Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Step2 Play and Shade Pool: Review!

A couple weeks ago the boys received the Step2 Play and Shade Pool to review. Monkey is 2.5 and Chunky just turned 13 months and adore playing outside. Because of our regular 95+ degree temperatures, it is really hard to keep them cool and protected from the sun. Not anymore...

The pool comes with a collapsible, removable umbrella, 3 pouring cups with attachments to the umbrella pole and an attachable water wheel. When we first pulled the plastic pool out of the box, I was concerned about the size. The pool measures 40in by 40in and 50in tall when the umbrella is in place. It holds 12 gallons of water or if you aren't up to measuring water, it took under 5 minutes for my 2 year old to fill up the pool with the water hose. It seemed fairly small for my two toddlers, and I was concerned the boys would fight over space. That hasn't materialized at all. 
Although Chunky is pretty tiny he is able to climb in and out of the pool with ease. The bottom of the main part of the pool is covered with raised little pictures of sea life that act as grippers do the kiddos do not fall. Chunky loves being able to climb in and out of the pool to play by himself.

There are two small raised seats on each side of the umbrella stand/ toy bar perfect for my older toddler to sit on and play. The baby loves standing or sitting in the main area of the pool and splashing away.  From the very first instant we set up the pool, Monkey was intrigued by the water cups and water wheel. He would line them up all different ways and pour water in the different cups to see which one would cause the water wheel to move the fastest (or not at all.) The cups can spin around the pole and fit interchangeably in the pole attachments. This activity has seriously kept him busy every single time we've played in the pool. When the weather cools off this Fall, I think the pool will make an amazing sandbox.

 At 13 months Chunky doesn't quite have the patience or motor skills to sit and pour the water into the cups, but he loves playing in the pool. He is intrigued by watching older brother pour the water and has been known to interrupt the flow of water a few times. His favorite aspect of the pool is definitely splashing and the freedom to get in and out of the pool by himself. There is enough room for Chunky to play away without bothering or messing up big brother's waterfall creations. 

 Monkey has been having so much fun in the pool that he has been begging us to let him play in it while little brother naps. He has become an expert at filling up the pool by himself. He thinks its hilarious that he can jump and splash in the pool. We've even had a few appearances from the "big, bad octopus" (aka Monkey's kicking feet) that have caused water to splash all over Mommy who is trying to take pictures. There is ample room in the pool for an average 2.5yr old to sit on a molded seat and kick, kick, kick! 

The pool isn't just about playing - it is perfect for a quick cool off and relaxing under the ample shade of the umbrella! The umbrella provides the perfect amount of shade to cover about 75% of the pool and the ground next to the toy bar. The umbrella is quite sturdy and can hold it's own with our strong Gulf winds. To prevent any damage we do lift out the umbrella and store it inside when the boys are not playing in the pool. 

Although the age range of the pool is considered 2 and up, I think the pool is perfect for my 1-year-old and probably won't be used much past next Summer when Monkey is 3.5. He is around 37 inches tall and close to hitting the umbrella edges when standing in the center of the pool. I think he'll outgrow it after next Summer, but we'll still have a couple good years left with Chunky playing in the pool. 

And if Daddy gets super hot while watching the little boys play, the pool is capable of holding a 200lb, almost 6 foot tall Daddy... (probably not recommended)

Want an awesome Step2 Play and Shade Pool for your little splashers? Check them out at
or you can grab one at your local Wal-mart or Target stores. 

Connect with Step2


Disclaimer: I was sent a Step2 Play and Shade Pool for review purposes. No other compensation was given. These are my honest opinions and may differ from yours.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunshine Boy: Sunscreen Safety Tips + Reviews

A couple months ago I wrote about sun safety tips and how to utilize sunscreen as a key weapon in preventing skim damage and skin cancer. Since that time we have tried out quite a few sunscreens on the boys (and myself) to see what really works.

Here is the gist of my previous post:

Sun Safety Tips:

1.) Apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside on all children over 6 months of age.  If your child is under 6 months keep them in the shade and away from damaging sun rays. A newborn's skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. If your tiny little one has to be out in the sun, apply baby sunscreen only to areas directly exposed to the sun. Cover baby in loose, cotton clothing as much as possible.

2.)  Look for products containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Avoid products containing Vitamin A or oxybenzone. If you have questions regarding the safety of your sunscreen or would like to see how yours compares, check out: Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens from for a comprehensive list of the safest sunscreens on the market and product comparison ratings. Lotions and creams are better than sprays - but anything is better than nothing!

3.) Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Sweat and water decreases it's efficacy. Remember to cover the often forgotten areas - ears, neck, feet, and cowlicks!

4.) Wear UVA/UVB protective clothing like the long-sleeved rash guard Monkey has on in his flying sun pictures. Look for swim garments and rash guards that have UPF 30+ on their tags for extra protection.

5.) Head for the shade during the peak hours of 10am and 4pm. If that isn't possible invest in a tent or canopy for the backyard/beach/park to provide a cool, shady place to play while you are outside.

Sunscreen Reviews:
We have tried out a few of the higher rated sun protection products on the Environmental Working Groups list, and some not so highly rated. Here is what we've used:

- Neutrogena Baby Pure & Free Sunblock Stick (SPF 60+, $8.99 at Target) = EWG rating of 3
     Likes: very easy to apply with the stick and a running toddler
     Dislikes: clumpy application

- Neutrogena Baby  Pure & Free Sunblock Lotion (SPF 60+, $9.99 at Target) = EWG rating of 7
      Likes: normal sunscreen lotion application, high SPF
      Dislikes: contains alumina and Vitamin A

- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids (SPF 70, $10.99 at Target) = EWG rating of 7
     Likes: extremely easy spray application that can be done without drying off
     Dislikes: sprays are more hazardous than lotions, contains oxybenzone and Vitamin A

- Eco Skin Care Baby Sunscreen (SPF 30, $16.16 at = EWG rating of 1
     Likes: somewhat oily application which made it very easy to spread out
     Dislikes: lower SPF, Monkey got burned in under 2 hours where I applied this

- Coppertone Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen (SPF 30 & 50, $7.44 at Target) = EWG rating of 7
     Likes: easy to spray on Treybo and myself (not used on Chunky & Monkey)
     Dislikes: sprays are more hazardous than lotions, takes a lot of spray to cover an adult, leaves a white residue if you spray when wet/sweating

- Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Lotion (SPF 30, $10.99 at Target) = not rated by EWG
     Likes: creamy, easy application
     Dislikes: low SPF

Overall I think all of them were "ok" but definitely had some advantages and disadvantages. My favorite is the Neutrogena stick that I use on the boys' faces because of the super easy application that does not involve lotion getting in eyes, mouths, etc. It does clump, but I can easily rub off the clumps without making much of a mess. I really liked the Eco baby lotion because of the almost oily feel to it, but it didn't hold up like the other lotions. I think it would be fine for backyard use but will opt for a higher SPF when we head to the beach. The Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids spray is perfect for reapplication in the pool or sprinklers. I think from now on I will do an Aveeno Baby lotion rub before sending them outside and the Wet Skin Kids spray as the reapplication if they are swimming longer than an hour or two.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I was not given products to review nor do I have any affiliation with any company mentioned in this post. These are my own personal opinions and may differ from yours.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Seven: June 5 - 11, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Monkey & the Birds

The beach was a little bit hectic with a huge wave of seaweed coming our way and a few hundred seagulls waiting on it. Monkey didn't seem to mind one bit...

Doctor Momma

I'm a little late in announcing this... but I'm DONE with medical school! Graduation ceremonies were held last Saturday, June 4th for me and the most amazing 200+ classmates/friends/colleagues! The entire family was there to support me, and I couldn't have survived the past 4 years without them. Thank you!

It has been an amazing ride the past four years. Treybo and I got married a month before school started, but I lived in apartment by myself for most of that first year. I found out I was pregnant with Monkey in February of my first year, we bought our first home in May and then a giant hurricane came and destroyed our lovely island and hospital that September. Monkey was born at the end of October, and I was back at school days later. I passed the first step of my medical boards in June, found out I was pregnant with Chunky in September and somehow managed to make it through my 3rd year of medical school while pregnant! Chunky was born in May, and I've had the majority of this last year to spend time with my boys (with a few wild and crazy hospital rotations thrown in the mix to make things exciting)! What a fun, exhausting ride! I wouldn't have had it any other way!

Happy Graduation day! My boys and I getting ready for the big moment - Chunky and Monkey, MD is a real M.D. now!
My sister, me and my mom celebrating graduation day!
My boys were full of silly faces for graduation! They were absolutely amazing throughout the very long ceremony. Whenever Monkey needs help with something, he now calls me "Doctor Momma." It's pretty cute, but I doubt it'll last very long.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


 We've been going through quite a few changes around here. I graduated from medical school last weekend and am now "doctah momma" according to Monkey. We've been cleaning and organizing to get things ready for when I start my residency next week (yikes!). And.... we may or may not have chopped 6 inches of hair off of Monkey's sweet little head.
What a difference a week makes...

Monkey's beautiful, long blonde hair last week...

and Monkey's beautiful blonde hair this week.

I think he looks like a totally different little boy - a little bit older, a little bit more masculine, a little bit mischievious and a little bit cooler. I don't even recognize him. It is cute on him, and it'll help cut back on all the tangles. But...  I don't think the short hair quite fits him. It will be great for the heat this summer, but we'll be growing it back out to his signature long style. Something about the long hair just fits him and his personality.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Things We Cannot Live Without - Summer Edition

1.) Bathing suits  (and lots of them)- We have a lot of bathing suits this year, and we wear all of them. The boys are in their swim suits more than they are in regular clothes on most days. My favorite suits right now are from Gymboree and crazy8, but we also love our suits from Old Navy and other places. I always buy Monkey a rash guard to go with his trunks to help prevent sunburn/sun damage.
Swim rash guard and trunks from Gymboree. The rash guards are UPF 50, and the trunks have built-in swim diapers.

2.) Sunscreen - Our current favorite is the Neutrogena Baby Pure and Free sunblock stick (EWG score of 3). It works really well and is very easy to apply on fast-moving toddlers. It hasn't caused any rashes and has prevented Monkey's face from roasting. The stick is the perfect size to swipe across the forehead, nose and cheeks. We are in the process of trying out new lotions. Our previous sunblock lotion caused a pretty bad skin eruption/reaction on Chunky's face. We have a few new ones coming in the mail shortly that will hopefully not cause any reactions.

3.) Step 2 products - We love our Step 2 outdoor (and indoor, too!) stuff! Chunky received a Step 2 kitchen for his birthday and Monkey received one of their giant climbers 18 months ago.  We currently have the climber inside so that the boys can play on it in the evenings after bathtime. Outside we have a super cute, shady picnic table and a brand new product I can't wait to review for you guys in the coming weeks! I love being able to change up activities, and the boys love switching things up between the great Step 2 product line-up.

4.) Fruit pouches - We've been going through our Plum, Happybaby, Revolution foods and Buddy Fruits fruit pouches like crazy! They are perfect for beach snacking, car trips and backyard fun in the pool. Both of the boys love fruit, but it's not as tasty covered in sand. The fruit pouches have been a total lifesaver for cranky, hungry kids (or mom)!

5.) Water - Whether it is the pool or the ocean or a 5 gallon bucket, water totally saves the day and keeps us from being stuck inside all the time. It sounds silly, but a bucket of water can totally be tons of fun when it is 100 degrees outside! My boys love splashing around, pouring and dumping. Monkey is becoming quite the swimmer, and Chunky is totally fearless in the pool. Water helps us keep our cool.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday Seven: May 29- June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Backyard Escape

What do you dream about for your backyard? I dream BIG! Hayneedle is having a really cool contest over on facebook where you can design the backyard escape of your dreams. 
One of these days I want/need a bigger backyard. With 2 boys (and a husband) it is amazing the amount of stuff we can accumulate in one itty, bitty backyard. We have inflatable pools, splash pads, splash tables, sand boxes, pirate sandboats, tables, chairs and a grill all in a cramped 25x60 foot space. In my dreams I would have a giant backyard with a pool and all of the stuff you see below - a American Outdoor 36" gas grill, a trampolines, swing sets, climbers, a Daniels Wood Land Scallywag Sloop Outdoor Wood Treehouse (the awesome pirate boat in the bottom left corner), Pugg soccer goals and all kinds of fun stuff for the boys in my life. You can dream big with Hayneedle's Create and Share Your Backyard Escape Contest on facebook right now, too!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post. I am entering the facebook giveaway and will be entered to win giftcards for sharing my backyard escape! Its just nice to dream about a big backyard full of fun stuff for the kids!