Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Visiting the John F. Kennedy presidential museum October 12, 2017

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Campaign banner from Detroit!

It’s been several years since I visited Boston, one of my favorite cities. So I was excited to travel to this harbor town last weekend for a conference. I decided to head there a little early to enjoy exploring.

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Amazing weather greeted me when I arrived mid-morning at the hotel. A seamless check-in to the hotel provided awesome views of the city. It was time to enjoy the day!

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I love history and exploring new places so was excited to learn that Boston is home to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. I decided this would be first stop in my exploration. John F. Kennedy became the 35th president on Jan. 20, 1961, the youngest president (43 years) and the first Catholic. He is a president I grew up hearing much about. Of course his assassination, and conspiracy theories, fill American history. Movies, books, stories. But he is also a president who served and led during important moments of our country’s story – racial desegregation, the Cuban missile crisis, advancement of mental health care, creation of the Peace Corps and many other important historical moments.

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“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

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I love learning about history and cultures. And our presidents, love them, hate them or you really want to forget them, play a significant role in shaping our country. It was very interesting and inspiring to walk through the museum, reading transcripts of

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Transcript clips from inauguration speech

interviews and speeches; seeing gifts and items collected by JFK and Jackie Kennedy through their time in the White House; watching clips of speeches, debates and foreign trips. It was powerful to watch the video of his inaugural speech with the typed transcript near it highlighting where he changed words as he spoke. We learn about the presidents through history classes in school, and JFK’s death is a major piece, but I liked learning more about other moments in this time.

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A replica exhibit of Robert Kennedy’s office of the Attorney General showed the blunt challenge of the Civil Rights movement, that truly continues in today’s divisive political climate. Robert was the youngest attorney general at 41 since 1814. But he was aggressive in fighting for equality, young people and a strong justice department to stop crime and corruption.

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“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

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The museum also features Jackie Kennedy, who became first lady at 31 years old. She was a big supporter of arts and culture, working to restore and preserve the White House by establishing a White House Fine Arts Committee, and the position of White House curator.

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Campaigning for JFK

President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 in Texas. The shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested, but killed by Jack Ruby the following day. There have been lots of conspiracy theories about his death.

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“It is not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

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May 29, 2017 marked the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy. A special exhibit, JFK 100: Milestones & Mementosfocuses on historic milestones in President Kennedy’s life by featuring 100 artifacts, photographs and documents. Some of the items include handwritten notes, a suitcase used by JFK during a 1960 road campaign, and a few of his neckties.

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I always enjoy visiting our country’s historical sites as it’s a good way to remember what we’ve been through, survived and should learn from so we don’t repeat our disappointing or scary moments (and yet, history does repeat itself).

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The library and museum overlook the water, fitting since JFK was an avid boater. After my museum visit, I walked along the paved trail, thoroughly enjoying the breeze while watching boats in the water. A beautiful day.

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For hours and admission information, visit the library and museum’s website.

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Penguins, butterflies and giraffes, oh my! October 1, 2016

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Sorry, but I couldn’t help it. Every time I enter the gates of the Detroit Zoo, I think of that scene in Wizard of Oz. Although my recent visit to the zoo should have included a chant of ‘penguins, butterflies and giraffes, oh yes!’

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Inside the underwater tunnel.

It was a beautiful, sunny day during my recent visit to the 125-acre Detroit Zoo. Home to more than 2,400 animals, the zoo has a new penguin center and baby giraffe, which were my main interests of the day.

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There is much to see at the Detroit Zoo. You can meander through the paths to view animals in various habitats or pick and choose your path (maps and signage help direct you to specific points of interest). Since there were several in our group that day, we each voiced one attraction we hoped to see. Happily for me, everyone also wanted to view the penguins and baby giraffe.

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We were given a time slot to visit the penguin center when we purchased tickets so that was the first stop on our visit (I was told that timed-entry is only on weekends right now). This new center is 33,000 square feet, with a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area. Plenty of clear glass allows you to watch more than 80 penguins swim, eat, snooze and play. I find penguins cute, and interesting to watch them interact with each other, swim and waddle around. As you walk through the penguin center, a path takes you to the ‘deck’ of a ship where awesome 4-D video makes you feel as if you’re crossing Antarctic waters. Once you leave the ship area, you can enter an underwater gallery with two acrylic tunnels to watch the penguins swim above and around you. It’s very cool!

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So many pretty ones.

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Once we left the arctic, we entered the balmy Butterfly Garden. Home to thousands of butterflies, representing more than 25 species, the beautiful gardens are maintained at 75 degrees to ensure optimal flora growth and butterfly activity. And active these butterflies were that day! It was fun to watch them take flight throughout the gardens.It’s funny my human instinct to duck when something flies at your head, even a harmless, lightweight butterfly. To enter the Butterfly Garden, you walk through one door, wait for it to close, then go through another door. This ensures that any butterfly that happens to slip past the first door can be caught and returned to the garden area. Which was a good setup to have as a large pretty one landed on my leg as I was walking out. Thankfully someone spotted it before I went too far and, with the help of the docent, we returned it safely to the garden.

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An adorable ‘little’ girl.

I was so tickled to walk up to the giraffe habitat and immediately spot the ‘little’ female giraffe (born in August). She’s adorable! She walked around the enclosure several times, often stopping to check out all of us humans smiling and taking pictures of her. The zoo added an elevated viewing platform several years ago, making it easy to get almost eye level with the largest mammal in the world. Some interesting giraffe facts (courtesy of the Detroit Zoo): Giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in the neck as a human (there are only seven bones in its neck); a giraffe’s heart can weigh up to 25 pounds (an adult human heart weighs about 10 ounces), and giraffes sleep about 20 minutes each day.

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There were many other animals to watch, from gorillas to polar bears to red pandas to kangaroos to zebras. It’s a good time of year to visit these animals as the cooler weather often provides a more active viewing opportunity. It was a great day to be outdoors and learn about the conservation efforts of the zoo and the many animals living in metro Detroit.

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Fall hours begin today, 10am-4pm. Keep in mind that the zoo doesn’t sell bottled water (in a cool effort to reduce plastic waste) – you can bring your own or purchase a reusable bottle at the concession stands.

 

Explore museums and more when you check out Michigan Activity Pass May 27, 2016

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Lots of fun destinations!

If you’re looking for some fun, yet inexpensive destinations to explore this summer, get to your local library. You can pick up some books to fuel your summer adventures. And you can check out a pass to hundreds of local destinations…..literally check it out.

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Yes, my fellow Michiganders are lucky – did you know that you can get free or discounted admission to many local cultural attractions, parks and more? It’s so easy! Simply visit your local library to ‘check out’ a Michigan Activity Pass, then get busy exploring parks, museums, cultural destinations and more. There are more than 420 destinations available through the Michigan Activity Pass!

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Cardholders of participating libraries are also able to print a free one-day pass to use at any of Michigan’s 102 state parks or 138 state forest campgrounds. This summer, there are seven National Parks on the pass list. Even more reason to start exploring the outdoors.

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With more than 11 library cooperatives participating in this program, thousands of Michigan residents can enjoy these benefits. I think this is a great program offered to library patrons. In fact, more than $50,000 was saved in 2015 by library patrons using the Michigan Activity Pass to visit hundreds of attractions!

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Here are just a few of the many places to visit:

  • Waterloo Recreation Area, Chelsea
  • Michigan Renaissance Festival, Holly
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising
  • Arts & Scraps, Detroit
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit
  • Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills
  • Seven Lakes State Park, Holly
  • Sea Life Michigan Aquarium, Auburn Hills
  • Cobblestone Farm Museum, Ann Arbor
  • Holland Museum, Hollander
  • Belle Isle Park, Detroit
  • Yankee Air Museum, Belleville
  • Michigan Science Center, Detroit
  • Stagecrafters Theater, Royal Oak
  • 2Per the Michigan Activity Pass website, there are a few guidelines to follow:

Per the Michigan Activity Pass website, here are a few guidelines to know:

  • Patrons may check out one Michigan Activity Pass per library card every 7 days.
  • When you print out a pass, you have 7 days from the date it was reserved to use it.
  • Please note that if you choose to print your pass on a library printer, you may be charged the regular fee that is assessed by the library for printing.
  • Photocopies of a Michigan Activity Pass will not be accepted at designated destinations. Only passes printed from the MAP website can be redeemed at participating destinations.
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Be sure to check out the full list of guidelines on their website or at your local library. If you don’t live in Michigan, ask your library if they participate in a similar program in your area.

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So what are you waiting for? Start exploring!

 

Upcoming events entertain children and adults December 26, 2015

My sisters and I usually go in on gifts for the nieces and nephew for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. This year my younger sister commented that her kids were having a tough time coming up with Christmas present ideas, which reinforced that our family is blessed with good tidings and ‘things.’ So I decided to come up with a ‘gift experience’ rather than toys or games for the three younger children (ages 8, 7, 4). My husband and older sister (their other aunt) were totally for this idea. So next we had to come up with some ideas!

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Alladin pictureAfter tossing around, and nixing, a few options, we settled on….Disney on Ice tickets! The kids were thrilled to open the presents and learn of our outing. I think they were a little bummed we have to wait until March but as we explained, it will be Christmas again when we go! I love these type of outings with my nieces and nephew as I believe in the importance of spending quality time together….and while quality time doesn’t always have to mean being on the go to events such as this, these are fun memories to make too!

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If you’re looking for something to do with children and teens during the winter months, there are some entertaining events approaching in the new year. Here are a few suggestions to get started:

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Disney on Ice – This Disney show celebrates “100 years of magic” as the ice-skating spectacular highlights many of the favorite characters. The  core group, as I call them, of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy will be joined by more than 50 other characters, including Alladin, Belle, Elsa and Olaf. The show is at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Event dates: March 10-13, 2016.

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Cinderella – This Rodgers & Hammerstein’s play weaves the original story we know with some updated twists and fun in this musical event. I love plays and musicals, especially Broadway events that bring some of my favorite stories to life. I’m hoping to see this play when it comes to the Detroit Opera House. Play dates: February 16-28, 2016.

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The Snow Queen – In this play, the Snow Queen wants to make winter last forever (I shudder at the thought!). Two children embark on an adventure and make new friends as they try to save the world. This play is hosted by Stagecrafters in Royal Oak as part of their youth theater productions. I’ve been to several other youth theater productions at the Baldwin Theatre and enjoyed every one. And while you may think a play with children won’t be that great, you’d be wrong as the stage set, acting, costumes, lighting and more live up to the great reputation of any Stagecrafters’ play. Tickets are very reasonable and the run time is usually 1 hour, 30 minutes – perfect for young children to sit through as they’re sure to be very engaged. Play dates: March 3-6, 2016.

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Are you my mother? – I love this children’s book so I think the play version should be great! This play follows baby bird to find her mother but first she encounters several other animals. This is part of the Children’s Series at Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester (on Oakland University’s campus). Play date: April 2, 2016

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Curious George: The Golden Meatball – Our favorite, curious monkey hits the stage for a new musical in another play in the Children’s Series at Meadowbrook Theatre. Play date: April 23, 2016

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The Lightning Thief – This adaptation from the popular book by Rick Riordan follows the adventures of Percy Jackson, son of Perseus and a mortal woman, as his friends and him try to find Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. This is another production from the Children’s Series at Meadowbrook Theatre. Play date: May 7, 2016

 

A Christmas Carol play readies you for the holiays December 15, 2014

The set of A Christmas Carol behind us.

The set of A Christmas Carol behind us. Love that my husband enjoys plays too!

Nothing kicks off the Christmas holiday season quite like the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. So it was quite wonderful to attend the play presented at Meadow Brook Theatre in Rochester (on the campus of Oakland University).

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Justin and I took my mom, joined by two friends, to see this play that tells the well-known story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s path from cranky, selfish, rich man to life-loving, generous, friendly chap, thanks to visits from three ghosts – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

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I was hooked from the opening number that was filled beautifully dressed carolers singing Christmas songs. The costumes were fabulous and perfect for each part of the play. The set helped define the mood of each scene. The stage was impressive – part of it rotates in a circle so the actors can ‘move’ to different areas, such as Scrooge’s office and bedroom, the Cratchit’s home and the town’s sidewalks.

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I caught myself smiling quite a few times at the festivities on stage, from the dancing and singing to the funny actions and comments of different characters. While all of the actors were good, the actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge was fantastic – he embodied the quirky traits and attitude that you expect this character to have.

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The play is just under two hours, with a 15-minute intermission. It keeps you captivated so time really flies by.

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One note on seats: Fog is created during several acts and we noticed much of this fog drifts to the first few rows so be prepared to be engulfed if you sit close to the stage.

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There are quite a few dining choices located within minutes of the theater.

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A Christmas Carol is live on stage at Meadow Brook Theatre through Dec. 22, 2014. Tickets are available at the box office, via phone at (248) 377-3300 and Ticketmaster.

 

 
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