Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Night at Strong

After my long day Saturday, it was a challenge to get up and out of bed on Sunday.  I was all alone as the boys had gone to Buffalo on Saturday so Craig could attend a fundraiser, so I knew I just had to get myself ready for church, which seemed much more doable than the average Sunday morning.  I stopped at Wegmans on the way home, and the boys got home shortly thereafter.  We went out to lunch so Jacob could try the new gluten-free crust at Uno, then went to our nephew's hockey game, which happened to be nearby.  It was ironic it was near us, since the boys just came from hanging out with Craig's brother's family in Buffalo, but the kids got some bonus cousin time and it was nice to see our nephew play.  Craig and Jacob had to leave before it was over, though, so Jacob could make it to lacrosse practice, and after the game Carter and I said our goodbyes and headed home.  Not surprisingly, he fell asleep on the way there.  Normally that would freak me out and I'd be desperately trying to wake him up, but I knew we had a busy night ahead that could exhaust him before bedtime, and I figured the nap might reset him from the overtired, hyper behavior he'd had the rest of the day.  So, once we got home, I plopped him on me and we rested on the couch for a while.  It was nice, since he so rarely sleeps on me these days.  I know these times are extra limited now, so I'm enjoying them while I can.

Eventually I had to wake him up so we could eat some dinner and get on the road for our night at Strong Museum!  It's been a while since we were there, and I was excited for Carter to get a chance to see it now that he's getting bigger.  As we ate dinner, the skies were crazy.  There were dark clouds everywhere, but off to the west the clouds ended abruptly and the sun was shining brightly beneath them.  As the sun set further, it lit the underside of the clouds and made everything have this crazy golden glow.  This picture doesn't even begin to do it justice!

We met up with Craig and Jacob right when we got there, as they pulled in from practice directly ahead of us!  I knew it was a bit of a risk to have Jacob there, as he's getting bigger than a lot of the exhibits are targeting, and obviously he and Carter have a hard time playing in the same area.  I will say that he's been making more of an effort to play with Carter, but he still needs to work on his patience and temper when Carter doesn't play exactly as he'd like him to.  Baby steps, though...

I got a picture of Carter in Big Bird's nest on the way in, though we honestly skipped most of the Sesame Street area as a) our time was super limited; and b) he's never been a big fan.  He's always liked Elmo and been fine with it when we've read books with the characters, but it's never really been his first choice.  Not that it matters these days as the quality doesn't strike me as quite what it was when I was a kid...but I digress...

They had a special dinosaur exhibit, and Carter tried digging for fossils...

Then he posed with one of the dinosaurs...

...and then another

I can't remember what this little area was supposed to be, but Carter liked the lights!

I loved how he gave this one a hug!

Carter tried to sit on a dinosaur's nest with eggs, but he was a little small.  However, Craig came in--not having seen Carter try--and he decided to give it a try himself!

We moved on the superhero area, and Jacob and Carter worked together to be "zapped" with superpowers to lift this thing up.  It's too heavy until you press a button and get "zapped", and then it's easy to lift.  It was cute watching them try together.  At least we had one moment of harmony, until each wanted to do it without help!

The Toy Hall of Fame area has been upgraded since I was last there, and it looked very dramatic from below on a dark evening...

Also new since my last visit was the addition of a pinball machine room!  Many of these used to be upstairs with the other video games, but this old store had been converted to house a ton of games and a few historical and technical educational features.  Sharing was a bit of a problem here, as well, and shortly thereafter it was time for the big boys to head home, as they'd done what Jacob was into and keeping him there would only have led to trouble. 
Note the flippers flanking the entrance and the silver ball just inside

Carter and I headed into the Berenstain Bears section, and he actually gave every member of the family a hug!

We haven't read many of these books yet, just a few, but I have a couple from my childhood and we've gotten a couple from the library.  They're a bit long for him most of the time, but I guess he likes the characters!  He tried his hand at playing with money in the quilting shop...

...then moved on to the workshop...

We tried out many of the other areas, including the farm conveyor belt, the playhouse slide, and the dentist...
Pulled teeth...ouch!
In the storybook area, he sat so nicely with the troll near the troll bridge...

Then he decided to climb the "beanstalk".  Unfortunately, he got up but couldn't figure out how to come down.  At first he was just going to go backward down the up ramps, but then a bunch of kids came in and that wasn't going to work.  After a lot of yelling to him, a couple kids convinced him to follow them, and eventually he made his way back down.  Thank goodness I didn't have to climb in there myself!

We were starting to run out of time, so we ventured upstairs to another newly renovated area that focused on classic toys--dolls, building toys, trucks, etc.  I always love seeing toys I owned in the displays...
I had at least one (maybe two) of those Strawberry Shortcake dolls on the left (still in my parents' attic), and a couple of those Care Bears are in my crawl space right now.  Oh, and I did have some of those little Smurfs on the left, too.
And then there's this guy.  I vividly remember being at a gift-type store with my grandma, and I desperately wanted this guy.  However, she thought he was terribly ugly and I ended up with a little china tea set instead.  I still have the tea set (minus a couple handles), but I couldn't help but smile when I saw E.T. sitting there!

Meanwhile, Carter was having fun playing with magnetic Hot Wheel car tracks and digger trucks.  He loved scooping and dumping the plastic rocks...I could barely drag him away!

As time ticked down to closing, I asked Carter one more time if he wanted to go see the butterflies.  I'm not really a fan of butterfly enclosures because they freak me out when they fly near me (they are still bugs, after all), but 1) it's cool in its own way; 2) I can focus on taking a cool picture and that helps with the anxiety; and 3) this is the one time we can get in there for free (normally there's an upcharge), so when we're at this event I try to push it a bit harder.  He had refused previously, which I think was partly because I made him nervous about stepping on one.  But this last time I asked him, he said yes.  When we got down there, they had just cut it off, but the attendant let us in anyway.  We only had about 10 minutes, if that, so we rushed through and looked at butterflies, giant goldfish, turtles, and cool plants.  I didn't really get any award-worthy photos, but I like these...
This one was pretty big!  I freaked out a little as he moved, but he was pretty cool.

This bird was in there as well.  Cool coloring around his beak!

This one flew around for a bit and finally landed on this shower pouf.  Not the most elegant backdrop, but it does match the pink in its wings!

Unfortunately this didn't focus perfectly, but the colors and patterns on this one were so intricate.  Maybe a little too moth-like for my taste, but striking.
The closing announcement came just as we were heading down the hall and toward the exit.  We crammed what we could into two hours, but I definitely need to take him back there soon because we barely got to scrape the surface.  He was a pretty good sport despite me rushing him through, and the best part is that he went to bed just fine.  It was a little late because of when we got home, but he went right down!  It was a fun to spend that time with him, and I hope I can let him run amok there soon!

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