Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Having Fun in Louisiana

I loved seeing my ZTA "big sis" for lunch. She got to meet Rachel for the first time and they hit it off right away. Rachel was enchanted by Kristina and her ring. She also thought that her hair bow would look better on Kristina so she kept putting it in Kristina's hair and then taking it back out...over and over again. Thank you Kristina for being such a fun Aunt!



Granddad volunteers at the observatory on the weekends running the telescopes for the public that come out to look up at the sky. Although the observatory is closed to the public on Sundays, he took us out there for a private telescope viewing. We invited Nicholas' cousin and uncle to join us as well. We look at the moon as well as the constellation of Orion the hunter. We zoomed in on the star Betelgeuse, which, as it's name in Arabic implies, is in the "armpit" of Orion. This star is 640 light years away and it is a red supergiant. It is so large that if it were placed where our sun is, it would swallow up the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars with Jupiter being it's first planet in orbit - yet it's just a little dot of red light to us, even with the telescope. We also got a look at the horsehead nebula, the Orion nebula and the Trapezium, and a star formation that looks like an owl, .

Nicholas and his cousin enjoyed the telescope viewing but there was an awful lot of running around and playing as well. Stuart and I decided that the two of us would have to go back alone with Granddad some other night so we could really focus on learning and even take some pictures of the night sky through the telescope.





Yep, that's me controlling the telescope and telling it where to point in the sky. I really think I need a giant telescope of my very own for the backyard.



Look at the star light that shines back through the eye piece of the telescope. It's so cool to think that this very light beam is coming from who knows how many light years away.



It was a cold night so after our star viewing, we headed to Coffee Call for some classic french market beignets. Oh yum! Fried sweet goodness dusted (or drenched) in powdered sugar.




And you MUST have some of their hot chocolate or cafe au lait to go with those beignets!



Monday night we had a nice night out. Grandmother C. watched the children while we had a nice dinner with my parents at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about those tender steaks. After dinner, we headed back to the observatory with camera in tow. It was a much more interesting experience this time without kiddos. Of course, we had to make some silliness of our own. Stuart took Dad's laser pointer and wrote my name as I took a picture with long exposure. Awww, so sweet!



The constellation of the great hunter Orion as seen through the opening in the observatory dome...



We spent many hours at the observatory. I believe we finally wrapped it up around 2 am. But after much tweaking of both telescope and camera, Stuart was able to capture this cool picture of the Trapezium within the Orion Nebula.



There was lots of other fun to be had on the trip. Nicholas and his cousin spent lots of time together.



I somehow didn't get many pictures of them, probably because there were zipping around so fast the whole time and they seemed to be into everything at once. It's hard keeping up with them when they get together.

Rachel on the other hand got to spend some quality time with her grandparents.

Talking with Grandmother over breakfast.



Playing with her new Alphabet Train with Grandmother.



Crawling through the tunnel behind the couch at Grandmother and Grandfather's house. She LOVED doing this the whole time we were there. Why did we bother to buy her presents? We just need to set up a tunnel for her to crawl through!



Rachel had a lot of fun picking flowers with Grandmama.



And playing more at Granddad's office.



We had fun each and every day and we were always on the go. Stuart even did a little work by helping Steve put up shingles on his house. Thank you Hubby!



The kids were tired and slept when they could. Sometimes on Daddy's shoulder while he ate a poboy...



Or just catching a wink in the car on the way to another place...



We visited Uncle Steve at work just to play on the playground equipment. Rachel has never played there before so it was neat watching her explore things that were new to her.

Playing in the tunnels...





What is this rock climbing wall supposed to do???



Bouncing on a trampoline with Uncle Steve.



We also spent some time downtown with Grandad. We visited the state capitol building for Louisiana, the tallest capitol building in the United States. We tried going up to the observation level on the 27th floor but it was closed for renovations. We had fun playing on the many steps out front. Each state is named on a step along with it's date of admission into the United States. Nicholas quickly found the Texas step.



The state capitol contains many statues both inside the building as well as throughout the many acres of gardens outside. Nicholas wanted his picture taken with these cool dudes outside. At first I asked him to move over a little to his right so that I wouldn't get a picture that looked like a sword was going through his head. He obliged but then excitedly asked me to take the picture with the sword going through his head. Voila!



Rachel just wanted to play with Granddad's hat...





We walked over to the working Libery Bell reproduction which was one of 53 bells cast in France and given to the state of Louisiana in 1950. There is a plaque by the bell that states, "The dimensions and tone are identical to those of the original Liberty bell when it rang out our independence in 1776. In standing before this symbol, you have the opportunity to dedicate yourself, as did our founding fathers, to the principles of the individual freedom for which our nation stands." I love sneaking in a little history lesson while we are out having fun. Isn't that the best way to learn?

Of course, the boy must ring the bell...







...and it was loud!

Next we wandered to the top of an Indian mound circa 1000 AD, but not before a little tree climbing. South Louisiana does have some great trees for climbing!



At the top of the Mound, there are two really old canons placed there to honor the men who fought in the Battle of Baton Rouge during the American Revolution, which was the only battle fought outside of the original 13 colonies. Yep, a little more history lesson thrown in. But that didn't slow Nicholas down. He was quick to climb on top of the antique canons (just as my brother and I did when we were his age!).







Then to the highlight of the trip for Nicholas. A beautiful building? A work of art? A military antique? Nope. A dead squirrel! And of course, all dead squirrels require poking with a stick....



Grandfather C. brought home some King Cake from Ambrosia Bakery where he works. It was delicious and Nicholas found the baby!

Rachel didn't spend much time with Grandfather C. during our trip. I guess perhaps he reminded her of that scary Santa Claus because she did not want to let Grandfather hold her, regardless of all the coaxing.






However, Rachel's love of dogs let her overcome her fear of Grandfather enough to let her sit on his lap for a while so she could pet Lucy.



We had a good trip and spent wonderful time with our families. But we were all a little glad to get back home and settle back into our usual routines. Now if only I could catch up on all of this laundry!

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