Blue Star Museums – Kicking off summer!

Memorial Day is upon us so that means it’s time for Blue Star Museums to kick off for the summer! What is Blue Star Museums?

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America.  Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Every summer we are happy to get to explore some of the areas institutions a little more. In Florida we visited the Ringling Museum and MOSI. In Ohio we’ve visited Brukner Nature Center, Dayton Art Institute, Springfield Museum of Art, and Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm with this program. Follow this link to see which museums are participating in your state.

This program is for military and their family but all of these museums sound like great places to visit.

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Now that the girls are a little older, we’ll try exploring a little further this summer as time permits in addition to the Dayton area organizations, Dayton Art Institute (the Experiecenter theme is “performing arts” right now), Sunwatch Indian VillageAullwood Audubon Center and Farm, and Brukner Nature Center. Some of the stops on our summer bucket list this year include:

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Ohio History Center, Columbus

Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta

Take a minute to follow your favorites or get a calendar of events so you can plan a return visit during the year. If you are heading out for a summer trip, add one to your vacation itinerary. If you are new to taking children to museums, Blue Star Museums has some tips here.

 

Did you know that this is a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program? The NEA is currently looking at funding being eliminated but arts advocates would like to see an increase in funding from its FY17 $148 million to $155 million. That sounds like a big number doesn’t it? However, it actually only makes up 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Did you know that the nonprofit arts industry supports 4.13 million jobs and contributes $729 billion, or 4.2% of the gross domestic product? That sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

In case you were wondering, if the increases to the NEA had grown in relation to inflation it would be over $300 million at this point. Given that 40% of its money goes out to the 50 states to be redistributed, imagine how many more afterschool arts programs, theatre camps, and writing workshops there could be in all congressional districts. NEA also funds Art Works, Our Town, Rig Read, and Creativity Connects programs.

If you would like to let your representatives know that you support funding for the arts that reaches all Americans, take a moment to let them know by clicking here and help #SavetheNEA.

 

I have not been paid by any organizations mentioned in this post I just enjoy them and want other people to enjoy them, too!

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Thanks, Moana

We are still pretty hard core Frozen fanatics over here, but Moana has been creeping into playtime more and more lately.

We had a trip to Florida planned to visit family and go to a wedding so I worked in a stop at my parents beach condo just outside of Fort Lauderdale. Every time we have been up until now it ends up being windy or rainy or too chilly or all of the above. If the weather is half way decent, my girls have way more interested in the pool than the sand.

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Thanks to Moana, however, the girls have been interested in the beach and the ocean so they were quite excited to hit the beach on this visit. Still, I wasn’t sure how long they’d last or if they’d be willing to give the ocean a try.

We ended up spending at least an hour playing in the sand, collecting and exploring shells, chasing birds, running from the waves, and enjoying time with my Mom and sister, Erin. Erin found a little friend we named “Tommy,” as in Tomatoa, the crab from Moana, since we thought it might be some sort of crab. Turns out it was a fighting conch.

The moment of truth finally came and the girls tentatively tiptoed into the ocean. My sister and I had been walking around in the water off and on trying to coax them out but, of course, they weren’t going to try it out until they were good and ready.

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Thankfully, the tide was out so we could walk out a bit and still only be mid calf high. The girls splashed around, sat in the water, and jumped over waves. While Kelsey was sitting down a wave went over her head – I froze up for a moment, nervous that it would end Kelsey’s time in the ocean but, thankfully, she laughed it off and went on having fun.

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We did eventually head up to the pool – after putting Tommy back in the water and dragging our sea shell finds up with us to go through. We ended up bring back a good sampling of shells and fossils that we looked up to identify so Kelsey could take them into school to share with the class. Poor Aubrey was wiped out and fell asleep on the floor for a while.

I thought I’d take a little “we’re in the ocean” selfie only to realize later that Kelsey decided to show off the bucket she was playing with and cover her sisters face in the process. I posted it anyways and ended up getting featured on Average Parent Problems on Instagram. With over 4,900 “likes” I guess a lot of parents have had this little problem.

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It was a great day at the beach. So, thanks, Moana, for finally convincing my girls that the ocean is awesome! And thanks to my Mom and sister for helping to make the day happen.