Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bike Ride Around the Neighborhood

Nicholas and Rachel love their new bikes from their grandparents!

Nicholas has a 24" bike which seems a little large to me but he hops on it and rides around just fine.

Rachel has a 16" bike. It's her first bike. She didn't even have a tricycle for very long because it got stolen from our yard a while back. She is so excited to have a big girl bike!


I love this video of her riding it for the first time. She says, "I can do it! I can do it! I can do it!"



We rode up and down the driveway for a while.


Then went for a ride in the street around their grandparents quiet neighborhood.


I'm sure Nicholas and Daddy will be riding all over when we get back home. Rachel still needs a little help from time to time but she will be zipping along with the boy before you know it.

Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans

We spent the day in New Orleans with my Dad. I realized as we were driving down there that we haven't been in the city since before Hurricane Katrina. I know parts of New Orleans will never be the same but everything we saw was just like I remembered it.

Here's my favorite street in New Orleans. Can you sound it out? HA!


We parked in a lot behind the Westin hotel on Canal Street and walked over to the Audubon Insectarium.


We've been so busy on the weekends lately that it has been a while since we've gone to a museum or outing like this as a family. But this was so much more fun because we were out exploring with my Dad!


Stuart was showing something to Rachel so I went to check it out.


Eww! Giant Cave Cockroaches!


Rachel enjoyed watching these Red Swamp Crawfish walk around their tank. They are the same species that we eat but instead of being red-brown, these particular crawfish are an amazingly beautiful blue. It's not natural though. The color comes from an unexpected result of an experiment by the Aquaculture Research Center of Northwestern State University. They still don't know why these guys turned blue but they stay that way even after molting.


Nicholas liked this huge Tarantula. Cool!


We watched these little ants up close as they carried cereal flakes around their home.


We could even watch them on the Ant Cam!


We were all fascinated with the green leaf bugs but the kids were especially impressed.


But I didn't know that there are also dead leaf mantis that hang out underneath dead leaves to hide from its predators. It's amazing what you can find in nature.


From the moment Nicholas saw the map of the Insectarium, he was on the lookout for the Underground Gallery where you can be the bug! Visitors "shrink" to the size of a bug with surprises around every turn.


I wasn't quite sure what this was at first but as you look through the ribs in the walls you watch a video of a dead rat being eaten by maggots and totally disintegrating into the ground and plants growing up from the soil in its place.


We found a hole in the wall that teased us to stick our hand into the pitch black abyss. Stuart enjoyed messing with us as he pretended something was getting his arm!


There was a cool skylight in the roof of the cave that had an animated bird peeping his head in the hole. What a neat feature!


Nicholas found this fun kitchen cabinet that had a clear dome in the bottom. If there is a dome then he must stick his head in. He was surprised to find himself at eye level with a bunch of cockroaches running around in the cabinet! Thank goodness for the dome!


I was personally looking forward to the cooking demonstrations and tastings. Oh wait! We're at the Insectarium. What kind of cooking demonstrations and tastings could they actually have here?


Yep! Bugs! There were Southwest Waxworms with taco seasoning and chili powder, Cinnamon Bug Crunch which are waxworms with cinnamon and sugar, and Crispy Cajun Crickets which supposedly taste like BBQ sunflower seeds.


If you'd like a chilled selection, they also offered Hoppin' Herb Dip which contains cream cheese, sour cream, onions, bell peppers, Italian seasoning,and crickets. Or you could try the Mango Chutney. Who doesn't love Mango Chutney with mangoes, apples, and waxworms. Finally there was the Six-Legged Salsa made from mealworms and salsa.


But who could resist these Chocolate Chirp Cookies made with what else but Crickets!


I was proud of my picker eater who tried a Chocolate Chirp Cookie.


See, he really did bite into those crickets!


Stuart tried a cookie too. You can see a little bit of concern on Rachel's face in the background.


Stuart offered her a bite of cookie but she squirmed away.


But eventually even she took a bite.


I thought the grossest name and most disgusting food was the Six-Legged Salsa. Here it is up close.


But even mealworms can taste good on a Tostito!


We learned about termites.


And posed with a gator.


There was an entire room full of butterflies and beetles in display cases.


The variety of butterflies was amazing.


The colors were beautiful.



I love catching special moments like this one below where Nicholas is teaching Rachel.


This display shows what Beetle Jewelry looks like. This type of jewelry has been found throughout cultures from Asia to South America. The beetles are adorned with rhinestones and attached to gold chains that act like a leash to tie the beetle to the pin. The beetle can then roam around on the person as far as the chain will allow. So odd!


We looked at butterfly wings under a microscope.


And studied the steps of metamorphosis that caterpillars go through to become butterflies.


The kids loved learning about the armor that insect have to protect themselves and they even got to try on a suit of armor themselves.

Here is Insect Nicholas.


And of course, don't forget Insect Rachel.


We ended our exploration in the Butterflies in Flight Japanese Garden.


Butterflies fly freely around this room and surprise you as they land on you.


This little guy hung around posing for pictures for a while.


Nicholas stood there with his arms outstretched waiting for more visitors.


Butterflies would just appear out of nowhere.


Dad had several land on him as well.


Rachel had trouble staying still enough for butterflies to hang around long but Dad helped her get a few on her hand.


She was just amazed at watching them fly all around her.


Look at these giant Owl Butterflies that protect themselves through self-mimicry. "Eye-spots" help prey escape predators by giving predators a false target. A butterfly has a better chance of surviving an attack to the outer part of its wing than an attack to the head.


Of course, we couldn't pass on a stroll through the gift shop that is full of toys and t-shirts and other fun souvenirs.


The Audubon Insectarium was an incredibly fun and unique museum and I would highly recommend it. The Audubon Insectarium is located at 1 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130-1175. Their hours are Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 5pm. For more information, please visit the Audubon Insectarium website or call (504)410-2847.