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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.

New Year’s Resolution: See More Art (Part 1)

I can’t keep a New Year’s Resolution to save my life. The only time in the past few years I did was one I decided to make something new each month. Although I failed to blog about the different projects, I actually did try a new craft or recipe each month. I ended the year with a bang by sewing my first pillowcase dress for Kelsey.

As New Year’s 2017 was approaching, I thought about what I should and could make my resolution. I’ve been trying to make a bigger effort to get more involved in the local arts community. It’s funny because my job is in the arts but between the nights and weekends that I’m out for work related events, my husbands schedule, the girls activities, and the cost of babysitters, I don’t get out to much else.

I decided that I would get out to something arts related at least once a month for 2017. So far it’s going well.

First up I made it out to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH to catch a performance in an art gallery by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Associate Artistic Director and my x2 New York City roommate, Crystal Michelle. I have enjoyed getting to know her and her thought process from late night chats and watching her work. The art exhibition and performance were part of a series “Living in Divided States.” Crystal’s performance explored the black female body and both the imagined and real experiences of being in one.

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I won tickets to Pinkalicious the Musical at the Victoria Theater, Dayton, OH from Dayton Parent Magazine. The whole family made the trip into downtown to catch the show. The girls loved looking around the interior of the theater and watching the show while wearing pink.

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I had some time to kill before Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s performance downtown the first weekend of March so I stopped it to check out Dayton Visual Arts Center for the first time. They have a new show every couple of months and have been a good support for local artists and is the home to an Art-o-mat, a converted cigarette vending machine that now sells small pieces of local art. I happened to pop in during the annual college exhibition. It was an interesting mix and representing a variety of disciplines.

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Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s show, Vantage Points, was absolutely amazing. I’ve been waiting for this performance since it was announced at our staff meeting last January. I’ve watched pieces of it come together in the studio all year and it did not disappoint. Wawa Aba by Stafford Berry, Rainbow Round My Shoulder by Donald McKayle (which DCDC won a 2016 Bessie Award for), and a new work, This I Know For Sure, by Ray Mercer. It was a program of outstanding, emotional, and riveting works. Ray’s piece being new was the one I was anticipating the most – pretty much a tie with getting to see the famous Rainbow Round My Shoulder live.

This I Know For Sure was just a stand out. Dancers fly through the air, climb all over each in new ways, continually introducing new groupings and partnering between a variety of dancers. Two favorite moments for me were the ladies trio (a statement of the strength and beauty of women) and a portion of the men’s piece were one female dancer seems to entice each of them, standing and expecting to be carried by each of them in turn while giving up nothing of herself. It was a wonderful experience to hear the audience explode with applause after oohing and awing through the piece.

 

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Photo by Scott Robbins, Geek with a Lens

Next up, I’ll be heading down to Cincinnati March 18 to watch Cincinnati Ballet’s Bold Moves. An evening of two contemporary dance pieces. They seem to be having a stellar year with Coppelia and Camelot ballets earlier this season – if you don’t yet, you should follow them on Instagram and Facebook for behind the scenes photos and fun videos like this one from Camelot when they took the puppet horse out for a stroll.

The first piece is going to be Minus 16 by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, creator of the Gaga method of dance which explores new ways to use the body (no relation to Lady). A quick search of Minus 16 on YouTube will give you a sampling of this work with seems to have become a modern day contemporary dance classic. The second work is a world premier by Cincinnati Ballet Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland. His brand new work is set to Beethoven’s String Quartet “Op. 18, No. 1 in F Major”, performed live on stage by the award-winning Israeli ensemble, Ariel Quartet.

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Photo by Aaron M Conway

 

Unfortunately, I’ll be heading to Washington DC for National Arts Advocacy Day (check it out at #ArtsAdvocacy) so I won’t be able to take the girls to their second company’s Ballet Toybox performance of Swan Lake, Jr on March 19. It’s an hour long performance for children 10 and younger. Check it out if you’re nearby.

This is just Part 1 of this series so I’ll update you in a few months on my next few art adventures. If you would like to take a moment to show your support of the arts, sign Americans for the Arts Action Fund’s petition for support of the arts.

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!

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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.*

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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.*

Great Time at the Greatest Show on Earth!

As usual, we had a great time at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS. The performers were outstanding, the lights, the costumes, the special effects – all wonderful.

ringlingsnipRingling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS will be in Dayton, OH until September 27, 2016.

Kid’s tickets $12 – No code needed! Adult discount – Adults Save up to $4 with promo code FAMFUN.  Purchase tickets at Wright State University’s Nutter Center website. (Discount does not apply to Front Row or VIP seats.  No double discounts.  Child discount applies for ages 2-12.  Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.)

Get there about an hour early to enjoy the preshow! You’ll get up close to the performers and get in on the fun.

2015_09_24_Clockwork_1011aThen sit back and enjoy the show!

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Visit my last Ringling post for more information about this show.

*I received tickets in exchange for sharing information and my honest opinions.

Ringling Circus Back in Town

Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in all-new show – – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS.

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Experience unimaginable family fun as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and the mysterious visions that have only existed in your imagination and now materialize before your eyes: the Unicorn, Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS!

My girls can’t wait to see the circus again. The pre-show activities are so much fun and, of course, the performers are all amazing. I will definitely be checking out some Pinterest ideas and the Fun Zone for some fun ways to get ready to see the greatest show on earth.

circus fun snipMaybe we’ll even wear our tiger and ringmaster costumes from last Halloween!

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS across the country but they’ll be in Dayton, OH September 24 – 27, 2016.

Kid’s tickets $12 – No code needed! Adult discount – Adults Save up to $4 with promo code FAMFUN.  Purchase tickets at Wright State University’s Nutter Center website. (Discount does not apply to Front Row or VIP seats.  No double discounts.  Child discount applies for ages 2-12.  Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.)

Follow Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here’s your chance to win a Family Four-Pack to opening night at Wright State University’s Nutter Center, September 24, 2016 at 7:00 PM. Don’t forget the pre-show entertainment starting at 6:00 PM! Answer this question below and then enter to win!

Which toy company once owned the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus?
Enter Giveaway Here!

Enter by September 15, 2015, 11:59pm. Winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to claim their prize. Good luck!

 

*Tickets are only for September 24, 2016, 7:00 PM show. I was provided free tickets for my honest review. All opinions are my own.