Tea Collection Perfect Holiday Sweepstakes

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• $500 Amour Vert gift certificate
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• 2 $250 card vouchers from Paper Culture
• $500 American Express gift card from Red Tricycle

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The sweepstakes will run from Wednesday, (11/1) through Wednesday, (11/15)!

While you are visiting Tea Collection, check out the new fall styles and get a few ideas for activities with your kiddos.

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Fine print:
Enter code TWIRL during checkout to receive 25% off select styles in your order at TeaCollection.com, pre-tax. Offer valid on the purchase of select styles as advertised as the “25% Off Style” at Teacollection.com. Offer expires at 11:59pm PST on 11/6/17. No adjustments on previous purchases. Not redeemable for cash. Cannot be combined with other offers. Limited to stock on hand.

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What to Expect at Goldfish Swim School

We’ve been taking swim classes at Goldfish Swim School for some time now but I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first started. It’s very similar to other swim lessons in some respects but Goldfish Swim School has a few more features that make the experience enjoyable for the family.

Here is what to bring with you and what to expect:

Let’s start with your bag. I’d suggest choosing a dedicated bag that you can attached a key chain to. You’ll get a key tag when you join Goldfish Swim School that you’ll use to sign your kids in with so you’ll want to make sure it stays with your swim class gear. Since I have kids with a decent amount of hair, I also keep hair ties on there. Finally, you want to make sure you have whatever clothing you need, either swimsuit or fresh outfit (remember that those still potty training will need reusable swim diapers).

Inside the bag, you’ll want a towel, goggles, and a wet bag (I used this tutorial to make mine a little while back). We’ve been attending class mid-morning so by the time we are ready to leave after class it’s about time for lunch, but otherwise you’ll want to pack a snack or keep a few dollars on hand to grab a something from the snack bar. I also keep a brush and bottle of leave-in conditioner in the bag to get the tangles out.

If you are missing any gear to stock your bag, make sure to check out the merchandise in the lobby.

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When you get there, Make sure you stop by the front desk to sign yourself in. I suggest trying to get the kiddos to go to the restroom so they won’t need to go in the middle of their class time. You’ll want to make sure they have on the appropriate swim gear. Lastly, I try to go over what their coach said they needed to work on at the end of the last class. If you get there early enough (or if your kids classes aren’t at the same time) there are books, toys, and a chalk board to play with while you wait for the start of class.

Once the kids get called in to the pool area, you’ve got 25 minutes to watch your little fish through the glass, have a cup of coffee or snack all to yourself, flip through a magazine, or scroll through your phone with the free WiFi – you do you. Just know that Goldfish Swim School runs like clock work so keep your eye on the clock.

Your kids will be going through the curriculum for their lane and working on improving and learning new skills. You’ll get the occasional wave and smile through the glass.

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Five minutes until the end of class, parents are invited in to discuss their child’s progress with the coaches. It’s a good time to clarify what they can improve on and how they are doing in class. Every so often they may receive a ribbon for demonstrating a skill or you’ll get a progress report on a card that shows the skills they have mastered or are working on.

Once class is over, you can take advantage of the shower area. With my girls blonde hair, I like to shampoo hair then and there to wash the chlorine out. Goldfish Swim School has tiki huts that serve as changing spaces and a swim suit dryer so you don’t have to deal with a dripping wet suit in the car. There are blow dryers which come in handy if you need to go somewhere or in the colder months especially.

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Make sure you drop by the front desk on your way out for any information and so the kiddos can get their weekly prize. Every month is a different theme!

What else to expect? Goldfish Swim School has regular Family Swim Times, member appreciation events, and offers special programs for scouts of groups and birthday parties. Don’t forget fun special events like Trunk-or-Treat, which may vary for each location. Each month you’ll receive the the “Monthly Bubble” e-newsletter which will keep you up to date with activities for the month.

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The winter months are a great time for swim lessons – it’s a great indoor activity and then get a head start on being ready for the pools next summer. Keep an eye out for specials coming up around the holidays since swim classes make a great experience gift.

You can #giftsafety with Goldfish Swim School holiday packages. Packages available in 2 months, 6 months or 12 months!  Packages includes swim lessons and a FIN-tastic gift set for under the tree.

 

Goldfish Swim School has provided me with the experience of lessons for my candid reviews. #sponsored

Flower Pot Costume DIY (Halloween 2017)

Happy Halloween! As every since our oldest was born, we had a family Halloween costume this year. A few months back, as we sat around the dinner table, the topic of what we should be for Halloween came up and the girls decided they wanted to be butterflies. We then thought my husband could be an entomologist (that studied butterflies, of course) and I would be a flower.

We’ve been talking a lot about pollinators in Girl Scouts and with the various flying insects that have been around our vegetable and wildflower garden this summer.

This costumes were a mix of store bought and DIY (mainly store bought pieces) this year that just needed a glue gun and duck tape. (See how I made my Ringmaster costume.)

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Butterflies – It was easy to find these cute butterfly costumes on Amazon. They came in different colors so the girls could choose their favorite and came with a mask and antenna. Next was picking up a black long sleeve t-shirt and leggings and adding a colored skirt because who doesn’t love a fluffy skirt? The butterfly pieces will go into the dress up box after Halloween and the clothes will go in to their wardrobes as layering pieces.

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Entomologist – My husband’s costume mostly came right out of his closet. We already had the pith hat from his “tiger tamer” costume from the circus Halloween and just picked up a bug net that the girls have been wanting anyways.

Flower Pot – Mine, was the costume that required the DIY this year (last year my costume was an Olaf onesie but I built my husband a Kristoff costume and the year before that I made Alice and Cheshire Cat costumes). I was planning on ordering a flower headband and calling it a day when, on a whim, I decided to see what the folks on Pinterest had to say on the matter and discovered the Flower Pot DIY.

It’s pretty easy and you can customize the container, flowers, etc. If you have a tub that has seen better days, this is a good way to repurpose it or I suppose you could use a large cardboard box. I ended up purchasing a plastic bin for this project and cut out the bottom, using a layer of duck tape to cover it the raw edge so I wouldn’t scratch my legs.

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I raided the local dollar store for the flowers which I then cut off the bunches. Laying the bin on it’s side, I laid out a row of flowers then taped them down with duck tape. Once I went all the way around, I laid added a second row of duck tape to catch all the stem ends. We happen to have green bungee cords with hooks that I could use as suspenders.

I selected a few for the headband, which was purchased at the dollar store, and hot glued them on to make a flower crown. I tied on some ribbon since we were also going to a local Oktoberfest earlier this fall.

Wear the pieces over a green long sleeve t-shirt, jeans, and boots and I was done.

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I didn’t feel as tired as I look in this picture from a trunk-or-treat event but I worked my flower pot into the theme for my trunk (rainy weather ended up making us take it inside).

What’s next?

I wonder if the girls will be on board with a family costume next year? Hopefully, we can come up with something that works for everyone but we’ll have to wait and see.

 

Looking for more Halloween fun? Check out these felt Monster Faces.

In Dayton, Ohio? Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is hosting its first Trunk-or-treat event! Oct 31, 6p-8p at 840 Germantown Street, Dayton, there will be a DJ, games, food trucks and candy outside plus dance demonstrations inside. Pick up a code for discounted tickets to the holiday performance, The Littlest Angel, in December 2017. Then, be sure to swing by the Stoddard Street Pumpkin Glow near Dayton Art Institute, a Dayton tradition.

Family Time at Goldfish Swim School

My husband has had to do some traveling for work so this has been the perfect excuse to take advantage of the family swim times at Goldfish Swim School in Dayton, Ohio.

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We’ve been to a couple of Sunday afternoon times but they offer them throughout the week. The girls love to show me what they’ve been learning in class and they get to play with all the fun pool toys. It’s pretty enjoyable for me, too, plus I know they’ll be nice and worn out by the time we get home so I can get the house ready for the week ahead.

At Goldfish Swim School, they use a lot of repetition from week to week, repeating the same lesson plans and tracking how the students progress. As a parent, it’s great to see when the jump in knowledge happens – it seems like your child may not be catching on after a few lessons when all of a sudden it clicks and they can demonstrate a skill.

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Kelsey has been getting better at her backstroke and freestyle. With forward swimming she’s slowly but surely putting the breathing into her strokes. I like that her instructor is trying to instill former form from the beginning so it won’t have to be corrected down the line just improved. She can also tread water with her face out of the water for about 15 seconds now which has been a huge improvement. I can’t say that I’ve heard of kids learning to tread water before so this was a pleasant surprise in their curriculum.

Aubrey is a pro at getting herself out of the pool safely. While she’s much more comfortable in the water, she’s still working on going underwater and relaxing while floating on her back. The next step will be to incorporate front swimming with stopping to roll on her back to take a few breathes. She always looks like she’s having a great time in class.

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Once the student has checked off all of the skills in a particular level, they’ll progress to the next one and learn the next few elements, and so on.

The family swim times are a nice perk of membership and great for the kids to get a little more practice time. With two girls in class at the same I don’t always catch everything they are working on and we don’t have time to see everything they want to show me at pick up time so these are nice to check-in with how the kids are improving and feeling about their progress.

Fun times at Goldfish Swim School – Dayton

They also have member appreciation and themed events that are open to the public. Check them out for Trunk or Treat at Goldfish Swim School, Friday, October 27, 6p-8p. Sign up to pass out candy from your trunk and you could win a Goldfish Party! The event is free but, unfortunately, no swimming since they are anticipating high attendance.

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Goldfish Swim School has provided me with the experience of lessons for my candid reviews. #sponsored

New Year’s Resolution: See More Art (Part 2)

I haven’t forgotten about my New Year’s Resolution to see more art. I was planning on doing quarterly recaps but, alas, life. I’ll try to move them quickly. Getting my notes together to start writing this post I realized a couple of things:

  • I have managed to worked my family plans into my “see more arts” mission
  • I’ve kept my eyes open more to look for opportunities to go see somethingIMG_20170321_103440

In March, I ended up with a sick child the day I was supposed to go to see Cincinnati Ballet so I didn’t make it, and I haven’t made it to a performance yet. I did, however, have a great time in Washington DC for National Arts Advocacy Day. The first day was one of those days were you feel your brain pulsing in your skull and you are hoping that it can absorb as much of the information being thrown at it as possible. That evening there were speakers and a performance at The Kennedy Center – the view from the rooftop is gorgeous. The second day I visited the offices of a few representatives after a morning pep rally with some legislators and celebrities. I was too shy to ask for photos but I did get to shake hands with and briefly chat with Rep. John Lewis.

In April we decided to check out West Carrollton High School’s production of The Little Mermaid. I found out about through the choreographer for the show and, I have to say, I was rather impressed by the quality of the production. This was a test run of seeing if the girls could sit through a musical. They started getting a little fidgety towards the end but they hung in there and we got to see the whole show plus meet some of the cast after.

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Since then, we’ve been to Town Hall Theatre’s Disney’s The Lion King, Jr and Children’s Performing Arts of Miamisburg’s Disney’s Peter Pan, both in September. I’ve been picking shows that they basically know the story line of to hopefully help keep them interested. The kids do a great job and I know there are whole teams of parents behind the scenes making it the best it can be. These have been good opportunities to start getting the girls used to attending live performances.

I’ve put putting some miles on the car these past few months with trips out to Columbus, just over an hour away. In April I went out to the OhioDance Spring Festival Performance and got to see a few Ohio dance companies and college programs. I met with state representatives on Ohio’s Arts Day in May. I served as an Ohio Arts Council grant panelist for the first time in May, as well – “yay” for getting to help give away money to arts organizations around the state. Every time I go to the Riffe Center I try to pop in to the art gallery on the first floor – it’s free and changes often enough that it’s a different show every time I go.

I also attended the annual Arts Midwest Conference in August being held in Columbus this year. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a David J. Fraher Future Leader and got to meet lots of great people in the industry plus see a good amount of dance companies from all over.

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In June I attended the Dance/USA annual conference in Kansas City, MO. I really enjoyed that they worked in some “pop up” performances from local companies and it also coincided with a performances Kansas City New Dance Partners at the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts. I also slipped away to visit a few sights, including The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the 18-foot Shuttlecocks sculptures on the lawn.

Around Dayton, I’ve popped into the Sinclair Community College Art Gallery a few times, helped paint one of the many murals going up around the city, attended a Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus performance in June for the first time. Attended Art in the City (mark your calendars for the first Friday in August 2018!) where we got to paint, yarn bomb, play instruments, and catch lots of performances and art works around downtown. We stopped by the grand opening of the new Dayton Metro Library Main Branch to scope out the ReImaging Works collection, including the huge but delicate piece that takes up the whole center of the library, FRACTAL RAIN by Terry Welker. In September we headed towards the Dayton Art Institute for Oktoberfest and to visit the Alphonse Mucha exhibit and for the girls to check out the Performing Art exhibit in the kid friendly Experiencenter. Wright State University’s CELIA program brought Complexions Contemporary Ballet to Dayton for one night in September and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company started its home season with three new premieres all set to music by Wynton Marsalis with live music for portions of it.

I took the girls to the dress rehearsal so they could watch without having to worry about them upsetting paying customers while I was working during the performances. I think they might have enjoyed it a bit too much.

During our vacation in Nashville, TN in July, we got out to see as many of the murals as we could and caught plenty of live music, including a show at the famous Bluebird Cafe.

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Inside Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe

At the top of the summer I was officially sworn in as a member of the City of Centerville’s Centerville Art Commission and have been having fun getting acquainted with all arts programming it offers including the Summer Concert Series and a new artist featured in the gallery at the police station each month. I’m lucky to live in a city with a good appreciate for the arts between middle and high school musicals, student art shows, and free community programming.

 

Did you know that the arts and culture industry produces $166.3 billion in economic activity? A few years ago we at Dayton Contemporary Dance Company helped gather survey responses for our local arts advocacy organization, CultureWorks. This summer the results from that survey that fed into a US wide look at the economic impact of the arts and culture industry. Randy Cohen from Americans for the Arts came to talk in Dayton about the national and local findings (#AEP5). In Dayton, the average arts and culture patron spends $19.71 per person. Doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize how many arts and culture patrons there are in a given weekend. Find out what it’s like near you here.

Swimming into Fall at Goldfish Swim School – Dayton

“Tomorrow’s Sunday? That means we have swim class tomorrow!” ~ My kids every Saturday, a couple of times during the day.

 

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Waiting impatiently for their class time

 

We are back taking lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Dayton and the girls are excited to go every time. I am happy that they each get more and more comfortable in the water each week and that the teachers work with each student at the ability and comfort level they are at. When I sit and watch classes, I do notice that every teacher in every class (there are at least 10 classes simultaneously throughout the pool) is adapting to each student they are working with. My kids love their swim instructors.

Kelsey has been showing some great improvement in going under water, breathing, and moving through the water. We’ve still got some work to do on form, but I’m happy she is working on being an effective swimmer. I was personally very happy to see her swimming backstroke for the first time since that and butterfly were my two main events when I swam in high school.

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Aubrey is better about putting her face in the water and she will put her head back and float like it’s no ones business. Now that the biggest hurdle of not being afraid of water over her head is out of the way, I think we’ll start making more progress on her swimming ability soon. She’s also a master of the crab walk along the wall as well as getting herself out so take that Michael Phelps!

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That’s really is he name of the game for me as far as having my kids in swim classes. While we do not own a pool nor do we live right next to a water source and I don’t intend on leaving them unsupervised near water, I want to have at least some piece of mind that if either girl ever ended up in the water somewhere by accident, they would be able to help themselves to a certain degree. Not being afraid of the water is a start, knowing they can float or swim backwards to keep their faces out of the water is better, and being able to get themselves to the edge and out of the water is best. It about water safety right now. #watersafety

At Goldfish Swim School – Dayton, the girls get one-on-one attention in a positive atmosphere that helps them look forward to class each week while learning to swim. They enjoy the friendly staff, the fun prizes, and feeling accomplished.

Did you know that Goldfish Swim School provides a free W.A.T.E.R. Safety Presentation? This 20 minute program is designed for ages 3-7 at educational institutions including preschools and daycare centers. Visit dayton.goldfishswimschool.com for more information. 

 

 

Goldfish Swim School has provided me with the experience of lessons for my candid reviews. #sponsored

Blasting into Summer at COSI

The family and I have been working on the summer bucket list, as time permits, and this past weekend we had the opportunity to take the girls to COSI for the day. Just about an hour drive from Dayton, Columbus always has things going on and COSI is a favorite no matter what time of year for a quick day trip.

It worked out that we could go while the Big Machines exhibit was out. Kids (and adults) got the chance to climb into all sorts of construction equipment and even get to work the arms on a few of them. It’s an annual event so it won’t be back until next June but Farm Days, August 9-13, will feature tractors and combines, a chance to meet farmers, and even get to milk a fiberglass cow. Check back on COSI’s website every so often to find out what special exhibits are being planned.

My oldest, Kelsey, loved getting right into the chairs and making things go. Folks from Operating Engineers Local 18 were on hand to help kids get in and out of the equipment and show them how to use the arms. It was great for kids to see both men and women skilled at working with these powerful machines.

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Back inside, we spent the most time in three exhibits: Be the Astronaut, Gadgets, and Little Kidspace. In between we checked out fun hallway exhibits, activities, and shows that had the girls building arch bridges and learning about recycling different materials, feeling electrostatic shock, identifying insects, and making a drum beat in time with their heart beat. Kelsey just really excited about the High Wire Unicycle so we may have to look into that more next time we visit.

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Be the Astronaut is part of COSI’s Cosmic Summer programming running through September 4, 2017. In addition to the interactive exhibit, there is a giant screen movie and planetarium show exploring the future of space exploration. This particular exhibit is geared towards older kids and adults more than my two, but they still enjoyed the touch screen puzzles and trying to fly space crafts and rovers.

The girls have been interested in all thing space lately so this was a great chance to let them pretend to be astronauts for a little while. My husband had fun flying space crafts, too. With plenty of stations, there was no waiting around and everyone got to play on any style of console they wanted. We capped off our day with some astronaut ice cream from the gift shop.

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The girls could have spent all day in the Gadgets exhibit (Facebook Live video here) if we had let them. They had a blast while learning about motion and mechanics. The girls launched balls across the room, pulled themselves up with pulleys (video here), explored how gears work, and made their own creations with large foam pieces.

We spent a good amount of time in this room and still didn’t see every display. We’ll have to make time to check out the Gadget Café next time, too, to get to take apart an appliance.

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I definitely see why a membership to COSI would be a good investment. Little Kidspace was yet another space the girls could have spent all day in. It’s designed for kids 6 and under to give the youngest kiddos a space without older kids. It has several play spaces to pretend to be everything from an ambulance driver, to life on a farm , to housing construction.

We more or less made a beeline straight to the end with the water and art spaces. My girls have always enjoyed playing with water – at home a bucket of water can entertain them for three hours! In the Splish Splash area they experimented with floating items, directing water flow, and filling and dumping. For the older infants, they have a table with built in chairs and little streams of water that was honestly the best thing to sit and watch all day.

The art space was another big hit with open invitations to paint, make collages with found items, and play with color mixing. Kelsey jumped right on the climbing wall every chance she got. When it was finally time to go, we had to show a slip of paper that we received on the way to ensure we were leaving with the same number of kids we came in with.

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A couple of tips to help you plan your visit to COSI:

  • Parking fills up quick. This may be elevated once they finish construction on the new underground parking, but for now, be prepared to walk a bit.
  • You can pack a lunch or but one. They are tables to sit out inside and out to eat. There are plenty of restaurants in Columbus and near COSI but if you don’t want to leave the building, keep it simple and order from the quick serve onsite. They have a few kid friendly options that make pictures with food and a selection of meals for adults and other snacks.
  • Bring a bag. You won’t want to need to go back to the car if you can help it or lose anything so bring a backpack or tote to let yourself be hands free while hanging on to the hats, snacks, and odds and ends the kids pick up. They do also have storage lockers available for rent.
  • Do a little research. Take a look at the exhibits on the website before you head out and pick a top three of exhibits your family would be most interested in. There are so many things to see and do you may not get a chance to see and do all of it. At the same time, don’t be surprised if an area catches their attention and you end up spending 30 minutes at one activity.

We had a great family day at COSI and I want you to get the chance to take your crew there for the day, too! Gather your crew and explore space through the eyes of an astronaut, with three amazing experiences this summer at COSI.

Enter to win!

Two winners will get a four pack of tickets to COSI! To enter, just visit COSI’s website and then come back here and comment on what your family would be most interested in exploring.

Enter HERE through Rafflecopter to make it official and earn extra entries. Giveaway ends on July 11, 2017 at 11:59pm. Good luck!

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Domesticating Michelle was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Domesticating MichelleCOSI Ticket Giveaway