Boxcar Children Birthday

boxcar birthday 2My son Daniel loves the Boxcar Children. Seriously LOVES them. We’re either reading them together, or he’s listening to them on audiobook format or through our Tales2Go subscription. We buy them in the bookstore, borrow them from the library, trade them with other kids and have even picked up a few at yard sales. It’s a serious obsession at our house to find out what mystery the Alden children will help solve next! Naturally, then, we just had to create our own for his birthday: They Mystery of the Missing 7-Year-Old. (Spoiler alert: The 7-year-old is missing, because now he’s EIGHT!)

Months before the big day, the birthday boy and I did a search on what foods are mentioned in Boxcar Children book titles. The Boxcar Children website gave us lots of options to get us thinking.

bed pieces photo for Boxcar Children post Kelly Greenkreg joint for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly GreenNext we started the plan for building a boxcar in our back yard. Not being overly handy, I got the idea to transform a wooden bunk bed into a boxcar. Thanks to an online auction site, we found one for $30. It was a little worn, but hey… it would become an old box car, so a few nicks and dings would add to the character!

ladybug for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly Green

This ladybug wanted in on the fun!

We assembled it as per the instructions, but to make it extra safe, we brought out my Kreg jig to secure each joint for added support, then had 2 x 4s cut to its length so we’d have a roof. The whole thing was painted with an exterior paint/primer in an antique red color. We chose one of those OKed by the historical society to make it look super authentic.

staple screen for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly GreenFine mesh vinyl screening was then wrapped around it and secured with staples. I used the same paint to loosely sketch out the outline of board slats, and then accented them with black and brown for more depth and realism. The pièce de résistance was the four plastic lid tops we screwed onto each of the corners for the wheels. (My son insisted that four was the proper number for our boxcar since he once saw an illustration for one of the first original Gertrude Chandler Warner books, and IT had just 4 wheels from what we could see in the picture, so to be authentic….)completed boxcar for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly Green

decoder for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly GreenFor the party we began with a mystery! The kids had to go on a type of scavenger hunt. Clues included having to use a cipher to read a location, various code puzzles, and they were even required to use the metal detector Daniel’s grandparents sent him as a present to dig up yet another clue (like geocaching in The Box That Watch Found). It took about 45 minutessentence code for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly Green for the gaggle of kids to traipse from one end of our neighborhood to the other on the hunt for all the clues and to unravel the code sentences (pictured at right). look at clues

The very last clue led to the food table, where everyone (who was now acting the part of Bennie—always hungry) got the prize of some fun snacks and treats.

boxcar food for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly GreenI of course had to get a little creative with some of the foods, though we did have a great start on the list. We served chocolate alligators as an homage to The Mystery of the Alligator Swamp and had lemonade as mentioned in The Boardwalk Mystery. My “Boxcar Brie” was the hardest to fit into the Boxcar world! After much searching, however, I found a quote from the original Boxcar Children book where “Jessie… cut the loaf of bread into five big pieces. The cheese was cut into four pieces.” OK, so she wasn’t talking about brie and habanero pepper relish wrapped in croissant dough, but the grownups wanted some treats for them, too!

cake with Daniel for Boxcar Children post photo by Kelly Green Gigi's Cupcakes OrlandoThe star item was, of course, delicious desserts from Gigi’s Cupcakes, Orlando. Not only did we have adorable cupcakes with fondant books on them (in birthday-boy-approved flavors!), but an 8″ round with a scene that came right out of The Boxcar Children books! They even made gluten free cupcakes for those at our party with gluten sensitivities. Everyone enjoyed how cute AND delicious they were. For the record, the cupcakes were Double Stuff (with a cute little Oreo on top), Italian Cream, and Miss Princess, a white cake baked with fresh strawberries, topped with a cream cheese frosting. Italian Cream was my pick. I LOVE that one!

group pic party

Reading off the first clue for the kids. What isn’t pictured is the mad dash they made as soon as I said GO!

We had lots more activities… some of which we even had time to do! We printed out little fingerprint ID cards for little guests to check in with upon arrival (one never knows when a guest might turn into a suspect!), and printed out the great word find puzzle available from the Boxcar Children website.

Some of the kids were familiar with Boxcar Children before the party, but ALL learned about them through the course of the afternoon. Daniel was happy to share his passion about the world of the Aldens, and the mysteries they uncover. What we uncovered was fun, friendship, food and fiction… from a great series of children’s series we highly recommend.

 

Spooktacular at SeaWorld… A Boo-tiful Thing

Last weekend we enjoyed the fall family fun that is SeaWorld Spooktacular! From trick-or-treating along the shore, to Halloween themed shows and entertainment, Spooktacular is a Boo-tiful thing to our family (and it’s included with park admission!). Spooktacular takes place weekends throughout the entire month of October, from 12 – 8 p.m.

Spooktacular Collage 2014The Sesame Street Countdown to Halloween show at the Seaport Theater, is a family fave. Human host Jamie interacts with the cutest monsters around for a not-scary-at-all musical good time. I especially love The Count (ahh ahh ahh!) and Transylvania 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. It’s a play on the Big Band classic Pennsylvania 6-500. Kids of all ages will be singing along with Elmo, Telly Monster, Abby Cadabby and all their Sesame Street friends.

New this year is the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch (added item, not included in admission). Enjoy a delicious menu of seasonal items while sitting at a reserved table that brings you up close to majestic killer whales and Halloween surprises — a family photo with a Halloween Spooktacular frame, a free cookie decorating kit and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies. Pass members, buy your tickets through the pass member portal for discount admission.

PumpkinGuts2014Every year we enjoy The Longshoremen doing their “Pumpkin Guts” routine. Set just outside the SeaFire Inn restaurant, the performance staring an amazing and talented comedic trio will have you busting a gut (pun intended) as they try to scoop out the pumpkin guts to carve them. Spoiler Alert: They don’t have much success at anything but making a MESS!

Down at Penelope’s Party Zone, kids can get creative at the Jo-Ann CraftZone or dance to the live DJ’s family-friendly tunes. Though my son HAS the Turtle Trek app at home, he enjoyed playing on the huge screen, while his little friend made a picture at the coloring desks. Walking down and up from the party zone, big AND little kids couldn’t help but stop and push the buttons that make water dance out in the bay. Every detail has been thought of, and guests will be amazed at how much they’re immersed into the sea-themed magic all around.

Make sure to have your child’s photo taken with the myriad under-water creatures who grace Spooktacular while you trick-or-treat or partake in the games and goodies available for purchase along the bay. Because there is such a wide variety of creatures, there are usually not very long lines. Insider tip: Parents can trick-or-treat, too! (We’re kind of partial to the Junior Mints and Lemonheads!)

Whether you’re there for the treats or entertainment, you’ll have a boo-tiful experience at SeaWorld Spooktacular. See you there this weekend! And the next. And EVERY weekend in October!

Ticket deal: For a limited time, parents can get 50% off an Annual Pass for kids 9 and under with the purchase of a full-paid Annual Pass.  For more details and to purchase, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

It’s National Child Passenger Safety Week

Child Safety_SP_C10-02Ford Motor Company is supporting National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 14-20) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation in an effort to promote vehicle safety for children.

In 2012 on average, nearly 2 children under the age of 13 were killed and 332 were injured EVERY DAY while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.

The infographic at below offers tips on choosing the right seat for your child’s needs.

NHTSA-2014-CPSWeek-Infographic-prMy child is 7, and is in a 5-point booster (and will stay there until he is the weight/age to graduate to sitting without one. I, for one, don’t want to rush it. Knowing every 34 seconds a child under age 13 is involved in a crash,and knowing that many accidents happen just a short drive from home, I ensure my little guy is buckled in. (For the record, I do hear “But Mom, other kids my age are already riding without one”; “Do I HAVE to?”; and the ever popular “We’re not going to get in an accident. Why do you worry so much?”)

Why is it important to me?  Here are a few additional statistics:

  •  Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old.
  •  In 2012, over one third (37 percent) of children killed in car crashes were unrestrained.
  •  In 2012, among children under the age of 5 in cars, an estimated 284 lives were saved by child restraints.
  •  An additional 58 children could have lived if child restraint use was 100 percent.Child Safety_SP_C10-01
  • Child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in cars.

Children should always be properly restrained with an appropriate restraint system for their age and size, utilizing a child restraint that is either rear-facing, forward-facing, a belt positioning booster or safety belt. Not sure if yours is secure?

In conjunction with National Child Passenger Safety Week, this Saturday is also National Seat Check Saturday. You can visit this website to find an inspection station near you.

When my son was a baby, I took him to a police station that was running car seat inspections, pretty sure I’d done a bang-up job tightening the unit into my car because I pulled the seat belt as tight as I possibly could. Sure, it wiggled a “little” when I moved the upper part of it, but it’s impossible to remove “all” give, I naively thought.

When the officer was done, the seat was rock-solid in my back seat. No wiggle. No WAY I could get my hand behind it. After all I learned that day I determined that if I couldn’t get subsequent seats in as snugly as the officer had, I’d seek out an inspection site for assistance.

Did you know?

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing child restraints until age 2 or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.
  • Children who have outgrown a rear-facing child restraint should be properly restrained in a forward-facing child restraint until they reach its maximum weight or height limit.

I’ve been in a number of accidents in my life (each one an incident where someone hit me). While I am a positive person and try to look on the bright side, it’s unrealistic to assume that just because you are a safe driver that those around you will be just as careful, vigilant, sober.

Join in on the conversation: If you’re on social media, post a photo yourself securing your children or showing how you follow proper passenger seat safety on Saturday. Post it to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #SeatCheckSaturday at @Ford_Southeast.

Look for our photo of our 5-point booster this weekend. Just ignore the pile of books and the scattering of LEGOs cluttering up the seat next to it. No judging.

Back-To-School with Goodwill

For back-to-school shopping (like at any time of the year), I am constantly on the lookout for deals. Whether it’s a great coupon, free shipping offer, online community purchasing deal, or some other way to keep more of our hard-earned money, I’m IN. That mindset also steers me to garage sales and thrift stores where kids’ clothes, especially, are a great find!

2014-07-30 15.08.59bGoodwill of Central Florida invited me to do some shopping for my 2nd grader with $25 in gift cards (find out how you can win yours below). As a third-generation recycler and “upcycler” (new term for old habit of re-purposing something others have lost use for), I was only happy to stop by to hunt for clothes for my fast-growing boy.

First up: Gather items WE no longer need. On the way in, 2014-07-30 13.53.17my granny (90-years-old!) pushed the cart that carried our 3 bags full of stuff that no longer fit, or were not what we wanted anymore (including a wok she bought and used one time…. It just wasn’t “right” for her, so she donated it.) There are lots of new items at thrift stores!

Next, go in with a mission: For us, we needed to find clothes for field trips, soccer class, everyday, and “formal.” (My son likes to “dress” for dinner sometimes, and can often be seen in a suit and tie “just because.”) As homeschoolers, our back-to-school list is decidedly less extensive than traditional needs, but we do have to get all the usual items, as he’s growing out of his clothes quicker than I can buy them. That is, coincidentally, one of the reasons I buy second-hand—kids grow out of clothes so fast that oftentimes you can get something practically brand new for cents on the dollar.

Goodwill shopping tripSo what did we find? For $25 we bought:

  • 2 long-sleeve dress shirts
  • 2 tee shirts
  • 2 collared everyday shirts
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 3 books
  • art supplies

Prices ranged from 74 cents for a collared shirt (it was the “color of the week” so it was half-off the original $1.49!) to $3.49 for shorts. The dress shirts (worn once if they were worn at all) were 2.99 apiece.

Insider tip: Look for the color of the week tags first. Then, if you don’t find what
you’re after, go back and look through the other items.

Rafflecopter logo linkAre you a budget-conscious parent looking for a great way to buy back-to-school clothes? Enter this giveaway by clicking on the Rafflecopter photo at left. Maybe you’ll win $25 in gift cards to shop for your kiddos! Good luck!

Leave a comment below for one entry, or add more by Tweeting and if YOU have a cool find, post it on Instagram (details at the Rafflecopter link). Goodwill and other thrift stores have amazing deals on furniture, housewares and adult clothing too. And YES, they even have wedding gowns. I bought my vintage 1940s gown online and consider it my very best second-hand deal! can’t wait to see what cool stuff you find or have found in the past.

National Heatstroke Prevention Day

CFPL00034_Safety_Heatstroke_TT_SP_C07Today, July 31, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. Sadly the news is all-too-often dotted with stories of children left in vehicles as temperatures skyrocket. To help address this issue, the Ford Motor Company is supporting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s efforts to tackle the alarming safety threat that heatstroke poses for young children left in hot cars. As a parent who is keenly aware of this 100%-preventable tragedy, I’m proud to help share this message of awareness and prevention.

Did you know?

  • Last year alone, 44 children in the United States lost their lives after being left in unattended motor vehicles
  • More than half (52%) of kids who died from vehicular heatstroke were “forgotten” by their caregiver
  • A child’s temp can heat up to 5 times faster than an adult’s on a hot day
  • Studies show that when the temperature outside is 90 degrees the temperature inside a parked car can rise to 109 degrees in 10 minutes, 119 degrees in 20 minutes and 124 degrees in 30 minutes

As summer temperatures rise, here are a few simple tips for parents and childcare providers to keep kids safe inside of vehicles:

  1. Never leave infants or children alone in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open
  2. Make sure the safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing a child in a restraint system
  3. Don’t ever leave sleeping infants in the car
  4. Be sure to check the front and back seats of a vehicle before locking it and walking away
  5. Lock your car when you’re not in it, so kids can’t get in on their own (In more than 29% of cases of fatal heatstroke, a child got into the vehicle on their own)

To these excellent tips provided by Ford Motor Company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I also suggest:

  1. Leave your purse or briefcase in the back seat with the child so it HAS to be retrieved when you arrive at work
  2. When your family faces a change in schedule (of who is dropping off children), set a phone alarm or other reminder to double check who is doing what
  3. Make your own reminder “flag” (something bright colored or bulky) that’s attached to the car seat when it’s occupied, and to the driver when the child is secured

When people hear of these tragedies, their responses are often ones of condemnation and cries of how it would “never” happen to them. I’m sure in those 52% of children forgotten children, the parents would have said the same thing prior to the accident. It would never have occurred to them that they would be so distracted by work, health issues, changes in day-to-day scheduling, financial crises, etc. that they would forget for a moment their most precious cargo.

If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If the child is in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose).

Visit www.safercar.gov/heatstroke for more information. #heatstrokekills #checkforbaby

CFPL00034_Safety_Heatstroke_TT_SP_C07

$50 Gift Card Giveaway for Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores

VF Outlet Back to School 2014Although we homeschool, it just seems “wrong” to pass up on back-to-school shopping, especially during the Florida sales tax holiday August 1-3. Kids grow out of clothes (and SHOES!) faster than imagined and whether your kids go to a brick and mortar building or to co-op, kids need “stuff”. Thankfully there are lots of deals to be had in Orlando, and some of our favorite stores are all together at the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. (And for those who buy school uniforms… you really want to check this out!)

I like shopping at  Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores because there is a nice variety of stores (and it’s plus for me to park right in front of the stores). As a deal-seeker, I really enjoy the savings up to 75% off (and sometimes more). (On my last visit I bought an $80 dress for $12. Bam!)

So, do YOU like deals? Here’s your chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the mall, where you can select merchandise at over 50 spacious outlet shops and get great deals at the area’s only Old Navy outlet store, newcomer U.S. Polo Assn., newly renovated Nike, OshKosh B’Gosh and Tommy Hilfiger Stores, plus other well-known outlets including G by GUESS, Justice, Carter’s, Crocs, Calvin Klein, Levi’s®, Aeropostale, Converse, Famous Footwear Outlet, Fossil, Gap, Izod, Rack Room Shoes, and many more. Don’t forget to stop by and treat yourself at Lindt Chocolate, too!

Rafflecopter logo linkTo enter: Click on the Rafflecopter image, and post a comment. To gain more entries, Tweet about it, too (see link for more information).

Even if you don’t win, you can get in on the savings by downloading a coupon from the Center’s website, then bringing it to Travelpro at the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores to receive a coupon booklet valued up to $400 in savings. Many stores offer additional savings from 20-40% off to “Friends & Family.”  Savvy discount shoppers can learn about these discounts, as well as specific stores and their hours by following the center on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as visiting www.lbvfs.com. Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is located just one mile from Walt Disney World at 15657 S. Apopka Vineland Road (State Road 535), Orlando, FL 32821-6316, and two miles south of I-4, Exit 68. Stores are open Monday-Saturday, 10am-9pm, and 10am-7pm on Sunday.

Good luck, and happy shopping!

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On The Road Family Fun

Road Trip Games artwork smLots of families, like mine, hit the road in the summer. Whether it’s a two-hour hop to the beach or a 20-hour trek across a couple of states, “Are we there yet?!” is bound to be heard from the back seat. If you’ve heard that query before (a hundred times or more!) and don’t want to plug your kids into technology for the duration, consider playing some fun road trip games together instead. Here are a few we’ve come up with or adapted from games we played when my husband and I were kids.

Pick a Point
Everyone in the vehicle gets to pick two things that are “point worthy.” (If you have a large family, you may want to do one apiece.) Some choices we’ve made include: lawn maintenance trucks, signs for fast food, theme park buses (we see a lot of those here in Central Florida), Smart cars, boats on trailers, double trucks, emergency vehicles, a tire piece on the side of the road, etc. Once the “pointable” things are chosen, select a game range time such as “Starting when we get on the major interstate, and ending when we get to exit 150.”

If a person sees something on the list, they point at it and say “Vaccuum truck (or whatever) point!” Someone else (besides the one who sees it) has to confirm each point, and points are deducted when you mis-identify something (like an RV for a Big Rig). Play continues simultaneously among all players, with other car-mates probably having to step in once in a while to referee who correctly pointed and named the point first.

Decide ahead of time what point value goes to a vehicle sales lot! (It’s downright impossible to count ALL motorcycles, RVs, etc., so pre-determine if there’s a bonus for a sales lot, or decide sales lots won’t count at all.)

We usually keep a running total mentally, but a tally sheet works, too.

The Guessing Game
One person thinks of something the other members take turns trying to figure out what “it” is. Questions usually are asked in order of general to specific. (Our first question is usually: Is it man-made, or nature-made?) Guessers take turns asking 3 “yes or no” questions, asked in either a clockwise pattern, or according to age (though in the car, just going round robin is way easier!).

Some helpful questions include:

(For man made)  Is it related to transportation? Can you eat it? Is it found in our neighborhood? Is it larger than this vehicle? (Tip: Don’t ask “Is it large?” Large is a relative term. Is it larger than a ______ or heavier than a _______ works much better.)

(For nature made) Does it live in water? Is it covered in fur? Is it a mammal? Is it weather-related? Can you eat it? (Note: This question works for both nature and man-made since a processed strawberry candy can be eaten as well as a nature-made strawberry.)

How Many Homonyms?
I like to sneak in education games without anyone “catching on.” Thus the “How Many Homonyms” game was born to keep riders from being bored (not board, LOL). Players take turn naming homonyms and using each in a sentence. There are usually no points given, but the person who gets one right is cheered, while a stumped player gets a loud “aww man!”

road trip single carDie Cast Match
Every trip we take (with a duration of 2 hours +) includes the “Box of Cars.” You know the die cast cars I’m talking about! Whether Matchbox or Hot Wheels (or off brands, or WHATEVER), you have a box, too, I’m guessing.

The kid or kids in the back must correctly retrieve the die cast vehicle that corresponds to the real life version seen on the road. Front seat passengers might have a tiny bit of trouble reaching back, so this one is for rear passengers only. The first one to get their hands on it, get a point.

Alphabet License Plate
Take turns finding each alphabet letter, in order, on license plates. Youngest goes first. Others in the car must confirm a find. Each person gets 1-5 minutes to find one, or their turn is forfeited. (You determine how long you’re willing to wait between letters, LOL.) If you pass, you get a demerit, and the next person must repeat the un-found letter. Like in golf, in this game you want the lowest score.

Someone needs to watch a timer, and someone needs to tally demerits. Set a specific game time duration, or go through the alphabet “X” numbers of times.

What games do you play in the car to while away the hours? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

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.

 

 

 

Just for Kids Saturdays at SeaWorld

Jellyfish welcome visitors to SeaWorld Orlando's Just for Kids FestivalThis year SeaWorld’s Just for Kids Festival will be held Saturdays through April 12, 2014. Kids will enjoy up-close animal interactions, dance parties, interactive experiences and more. New this year is the Rockin’ Rockhopper Party in Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin where kids can groove with a DJ and meet SeaWorld’s coolest star: Puck!

D with puck no csxWe always enjoy the Ocean Adventures educational treasure hunt! Sea Star icons can be found throughout the park to mark activity locations. Once completed, kids collect a stamp and a limited edition Explorer’s card. After stopping by all four, they receive a coupon to redeem for a special SeaWorld prize at select gift shops.

We’re also enjoying getting up closeER than usual to animal friends at SEA Garden including an opossum, and an Olive Crested Cara Cara.

JFK gamesOur personal favorite part of Just for Kids is the roll out of The Hydro-Jet X-Stream 3000! The Longshoremen Comedy Troupe (found most days “Along the Shore”) have a little something bubbly for the kids (and I don’t mean champagne!). Find them Saturdays by the boat at 2:10 and 4:05. They also can be seen on Just for Kids nights at the Village Square “Shamu Dance Party” (by the front gate). You’ll know them by their bright yellow pants and goofy smiles! (Boss sometimes has a scowl, but it’s just because Chester and Lester occasionally get things a bit… convoluted!)

longshorexstream

At the party, which begins one hour prior to park closing and ends a half hour after park closing, features a stilt walker emcee, line dancing and party faves.

Throughout Just for Kids, and during the entire 18-month-long 50th Anniversary Celebration, keep an eye out for the SeaWorld “Surprise Squad.” You could win hats, shirts, and some special BIG prizes, too!

See you there! (We big kids have just as much fun as the littles.)

Adventure Island Kicks off Seasonal Opening with Youth Triathalon

Adventure Island Triathalon_13The Inaugural Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon kicked off Adventure Island’s Seasonal opening Saturday, March 9. Junior Varsity kids (ages 7 to 10) participated in a 100 m swim, 1.5 mile bike ride, and a half-mile run. Varsity kids (ages 11-15) did a 200m swim, 3 mile ride, followed by a mile-long run.

About 200 participants were up for the challenge, a joint partnership of Busch Gardens’ Adventure Island and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.

Adventure Island Triathalon_18

Youth athletes sport their medals and celebrate after they completed the inaugural Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon at the seasonal opening of Adventure Island in Tampa.

Photo by Matt Marriott/Busch Gardens

 

Adventure Island is expecting a “season of fun!” offering their best season-long deal in their Adventure Island Weekday Pass.

  • Play weekdays all season long – Enjoy unlimited weekday access to Adventure Island during the 2013 season with no blackout dates.
  • Valid Mondays through Fridays, March 11 through Sept. 2, 2013
  • Purchase at AdventureIsland.com, at the Adventure Island or Busch Gardens front gates or by calling 1-888-800-5447.
  • The Adventure Island Weekday Pass is $51 for adults and children.

Head down to their Key West-themed paradise to enjoy thrilling slides and tube rides, including Riptide, Wahoo Run®, Key West Rapids, Runaway Rapids, Everglides®, Calypso Coaster, Aruba Tuba, Caribbean Corkscrew®, Water Moccasin and Gulf Adventure Island Triathalon_15Scream. Or just kick back on the beach or in the 17,000-square-foot wave pool, play on professional sand volleyball courts, breeze through the tropical gift shop or let the current sweep you through a half-mile of lush landscapes and tropical waterfalls on the Rambling Bayou.