Fossil Hunting along the Interstate

Fossil hunting is a little hobby of ours.  We love the treasure hunt and we love finding cool things that are millions of years old.  But we don't take it too seriously and probably go casually hunting just a couple times a year.

My Dad told me about a cool place to hunt for fossils along I-49 southbound in Louisiana.  It's called the Cane River Site.  Back when I-49 was being built, they were cutting into the land to make an exit near Nachitoches.  But as workers were digging into the land they found an outcrop of marine fossil material that dated back 46 million years ago when this land was under the ocean.

Dad has been to the site and gave me some directions since we pass right by this each time we go back "home" to visit.
The exit is about 1 hour south of Shreveport.   You will top a hill and there should be an exit there that is clearly marked as the Natchitoches exit.  There is a McDonalds and other items there. About a 1/2 mile past that exit, you will note that there was the beginnings of an exit for a rest stop but it clearly was abandoned.  If you pull over into that exit or just slow down as you go past it on the interstate, you can see in the wall of the ditch along the interstate that there is some white items showing up.  That is the outcrop of fossil material.
We easily found the spot.

We parked the car at the dead end exit ramp and walked to the outcropping.  It was kind of weird walking along the side of the busy interstate, especially with 2 bouncy kids but we only got honked at once.  

It was neat to see the ground work that had clearly been done to smooth out the land for use and the drastic end to that work where the ground was a foot or two higher. It seems higher in this picture below but most of that is just grass and vegetation.

But what was most amazing is that when we walked right up to the dig site, there were marine fossils all over the ground.  It had just recently rained and rain is good for fossil hunting because it can wash fossils out of the dirt.

All of these little white pieces are marine fossils.  Some scientists say that they are from 46 millions years ago.  Most were bivalve and that seems to be all that we picked up.  But there have been 150 different species found here including vertebrate and invertebrate - cuttlefish beaks, shark teeth, coral, etc.

We had some fun doing a really quick hunt and collecting a few ancient treasures.

For more information about fossil hunting at the Cane River Site, check out this great article on the Natchitoches fossils by Gary Stringer that appeared in the Louisiana Geological Survey.

Rachel "Reads" to Bitty Baby

Rachel loves to "read" aloud.  We read so much that she knows the stories well and tells them in her own words as she flips through the pictures in the book.

Tonight at bedtime, I asked her what she wanted me to read to her.  She said that she first wanted to read to her Bitty Baby.  She also told me that Bitty Baby was walking but fell and hit her head.  She said that she put some Neosporin and the Band-aid on it. 

I was quick to grab the camera as she started her bedtime reading to Bitty Baby.  She reads about the story of Creation as well as Adam and Eve.  It's hard to hear but she whispers something about the snake and then shortly afterwards she tells of Adam and Eve hiding and whispers "but God was coming".  It's just so cute!

Note: if you are reading this from the email updates then I think you will need to click on the title of the post in the email.  This should take you to the actual blog page where you can see the video.

My Pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch

The weather has been just beautiful and we were all excited to take our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. Last year we explored several different pumpkin patches in the area. But this year there is just a lot more going on in our lives so we are just visiting our local pumpkin patch. I've really come to conclude that it is the best one in the area anyway.

They have lots of cute wooden cut outs that little kids love.

Hello Kitty is one of Rachel's favorite characters so she was super excited to stumbled upon them when we first entered the patch.

Of course, big brother was busy-ing himself in the hay maze while we were talking to Hello Kitty.

The kids were so cute together as they ran through the maze.

Nicholas tried to be sneaky but he was a little bit too tall to easily sneak in this short hay maze.

There was a lot of playful chasing and lots of laughter!


There is a little slide at the end.  Rachel just kept playing on the slide.

My son must be part cat.  He always wants to be on the highest possible perch.

Rachel as conductor, Nicholas as....hood ornament?

Nicholas 2012

Here he is last year - Nicholas 2011

Rachel 2012

And last year - Rachel 2011

Here are my cute little pumpkins!

Nicholas is 8 and getting so big.  However, he is still little and wanted to pose in front of the dino cut-outs.

Oh My!  Dora is her favorite of all!  She was just giddy standing next to her!

She tried to hold both of Strawberry Shortcake's hands so they could dance together.

Smurfs!  One of the few cut outs that were significantly shorter than Rachel.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse with Rachel and Nicholas

There are always lots of cute scenes set up for posed pictures but all the shadows from the beautiful trees can make it a booger to get a good shot.

They both tried to life and roll pumpkins that were as big as they are.

My sweet thoughtful little angel.

Cuties staying still enough to pose for a picture.

We love the pumpkin house.  Nicholas is always great at picking his own poses for pictures and calling my attention to him.  He came up with this shot himself.

Then he called Rachel over and had her pose with him.

He counted all of the pumpkins!

Fall sweetness at the pumpkin patch!

My strong little guy trying to show off his muscles.

He possibly overdid it on this one!

They pretended some of the pumpkins were rocket ships that they could ride on.  I love their imaginations!

The pumpkin windows are always a favorite.  Lots of great openings to play peek-a-boo!

We made it over to the larger hay maze which of course has a larger slide at the end.  I loved watching them stay together throughout the maze and sliding out at the end together.

One happy little boy!

On to the inflatables!  My kids could stay in this section for hours!

Rachel takes after Nicholas and has no fear.  She loves exciting slides.

The boy doesn't waste time with the slide.  He just jumps straight down.

King of the Mountain

There is an old playground ride here that we don't see at playgrounds anymore.  I used to love this ride and so do my kids.

There are several little playhouses for the kids to play in.  Rachel gave me the sad face from this jail. 

Hot and tired, we stopped for sno-cones.  Yum!

Happy Fall everyone!

Birthday at Magic Time Machine

Rachel was excited about her birthday dinner at Magic Time Machine. It seems to have become a tradition that the kids get a birthday dinner there. It is so much fun for them to see the waiters dressed as their favorite characters and listen to all the wacky things that go on there.

Rachel dressed up as a princess fairy. Such sweetness!

...and silliness!

We requested a booth in a section with a princess or fairy waitress that Rachel would like.  She was happy to see that Snow White would be serving her dinner!

Our booth was really cool because it was decorated with an explorers theme which is exactly what we are studying in school right now!  Nicholas showed us where we are located on the giant wall map.

Then he gave us a brief explanation about the travels of Marco Polo from Venice to China.  Yes, homeschooling isn't just learning in a classroom from 8:00 - 3:00.  There are learning opportunities all around us every day!

Rachel was doing a happy dance in her seat.  Blue smokey ugly drink and a salad of just green bell peppers and mushrooms and she is a happy girl!

Tinkerbell stopped by to say "Hi" to the birthday girl.

And of course, several people came to sing Happy Birthday including Marilyn Monroe and Waldo.  Odd mix, right?

Although the serenade was quite entertaining, Rachel apparently didn't like their singing very much.

They gave her a free birthday cookie with ice cream and she happily blew out her candle.  Dig in!

A busy day and a tired princess couldn't help but sleep on the way home.

By the time we got her out of the car at home, she was well rested and wide awake.  We got the kids bathed and ready for bed but we still had birthday cake for the sweet girl.  I picked up a beautiful floral cake at Target and Stuart offered to write Happy Birthday Rachel on it in icing.  He did a fabulous job with "Happy" but he realized he wasn't going to have room to add "Birthday" and "Rachel" to it.  He could have just written "Birthday" and it would have made perfect sense to have a cake that just said "Happy Birthday".  However, Rachel loves seeing her name in writing so for her sake, we decided to just add "Rachel".  After all, she is a happy Rachel.

We let her add a few pieces of Hello Kitty decorations to the cake herself.

What a sweet little girl.

Licking the bottom of the candle is a privilege reserved for the birthday child.

Make a wish sweet girl and we pray that they all come true.

Happy Birthday Rachel!  We love you!