And this is her reaction to being in the playpen for a grand total of about 5 minutes while I started dinner:

A photo posted by Jennae (@jennaepetersen) on

She’s a handful and I half, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love her to pieces! Especially when she starts the day by dancing to a little reggae.

I had planned on continuing the photo series until she turns two, but I don’t really think that’s going to happen. Why, you ask? Well, because this month, after I took the pic above, the photo session quickly devolved into lots of this…

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Yeah. She wasn’t having it. Even with her hair combed in tiny, cute puffs and wearing her fabulous Sofistafunk skirt. The child really isn’t a fan of sitting still these days. To make up for it, I also took a photo in her preferred position: Standing.

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There. Much better. And I even managed to center her under her name on the wall. If I can figure out a way to make her stand still every month so I can continue this, I will, but somehow, I don’t see it happening. Still, I’ll always have her first 12 months of photos to look back upon wistfully, and she’ll always have the memory of. Cake.

Cake (a.k.a. giant cupcake) time! #babyjuliza #firstbirthday

A photo posted by Jennae (@jennaepetersen) on

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If there’s one thing I wish I had done, it’s stock up on diapers before we brought baby Juliza home from the hospital. Of course, she was born unexpectedly three weeks early, and we initially planned to do cloth diapering (let’s just say that didn’t work out), but still. I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress by having diapers in a variety of sizes on hand instead of buying them one or two packs at a time.

If you have a baby, or one on the way, now is a great time to do just that during Walmart‘s Stock up and Save event featuring brands like Huggies, Pull-ups and Goodnites. During this promotion, diaper packs will include free FROZEN wipes, and you can print digital coupons from Walmart.com for all the products.

You can get:

  • HUGGIES Diapers for $34.47
  • Pull-Ups for $24.94
  • HUGGIES wipes for $11.97
  • Goodnites Youth Pants for $24.94

The available coupons are pretty nice too:

  • $2 off any 1 pack of Huggies Diapers
  • $2 off any 1 pack of Huggies Wipes
  • $2 off any 1 pack of Pull-Ups training pants
  • $3.50 off any 2 packs of Pull-Ups training pants
  • $2 off any GoodNites product, including bedmats, underwear and Tru-Fit

Juliza has been wearing the same diaper size for a while, so we’re going to stock up on her current size as well as the next size up.

What about you? Do you stock up on diapers? Would you take advantage of these deals?

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.

Maybe I really have aged since Ja’Naya was a baby, but baby Juliza exhausts me daily. She started walking at just 10 months old, and I fully admit that keeping up with her is an ongoing challenge. It’s not just the fact that her sleep habits are still a bit irregular. She’s 10 months old and already walking, and therefore, getting into everything. Also, she’s not terribly interested in toys. She just wants to move, move, move! So when Walmart challenged me to share gift ideas for babies, I knew I wanted to present some ideas to help parents channel the energy of their active toddlers. Because whew!

My strategy this year has been to give her gifts that let her walk, climb and generally be active, in hopes that they’ll keep her attention and wear her out a bit:

1. Little Tikes First Slide

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This is reccomeded for kids from 18 months to 3 years old, but trust me when I say Juliza is ready. She can already climb to the second floor of our home, and she’s been doing it since she was 9 months old. The Little Tikes First Slide ($34.97) can be used outdoors or in. For now, it will take its place in our living room, much of which has already been cleared for Juliza’s benefit. She’ll be able to climb and slide to her heart’s content, and we’re hoping it will help with her balance and coordination. When warmer weather comes, we’ll likely use it in the kiddie pool we got this past summer. And hope that we don’t have a mishaps that lands us on America’s Funniest Videos.

There are a lot of other options for toddler-sized playground equipment as well.

2. Little Tikes Lil’ Shopper

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Juliza is already an excellent walker, especially given her age, but she still has her moments of being off balance and hitting the floor butt (or hands or occasionally, face) first. When Ja’Naya was a baby, she actually learned to walk in part due to a doll-sized stroller that she loved pushing around. We thought JuJu could use some similar support in her quest to stay upright, so we invested in The Little Tikes Lil’ Shopper cart ($14). She can wheel it around as she walks circles through the first floor, and hopefully, she’ll learn to pick up everything she’s left in the trail of destruction fun behind her.

3. Learning Toys

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Now that Juliza is pretty fully mobile, we’ve begun teaching her words and gestures. We’d like for any other toys we add to stimulate her mind, since her body is working overtime these days. When my mom and sister asked if we had specific gifts we wanted them to get for the baby, I pointed her to the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy ($12) and the VTech Touch and Learn Musical Bee ($15), but there are a variety of other baby learning toys they could choose from. These two particular choices offer baby an opportunity to learn, from numbers to shapes, colors and body parts, and they’re cuddly and cute. Here’s hoping that they’ll eventually be made of organic cotton and fill.

What about you? What gifts are on your list for your active toddler?

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 am one of those people who goes crazy for Christmas. I know, I know. I really shouldn’t buy into the rampant consumerism that comes with the holidays. Still, I love finding the perfect gifts for my family and friends, and I truly enjoy seeing the looks on their faces when they open them on Christmas morning. Still, one of my favorite traditions is less about that consumerism, and more about enjoying time with the people I love: Christmas pajamas.

So when Walmart asked me to share the PJs I could find for the whole family, it was easy to oblige.

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Each year, I shop for cute new Christmas sleepwear for my husband and kids. Our tradition is to open our stockings and one gift on Christmas Eve. Because I’m usually the one to wrap the gifts, I always make sure that gift is our pajamas. We open, hop in the the shower, dress in our new PJs and and stay up watching Christmas movies until we can’t keep our eyes open (or the kids are getting on our nerves with the begging to open more presents).

This year, I scored on affordable PJs for the girls and my hubby.

Ja’Naya has been begging for a pair of all-in-one pajamas. They weren’t nearly as hard to find as I would’ve expected. There were choices in both the girls section and the women’s department. So, in spite of my skepticism, I found her this cute fleece pink pair for — wait for it — just $10!

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There were character PJs and thick fleece options with hoods and fur. I thought this simple version with a nice snowflake motif would be the best bet.

For baby Juliza, I knew I absolutely wanted fleece, footed PJs. She’s still too young to sleep with a blanket, and she hates being cold at night. I’ve found that when she wears two-piece pajamas, the top always ends up bunching around her chest, leaving her stomach and back exposed. All that to say warm footies were non-negotiable.

I was able to get her two pairs of Christmas-themed pajamas from Child of Mine by Carter’s for just $4.50 apiece! Cute, cozy and really, really affordable. The Frozen footed pajamas were cute, but not quite as thick as I would’ve liked for keeping her warm enough.

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Now, for the hubby. There were a few sets to choose from, but I know the way he sleeps. He rarely takes the time to make sure his pajama top and bottom match. So instead of giving him a set he’ll never wear together, instead I just got him some comfy Hanes pajama pants.

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At just $9.96, I actually want to go back and get him another pair, but I’m thinking this Fruit of the Loom matching robe and pants would be an even better deal.

Now, I just have to go find a pair for myself. There are ton of women’s PJs for less than $10, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a pair that works for me. Or maybe I’ll let someone else do the pajama shopping for a change…

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.