Like the Imagination Station in Toledo, the Boonshoft Museum in Dayton is one of those museums you can go with your kids, stay over four hours, and still not have them ready to leave. The museum truly has a little of everything — from a mummy and Egyptian artifacts to a touchable tidal pool to a miniature zoo to climbing structures for kids to displays of Lego towns to skeletons of common animals. We heard a presentation from a woman who had been on a six-week scientific voyage to the North Pole earlier this year, saw the coolest movie (“Digital Amusement Park Ride”) in the planetarium (this movie won international awards for special effects — if you ever get the chance to see it, do — it was super cool, creative and fun) and my daughter and husband made “snow” from the stuff inside diapers and water. We truly could have stayed longer had we not had a three-hour drive back to Akron. Admission is free for zoo or science museum members, you can bring in your own food and the only extra costs are the movies in the planetarium (they run 5 or 6 different ones a day).
Archive for December, 2009
I spent a lot of my childhood playing card games and board games. As a wee one, I couldn’t get enough of “Memory”, “Candyland” and “Hi Ho Cherry-O”. When I was older, I graduated to games like “Monopoly” and “Scrabble”, which I always lost to my three older sisters or my mom. By the time I was a young adult, I only wanted to play “Solitaire” or games I was good at and pretty sure to win. My ex-husband didn’t like games at all, so playing games together or with others wasn’t an option. In the 20 years since, for whatever reason, I’ve had little interest in playing board games of any sort, which is unfortunate because now, with children of my own, I feel like a bad mom because we don’t spend our free time together playing board games. We have a couple classics like “Memory” but it takes a huge effort on my part to play. I just don’t want to. And I refuse to own games like “Trouble” and “Sorry” where part of the “fun” is to screw the other players. I’d much rather do things with the kids that are cooperative, like jigsaw puzzles. I force myself to play games enough to teach the kids things like how to take turns, how to win and lose gracefully, and how not to cheat, but that’s as far as I’ll go. My husband has no more interest in playing games with them than I do, and it’s not like the kids are even asking us to play games with them … so why do I feel so guilty about the whole thing?? (P.S. There are no video or handheld games in our house at all, but that’s a different issue … )
for this text message. Or so it seemed! At my husband’s family’s Christmas thing, you couldn’t turn around without seeing someone texting. At my family’s, my niece texted pretty much the entire time we were all opening presents. Does this drive anyone nuts besides me? A normally peaceful sort, I just want to take their phones and throw them across the room. Add music players and game things and it’s like these people aren’t even there. It’s not just teenagers, either, it’s parents, too. Is it me, or is there just something not right about this??
In the summer of 2007, our family visited the COSI in Toledo. We all really liked it (in fact, I preferred it to the one in Columbus), and were disappointed when we found out it closed just a couple months later, in December 2007. Quite randomly, I just found out that the science center reopened this past October and is now called “Imagination Station Toledo”, so we took the two-hour drive there today to check it out. (Word of note: Sunday hours are 12-5, but if you plan on arriving around 11:20 to enjoy an early lunch nearby before the center opens, you’re out of luck. The entire downtown is just about closed; the only place we found was Tony Packo’s across from the ball park.) Anyhow, I’m happy to say that reciprocal science center members get in free which is ALWAYS a big plus!! So if this tells you anything about how much fun the kids were having: we got in about 12:20 and left when the museum closed. And if this tells you anything about the broad appeal of the museum: teenagers and couples without kids were coming in as well as multi-generational families. I can’t even tell you the highlights – pretty much everything was fun – the science shows were full of explosions, we all took a simulated race car ride (just $1 extra a person), my husband walked a tightrope in the special “Circus” traveling exhibit, I tried to be a human yo-yo, we felt what it was like to be in a Category 1 hurricane (my daughter’s headband flew off her head!) — it just goes on and on. Visit www.imaginationstationtoledo.org for more details and plan a day trip of your own!
Why was this movie only in the first-run theatres for a month? Critics loved it and today, seeing it at a second-run theatre at a TOTAL cost of $10.50 for SEVEN of us, three generations (my husband and I, our children, and my husband’s parents) loved it too! Although I think I was almost as excited as finding a second-run theatre that shows 10 movies as I was at seeing the movie itself! I grew up going to a second-run theatre (Mapletown, in Maple Hts., where I started seeing movies for $.25 when I was still under 12) and lived a lot of life there and at the McDonald’s across the street. But I digress! Many parents have been complaining that the family movie fare offered this holiday season is severely lacking, but at the Cinemark 10 on Dressler Road in North Canton, today there were four: The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Astro Boy and Where the Wild Things Are. I had wanted to see Fox, but it was pulled from the first-run theatres too soon. I checked the Web yesterday and found it currently playing in four places in Northeast Ohio: North Canton, Middleburgh Heights, Niles and Youngstown. That’s just crazy. The movie, based on a book by Roald Dahl, is fresh, funny and just plain good. It even makes some Top 10 Movies of the Year, like MSN’s. So tell me again why, just six weeks after its release, is it only in four theatres in all of Northeast Ohio?
Looks like Northeast Ohio is being spared — again — from the vicious weather affecting most of the rest of the country. So today, with the temperatures in the 30s and a light layer of snow on the path at Hampton Hills Metropark, our family did what we don’t do nearly enough in the winter – take a walk in a winter wonderland. It’s free, it’s healthy, it’s scenic, it’s quality time and if you wear shoes with traction, it’s not too hazardous (there’s a thin layer of ice under the snow and a lot of hills). Definitely one of life’s simple pleasures in a season that sometimes seems way too complicated.
Who remembers “Cleveland P.M” restaurant on, what was it, Granger Road? This blog is not about the restaurant, though, despite the fond memories I have of it. It’s a short recap of the four places our family went to Cleveland this afternoon. We didn’t leave home until about 1, and our first stop was the Rockefeller Greenhouse (free). We had never been inside and it was much bigger than we thought. The holiday display of poinsettias was impressive! A few minutes away was the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, where we made our annual stop to see the gingerbread houses. Last year’s offering was very small; this year’s is huge — 60+ I think. It is so fun to see the creativity of people (kids, adults, families and professionals) — from Godzilla to Who-ville to Under the Sea. (Free to us thanks to our Stan Hywet Membership, we only had to pay for parking.) Then it was time to eat so of course we headed straight for Little Italy: dinner at Presti’s, then cookies from Corbo’s (we had never stopped into Corbo’s before – the raspberry-filled cookies from the bakery were OUT OF THIS WORLD!). Our last stop was the lighting display at Nela Park in East Cleveland. It only takes a few minutes to make the short walk to check them out and that’s free too. We were home by 6:45, stuffed full of holiday cheer and Corbo’s cookies with only minimal damage to the wallet!
Watching music videos regularly isn’t something I’ve done since I was like 20. (Though if you remember the birth of MTV in the ’80s and its first game show, “Remote Control” — did you know host Ken Ober died last month at the age of 52?) Anyway, I’ve been out of that whole genre for a long, long time — but a couple weeks ago I was scanning my niece’s iPod Nano and came across the video for “1,2,3, 4″ by the Plain White T’s. I had actually downloaded the song a couple months ago but had never seen the video. It’s such a sweet tribute to relationships of all kinds and to the city of Chicago as well. I like that it puts a smile on my face the whole time I watch it.
I had such high hopes for this movie. Not just because of the buzz it’s generating, but because of its two Akron connections — it’s based on a novel by Akron native Walter Kirn, and the soundtrack features a song from Akronite Dan Auerbach. Plus, I really really liked director Jason Reitmann’s two previous films: “Thank you for smoking” and “Juno.” But, despite the perfect casting of the four leads, I left the theater thinking it was good, not great, and definitely not the best film of the year. I thought the depiction of the current corporate climate and business travel was excellently done, but I had lot of other issues with the story and when I think a movie’s really good I don’t spend the rest of the day saying “And another thing … such and such would never really happen.” I actually hadn’t seen the trailer until tonight, when I was furiously reading the reviews of top critics to see why they really really liked the movie and I didn’t, and honestly, I like the trailer a whole lot better than the movie. I’m pretty picky when it comes to movies, and I know I annoy others when I start dissecting a movie (except my husband, who generally agrees with me, though he doesn’t care nearly as much as I do). “It’s just a movie,” they always sigh in exasperation. Yeah, so? I think. Why can’t a movie that’s supposed to be realistic be a little more realistic?
For example, WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS: a woman who’s having a casual, no-strings affair as an escape from her real life with husband and kids would probably not fly to upper Wisconsin in winter for a weekend to be with her lover and his estranged family when his sister gets married (isn’t that a bit too intimate and stressful for a casual extra-marital affair that she wants to keep casual – to meet his family, be his date and visit his old high school, etc.?), and that he has no clue she’s married with children then or at any other point in their relationship? Also, that after her experience with Ryan on the road that Natalie would have returned to corporate to happily oversee the rollout of the Internet firings? Did the whole experience on the road actually not change her at all, until she found out someone had killed herself after being fired? That Ryan would have absolutely no recollection of the woman who said she was going to jump off a bridge and kill herself when he found out a woman actually had – I know he said lots of people made threats – but Natalie had to leave the building after that one and they had a pretty extensive conversation about the likelihood of that actually happening. Plus, it was great (albeit predictable) he donated the air miles so his sister and her new husband could travel around the world since money was tight with them and they couldn’t even afford a honeymoon – but was he also going to donate all the hotel rooms, food and entertainment costs as well? Otherwise, why would you give someone with no money airfare to go around the world? I also found it unlikely that a 23-year-old hotshot graduate from Cornell would be telling Ryan and Alex that she had thought by 23 she’d be married and maybe with a baby. Someone who has that life plan in mind probably wouldn’t go to Cornell and be so career-driven (did she think she’d graduate at 22, then find a husband, get married and give birth in a year all while working for a Fortune 500 company?). Some of the movie reviews I read said that Natalie was Ryan “then” and Alex was Ryan “now”. I disagree with that, too. Ryan never thought a close relationship was necessary and lived his life that way; Natalie, who followed her boyfriend from San Francisco to Omaha, obviously thinks differently and often lectured Ryan about his isolation. I also read that the movie people auditioned people who had really lost their jobs to play some of the parts of the people who were being fired. I thought there was an obvious difference between them and the real actors — the real people seemed stiff and their reactions didn’t seem genuine. Also, at the end of the movie you’re supposed the think that Ryan’s back where he started from, but I don’t think so. He showed some heart by helping talk his sister’s fiancee out of his cold feet, writing a recommendation letter for Natalie, and showing he really did want a relationship when he showed up at Alex’s door. Sure, she obviously wasn’t the one for him in the end, but I think, once he recovers from her, he would be ready to look for a real relationship. Okay, okay, I’ll stop, although there’s more. This is why I shouldn’t start in the first place.
Anyway, my husband and I drove all the way up to Independence to see this movie because it’s still in limited release and I am glad I saw it because otherwise I would have wondered what I was missing, but give me “Up” instead of “Up in the air” any day for a movie to really make me laugh, cry and reflect on life and the importance of relationships.
When I was a kid living in a suburb of Cleveland, taking the bus downtown, eating lunch in the old Higbee’s building and going to the Terminal Tower’s observation deck was one of my most favorite super-special things to do. I still think there’s nothing like a bird’s eye view of a city and when I travel, I make it a point to see the city from the top. Places like Toronto, New York, Chicago and Seattle make it easy (though not always inexpensively, that ‘s for sure). But since 9/11/01, you can’t do it from the Terminal Tower anymore “for security reasons”. This Web site: http://www.clevelandskyscrapers.com/cleveland/clesky500.html says:
“Please note that the Terminal Tower’s 42nd floor observation deck is NOT open to the public due to security concerns.
The Terminal Tower is currently undergoing an extensive renovation. Renovation crews have constructed a large scaffolding structure on the tower’s upper floors.”
I rarely go to the Terminal Tower anymore, but I really want my husband and kids to have the same experience I did. I don’t know what this “extensive renovation” means, but I hope it means they will reopen the observation deck of this beautiful building to visitors sooner rather than later!