Weekend recap: Beetles, and roaches, and spiders, oh my!

This weekend was pretty gluttonous overall. It seemed to have an air of celebration about it. Which normally I would still keep pretty focused through, but it seemed like a nice time to adopt the ‘treat yo’self’ motto and go all out.

Friday night, hubby and I went on a date night to try out a new (to us) local restaurant. It was delicious but very indulgent – the meal ending with a slice of tiramisu cheesecake if that’s any indicator. We had big plans for Saturday, but wanted to enjoy his Father’s Day dinner celebration the night before.

Saturday, we headed to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. This is one of our favorite local activity spots since moving to the area. We loved it so much that we got season passes because it’s such an excellent value, and we try to go at least once a month. The indoor area has interactive science exhibits for kids, but unlike most museums, they really cover all age ranges – from preschool to adults. Most places seem to skip or just gloss over the preschool age range, but this museum has it all.

The outdoor area is huge and has playgrounds, a small farm to see livestock, a water misting park area, butterfly and insect house, train that loops around the park, dinosaur exhibit, mini zoo type section with various animals, and the newest feature is a giant outdoor tree-house play area called Hideaway Woods. So needless to say, we try to make it out to the museum as much as possible. Recently, they sent a short survey asking about how we liked the museum, what features we enjoyed, etc. It mentioned the opportunity to win a prize for completing the survey but I mainly filled it out as I’ve recently had to distribute surveys as part of my regular role and am amazed by how few people actually reply. The survey was short and we happen to love the museum so I was happy to fill it out. Well, shortly afterwards, I received an email stating that we won the membership survey prize. Woohoo! Oh wait, it’s a private insect encounter? Um, is there an option B?

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Butterfly bench in front of the butterfly house.

I’ll admit, critters are not my thing. Unless they’re cute, furry, and respond with a ‘meow’ or ‘woof’, I generally try to keep away. But, I decided that the boys would probably all really enjoy it and I could learn a thing or two about the bugs in our new home state. This weekend also happened to be exactly three years from when we relocated from California to North Carolina. It seemed like it would be a fun way to celebrate at a local attraction hanging out with local insects.

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Petting the rhinoceros beetle.

I coordinated times, everything was set in place, and we arrived at the museum for our  insect encounter. They radio’d the butterfly house when we arrived at the museum to let them know we were on our way. We were greeted at the front entrance by Uli who manages the butterfly house and surrounding grounds. He then introduced us to Annie who was one of the on-site entomologists. She instantly started showing Ian a bug (a walking leaf?) that was hanging out on her shirt and I knew I was in for quite the experience. They took us directly into the back room that housed quite a few insects that would typically be on display in their front room… a room I will admit, I generally avoid. I tried to keep cool when a huge (in my opinion) rhinoceros beetle was suddenly being held out in front of us. I’d never seen one in person and instantly hoped Ian would be able to relate it to his Bugs Life movie and not freak out like I was doing in my head. He was skeptical but Graeme was all over it. He instantly wanted to poke at it and grab it. It was a pretty cool looking bug and I even gave in and touched it.

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Annie with the roaches.

Next, they brought out a big tank of roaches. Ok, now we’re really getting into a ‘not my thing’ territory. But the way they were handling them so easily really made them seem a lot more harmless than I play them out to be in my mind. Still, I’d rather not see them in my house, but maybe I’ll be a little bit calmer if I ever do (probably not). Annie showed us a few more bugs including more walking leaves and walking sticks, as well as another large beetle. Then it was on to the big guns: the tarantula came out. Uli held it like it was nothing and let it hang out on his leg. We were all given the chance to pet it though it had just molted so they didn’t want us poking and prodding too much (don’t have to tell me twice). We did get to see the leftover ‘shell’ of the tarantula… pretty sure I would move if I ever found that lying around my property.

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Uki showing the freshly molted tarantula.

After that, we headed to the back room of the butterfly area where we could hang out with the butterflies that were waiting to be released into the main butterfly house. It was really neat seeing the inside of the room and hearing about their prepping of the butterflies for release, lifespan, etc. Both boys were more interested in playing with the wet stones that were in the room to help with the air moisture. But afterwards, we went into the main butterfly house where we could see them eating and flying around a bit more freely. Finally, we made one last stop in the insect room and said bye to Annie, Uli, and all of the insects. They gave us a parting gift bag as a final part of our prize. It included a butterfly kit, a butterfly garden kit, a butterfly in glass, and a butterfly necklace. It really was such a wonderful treat and a great experience overall. We headed out after having a delicious lunch at the museum cafe. They have some fresh and healthy options so we always like to have lunch on-site before heading home for naps and afternoon activities.

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In the afternoon, I headed to the Y to practice teaching a round of PiYo with a couple of friends, then met the family at the pool to wear us all out before the evening. I ended up going out to a Labyrinth and David Bowie tribute night at the local art museum. It’s one of my favorite childhood movies so I will take any excuse to watch it, especially in such a fun setting.

Sunday morning meant it was time for a long run. My first one since the Virginia half so we kept it simple. One 8 mile loop on our main Umstead drag. Hilly, but familiar, and it was nice to be out in nature (you know, especially now that the bugs and I are besties). The weather was perfect and it was great to catch up with Rachel as it had been a couple of weeks since we had run together. Afterwards, our two families indulged and had brunch at the local donut and biscuit shop that just opened up a new branch by us. It’s James’ favorite donut shop in the area so it was a perfect Father’s Day treat for him.

I took Ian with me on some errands in the afternoon so James could get a break while Graeme napped, and then we had some friends over for some BBQ and kiddie pool time in the evening. Now, it’s time for more PiYo Live practice as my first class is this time next week! It was a great weekend, though as usual I can’t get over how fast it flew by. I’m looking forward to tackling the week and getting back on track with my healthy habits.

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Ian checking out the butterfly in glass that was part of our gift. Graeme took off with the tissue that you see scattered around the room.
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