2016 Year in Review

Taking a moment to reflect on the past year. 2016 was a pretty eventful year for the VanHuss family. A lot of opportunities and new experiences but they sometimes brought challenges and more questions than we had answers for. We had a lot of fun, too, and my husband and I started #hussofhouse4 on Instagram to have a shared place for our snapshots to live. We even had our Frozen family Halloween costume included in Mommy Short’s “best of” list!

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The most significant change for our family this year was buying our first home. A little piece of the American dream. We moved in the month of July and the girls have had a blast here. We have plenty of space for everyone to spread out inside and lots of space for the girls to play outside. Summer evening walks to the ice cream shop have already become a habit and we’ve been enjoying the fireplace this winter. We are looking forward to taking full advantage of the garden beds in the backyard and the cherry tree in the spring, hoping it’s as “fruitful” as the blackberry bushes were this summer.

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Kelsey has had an exciting year. This summer she made her stage debut as a Munchkin in La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz. She had a great time participating in it, even if she was not the most diligent actress. I think it was a good experience for her to get her feet wet in an experience where she needed to be independent of mom and dad and it was a learning experience for mom and dad, too, going from being on the stage to being responsible for getting a child to the stage. The cast became a second family for her this summer and I definitely was heart eyes watching her out there (even if she was waving at me from the stage).

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She also started Kindergarten this year and became a Daisy Girl Scout. I’ve been looking forward to this year since we found out she was going to be a girl. I’ve been lucky enough to start a troop for her with 2 other parents sharing the leader position and responsibilities. We have 16 girls in the troop (18 if you count the 2 unofficial “tagalongs”!).

Not to be completely out done, Aubrey potty trained this year. That’s huge when you no longer have to buy diapers and can sell your full stash of cloth diapers (which also means no more washing cloth diapers!).

My husband got promoted this year. In the middle of trying to get settled in the new house and Kelsey’s Munchkin commitment, we got to celebrate his career accomplishments with his parents. The girls got to tack his stripe on at the ceremony.

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As for me, it’s been a busy year traveling between my new position at work, being selected for a leadership mentoring program, and being a cancan dancer. I spent a few days in New York City, Milwaukee, and Orlando each at different performing arts booking conferences representing Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. As part of Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training a attended the annual conference in Austin and then did a site visit to DANCECleveland. I spent another couple of days at the Cleveland Oktoberfest with Madame Gigi’s Outrageous French Cancan Dancers along with a handful of performances around the Miami Valley. (TL: The Bronze Fonz in MLK, TR: my companion at conferences, BR: Breakfast Tacos in Austin, BL: cancan at A World A’fair)

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As a family we’ve done a bit of travel, too. We combined one of my trips to Cleveland and Orlando into family getaways. My family met us in Orlando and my parents, sister, and brother-in-law planned out an exciting day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for us. We closed out 2016 with a short trip to Columbus. (TL: Cleveland rocks, TR: WDW Animal Kingdom, BR: COSI Science Museum in Columbus, BL: a little R&R in Orlando)

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We’ve been to local attractions like Dayton Art Institute and Newport Aquarium a few times, picked strawberries, blueberries, and apples, went to a handful of local festivals, have tried to make Sundays family game night, been on countless walks and hikes, tried a bunch of new restaurants, saw a couple of movies at the theater, went out to a few light displays for the holidays, volunteered…no wonder the year has flown by!

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Here’s hoping 2017 is kind to our family but we’ll have to wait and see. I know we’ll be tossing our water, eating our sauerkraut and black eyed peas, and munching our 12 grapes for all the luck we can get in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

Goldfish Swim School Grand Opening in Dayton!

Goldfish Swim School has announced the grand opening of a new 8,600 square foot Dayton, OH location. The newest addition to the Goldfish Swim School family joins three other thriving Ohio locations and dozens of other successful Goldfish locations throughout the United States.

In a few weeks, our girls will be starting swim lessons in a warm 90-degree pool with a state-of-the-art water purification system. I like that they have small class sizes (max 4:1 student to teacher ratio) and that even with each girl at different ages and skill levels I was able to get both a 5 year old and a 2 year old in the pool during the same half hour time slot. 

Goldfish Swim School provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years-old. In addition to swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School of Dayton offers weekly family swims (for both members and non-members) and party packages. Their facility highlights include an air conditioned viewing gallery for parents to watch lessons, a spacious family dressing area with private changing rooms, snack bar, retail shop and warm, tropical décor.

Located at 671 Lyons Road, Goldfish Swim School of Dayton offers a wide range of swimming classes for all ages and skill levels at times that are convenient for every family’s schedule. Families can register for lessons now by visiting the website or calling (937) 972-0177.

All are welcome at a FREE Grand Opening Party on Sunday, March 20, 2016 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Event highlights include free family swim, facility tours, face painting, a balloon artist, raffles, games, crafts, complimentary snacks and more. Visit their events calendar for more details and connect with their Facebook Page to learn more about what’s happening at the new facility!

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About Goldfish Swim School

Established in 2006 by husband and wife team, Jenny and Chris McCuiston, Goldfish Swim School provides swim lessons and water safety instruction to infants and children ages four months to 12 years. Classes are offered by specially trained instructors in a safe, kid-friendly and fun environment. Goldfish currently teaches more than 31,000 students per week to swim and be safer in and around the water. Headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan, Goldfish Swim School opened its first franchise in 2009 in Farmington Hills, Michigan and is in the process of expanding franchise opportunities throughout the country. Currently there over 30 schools open or in development in more than 10 states. For more information, visit www.goldfishswimschool.com.

 

*Sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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Marvel Universe Live! Recap

My husband took our almost 5 year old to Marvel Universe Live! tonight in Cincinnati. Nothing like a little father daughter bonding with a couple of the world’s best superheroes!

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They enjoyed the action and stunts. They enjoyed seeing the different heroes and all ages were able to connect to the show and everyone in the crowd had a good time.

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The Marvel Universe will be in Cincinnati Thursday, Dec. 17 – Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. Kid’s tickets start at $20! (Not valid on premium seating.  No double discounts.  Child discount applies to children ages 2-12.  Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.)

Follow Marvel Universe Live! on Facebook and Twitter and check out #MarvelUniverseLive.

While you are waiting for it to come to your town, check out these fun Marvel Universe inspired activities on Pinterest!

 

*I received items in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.*

KidCuteTure $100 Giveaway!

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Welcome to the KidCuteTure $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Hosted by mama pure and sponsored by KidCuteTure

KidCuteTure is a designer line of whimsical girls clothing brought to you from a mother-daughter team. Babies to age 14 years old can enjoy playful and sohpistocated ensembles that feature bright colors and unique cuts. To learn more about KidCuteTure read the full review over at mama pure.

One lucky fan is going to win a $100 Gift Certificate to choose their choice of outfit for their favorite little girl. This giveaway is open to US residents, age 18 and older. Void where prohibited. Enter using the rafflecopter below. Winner will be contacted via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of KidCuteTure and not mama pure or other participating bloggers. Good Luck!!!

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Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this post. KidCuteTure is responsible for prize fulfillment and shipment. mama pure and other participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment or shipment. This giveaway is not associated with or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media platform. If you have any questions regarding this giveaway please contact Laura at mama pure.

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Glider Gloves Review (For People That Like Using Smartphones in the Winter)


Glider Gloves are my new favorite cold weather accessory! In short, the entire glove is conductive and allows you to easily use your smartphone or tablet with it on. Now more freezing your fingers off to snap a photo for Instagram of your kids playing outside!

Watch it in action then pick up Glider Gloves on Amazon! Get 20% off with code: YV2KLBBS!

I had given up on trying to use the gloves with the one little finger section so I was skeptical if these would work. In addition to being able to use my phone with them on, I like the rubber grips on the inside of the hand that help me hang on to my phone. They have been keeping my hands warm in the early morning chill but these are the lighter weight “Urban” so I’ll have to pick up on a the heavier “Winter” set for the coldest months.

These look very neutral and the material is soft, not at all scratchy like I thought it might be. A nice little bonus is that the tag doubles as a microfiber screen cleaner.

At about $20 a pair (plus free shipping with Amazon Prime) Glider Gloves will make a great present or stocking stuffer for anyone on your holiday shopping list. Get 20% off with code: YV2KLBBS!

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*This post was sponsored and I was provided with a product to review. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.*

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Day After Thanksgiving in Dayton

After a hearty Thanksgiving meal and day spent taking care of a couple things around the house, we were ready to get out a little on Friday. Friday afternoon we headed towards downtown Dayton to check out the Dayton Holiday Festival by the Downtown Dayton Partnership. We only did a few of the activities available but had a nice time getting into the holiday spirit.

We started out looking at the Wonderland Windows featuring the Rike’s Holiday Window Display. Rike’s Department Store once stood where today’s Schuster Performing Arts Center now stands and these displays are over 50 years old, purchased shortly after World War II. The girls enjoyed looking at all the details and moving figures.

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Next we let our 4 year old visit the Tike’s Shoppe. Speaking with one of the representatives from YES! for Youth, the organization the Tike’s Shoppe benefits, she told me this has been a local tradition for over 70 years with grandparents who participated as children bringing their grandchildren to experience it.

Parents identify a shopping list and provide a budget for each child, then each child is paired with a volunteer that helps them shop. I peeked through the door a couple of times to see how she was doing and seemed to be engaged in selecting just the right present for her Mom, Dad, and sister. She had help wrapping and labeling each gift and was very proud of the surprises she picked up for us.

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Next was our first visit with Santa of the season. Aubrey, the 2 year old, wasn’t too keen on getting close to the big guy but liked Mrs. Clause, sitting on her lap a few times.

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The Junior League of Dayton sponsored a Holiday Hunt for kids to do activities and collect stamps that children traded in for a book. There were way more activities in the Holiday Village than we had time for but our girls really enjoyed them and there was even a free photo booth so we snapped a picture of the four of us.

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We had to make a stop to check out the Virginia Kettering Holiday Train Display. I’ve been doing a little research on Virginia Kettering for work and suggest looking her up if you are interested in Dayton area history. Long story short, much of what we enjoy and are lucky to have Dayton would not be here without her contributions.

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We will definitely be making plans to see and do more next year with a whole street fair and horse-drawn carriage rides as part of the festivities – including going early in the day to play in the life size snow globe! We didn’t stick around for Children’s Parade or The Grande Illumination of the tree this year which draw huge crowds.

Instead, we headed home for turkey leftovers (turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce on a toasted bread with green beans) and Warped Wing Brewing Company’s Esther’s Lil Surprise Milk Chocolate Brown Ale (featuring chocolate notes and named for the founder of Esther Price Candies). We closed out the day with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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I still have a few Christmas gifts to pick up on so I’m spending the rest of the weekend keeping an eye for deals on what I’m looking for. Here’s a quick round up of some holiday gift ideas:

  • FabKids clothing for kids
  • Wild Republic toys (not too late to make a purchase that also makes a donation to Project Night Night and enter a giveaway!)
  • Glider Gloves make a great stuffer for adults that like to use their phones but don’t like cold hands
  • Sound Intone HD30 Headset for kids or adults
  • Beabies teething necklace sets for the new mom
  • Diaper Junction has Sitebuster Deals all weekend for those into cloth diapering and babywearing

I’ll also be working on getting my Shutterfly holiday cards addressed and mailed out. If you still need to get cards, Shutterfly has 10 Free cards for you to enjoy using the code 10FORME at checkout. Plus, enjoy 50% off hard photo cover Photo Books and 40% off everything else using the code BLACKFRIDAY plus free shipping on orders $39+ or more with promo code SHIP39. Deals good until 11/29.

If you are in Dayton or Cincinnati, Ohio, be sure to enter to win tickets to Marvel Universe Live! in December. I hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend!

 

*Post contains affiliate links.*

Marvel fans, assemble! Marvel Universe LIVE!

We have a pre-holiday surprise for my almost 5 year old, she has a date night with her father to see Marvel Universe LIVE! in Cincinnati in December! She loves running around the house as “Superhero Kelsey” and has recently started to recognize the characters in the Marvel Universe. I think she is going to be thrilled to see this amazing live show that is getting rave reviews.

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Marvel fans, assemble! Marvel Universe LIVE! is taking the live entertainment experience to a whole new level, with a mind-blowing show unlike anything you’ve seen before. Watch your favorite Marvel Super Heroes including Spider-Man and the Avengers (Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk and more) and threatening villains come to life in an action-packed arena extravaganza, coming to Cincinnati. You’ll definitely feel the energy with cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and more. It’s being hailed as the most technically advanced live show ever. Join Marvel fans of all ages for this once-in-a-lifetime, monumental performance. The fate of the universe depends on it!

The Marvel Universe comes to Cincinnati Thursday, Dec. 17 – Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. Kid’s tickets start at $20! (Not valid on premium seating.  No double discounts.  Child discount applies to children ages 2-12.  Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.)

Follow Marvel Universe Live! on Facebook and Twitter and check out #MarvelUniverseLive.

While you are waiting for it to come to your town, check out these fun Marvel Universe inspired activities on Pinterest!

Want to try your luck? Enter to win four tickets to Marvel Universe Live! on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, 7p! Giveaway ends on December 7, 2015, 11:59pm. Winner will have 24 hours to claim prize via email. Good luck!

Enter giveaway here!