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!

screenshot_2016-12-31-09-20-41-1

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.

20160730_clockwork_1088b

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).

wizofoz-collage

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.

20160729_mika_3387

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)

travel Collage.jpg

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)

vaca-collage

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!

20161127_clockwork_1247acrop

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!

Advertisements

Enjoying Festival Season with Little Ones


This past weekend we went as a family to the annual Dayton Celtic Festival. It is just one of the many festivals around Dayton that happens from Spring until Fall every year.  We enjoy going to them as an opportunity to get a glimpse of other cultures and try new foods. Even though my husband and I aren’t crazy about large crowds, we have learned a few tricks to make attending festivals and other large events a little more bearable with small kids.

celtic collage

Pick the best times. I always try to get there a little before the actual start time to get a decent parking spot and be ahead of any food lines. If something is happening all weekend long, we opt for the first weeknight or Sunday for the lightest crowds.

Snacks and drinks. If you are able to, always pack some water or drinks and small snacks. You never know for sure how long the lines will be or if your child will actually find something they like to eat, plus bringing some “sides” will help you save a few bucks, too.

We got there at about 5:30p on a Friday afternoon with a quick snack of Cheerios available for the girls to munch on while we walked around a little bit looking at the vendors and picked up dinner. As soon as the event officially started, my husband got drink tickets while I snagged a table by a show tent that was about to have Irish dancers performing. By the time everyone was back together, the girls food had cooled enough for them to actually eat it, we had drinks, and the first performing group was up on stage – dinner and a show!

Plan your time there. Look up schedules on line before you go so you can decide if there is a presentation or act you want to see and plan accordingly.

Pick the right gear. As much as I love the baby carrier, for this festival, the right choice for us was the double, side-by-side stroller. I like being able to give each girl a seat to eat in or watch performers from (just in case we couldn’t find one) and be able to get them through the crowds without running the risk of one or more of them stopping to check out what is on a vendors table. In this case, I knew most of the areas would be paved and ramps available, plus we could put items in the storage area underneath.

While I have gotten a lot of use of the side-by-side, a draw back is that there isn’t much in the way of cup holders or a tray for the driver. I like being to have things like my phone, cash, something to drink, and maps easily accessible when we are out and about and I was always having to dig around for items in the little pockets of the stroller or in my bag underneath. That’s why I was happy to get the chance to review the SavvyBaby Stroller Organizer. #savvybaby

savvybaby

The SavvyBaby Stroller Organizer attaches to the handle bar with strong hook and loop strips and has multifunctional pockets. Two main part has two cup holder compartments, plus a divider running the middle to keep items from getting lost. It’s made from a neoprene fabric that helps hold items and stretches to fit there shape while be easy to clean. The front pocket was the perfect size for my phone, cash, and ID and has a little port to pass your headphones through. Need to step away from the stroller for a minute? Just unzip the whole front piece and take it with you.

It comes in black or a great chevron print and they toss in a free snack or toy leash that attached in a couple different ways so it will be perfect for any container or item and any stroller. It has been the perfect addition to the stroller for us plus, since it’s fabric, we can just leave it attached and the stroller folds right up when we are done. It would make a great baby shower gift, too.

Dayton has tons of festivals, from sweet corn to ribs, from Greek to German, and everything in between and we are looking forward to the rest of the season. What kind of festivals are in your neck of the woods?

*I was provided with a product in exchange for my honest review. Post contains affiliate links.*

MommyCon 2015 Ticket Giveaway!

MommyCon 2015 Ticket Giveaway!

I told you guys a little about MommyCon when I became a MommyCon blogger. I have been counting down the months until it comes to Columbus, Ohio on September 19, 2015. It has been fun connecting with other moms in the Facebook groups and learning from the veterans about how to make the most of the day.

Here are a few tips I have picked up:

  • Get ready to geek out. MommyCon is very kid-friendly but don’t be afraid to leave the little ones at home and enjoy your Mom time.
  • Look for deals for the area now. People have been able to get great deals on everything from hotels to parking to things to do with the kids before and after the event by keeping an eye out over the past few months.
  • Bring snacks. Even though there is food for sale, the lines tend to be long. If you have little ones with you, have dietary restrictions, or are just impatient, it’s a good idea to pack your lunch, or at least snacks and drinks. Also, leave it in the car if you can.
  • Standing room only. If you are taking kids with you, your best bet for the day is to plan on using a baby carrier and wearing a backpack. It sounds like they try to have a stroller check if you need to use one to get to the event but it will be pretty full of people so plan to carry babies and leave space in the backpack for fun finds and session materials.

For information about the Washington D.C., Columbus, Newport Beach and Seattle events, visit MommyCon. If there is a location you are interested in, scroll to the bottom to find the link to the Facebook group for the event and get in touch with other attendees. Of course, you can also follow them on social media to keep up to date with what is going on (and there are giveaways every now and then). Then, get ready for VIP tickets to go on sale closer to the actual date.

The ladies at MommyCon have been so great to work with. I am thrilled to be able to offer you a chance to win two general admission tickets to any MommyCon city in 2015! Follow the link below to enter by August 3, 2015, 11:59pm. Winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to claim their prize. Good luck!

Click here: Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t want to wait and take your chances, use the promo code DOMESTIC15 for $5 off your general admission ticket today (only good on general admission, not pre-sale or VIP). Military moms, check out the Military Ticketing Program.

MC_bloggerbadge_white

Shut the Front Door, Shutterfly!

I had to take a minute to let you guys know about some offers from Shutterfly. Now is the time to get that vacation photo book made (or baby book that is a year overdue). Stock up on freebies now and hold them for birthdays, holidays, whatever. You still have to pay shipping on most of these offers, but you are still getting a great deal. Just click on the red text below for the product you want to check out.

All customers enjoy one free 20-standard finish page 8×8 hard photo cover photo book with promo code SUNNYBOOK at checkout! Offer valid 6/24-30/2015.

Offer expires June 30, 2015 (11:59 P.M. PT). Offer is good for one free 20-standard finish page 8×8 hard photo cover photo book through shutterfly.com, our mobile-friendly site or Shutterfly apps. Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address. Taxes, shipping, and handling will apply. Customer may add options to their 8×8 book (additional pages, StorytellingTM styles and elements, photo book accessories, other cover types, etc.) at additional cost. Alternatively, customer may apply the current price of a 20-standard finish page 8×8 hard photo cover photo book (after taking into account any current discounts on shutterfly.com) toward the purchase of a larger photo book. Not valid on 5×7, 7×9, or 8×8 soft cover photo books, TripPix, prepaid plans, other products and prior purchases. Cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with other offers or credits. Not valid for resale.

All customers enjoy your choice of one free reusable shopping bag or one set of playing cards with promo code PICKAGIFT at checkout! Offer valid 6/24-26/15.

Offer expires June 26, 2015 (11:59 P.M. PT). Offer is good for one free reusable shopping bag or one set of playing cards through shutterfly.com or our mobile-friendly site. Must select one of the two products listed. Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. Not valid on other products, prepaid plans, prior purchases, orders placed for in-store pick up and purchases made on the Shutterfly apps. Cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with other offers or credits. Not valid for resale.

All customers enjoy your choice of one free kids placemat or one notepad with promo code CHOOSEONE at checkout! Offer valid 6/27-30/15.

Offer expires June 30, 2015 (11:59 P.M. PT). Offer is good for one free kids placemat or one notepad through shutterfly.com or our mobile-friendly site. Must select one of the two products listed. Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. Not valid on pet placemat, other products, prepaid plans, prior purchases, orders placed for in-store pick up and purchases made on the Shutterfly apps. Cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with other offers or credits. Not valid for resale.

While you are ordering these fun gifts, pick up on a card to go with it by using promo code CARD4U and some prints for yourself.

All customers enjoy 100 free 4×6 prints with promo code 100FREEPRINTS at checkout! Offer valid now until 6/30/15.

Offer expires 6/30/2015 (11:59 P.M. PT). Offer is good for 100 free 4×6 prints through shutterfly.com or our mobile-friendly site. Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. Not valid on other sizes, other products, prepaid plans, prior purchases, orders placed for in-store pick up and purchases made on the Shutterfly apps. Cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with other offers or credits. Not valid for resale.

Don’t forget, you can get free shipping with orders over $39 by using promo code SHIP39. Go to your account page now and put all of these promo codes in then happy creating!
Shutterfly Free Stuff

*Post contains affiliate links.*

Gallery

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?

Enjoying the Last Days of Winter

Yay! We’ve been healthy enough to venture out again a little bit and thankfully we are starting to thaw out a bit. After a couple of rough weeks, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and soon enough I’ll be complaining it’s too hot.

Last weekend we finally made it to Mad River Mountain last since we’ve been back in Dayton and we had a great day snow tubing. We even took the 18 month old down the mountain once. She didn’t cry, but she didn’t seem to particularly enjoy it so we only did that once.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My husband and I took turns taking the 4 year old down the mountain. She loved it!

snow tube Collage

I can’t say enough, however, how much I needed a nice relaxing day out. No temper tantrums were had. Minimal whining. I must have done well with the layering because it no one was cold – except that the 18 month old kept taking her gloves off. Everyone ate something for lunch. No one cried in the car – likely do to the DVD player with Sofia the First on.

tubers Collage

It was lovely.

This weekend was a little more laid back, getting a couple errands taken care of. On Saturday, we had lunch at 2nd Street Market and picked up a few goodies. It was actually warm enough to play outside and stomp in some slushy snow in the yard.

snow less Collage

Spring is on it’s way folks! Now, do I jinx it by washing and putting away the snow suits?

 

*I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.*

Check out MommyCon 2015 Events!

My husband is already sick of me talking about it, but I am on a mission to make it to MommyCon this year! I was trying to figure out how to make going to Chicago from Dayton without the little ones when I found out there will be a 2015 date in Ohio. EEK! It’s going to be in Columbus so I can just make a day trip out of it.

I can’t wait. Some of my favorite bloggers and educators like The Baby Guy NYC and Dirty Diaper Laundry are set to be on the tour. I hear the prizes and swag are amazing. With my littlest already a running ball of energy, I am planning on going by myself to spend the day soaking up as much of the seminars, workshops, and exhibits as possible. Don’t get me wrong, it is very kid-friendly – in fact children under 16 can attend free with paying parents – and I know I’ll probably wish I had brought my kids at certain points, but it’s an opportunity to, hopefully, get a little mommy rejuvenation time.

More information about the Columbus, Newport Beach and Seattle will be released February 1st, but you can visit MommyCon on the web and learn about their stops in Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Orlando, and Washington D.C. You have plenty of time to make plans to get to one near you this year. If there is a location you are interested in, scroll to the bottom to find the link to the Facebook group for the event and get in touch with other attendees. Of course, you can also follow them on social media to keep up to date with what is going on (and there are giveaways every now and then).

I hope you can make it to one, too! If you do, use the promo code DOMESTIC15 for $5 off your general admission ticket (only good on general admission, not pre-sale or VIP). Have fun!

MC_bloggerbadge_white