Rochester Family Newsletter May 13, 2010 | Kids Out and About

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Rochester Family Newsletter May 13, 2010

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Rochester Family Newsletter 5/13/10

Dear KOA readers:

Even for homeschooling families like mine, the middle of May always represents final push until "the end." Kids are rehearsing for the final concerts, they're studying for finals or preparing for standardized tests, schools are fitting in one last field trip or fitness festival before kids' minds are officially in end-of-the-year mode. Parents worry about whether their kids have learned enough this year to get them comfortably to the next level, and we hope that we've scheduled the perfect number of summer activities without overwhelming our kids. This time of the year even affected us when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers, because their classes and programs were winding down and sending us progress reports, or planning end-of-the-year parties.

2) Fortunately, our area provides plenty of opportunities for us to take a break from all of this, to let go and "just be," and most of these are free. The Lilac Festival starts tomorrow. (Our link to it has the entire schedule and to the kids' entertainment summary.) Sure, my family always loves visiting the booths and eating the food and seeing the shows. But there is no question that the Lilac Festival memories that are imprinted on our kids' minds forever have nothing to do with performances (much as we love you, Magic Guy, Dinner Dogs, and the rest of the great acts that have been performing at the Lilac Festival forever), and everything to do with peeking between fragrant boughs for perfect family photos, picnics on a warm purple hillside, stunning beds of pansies, and finding out how many different colors of rhododendrons are blooming. The weather is really supposed to perk up this weekend. So, go. Breathe. Be free. Because it's free.

3) Speaking of FREE, our new Free page is easily the most trafficked page in the new web site: It has all events coming up that are FREE! Right now as I'm writing, there are 212 upcoming free events, and 3 camps, that are on our calendars. And this doesn't even include all of the free summer concerts that are on the horizon. (I sure hope the administrators in the City and towns post them soon. Hint, hint, Rochester, Fairport, Webster, Brighton, Henrietta, Greece...I know you read this newsletter...get posting!)

4) Those of you who have been reading this newsletter for a long time know that I'm among the worst of procrastinating parents when it comes to summer camps. I've been fortunate in that despite my often-last-minute signups, my kids have had wonderful camp experiences in our area, at places like PUSHPins Performing Arts camp, Creative Themes camp, Genesee Country Village history camp (they're offering 17 this year), and RMSC Science Camps (offering 25). This year, they're doing two Stages' musical theatre camps, and then I want them to be free (because boredom often makes for great creativity!) for the rest of the summer. But it's SO tempting to over-schedule them...I get to see all of the wonderful stuff that is being posted to our new Week-By-Week Summer Camp Calendar and it makes me want to go back to being a kid again, even if I'd have to clone myself many times over to do all of the exciting stuff that is listed. What's even better is that we even have camp listings for organizations that haven't (yet) listed their camp schedules...all you need to do is click through to their web sites and see for yourself what they're offering. Just go to our Camp Organization List (there are 128 camp orgs listed as of this writing) and filter the search to target your kids' ages and interests.

5) Here are links to some of the most popular new sections:

Home Page - This is your main navigation area. We have a fantastic new calendar that lets you see at a glance what's coming up both this week and this month, plus quick links to the six most popular pages on the site currently.

Birthday Parties - We have a huge new list of organizations around here that host birthday parties or provide entertainment or supplies. That includes places that host birthday parties as well as things like clowns and magicians.

6) Writer Rebecca Lucyshyn just published this lovely little interview with me in Rochester's edition of The Examiner. Read it if you want to know about how KOA got started, the next plans for KOA, what I do in my spare (!) time, and why I think that Rochester is the greatest place in the world to raise a family. See if you agree with my five reasons, which are on the second page of that interview.

7) The new Stages show, 13, The Musical, opens on Friday in the Upstage3 Theatre at the Auditorium Center. This show is appropriate for ages 11 and up, due to some middle-school type of humor and issues. Tickets are $13 (appropriate!) and are available by phone, web, or at the door (click link for information). This is a "Socks and Cereal Benefit" for the Shelter for Homeless Youth from the Center for Youth. If you are going to the show, please bring donations of either socks or cereal (or both!) to the show.

8) Giveaways - There 12 giveaways that are currently live, including: Signed copies of the Drew & Ellie chapter book series from author Charles Noland; Mary Kay cosmetics; plus free summer classes or weeks of camp from Hochstein, Spotlight Theatre Arts, PUSH Physical Theatre, and Kango Play Center; a family season pass for mini-golf from Adventure Landing, a family portrait from Honey DeLapa, and family tickets to the Fun Zone in Ontario, and two weeks at Christian Sports Camp from Parkminster Church. Giveaways are now easily accessible from the left-hand navigation bar, or just click here.

9) Congratulations, by the way, to ticket winners Michelle from Rochester and Joanna from Hilton, who won tickets to the RPYO's Mother's Day concert, and to Karen from Hamlin, who won tickets to Opening Night of 13, the Musical.

10) June Santini's review of Hope Lake Lodge and Cascades Indoor Water Park has continued to be one of our most popular pages this week -- many people don't know about this relatively-close-by indoor water park. By the way, we have reviews of two other water parks as well: My review of Splash Lagoon from last January, and my review of Roseland Water Park from last June.

11) The Developmental Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Rochester’s Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology is inviting the following groups to participate in exciting new research projects: Children and adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder; and Children and adolescents with no autism diagnosis. The Developmental Neuropsychology Lab’s research focuses on improving the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities. They are interested in understanding how children learn to think, communicate, move, and even use senses such as vision, hearing, taste, and smell. In addition to contributing to the research, participants will receive payment for their time. If you would like to find out more about participating in the Developmental Neuropsychology Lab’s research, please visit their website at or call (585) 273-4622.

12) Do you suffer from Migraines? If you experience migraines around your menstrual cycle, you know how devastating they can be. If you are at least 18, you may qualify for a new investigational research study. Qualified participants receive an investigational drug, study-related physical exams and lab tests at no cost. See if you may qualify by calling Rochester Clinical Research at 585.288.0890.

13) Thinking ahead to the summer, did you know that there are several ways that our area kids can go bowling for free, all summer long? Bowl-A-Roll in Henrietta always hosts a program called "Say No To Drugs, Say Yes to Bowling" in which kids can sign up to be part of the program, and they can bowl a game for free every day of the summer. Also, the various AMF Bowling Centers in our area (there are five... click the link for locations and more info) have a program called Kids Bowl Free; each child gets a coupon for two free games of bowling every day in the summer, though you have to sign up through the web in advance. (I believe you do have to pay to rent the bowling shoes each time, unless you have your own.) A link to that program is on the KOA listing for the AMF Bowling Centers.

14) National Poetry Month was officially over on April 30, but that doesn't mean the value of creating poetry has left us. Joe Sottile, Rochester's kids poet, has sent me a lovely list of 50 Reasons to Write Poetry that are applicable to all of us, all year long. Well, okay, Reasons 20, 25, 45, 49, and 50 aren't exactly applicable to kids (especially Reason 50, Joe, you silly young man, and I hope you're referring to me) but these are truly good thoughts to ponder as you help your kids learn to discover themselves through the power of poetry.

15) And don't ask me why this is a week for poetry, but my friend Lynne in Massachusetts, also a homeschooling mom, has put into words the feelings that many parents share when we sit down to help our kids with academic work they don't want to do. Lynne's short poem is called Math Theatre.

17) If you have noticed on the new KOA web site, the Smart Family is the family featured at the top of each page. That's mostly because my programmers haven't yet accomplished the cool rotation of families that will be cycling through as you go from page to page in KOA. But never fear, the Bravo Family, the Wall Family, the Woods Family, and the Walker are still around and are as active as ever. Here is what they are up to this weekend:

The Walker FamilyThe Walker family focuses on health and physical fitness. Here are their plans this weekend:
Red Wings evening game vs. Louisville. Did you know that every Friday evening Red Wings game has fireworks at the end?
Saturday: 14th Annual Kids Fishing Derby will be at Powder Mills Park Saturday morning bright and early, sponsored by the Pittsford Rotary. Registration starts at 7am. A great way to introduce kids to fishing!

Sunday: Open House and Health Fair from Penfield Volunteer Ambulance

The BravoFamilyThe Bravo Family loves the arts. They are going to try to do lots of great stuff this weekend:
Friday: FREE Gilbert & Sullivan show, Patience (or, Bunthorne's Bride) from the Off-Monroe Players
Saturday: Special baby-friendly screening of the film "Babies" at The Little Theatre

Sunday: The famous Native American composer and performer, Arvel Bird, performs with the Rochester Chamber Orchestra at Hochstein Performance Hall

The Woods FamilyThis is the Woods Family. They love nature and the great outdoors.
Friday: Heading out on a late afternoon spring family hike now that it stays lighter later!
Saturday: Lilac Festival, Highland Park, Rochester. They're especially interested in the afternoon performances on the Supercuts Children's Lilac Stage: 2:00 - The Dinner Dogs;  3:00 - Magical John; 4:00 - Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

Sunday: Honestly, they'll probably go to the Lilac Festival again. More shows to see, and it will be the prettiest day of the whole week, so they'll take a picnic lunch. They won't forget the camera.

The Smart FamilyThe Smart family focuses on educational and cultural activities. They also know a bargain when they see one!
Friday: Giant tag sale at the United Church of Christ, Webster
Saturday: The Smart family heads to the Schultz Center at Nazareth College for their all-day 5th Annual Rochester Teen Book Festival
, a free event!
Sunday: PUSH Physical Theatre performance Sunday morning at Monroe Community College as part of the Mosaic Faith Community's Sunday morning service

The Wall FamilyThe Wall Family prefers indoor activities. Here is their weekend itinerary:
Friday: Opening night of 13, the Musical at the Upstage3 Theatre, Auditorium Center
Saturday: Invention Convention at the Rochester Museum & Science Center: Join students from across our area as they display their amazing inventions. Inspire your own kids to start inventing, too!

Sunday: Family Game Day at Brighton Memorial Library.

18) My daughter Madison was ecstatic last weekend when we found out the Brighton library, the Henrietta library, the Pittsford library, and the Webster library are open Sunday afternoons, though many of these are only open Sundays during the school year. Sometimes she just needs a "book fix" and if the mood strikes on Sunday afternoon, well, those libraries are the ones in driving range. Madison will be haunting the Rochester Teen Book Festival on Saturday, so wave at us if you see us.

19) If your organization would like to post an activity, event, class, or camp to the KOA site, the procedure is a little different than it used to be. (In fact, this is an evolving process, and will be made even easier soon.) First, create a user account on the new web site if you haven't already done so. Then, email me with your organization information (including contact info) and user ID. I'll link that user ID to the organization listing, and then you'll be able to enter and manage all of your events yourself.

Have a wonderful week! Celebrate spring!

Debra Ross

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