Family

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.

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I admit that I’m not up to date on the latest characters that kids are into these days. We don’t have cable any more, and my oldest daughter is more into crafting and gymnastics than TV. And the baby? Well. She’s still a baby. But if there’s one character I have loved ever since Ja’Naya was a toddler, it’s Dora the Explorer. First, there’s the obvious: I love multicultural characters on kids TV because it’s a great example of the diversity of real life. But also, I’ve always loved the idea that my kids could learn even a little Spanish from watching Dora.

In spite of the fact that my mother is Puerto Rican, I do not speak Spanish. Sad, but true. I speak a little and understand a little more, but I am far from bilingual. The bilingual nature of Dora and her friends and family means that kids will start to learn another language in their play, and that makes me happy.

So when I was asked to try the new Dora and Friends toy line, available at Walmart and Walmart.com, I couldn’t wait to let my girls dig in. Want to see it for yourself? Check out this video review of the toys.

Talking Dora & Smartphone

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Realistically, it’s really difficult to keep electronics out of kids’ hands these days. Even baby Juliza tries to snatch our phones whenever she spots an opportunity, and Ja’Naya even takes her phone to school to use with the “Bring Your Own Device” program. So I think it’s really cool that Dora has made some modern upgrades — and her infamous Map is now “Map App.”

The Talking Dora doll, priced at $29, talks when you push the buttons on her dress, and she actually has conversations with her friends via the phone. Dora can ask a question and the phone responds, or vice versa.

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Even Ja’Naya, who is sort of past the age for whom this toy is intended, couldn’t help playing with the phone all day. It was cool so listen to the conversations back and forth, and realistically, it’s easy to imagine playing with doll and phone separately. Because the baby loved the phone, but the doll didn’t seem quite as interesting to her.

Still, this is a great option for a kid who loves Dora, or who loves interactive toys.

Arco Iris Cafe and Playa Verde Cabana

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I’ve always been a fan of imaginative play sets that don’t necessarily DO anything, but challenge kids to play creatively. The Arco Iris Cafe, $15, and Playa Verde Cabana, $12.50, are great examples. They’re simply locations where the tiny Dora & Friends dolls can have adventures.

The two-story cafe does light up with a little music, and it comes with two chairs and a table for the dolls to use. The Playa Verde Cabana features a cute little beach shop, a lifeguard tower, beach chair and hammock. Both sets come with a tiny Dora doll, but you can purchase Dora’s friends separately. Which leads me to another cool feature of these toys.

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Each Dora doll comes with a charm bracelet and interchangeable charms based on each character’s interests. Kids can exchange the charms or switch them out, and the charms also interact with the smartphone. This is the part that will keep kids coming back for more, I think.

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While we’ll definitely have to keep the tiny charms out of baby Juliza’s reach because they’re small enough to swallow and therefore not recommended for kids under the age of 3, she’ll have a great time with Dora and her special phone, and Ja’Naya will get endless hours of play out of the smaller play sets. Plus I know she’s eager to find out which of her friends has charms so she can trade.

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 11

I can’t believe that in one short month, my stoonkie (one of her many nicknames) will be celebrating her first birthday. No really. I can’t believe it. It seems like we just announced the pregnancy and brought her home from the hospital, and already she’s moved into toddlerhood. It’s exciting and frightening and awesome and bittersweet.

She has already changed so very much since the day we brought her home from the hospital. Just look at my almost-one year old ball of sunshine:

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Of all the photos I shot, I had to choose this one. You may have noticed that she is pointing at (OK…near) her eye. That’s not by accident. “Eyes” is one of the words that Juliza can now repeat on command, and she tries to point to her eye when she says it. She often points at her cheek instead, but she’s getting closer every day. She understands the association between the word and her eyes, and she’s starting to point at other people’s eyes too. In other words, she can say the word, but she also knows what it means, and that, my friends, feels like a huge leap forward.

Other words she knows:

  • Bye bye
  • Socks
  • Daddy
  • Hey

She’s also learned to associate words with actions, so she’ll wave when she says bye, slap hands when we say “high five” and clap when we say “yaaaay!” Also, she’s decided she wants to learn how to snap:

Every time she does or says one of these things, I can’t help thinking how the heck she grew up so much, so fast. This little one is smart. So smart.

She’s also walking these days much more often than she crawls. Really, she only crawls if she stumbles while walking. Other than that, she’s off to the races on her own two feet.

A video posted by Jennae (@jennaepetersen) on

I really thought I’d have another few months before she started walking so frequently, but alas, Juliza had other plans. The scariest part of this newly mastered skill is the fact that is so fast. Seriously. She’s going to be a track star. She can make it across a room before I even realize what’s happening. Plus, she’s coordinated enough to walk while carrying something in her hands. Like a box. Or my purse. Or cell phone. Or a pillow.

And all this independence means she’s none too happy when one of us tries to rein her in a bit. She’s already started throwing tantrums, arching her back and throwing herself on the floor when she doesn’t get her way. In time, though, she’ll figure out that her mama does do tantrums, and they don’t phase me one bit. She’ll learn. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

For now, thankfully, those moments are still few and far between. Usually, she’s just content to explore and see the world from a new perspective. Like the time she realized that those paper pom poms above her bed can actually move and make crinkly sounds when touched.

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And the other time she realized she’s tall enough to reach the books on the shelf in her bedroom. Which means it’s time to move the shelf or risk a bunch of torn books.

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I’m just so thankful that she is thriving. And sleeping better. In her own bed. We’re still breastfeeding, and that’s still her favorite way to fall asleep, but that’s cool with me. When she sleeps well, it means I can sleep well. And that is completely worth it.

Now, I have a month to brace myself for the gut punch to come when she turns one. I need to stock up on tissues…

Tips to Help Baby Sleep Better

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Baby Juliza is good at a great many things already. She’s a champion breastfeeder (10 months and still going strong), she’s already walking, she will repeat word sounds when told, and she is very good and snuggling and giving kisses. But if there’s one thing she’s struggled with, it’s sleep. Since day one, she just has not been a very good sleeper. Of late, however, things have been improving.

When Walmart challenged me to share a baby story of my choice this month, I decided to share the things we’ve done to help baby Juliza get a better night’s sleep.

1. Keep baby warm

As much as we parents can be tempted to put our tiny babies to sleep covered with a soft, warm blankie, it just wouldn’t be safe to do so. An infant could become entangled in a blanket and suffocate. So what’s a parent to do? This was a bit of a challenge for us, because baby Juliza does not like a cold room or cold sheets.

The first step was to make sure the thermostat is set at a nighttime temperature that will keep her room warm. In the summertime, it meant closing the air conditioning vent in her room so that she wouldn’t get cold.

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The next step is warm pajamas. We have a nice stash of fleece pajamas that we got secondhand, but Walmart has a great selection of fleece all-in-one jammies with feet attached that will keep baby nice and cozy.

The last step required some improvisation. Baby Juliza tends to fall asleep during her last nursing session of the night. And putting her down on a cold crib sheet would always wake her up. If you recall, last year, I made a large, warm baby blanket with supplies from Walmart. Well, the blanket is a lot larger than the crib.

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So I put it on top of the crib sheet, fuzzy side up, and tucked it completed around the already very snug-fitting crib mattress all the way around so that there’s no way Juliza could move it, much less pull it off. Now, the surface of her crib mattress stays warm, no matter the temperature in the room. Makes me wish that someone would make crib sheets from minky fabric.

2. Use technology to your advantage

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A recent trip to Walmart uncovered a product that I hoped could change Juliza’s sleep habits for the better: the Munchkin Lulla-Vibe vibrating mattress pad. The Lulla-Vibe is a pouch that is installed under the crib mattress, with a small tab sticking through the slats so mom and dad can control it from outside. It creates vibration, as well as white noise, designed to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep.

There are two settings, low and high, and it shuts off automatically after 30 minutes. And let me tell you, even the “low” setting is powerful. It makes sense, as the vibration has to be felt through the mattress.

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The challenge is that it also vibrates the crib itself, and that takes a little getting used to. Thankfully her crib doesn’t touch the wall, but if it had been, we would’ve had to move it. And we noticed a few nights in that we can actually hear the vibration pretty loudly downstairs. Her room is right above the kitchen, and the sound is pretty intense. Actually more intense that it is when in her room.

Still, the vibration seems to be helping. Her daytime naps typically last 15-20 minutes. Since we started using the Lulla-Vibe, she’s been averaging 30-45 minute naps. I’m crossing my fingers that they eventually stretch to an hour. And at night, it’s helped her fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep when she’d normally wake up within an hour of bedtime.

The second technological advantage we use is our iPhones + Pandora. We tune the phone to a classical station, turn it down low, and let the music help send her into dreamland. This also works in the daytime, and the music is a bit of a signal that it’s sleepy time.

3. Consistency is key

Co-sleeping worked for us for the first few months of Juliza’s life, because she was waking several times a night to feed. However, now that she usually doesn’t eat overnight, we really wanted to reclaim our bed. Because honestly, sleeping with JuJu in our Queen sized bed usually meant one or both us of slept in a stiff, uncomfortable postion for the whole night. For me, it meant not sleeping much, as I’d wake up to check on her regularly.

It took literally months of doing the same bedtime routine every night, but we’ve finally got her to the point where she sleeps in her own bed every night. There are a few nights here and there when she’ll wake up 3-4 times, but for the most part, she sleeps in her crib all night.

Out bedtime routine consists of a bath every other night (I don’t give her a bath every night so as not to dry out her already dry skin), a quick moisturizing and massage session with lotion and oil, pajamas, snuggles, say good night to daddy and big sis, lights out and mommy’s milk on a chair in her room in the dark. This usually knocks her out pretty well, and I’ve perfected the art of putting her down without waking her. We’re now at the point where she knows what is coming when we start saying “night night” and I turn off the light.

And I couldn’t be more grateful that, at long last, the routine is working.

What about you? What tips do you have for getting baby to sleep well? Feel free to share, in case our routine hits any new bumps!

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.