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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Military Spouse Wellness Summit – FREE Online Event!

Calling all military spouses! InDependent, The Army Wife Network, and The USAA Educational Foundation bring you the first-ever Military Spouse Wellness Summit: Invest in Yourself 2015. They have put together a group of ten health, nutrition, fitness, and financial experts who are all eager to help you thrive as a military spouse.

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All summit registrants will get a FREE one-year membership to Thrive Market. PLUS, one week of virtual, online health training by Fit. Active. Toned. Everyone who registers for the event will also be eligible to win exclusive giveaways by MetLife Dental, MSB New Media, SpouseBox, Elva Publishing, QALO rings, Lucy Activewear, and many more, including a wellness themed grand prize offered by SpouseBox! The grand prize has a retail value of $500!

The Summit begins Monday, October 19 and ends Friday, October 23 with a bonus day Saturday when we announce our big-prize winner! Listen online! Join us while on a walk enjoying the fall weather or tearing it up on the treadmill at the gym. The recordings will available during the week of the event (Oct. 19-24).

What are you waiting for? Register for this FREE online summit today by clicking here. Then, join the group on Facebook for information as the event gets closer.

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*Post contains affiliate link.*

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Wright Company Factory Instameet #WrightFactoryMeet

2015_06_13_9854 My family and I went to our first Instameet this past weekend. A collaboration with National Aviation Heritage, Wright Memorial Library, and DaytonGram allowed the public into the Wright Company Factory building that is currently vacant and is going to be undergoing renovations soon. Check hashtag #wrightfactorymeet on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see everyone’s images. instagram photo 1 It has severed as a production facility for a few different businesses over the years and it was very interesting to see the layered in evidence in this old building. I really hope to be able to participate in something like this again in the future. 2015_06_13_9859 2015_06_13_9910 2015_06_13_9872 2015_06_13_9865 2015_06_13_9935 2015_06_13_9927 2015_06_13_9907 2015_06_13_9902 2015_06_13_9900 2015_06_13_9896 2015_06_13_9864 2015_06_13_9925 2015_06_13_9919 I seem to have developed a mild crush on all of the peeling paint. 2015_06_13_9886 2015_06_13_9873 2015_06_13_9934 2015_06_13_9918 Outside of the building, nature it doing its best to reclaim the grounds. 2015_06_13_9957 2015_06_13_9962 2015_06_13_9964 We took our girls with us. Aubrey stayed in the carrier the entire time we were inside the building to keep her away from anything harmful. We gave Kelsey her “little blue camer” (not a typo, that’s how she pronounces camera) so she could take photos, too. 2015_06_13_9932 2015_06_13_9936 Here are a few of Kelsey’s photos. Are there any good photo spots near you?

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#SpreadtheLovey Campaign with Baby Jack and Co

It’s almost Memorial Day. Yes, it is a chance to have a little family fun, but more importantly, it’s a chance to reflect and remember the sacrifice of many that chose to serve their country and paid the ultimate price.  While Memorial Day recognizes those that have passed in the line of duty, it’s not that far of a leap for us to also think about all the men and women that serve in the armed forces currently. As the spouse of an active duty member, I hope that Memorial Day always remains a sunny, family-filled, long weekend without any personal connections.

Our military members don’t serve alone. When they are called away, whether it’s the other side if the country or the other side of the world, their families are left behind. In these situations, some children find a lovely item very comforting and reassuring. This Memorial Day weekend, you have a chance to help families that may be in the middle of a long separation. Join the #SpreadTheLovey campaign with Baby Jack and Company and donate $18 to gift a Baby Jack and Company Flag Lovey to a military child. They will ship donations for free to Kindness Reps around the country, including four that work with military families. This weekend, make sure to use code SPREADTHELOVEYTCOP for free shipping and to make your purchase count towards donations to The Carrying On Project.

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Baby Jack and Company makes loveys with closed tabs, so that they don’t get stuck or twisted around tiny fingers, and that can clip on to carriers, car seats, and strollers. Based out of Milwaukee, WI, Baby Jack and Company employs a team of moms to make their unique and modern product that grows with your child. Visit Baby Jack and Company to donate a Flag Lovey today. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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This weekend, Baby Jack and Company is going above and beyond by donating a percentage of ALL sales to The Carrying On Project #Military Families. The Carrying On Project provides baby carriers of all styles to military families and I have personally been touched, having received a Catbirdbaby soft structured carrier. It was a huge sanity saver being with an active preschooler and a clingy infant all day. We still use it regularly.

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I also recently got to represent The Carrying On Project at a local Operation Homefront Star Spangled Baby Shower in our area where I got to help give away about 45 carriers to military moms! If you are going to a MommyCon event this year (use code DOMESTIC15 for $5 off), be sure to 1) “like” The Carrying On Project on Facebook or Instagram so you can get the secret code she sometimes has for special prizes and 2) be sure to stop by their table and let them know how awesome they are.

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The #SpreadtheLovey campaign is being featured by The Baby Guy this weekend. They have teamed up to give FIVE of you a chance to win a lovey of your choice and FIVE to #SpreadtheLovey to a friend or child in need.

Buy a lovey, donate a lovey, or just check everyone out on social media!

We have a chance for you to win one right here, too! Follow the link below to enter to win. This giveaway is open from May 22, 2015 to June 2, 2015, 11:59pm. The winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to claim their prize. Baby Jack and Company is responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

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*Giveaway prize is being supplied by Baby Jack and Company but I was not compensated for this post. This implies no relationship to TheBabyGuyNYC. This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own.*

Army Spouses with Children, Sign UP for Project CAPS Today!

If you are or know an Army spouse with children ages 3-7 years old, please read below for more information about a COMPENSATED online survey opportunity:

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Project Caps (Child Adjustment to Parental Separation) is a Department of Defense-funded research project located at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Drs. Julie Wargo Aikins and Deane Aikins are trying to better understand the impact of Soldiers’ deployments on Spouses and young children. Participants will receive up to $50 once the survey is completed. To apply, please visit: http://bit.ly/msbwayne

Wayne State University is working on a DOD-funded research project called “Project Caps” to help them better understand the impact of soldier’s deployments on military spouses and young children. They are in need of Army spouses of currently deployed service members with small children between the ages of 3-7 to participate in a compensated online survey.
 
To apply visit: http://bit.ly/msbwayne
For more information, visit: http://projectcaps.com/about/information/
 
 
 
* I was compensated for this post as a MSB New Media blogger. All opinions are my own. Domesticating Michelle is not responsible for the online survey mentioned above nor the compensation for participating in it. #ad #spon #ArmyWifeSurvey *

Memorial Day 2014

When I worked for the Girl Scouts a few years back and when we lived in Dayton the first time, one of my tasks was coordinating Girl Scout participation for the annual grave decorating at the Dayton National Cemetery.

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We have gone to some sort of Memorial Day observance every year since Kelsey was born but I was happy to be able to bring her out to this event this year. I think it is important for her to have some sort of foundation for understanding the sacrifices that others in her fathers line of work have made.

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I know that it was just fun to her to put the flags at the tombstones but it also gives us a moment to explain why we where doing it and that the flags doesn’t touch the ground, etc. Of course, there was also time to roll around in the grass and do a letter scavenger hunt while we waiting.

My husband’s grandfather was career military as was his father. What I think is an interesting fact from his family is that everyone one of this aunts and uncles (there are 8 of them total) served for at least some time, as well. For me, I think the military is a sort of family tradition and would not be surprised if our daughters went into the service when they were old enough.

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The rest of the weekend we will just be a regular family enjoying some time together and hanging out with neighbors. It is good to remember those that do not have their family members with them anymore but it is also good to celebrate the family we do have.

What did your family do this weekend?

A Day at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The USO of Central Ohio, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Pepsi, and Kroger partnered to donate 10,000 tickets to the opening weekend of Zoombezi Bay, a water park on the grounds of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, to military members and their families. I know we were thrilled to find out about this great offer and I know lots of other families were, too.

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As much as I was looking forward to it, mid-60 degree weather was just a little too chilly for us to enjoy the water but thankfully it included entry to the zoo and aquarium as well. Turns out sunny and a little cool is great zoo weather! We had a great day and it was really nice to be able to take Kelsey to see the animals, since she loves looking at them and take Aubrey to her first time to a zoo.

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Not only is there the zoo, but there is an aquarium, a separate area with amusement rides, and, finally, the water park, Zoombezi Bay. We’ll definitely have to try to make it back since they are opening their Heart of Africa exhibit this coming weekend which happens to be my favorite area, as far as zoo animals are concerned. Check out Columbus Zoo and Aquarium online for tons of other events, programs, and information.

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I can’t thank businesses enough that give military families these types of opportunities. If you are military, find your local USO on Facebook so you can find out about activities in your area (Sesame Street should be coming here next month!). If you are near Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, I would recommend checking them out – Military Family Free Days June 30-July 6, 2014.

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