The summer holidays are fast approaching and what better way to keep your little ones entertained on a not so sunny day, than one of the many blockbusters hitting theaters and DVD this summer? To give you a helping hand navigating the hundreds of new releases, we rounded up our top seven picks, guaranteed to keep the kids entertained (and maybe give you a laugh as well).
Jurassic World (PG-13)
Much like its predecessor, Jurassic World is a state-of-the-art dinosaur theme park. Once visitor numbers start to fall, a hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex is introduced to bring the crowds flocking back, with disastrous consequences. As one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2015, Jurassic World can be pre-ordered at retailers like Tesco. Combining brilliant visual effects and a thrilling storyline it will definitely keep even the most boisterous of kids quiet for a few hours.
Having visited the Grounds for Sculpture recently, I was keen to get outside and see some more when my parents visited me. My mother is involved in the art world, and when I told her Storm King wasn’t too far away, she was eager to go. And we’re so glad we did. Storm King is one of the premier sculpture gardens in the world. Set on 500+ acres, the 100 or so large scale sculptures have plenty of space for themselves.
Wear good walking shoes, because you’re going to do a lot of walking. And it’s hilly. Storm King recommends spending 4-6 hours on a visit, if you have the time, and that you won’t see everything. Our goal was to see everything. We thought we did, but later saw pictures on the guides of sculptures we somehow missed during the day. We were there about four hours, and our legs were tired by the end! (see the end notes for other ways to see Storm King, like on the tram or on bikes).
If you’ve ever studied art history or art in general, you’ll recognize some of the artist names here: Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, David Smith, Nam June Paik, Mark Di Suervo, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Sol Lewitt, Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg and more. They have works from all the heavyweight sculptors, focusing on monumental sculptures from the 1960s on. Continue reading “Review: Storm King Art Center”
One of the hidden gems of Boston are the Boston Harbor Islands. If you have an extra day (or half day) on your trip, consider going. There are 34 islands in all, 24 with archaeological activity on them. Not shockingly, Native Americans used these islands before we settlers did, for hunting, farming and other activities. You can visit 12 of the islands. This is part of our Boston series.
Even their recent history is interesting. The country’s oldest lighthouse was first built here in 1716, though the British burned it down in 1776 and rebuilt in 1783. That makes our own Sandy Hook lighthouse (built in 1764) the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. You can tour the lighthouse on Little Brewster Island on a different boat tour, along with two other lighthouses.
When we read about Duke Farms opening to the public a year ago (May 2012), we put it on our list to do. We finally went, albeit without kids (they’re at camp) but can’t wait to take them there.
Duke Farms is one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in New Jersey, made up of more than 2,700 acres. Doris Duke’s father, tobacco farmer J.B. Duke, bought the land as a luxury homestead, endowing it with formal gardens, water features and grand buildings like the one you see above. Of note, the family home is not available for touring (and we couldn’t even see where it was while there).
We went to Great Adventure’s safari a few years ago, when it was a stand-alone entrance or upgrade. Last year they closed it down to redo it, including it in the Great Adventure offerings as an attraction you don’t pay extra for. We heard about the three hour lines (and there’s even mention of that in the park. But we were smart – or so we thought – arriving at the park at opening bell (10:30 a.m.), hitting Kingda Ka first (10 minute wait!) and then the log ride right next to the safari entrance (10 minute wait) – figuring it was still really early and we’d have a relatively short wait.
It seems each year we make a summer trek to the New York Aquarium. This year was different. We made the trek a week or so after it reopened from Superstorm Sandy. Though normally open year-round, the Aquarium suffered flooding to its lower levels (and even a few week on the upper levels), power outages and equipment damage, forcing it to shut down for an estimated $65 million in total repairs ($7 million spent so far). It partially reopened Memorial Day weekend.
The kids were privileged (!) to see two cicadas mating yesterday- at least that’s what I think they were doing – right there in the Bank of America sidewalk in their parking lot. In the 20+ minutes we were in there (exchanging U.S. dollars for Canadian dollars for my trip to Toronto – yay!), they stayed at it, though moving slightly to a different part of the sidewalk.
You’ve probably heard about the cicadas taking over New Jersey and other parts of the country. It’s part of the 17 year cycle. I read all about their lifecycle on Wikipedia.
Last week we spotted the first few nymphs emerging from the ground. A block away there were reports of massive molting, and a few started appearing on our block. For us, the change was last night/this morning. On the walk to school there was a definite change. You have to look down if you want to avoid stepping on them. They were littering our front walk way. I’ve heard this will get much worse. They aren’t making noise yet and the ground isn’t undulating with the creatures.
Apparently these are called nymph shells. After the bug crawls out of the earth (almost a foot down), they shed their skins and become adults. You can see those skins everywhere, from the ground to the grass, to tree trunks and telephone poles to tires. Continue reading “Brood II Cicadas in New Jersey”