Monster Jam is Coming to Camping World Stadium

It still blows my mind that I am over-the-moon excited about Feld Entertainment‘s announcement that Monster Jam® is coming to town! Me. Girly girl. Vintage clothes-wearing, theater-going, high-tea-loving me… loves to sit in the stands and whelp it up when those monster trucks roll in. But whelp it up, I

Monster Jam®, the most adrenaline-charged motorsports experience for families on the planet, will be performing at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, January 21, 2017 and tickets are now on sale. Monster Jam events are affordably priced for the whole family with seats starting at $15.

The event will feature more than 12 trucks and drivers vying to be the Orlando champion, including: Grave Digger driven by Dennis Anderson; Son-uva Digger driven by Ryan Anderson; Team Hot Wheels driven by Scott Buetow; Monster Energy driven by Coty Saucier; Jester driven by Matt Pagliarulo; Xtermigator driven by JR McNeal; Rage driven by Cory Rummel; Barbarian driven by Devin Jones; plus OVER Bored, Bounty Hunter, Knucklehead, Madusa and Wrecking Crew. (Trucks/drivers subject to change without notice.)

Approximately 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Monster Jam trucks can fly up to125 to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 35 feet in the air.

The Party in the Pits on Saturday, January 21, from 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM gives fans the opportunity to get up close and personal to the Monster Jam trucks and drivers. It’s one of our family’s favorite parts, as guests can get up close and personal with their favorite drivers and see just HOW huge these things are!

Pit Passes are available for $10.00 at the Amway Center Box office in advance, online at, or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Same day event ticket and pit pass required for entry to pit party.

Tickets to Monster Jam are now on sale at All seats reserved. Subject to facility fee, plus convenience and handling charges. Camping World Stadium is located at 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805.

For more information on a Monster Jam, please log onto (click on “Tickets” and search for Orlando) or follow us via our social channels below:

In case you’re wondering who we’re rooting for this season, we’re especially hoping Chad soldier-fortune-with-danielFortune of Soldier Fortune and Soldier Fortune Black Ops do well.  We appreciate how their trucks pay tribute to the men and women who serve in our armed forces (though neither will be in Orlando). Two of our favorites that will be at the Camping World Stadium: Team Hot Wheels driven by Scott Bueto (What 9-year-old doesn’t cheer for Hot Wheels?!) and Madusa!

If you’ve never given this giant-tired, loud-noise-generating, cheer-inducing event a try, make this the year you buy tickets. It’s tons (and I mean that literally) of family fun!


Marvel Universe LIVE! Review

“Since the dawn of all time there have been those who are extraordinary. Some are called heroes, motivated by the desire to help the weak and so-called innocent…”


“Is there a place more loathsome than this?” spats Loki, who despises his brother Thor’s affinity for planet Earth.

In the world of comic books you suspend disbelief, by the very nature of the stories they tell. Good versus evil is magnified and morphed, and characters have exaggerated features, and enhanced worlds. Marvel Universe Live! is an arena spectacle that takes those tenants of good comic book reading into LIVE audience viewing, where suspended, and otherwise empowered, superheroes will amaze.

With Feld Entertainment (of world-renowned Ringling fame) behind the production, it’s no wonder there is so much spectacle and showmanship from motorsports and pyrotechnics, to high-flying circus-worthy aerial stunts in the show. Skateboards, martial arts, even a character engulfed in fire, are part of this Universe.

“It’s the first time that any production has so seamlessly integrated story with live action movie-style stunts,” says Juliette Feld, Executive vice president, Feld Entertainment.

J. Vaught, vice president of Feld’s ice and stage productions, created the gigantic movie backdrop screen that digitally transforms the scene from Tony Stark’s laboratory, to Loki’s base in the Himalayas, to the top of the Statue of Liberty using projection-mapping technology. This movie magic makes Iron Man’s suit “fly” onto his body and comic book pages jump to life (among other things!).

The story begins with the Cosmic Cube being destroyed by Thor’s hammer. The thought is that since it’s the deadliest weapon known, it should be kept out of the wrong hands, namely Thor’s evil brother Loki. Bad news, though, Loki figures out a way to harness the Cube’s energy by siphoning mutant energy, even if he doesn’t possess all the pieces. More bad news: Other bad guys also have fragments of the Cosmic Cube, and aren’t afraid to use them. In true comic book fashion, though, the superheroes must band together to foil their foes, strengthen their power, and save their comrades, and (spoiler alert) save the world.

Capt AmericaAudience members will (forgive the pun) marvel at their favorite superheroes come to life, including Iron Man, Spider-Man and The Hulk, as well as those pesky villains Loki, Red Skull, Aldrich Killian and Green Goblin to name but a few. They’ll likewise be amazed to see Captain America and Black Widow duke it out motorcycle stunt-style with Red Skull, through ramps, flaming barrels, and at one point driving almost straight up a wall. (Remember Feld Entertainment also created the motorcycle stunt spectacular, Nuclear Cowboyz!) Hooray, in my humble opinion, that Avenger Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel is part of this universe, since it’s agreed that super heroines should get more top billing!

Purists may balk at the cross-franchise, hypothetical mixing of characters that cross the gamut of storylines and comic book pages, but Marvel Universe Live! doesn’t try to be a copy of what’s been done. The goal is to break the mold, and put aside preconceived notions for an arena-based show. Their talented stunt men and women, over-the-top production value, larger-than-life costuming, and just plain ol’ fun, deliver almost two hours of feasting for all the senses. Though the show is geared for the elementary to teen demographic, there’s enough humor, excitement, and wow to be had for all members of the family who come to witness Marvel Universe Live!

Note: Bring your purse (or your child’s piggy bank contents!) for the obligatory souvenir. Merchandise abounds, including Lectro Links wristbands that “help” Iron Man power his suit. (They can be purchased when buying tickets, or on site.) T-shirts, stuffed superheroes, die cast models, and more are available for purchase.

The tour will visit Nashville, TN, Atlanta, GA, Duluth, GA to round out 2014. To discover more about Marvel Universe LIVE! and to buy tickets, go to, or visit them on Facebook, Twitter @MarvelOnTour or @JulietteFeld , YouTube, Instagram, and Google+.

Disclosure: was provided 4 tickets to Marvel Universe LIVE! in exchange for this honest review.


Real Kids Shades are Necessary Gear for Kids

140526_Pentax (33small)I’m a huge supporter of eye protection for kids. That’s why I teamed up with Real Kids Shades again this summer to get the word out that sunglasses for kids are not just cool accessories, but necessary GEAR.

Since my son was very little I’ve kept him in sunglasses. We live in Florida and are out in the sun a ton, going on homeschool adventures, visiting the theme parks, gardening, orienteering, riding bikes, hiking, doing volunteer projects… you name it. You’ll find him doing these things with us… wearing sunglasses. I’m kind of a freak about it, actually!RKG pool shot Daniel Bolt

When I was a kid I rarely wore shades. It was such a problem for me that the whites of my eyes actually got sun burned. If I opened my eyes real wide, you could see the horizontal red streak. It’s called photokeratitis, or radiation keratitis and happens when the cornea is scorched by ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. People who live/work/play in sunny climes or winter wonderlands are also susceptible (they can become “snow-blind”).

Because of my personal experience with what may end up being an issue for my now-adult eyes, I vowed to ensure my son had the healthiest eyes possible. I sought out Real Kids Shades and asked them if I could review their product (see post here). Since then I’ve not only been an avid supporter, but have been a customer regardless of whether or not I was doing a giveaway or receiving samples.

Real Kids Shades has been so kind as to provide me with three of their newest designs to review for this post AND (drum roll please) every weekend in June are giving away one pair every weekend to my readers!

Rafflecopter logo linkHere’s how you enter:
Click on the RaffleCopter image. You’ll need to leave a comment below with your best tips for summer safety (manditory) AND you need to verify you’ve done that at the RaffleCopter link. For extra entries, Tweet as indicated and/or follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter….

So which pair should you choose should you win? Here’s the rundown of the styles we tried out:

Bolt in Black/Lime for kids 7+
(Pictured above on the right) These two-toned glasses have super flexible frames! My son them to be “very comfortable” and said he “liked that they have rubber on them” (meaning the green soft Flex-FitTM part of the wrap-around frames). He loves how they look, too. (But comfort comes first he’ll tell you!)

RKS swag black limeSwag Black/Green for kids 10+
These Wayfarer-style glasses have BRIGHTLY colored soft, impact-resistant polycarbonate frames (there are other kid-approved color combinations, but we’re partial to green in our house!). They’re perfect for chilling in the sun and getting noticed!

 Blade Black/Lime for kids 10+

The wrap-around frame maximizes protection from peripheral light and looks super cool in the process. My young reviewer thought they were fun to wear. (Let’s face it: If they LIKE the glasses, they’re more likely to wear them!)

140526_Pentax (17c)All Real Kids Shades are third-party verified for 100% UV-A/UV-B protection and have shatterproof/impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses. With a wide variety of styles and sizes, Real Kids Shades will have a pair that’s just right for any and all of your little ones.

And, budget-friendly moms: orders over $25 are shipped free (US). I’ve priced “play glasses” and they’re comparable in price. And. No. Protection.

Even if you don’t buy Real Kids Shades, please purchase ones that block 100% of both types of ultraviolet sun rays: UV-A and UV-B. a UV 400 rating is ideal. Ensure they’ve been third-party tested, too and contain no phthalates, lead or bisphenol A.

You wouldn’t let your kids go out without a bike helmet. This is important, too. Protective eyewear is not just a fashion accessory. It’s Necessary Gear. Let’s get ’em geared up!

Disclosure: I received three pair of Real Kids Shades to try out, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.




Nuclear Cowboyz — Freestyle Motocross Show Heads for Amway

Nuclear Cowboyz LogoThe Nuclear Cowboyz freestyle motocross show will hit the Amway Center for the first time ever March 8-9, 2014.

My first introduction to the show was at the Monster Jams show last month. I spent most of the brief preview covering my eyes, wondering if their moms knew how dangerous the tricks are that their sons are performing! Little did I know that it was going to be more than exhibition jumping… WAY more. (Thanks Feld Entertainment, by the way, for inviting us to attend so we could review this explosive event!)

Shaolin WarriorsNuclear Cowboyz is a motocross stunt show infused with pyrotechnics, heart-pounding music, laser lights and more. There are martial artists, dancers, heart-pounding music and a good-v-evil plot-line woven to create a motocross Production featuring the Shaolin Kung Fu Warriors. In its 5th year, is like no other freestyle motocross event you’ve ever seen. Instead of being a “Circus of the Sun,” Nuclear Cowboyz is what I’d like to call a Cirque du Nuit Moto  (Circus of the Night Motorcycle). If you’re expecting to watch “just” a parade of Superman seat grabs and whips (although those are exciting, too!), you’ll have expectations that are way off!

2014-02-23 14.14.27This arena-based show features the world’s top freestyle motocross performers, including multi-time X Games medalists Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, Taka Higashino, Mike Mason, Matt Buyten, Ronnie Faisst and Colten Moore as well as world-class freestylers such as Derek Garland, Jimmy Fitzpatrick, Nick Dunne, Brody Wilson, Marco Picado and more. Stenberg says he is “amped to throw down [his] trick arsenal…”.

Check out Mike Mason’s “No Handed Back Flip,” one of the 1,000 tricks you’ll see at the show:

Showtimes are Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 p.m.
Doors Open Saturday 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:30 p.m.

Ticket Prices
VIP Fallout Zone + Meet & Greet  – $100 All Seats
VIP  Lower Sides – $75 All Seats
Gold Lower, Lodge, Club – $50 All Seats
Lower Ends- $40 Adults / $20 Teens (ages 2 – 15)
200 Level Center- $30 Adults / $15 Teens (ages 2 – 15)
Super Value – $20 Adults / $10 Teens (ages 2 – 15)

All tickets $5 more day of show. A Facility Fee from $0.50 – $2 will be applied to the price of each ticket. Additional fees may apply.

Ticket Information
Tickets are available at the Amway Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, online at, or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000. Use offer code Backflip online at to SAVE up to $10 on Nuclear Cowboyz tickets*!*Fallout Zone Tickets are very limited.*Valid on advance purchases and while supplies last.  Not valid on $100 Fallout Zone VIP Meet & Greet tickets, and not valid on Teen priced tickets.
I think my oldest “kid” (husband!) had the most fun at this event, thanks to beautiful dancers and heavy metal music in addition to skilled martial artists and world-class X Games and Moto X athletes. My little guy was a bit overwhelmed (especially by the pyrotechnics), but every other kid in the place seemed to be having a blast from beginning to end. I would have turned down the soundtrack more so the announcer could be understood clearly, but all-in-all it was an exciting production. I’ve never seen anything like it—can you imagine an ATV doing flips while the driver is on fire?! (And yes, I did uncover my eyes for MOST of the show when I wasn’t imagining my kid up there defying gravity!)Disclosure: Our family received tickets to the event in exchange for this honest review.

Monster Jam Coming to Orlando Next!

This past weekend our family went on an exciting adventure: Our first Monster Jam® event. We received complimentary tickets courtesy of Feld Motor Sports in exchange for an honest review.  It was my husband’s birthday, and both he and my son were “beyond” thrilled that THIS would be how we’d celebrate. Having never even seen even a Monster Jam video prior, I was a little less excited. I should have been!

MonsterJamcollageSWM On left: Two Grave Digger trucks wowed the crowd with a little off-book freestyle-a-deux; In center: Iron Man flies through the air; Iron Man driver Dustin Brown; Captain America mid flip; Far right: Marc McDonald and El Toro Loco doing a “head” stand.
Hooked driver signs shirt at Monster Jam event Hooked driver Bryan Wright signs his autograph on my kiddo’s shirt.

Before the main event, we got to meet and greet lots of drivers and see the trucks up close at the “Party in the Pits” (a separate event with tickets distributed at area sponsors or on race day, if available, for a fee).

I knew the trucks would be huge, but seeing my child (who’s tall for his age) come up “short” next to just the tires was quite amazing. The festival-like atmosphere was great fun and tons of families waited in lines to either get autographs, experience truck rides or bounce in a bounce house (the kids, not the grownups!).

parade of monster trucksWe caught the parade of trucks as they rumbled past us into the stadium. My son grinned from ear to ear as he reported how his chest “felt” them go by.

After the Monster Jam Party in the Pits we went into the stadium. The excitement was palpable, and fans eagerly awaited the racing and freestyle.

The 16 Monster Truck racers paired off two at a time, with the winner going to the next round. Newby here did not quite follow who was doing what, but it was fun to watch and in the end Dennis Anderson drove Grave Digger to win his third straight racing championship on the Road to Monster Jam World Finals XV in Las Vegas, March 20-22, 2014. (Now THAT’s a competition I’d love to see!)

The BEST part was the freestyle. I kid you not, I was holding my hand over my mouth at half the stunts, a worried look in my eyes. (Hey, I put the “mommy” in SeaWorld Mommy and I thought for sure someone was going to get hurt!) Amazingly, though, all drivers triumphantly exited their bashed in, banged up, and crushed down trucks. Can you believe THIS guy driving the Phantom truck remained unscathed.

Phantom-Flip-Monster-Jam-SeaWorld-Mommy The Phantom FLIPS at Monster Jam! Photos courtesy SeaWorld Daddy!

This Saturday, January 25, MONSTER JAM® will be in Orlando at the  Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Advance purchase SuperValue Tickets are $15. $35 VIP / $25 Sideline. Tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Amway Center Box Office, or charge by phone
at 800-745-3000 or Tickets will also be available day of show at the Citrus Bowl. All seats reserved. Subject to facility fee, plus convenience and handling charges. Don’t wait – buy tickets in advance as prices go up $5 more the week of show. Get more show information at (click on “Tickets” and search for Orlando January 25th).

Special Free Events:

Many of the trucks appearing in Monster Jam will be on display around Central Florida on Friday, January 24th, free and open to the public.

Mohawk Warrior will be on display from 10 am to 2 pm at  Universal Technical Institute, 2202 West Taft-Vineland Road, Orlando, 32837.

See War Wizard from 3 pm to 7 pm at Kangaroo Express, 17503 W State Road 50, Oakland, 34787.

Monster Mutt Rottweiler will visit Metro PCS, 1453 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, 32809 from 3 pm to 7 pm.

And Stone Crusher will be at Tropical Ford, 9900 South Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, 32837 from 3 pm -7 pm.

My boys are already talking about making Monster Jam a yearly pilgrimage. Although usually a “girly girl,” I, too, have caught the monster truck bug and can’t wait to see another show. From the Party in the Pits fun and all through to the last crushed vehicle, we had a roaring good time!

Hello Fresh New Meal-Time Options!

I’m a foodie. I love cooking, and love trying new recipes. When I’m at a restaurant, I call it “adventure eating.” And now, I find I can “adventure eat” right at home. Easily!

shrimp chorizoHelloFresh is a subscription-based food delivery service that takes all the guess-work out of whipping up a new and interesting meal. It’s trying something new, without having to do all the work of research, shopping, measuring, and the like. Simply go to their website, pick out the type of box you want (Classic or Vegetarian) and a 3-meal ready-to-prepare kit will be delivered to your door full of excitement, and (best part) there’s NO need to figure out how to buy “a quarter bag of kale.” If your recipe calls for “a little,” then that’s what you get. (Is it just me, or do you loath buying a huge bag, box, portion of an ingredient when ya just need a handful, a quarter-cup, or EEK a dash?!) food box

I ordered the Classic box (although I’d LOVE to try the vegetarian box in the near as friend and fellow blogger Meg said it was yum). (Here’s her blog entry that details how, while it might not seem “frugal,” it can be.)

We decided to make the Shrimp & Chorizo Stew with Kale first. (My 6-year-old and I voted two to one against my non-shrimp-loving hubs. Sorry Babe.) My “tot chef” and I started by pulling out all the ingredients. He set to work on peeling the potato while I chopped the onions. Together we made short work of the creation which (to my husband’s delight) turned out delicious (and is a recipe we’ll be recreating again real soon)!

Next on our list that week was Chicken Polpetti, followed later in the week with Spicy Thai Beef with Coconut Rice. While usually a Thai fan, and while it looked gorgeous, it wasn’t my favorite (and the photo in the recipe card does NOT do it justice). My husband gave it a high 8, but I found the rice a bit too sweet from the coconut milk. Good news: We all tried something new, cooked together, enjoyed our time, and discussed “where Thai food comes from” (and as a homeschool family, this is good stuff!).

A beautiful bite of Spicy Thai Beef with Coconut Rice

A beautiful bite of Spicy Thai Beef with Coconut Rice

We enjoyed the process and the product. This is “right up our alley” because creating and eating food together is something we’ve done since our family was just the two of us, and has only increased since baby made three. We find it to be a creative outlet, AND it has helped us raise a kid who is not super picky. (He has his moments, but he’s generally open to trying new things.) While some families may find it impossible to believe a first-grader would enjoy dishes with kale and cilantro (among other more exotic ingredients), our son helped prepare the meals which makes it: A) a matter of pride to say it was good, LOL and B) transparent as far as “what’s in it.”

Adventure Eating is just a few clicks away from your table, if you’re willing to give HelloFresh a try. And, to make it a better deal, use code B5FFZT for $20 off your first order.*

Hello Fresh Code imageDisclosure: I received a free Classic 2-serving sized box for the purpose of this review. It won’t, however,  be the only box I get!  All opinions are my own. OK, that’s not exactly true. My 6-year-old had his say and has influenced me to say he had fun helping. And eating. (Except the spicy stuff. He vetoed that.) *When you get $20 off your next order, I get $20 off mine. Win/win!) Need more views & opinions before trying it out? Mosaic Reviews has lots to choose from. I say, give it a try if you like making great meals from tried-and-true recipes, but don’t have tons of time to create. Or shop.

Give Kids the World Village, Where Wishes Come True

IMGP2144The first time I visited Give Kids the World, I was volunteering with the Dawn Brancheau Foundation. We had finished working the 5K at SeaWorld, and then a group of us went over to clean the villas. I honestly didn’t know what the Village was, nor did I know the significance of their mission until being there and seeing the place first-hand.


Mayor Clayton with a new-found friend.

Give Kids the World Village is a story-book facility where kids with life-threatening diseases can come and enjoy “just being kids.” Their parents don’t have to pay for lodging. It’s part of the wish. They don’t have to pay for food. It’s all there for them. Tickets to theme parks… are donated by the parks themselves, so each family can just relax, and enjoy the time they have together. They even have a Mayor who greets families and brings smiles every single day.
Recently the Village hosted their first ever Blogger Bash. I was happy to be on the committee to encourage as many local bloggers as possible to come and learn about the magical things they do. (After all, I’m a Florida native, and until a few years I had NO idea who they were or what their mission was. I felt it was my duty to get the word out as far and wide as I had [virtual] breath to do it!)

SeaWorld Orlando Park President Terry Prather

SeaWorld Orlando Park President Terry Prather

The evening was spent touring the facility and interacting with the amazing “Wish Families.” As the Blogger Bash was on a Thursday, it was Christmas. (It’s Christmas EVERY Thursday! And Halloween every Tuesday!) Jack Frost and a reindeer offered a warm welcome along with GKTW President, Pamela Landwirth and Mark Hoewing,
Public Relations Manager. There were also welcomes via video including SeaWorld’s Terry Prather. The special guest speaker was a father who experienced the Village first-hand when his family visited a few years ago. Sadly their son (who was a wish child) passed away not long after their visit. True inspirations, they turned sorrow into joy, and moved to Florida from Canada to support the village that meant so much to them personally.

2 Million volunteer hours and counting!

2 Million volunteer hours and counting!

After the tours and the meal at the Gingerbread House alongside families, the bloggers went home with a new respect for the work that is done. Quite a few people were ready to sign on the dotted line to become volunteers that very night.

I can’t think of a single person who has visited Give Kids the World Village who wasn’t touched, and inspired to be a part of their beautiful work. (I even wrote a song in their honor, I’ve been so moved by all that goes on there!)

Boston Rob,  four-time castaway on Survivor, celebrates Pirates and Princesses night at GKTW Village.

Boston Rob, four-time castaway on Survivor, celebrates Pirates and Princesses night at GKTW Village.

Central Florida bloggers have now joined the ranks of those who want to make a difference by being a part of Give Kids the World Village. Earlier this year it was the Hearts of Reality (including stars from Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, and more) and now our local influencers including Sparkly Nicole, Florida Plunge, MouseSteps, Central Florida Top 5 and Attractions Magazine to name but a few.


Volunteers-Are-Us! Thanks to Real Kids Shades for your donation to Give Kids the World Village. (As modeled by Daniel in the front row!)

Thank you to these volunteers and future volunteers! (And a special thank you to my team, Volunteers-Are-Us-Rex, who helped clean villas this past weekend. You’re the best! Thanks Kevin, Bonnie, Shizelle, David, Miranda, James, Matt, Daniel and Calvin)


This is a “sponsored post.” Give Kids The World compensated me in the form of a meal while I toured their facility and a small Swag Bag. Regardless, I only recommend products, services, or organizations I personally believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Real Kids Shades Stand Up to Real Kids

Shingle Creek Golf, Aquatica by SeaWorld, Real Kids Shades

Style: Flex Royal for ages 3-7

Kid models in magazines always look so polished (as do models of any age, I suppose). They’re smiling, never having a tantrum, and if they are running pell-mell in some sporting or roughhousing activity, they certainly have no accessory malfunction. If they are wearing cool shades, they are NOT falling off. Their glasses are chosen for looks and for style, with doubtful much consideration for practical things like UV rating, durability, or EEEK cost.

Thankfully Real Kids Shades has a line of children’s eyewear that takes a mom’s wish list into consideration and is not short on either form OR function.

Our family put the line of Real Kids Shades through a battery of tests. Some we liked more than others, and a couple we plain loved. Here is the breakdown:

Five Stars  
★★★★★ Flex Duo—The Flex Duo has 100% UVA/UVB sun protection as well as a wrap-around design that keeps peripheral sunlight to a minimum. Their extremely flexible frames in cool two-toned colors hold up to the abuse kids throw at them.

Dinosaur World

Style: Flex Duo, Black/red

We took our Flex Duos on our summer staycation in and around Central Florida. Our Flex Duos went to Busch Gardens in Tampa and Dinosaur World in Plant City, near Lakeland. Whether climbing on play equipment or scampering up dinosaur bones, they stayed put, which is key in our bright Florida sun. A neoprene strap is included which we found to be a vital accessory. How many kids sunglasses are lost because they are dropped or left behind? Despite having an issue with the strap being too snug to fit over the ends (the first one), we still give this style 5 stars, as the company quickly sent out a replacement.

Flex Duo Real Kids Shades

Style: Flex Duo, Black/red

Daniel, age 5, said they were comfortable to wear, and “didn’t hurt at all.” He thought the colors were “cool,” and even when he wasn’t wearing the band they stayed put through lots of play. He gives the Flex Duo two thumbs up.

★★★★★ Xtreme Sports—With shatterproof, impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses, the Xtreme Sports model is ready for action! Our kiddo took them through their paces on his bike. The wraparound design with mesh back is perfect for wear with helmets. There are even anti-fog vents for sweaty kids (like mine) who don’t want to get all fogged up while pretending to be Evel Knievel (with, ahem, training wheels). “I don’t like it when my eyeballs are sweaty,” he said.

Shingle Creek Golf

Style: Xtreme Sport, Black/silver

“The pad on top is good,” said Daniel, referring to the foam-backed polycarbonate lenses. Not only does it cushion little active faces, but it keeps out more light and prevents sweat from dripping down into his eyes from his forehead.

He also wore them out on the golf course running after balls and into more than our fair share of sand traps at beautiful Shingle Creek. Out on the 14th hole he had the best of both worlds. He was protected. And he looked CUTE!

Four and a Half Stars
★★★★ ½  Xtreme Elements—Off to the beach, splash park, or waterpark? Then your kids need Xtreme Elements. These glasses protect kids eyes from the sun and the elements (i.e. water and sand). Note, however, that they are not goggles and therefore are not designed to be submerged in chlorinated water. Yes, they’re perfect for splash pads, waves, and sprays, but they’re not to be worn as your little guppy tries to see how long he can hold his breath in the pool! The foam protects eyes from water and other elements from rolling down into their eyes, but it doesn’t seal out water and is not meant to be used under water as extensive subjection to chlorine could break down the foam gasket. That said, Daniel thought they were “way cool” (we have the blue flame style) and he loved that the neoprene headband made them float (just like him!).  If the foam gasket were designed to withstand the summer pool and SeaWorld, Aquatica schedule a little longer, it would have received 5 stars. They are by far Daniel’s favorite to wear, despite the slight gasket issue.

Four Stars
★★★★ Flex—The bendable rubberized frames make the Flex glasses super comfortable to wear. The boy and girl versions have distinct lens styles. The boy frames are more sleek, while the girls have that big lens “movie stahhhh” vibe. Shatterproof polycarbonate lenses ensure safety along with that style. When worn with the included neoprene strap, they stay firmly in place. Our one caveat to these was that when not worn with the strap they were quite loose. Bendy is good, and my son wears these in the car, and on the beach. I do insist the strap is on, as I can see these coming off in hard play (and that’s the only kind we seem to have around here!).

Why Have Your Children Wear Sunglasses?
I started Daniel in sunglasses when he was a baby. My nephew had retinoblastoma and he lost one of his eyes. While glasses would not prevent this type of blindness, it made me start reading about how important it is to protect children’s eyes, if not for now, but for their future.

Eye damage from the sun is cumulative and can occur even on cloudy days. Kids who don’t wear protective eyewear are at greater risk for:

• Cataracts
• Age-related macular degeneration
• Pterygia – abnormal tissue grown on the whites of the eyes
• Skin cancer around the eyes
• Photokeratitis – sunburn of the cornea

Riding on water ride at Aquatica by SeaWorld.

Style: Xtreme Elements, Blue flame

At Aquatica
I interviewed a few lifeguards at Aquatica about kids and sunglasses. Adrian, from Jamaica, said he estimates only 6% of kids he sees each day wear sunglasses. “There are way more adults wearing sunglasses than kids,” he noted. In an unscientific tally I found a similar percentage of child usage, while about 40% of adults were protecting their eyes (although many were, no doubt, concentrating only on the style).

Parents I spoke with were either passionate about glasses (and their kids were wearing them) or didn’t really seem to be aware the sun could damage their kids’ eyes. Sam, a tourist with his family, said they forgot the kids’ glasses at home so they bought some on site. (Real Kids Shades cost around $14.99 and are available at their website.)

What to Look For
When selecting protective eyewear for your kids, be sure to look for a few key features:

  • Third-party verification of 100% UV-A/UV-B protection
  • No phthalates, lead or bisphenol A
  • Impact-resistant frames and lenses (acrylic lenses can shatter)

Set a good example for your kids and YOU wear sunglasses each and every day. While it doesn’t hurt to look stylish, focus on safety. Choose a brand that blocks block 100% of both types of ultraviolet rays, UV-A and UV-B. A UV 400 rating is best. Make it a habit to put them on your child, even if he (or she) doesn’t like it at first. It’s a habit to grow into. And if you get some of the great offerings sold at Real Kids Shades, they’ll not only be as safe as possible, they’ll look great on their closeup!

Note: I contacted Real Kids Shades about reviewing their product as it was “right up our alley” as a travel-loving family insistent on sun protection. I was provided samples which we evaluated during heavy use over the summer. This review was written after field testing and is my opinion. The 5-year-old reviewer was paid $1 to sit still long enough to tell me what he thought.

SeaWorld-Themed SkinIT

SkinIT skin for iPadI’m a geek. I wear that “flag” proudly. Imagine my joy to see there are SeaWorld-themed “skins” for phone, laptop, iPad, Kindle, Nintendo DS and other gaming devices, tablets, MP3 players and eReaders. Nice!

The one pictured here is in honor of Turtle Trek’s grand opening!

Check them out here.