Museum of Play

A few weeks ago Luke’s brother and family came to stay with us for the weekend on their way to New York City. We tried to think of what to do with them in this very wintery and snowy season and decided to talk them to Strong’s Museum of Play in Rochester.

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We had heard it was a great museum and my cousins had gone with grandparents there years ago but we have had not excuse to go  . ..  until now.

Luke’s brother had to stay home and work on a paper so it was Luke, myself, our sister in law Ruth and the niece and nephew: Lizbeth and Matthew. When we got up there we decided to first go to a magic show.

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Lizbeth (4)  loved it but Matthew (2) was a little squirmy so Uncle Luke took him to go play somewhere else until the show ended. When we got out of the magic show we took off to let the kids explore and they were overwhelmed. There were many kids and many places to play and explore. With an open floor plan the adults were playing a game too: how three adults can keep track of the two children.

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Matthew who loves trains enjoyed riding the train with his sister and Aunt (me) since they are still too short to ride alone. Although we enjoyed the open floor plan play we knew the kids were tired of it and so we moved on to the next place my favorite: Reading Adventure land (yes I’m an English teacher).

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Each little play area was based on a genre of books: mystery, fantasy, adventure, fairytale. In each section there were museum collections of toys, movie memorabilia, crafts, and things to climb, props to dress up in and buttons to push. On top of all of that each area had books from that genre you could check out from the Museum using a Monroe County Library card.

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Lizbeth spent over an hour in the fairytale land climbing jack’s beans stalk and playing “house” in the gingerbread house. Meanwhile Matthew explored the shipwrecked ship in the adventure area and made a crown at King Arthur’s round table. While they were busy playing in the same place within Mom’s eyeshot Luke and I decided to explore on our own.

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We walked around the comic-books superhero area where Luke and I were able to have some fun of our own: playing an old arcade game Captain America and the Avengers.

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Eventually tired of the adventure-land area the kids moved on to the Bernstein Bear playhouse room. A replica of the Bernstein Bear world the kids could play grocers, quilt shop owner, work in the wood shop, farmers market, restaurant among other play areas.

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Once again the kids content Luke and I decided to explore again on our own. We went upstairs to the travel through time area. This area was fun for us because each museum area was dedicated to memorabilia and toys from a different decade including toys to play with for that era. (Sorry not pictures my phone died).

Then we found the grown-up play area: the arcade.On the outside walls were many popular games such as a giant light bright, tetris with giant joy sticks, guitar hero, older pixel computer game some newer (2000’s) and some older (1980’s) all fun. In the middle was a tokened game area with arcade games including frogger, pac man, Atari star wars x fighter games, pinball machines and many more.

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We caught up with the niece and nephew back in the Bernstein Bear area where they were contently playing in the farmers market watching produce go up through the mill and into the barn. It was getting close to dinner time so we headed to the front of and had a short ride on the carousel before heading back into the snow.

Once settled in the car and after snacks both kids were sound asleep as we drove back to our house. It was a successful day of play.

 

An Ithaca birthday adventure

As I mentioned on my birthday, this past weekend we took a trip to the college town Ithaca for some summer b-day  fun. We got moving slowly in the morning because we went to the local drive-in theatre Friday night and didn’t get to sleep until 2:30am.

Fortunately Luke made us some irish cream lattes for the road. By noon we were traveling through the green tree covered hills with the windows down passing small villages and lake side towns.

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We arrived in Ithaca around 1pm and drove straight to the steamboat dock. Here at the base of Cayuga lake is Ithaca’s famous Saturday Farmer’s Market.

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We entered the wood covering strung with lights and began to look around. Like a true farmers market there were many stalls of fresh local herbs, vegetables and fruits, garden plants, dairy products, and meats. But much like the more permanent Pike’s Place Market there were also vendors selling local maple syrup, honey, cheese, wine and hard cider all up for tasting and sampling.

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Interspersed between the food goods were vendor stalls with homemade crafts, pottery, jewelry, paintings, photographs, incense and essential oils, woodworking and even hammocks. This was a great place to people watch or listen to a street musician playing an acoustic guitar.

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There were also many food vendors from around the world: Cuban, Tibetan, Cambodian, Thai, French, and Mediterranean to name a few. Luke and I chose to order buckwheat gluten-free crepes stuffed with ricotta and spinach and topped with a mozzarella herb sauce. We took our food and sat down on the dock watching the ducks, boats, and kayakers on the lake as we ate.

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Satisfied with our market experience, we left with a local bottle of hard cider and stomachs full ready for the next stage of the adventure.

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Driving up the hills we stopped at Buttermilk State Park. This park hosts trails and bridges spanning from the top of lake Treman, to waterfalls through the gorge, all the way down to Buttermilk Falls base where there is a swimming hole. We took the gorge trail down to Buttermilk Falls named for the foamy white water which falls over the grated slate.

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It was a very hot and humid day but it cooled off considerably once we took a few flights of stairs down onto the gorge trail and stood under the cover of the trees lining the gorge’s rim. The gorge trail follows the river as it passes over slabs of slate creating several unique mini-falls along the way.

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Everyone and their dogs, were taking breaks from the humid trail to splash barefoot in the shallow waterways between the waterfalls.

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After our hike, I was ready to cool down my cherry red skin. So we headed to yogurtland.  After sampling a few flavors I chose a bowl of tart blackberry passionfruit swirled with original and a small amount of vanilla topped with cheesecake bits, strawberries, and yogurt chips.

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After our sugary cold treat, we checked out the campsite at the base of Buttermilk state Park then drove up to the commons, the central college area for Ithaca College and Cornell.

After a walk around we drove back down the hill and ended up at A Taste of Thai. I ordered my favorite norm: red curry with chicken and Luke tried their Rad Nah drunken spicy noodles. I was happy to get red curry as good as they come with plenty of fresh chicken, basil, peppers, and bamboo shoots.

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When we arrived back home Luke commented that he saw a firefly. Excited I got out and watched, sure enough I saw that yellow flashing light moving along the grass in our backyard! I guess that is one benefit of living in some humidity.

That was my Ithaca birthday adventure.

Do you have a favorite Farmer’s Market?

How do you like your frozen yogurt?

Passport to new beginnings

                  Part of the name-changing process, as I mentioned in Becoming Mrs. ___________, is getting a new passport. Although I was a little sentimental about my CA drivers license and license plate, as made obvious by my I’m a New Yorker?!  post, I’m even more sentimental about my passport.

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                 In case you didn’t know, I traveled quite a bit in college. In fact 10 countries in 3 years!
My first time off the North American continent was in 2007. I embarked on a seven-week global internship backpacking through Guatemala, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. It was a humbling experience being apart of lives of many who have less than I do and therefore have more: gratefulness, humility, generosity, patience, and gentleness. The people we stayed and volunteered with treated us strangers like family.

Coral beach in the Philippines

Coral beach in the Philippines

Hong Kong's busy streets

Hong Kong’s busy streets

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Passport stamps from Guatemala, The Philippines, and Hong Kong.

                A year later I went on a two-week summer performing tour of Italy with my College Concert Choir. I got the opportunity to visit many famous historic locations and sing in many as well including San Marco’s Basilica in Venice and Mary Maggiore Basilica in Rome! I now understand the pride these people have for their native language, culture, food, history, and beliefs.

Siena in Tuscany

Siena in Tuscany

rehearsal in San Marco's Basilica

rehearsal in San Marco’s Basilica

Me holding gelato in front of San Marco Basilica in Venice

Me holding gelato in front of San Marco Basilica in Venice

                 Skip ahead to 2010,  I am off to the Middle East for a semester abroad. I lived in Cairo Egypt for two months studying Arabic, Egyptian current events and history, and Islam. Then we traveled to Turkey, Syria, The Kingdom of Jordan, and Israel where we met with many local politicians, religious leaders, non-profit workers, university students, writers etc. who share about their country’s history, current events, politics, and religion(s). If you want to know more about my semester in the Middle East click here!

Me  . . well I hope you can guess where I am here lol

Me . . well I hope you can guess where I am here lol

Me at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Me at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Me at the Krak Des Chevaliers in Syria

Me at the Krak Des Chevaliers in Syria

Me inside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

Me inside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

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Visa and stamps for Egypt

         My passport is marked up; but it is not full. Many of the people I know from college, my Master’s degree, and my semester abroad  have chose to teach, volunteer,  study, and explore other countries. It is hard at times to not be jealous.

                But I don’t regret the choices I have made. I love my husband and being married. We are here in New York for now. We both have a desire, after a few years, to move to another country which could put our knowledge, experience, education, and careers to good use. The new Amanda Greene passport will be used for that purpose. For now it’s blank pages will be a reminder to have hope in the many exciting adventures I know are ahead of us.