Reptiles Up Close at CMOST

This past weekend, JSL had a birthday party to attend.  While B and him went to the party, NHL and I stopped by CMOST for some fun of a different kind.  B had taken the boys there recently, but it had been awhile since I had gone.

NHL showed me the Molecularium show in the planetarium and he loved going to each station to learn more about nanotechnology.  Of course, while that was fun, the photographer in me loved the reptile room the most.

First, there was a box turtle that they were taking care of.


Unfortunately, the previous owner had fed it the wrong foods.  (Raw eggs and chicken are NOT turtle food!)  Thanks to this, the turtle had developmental problems.  For example, one of its rear feet would periodically get stuck in its shell.  NHL, sadly informed the staff member that he hoped the turtle would get better.  The staff member let NHL know that while it wouldn’t ever recover, they would take good care of it.

NHL wanted them to take out the boa constrictor so he could see it up close.  Unfortunately, they said they couldn’t do this.  It had just eaten and moving it now would risk the snake either throwing up its food (and risking starvation) or puncturing an internal organ.  So the snake stayed in its cage to digest its meal over the next few months.  I was able to shoot a photo of it from behind the glass as it finished off a nice, yummy mouse.


The leopard gecko kept staring at us from it’s log perch and we marveled both at its spots and its bumpy hide.


NHL loved the bearded dragon and begged me to take a photo of it.  (Quite impressive since he’s usually complaining that all the photos I take are slowing him down.)


Later, we sat down as a staff member explained to us about some species of animals that live all along the Hudson River from the beginnings in Lake Tear of the Clouds to its ending in New York Harbor.  She fed some trout that they have and we sat awestruck as they went nuts splashing around trying to get a scrap of food.  They do feed the trout regularly, of course, but the trout seem to go nuts anytime there’s food present.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say they just loved putting on a show.

The stars of the show were the turtles, of course.

First up was the box turtle.  We got some more information about it.  For example, box turtles are so named because not only can they retract into their shell, but they have a special hinge and muscle that pulls the shell shut over their head.  This closes them in (like a box) so that it is almost impossible for predators to eat them.

Of course, predators should think twice before eating them anyway.  Box turtles can eat many things, including mushrooms that are poisonous to any other animal.  The toxins build up in their system making them a not-so-pleasant treat.  Early settlers quickly found out that they got sick when they made turtle stew from box turtles.


By the way, the red eyes mean that this is a boy.  Girl box turtles have brown eyes.


After this was the Diamondback Terrapin.  This turtle is more aquatic and loves spending its time swimming through the water.  While they usually eat small fish, the three brothers that CMOST has were raised in captivity and don’t know how to catch their own food.

diamondback-terrapin2 diamondback-terrapin

Many questions were asked by everyone attending.  I wondered how long the turtles could hold their breath.  After all, while watching them swim, it didn’t seem like they regularly came up for air.  The staff member replied that it is a long time, but they really don’t know how long exactly.  They’ve noticed the turtles going underwater to sleep for a few hours.  Quite impressive little turtle.


NHL and I had a blast at CMOST and left knowing a lot more about reptiles than we did before.  I just love visiting places that are both fun and educational.

What is your favorite kind of reptile?

Age Appropriate TV

hdtv_smallRecently, NHL took a liking to watching The Pink Panther on Netflix.  He loves the comedy of the classic cartoons.  Unfortunately, his peers don’t seem to share his enthusiasm.  In fact, one of them recently made fun of him for it.

First of all, I took NHL aside and gave him a bit of advice.  I told him that he is NOT to stop watching or enjoying something just because someone else doesn’t like it and especially not because someone made fun of him for it.

Beyond that, however, B and I decided that we should introduce him to some age appropriate television shows.  It’s all well and good that JSL loves Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins, and other Disney Jr. shows.  NHL, however, is too old for those programs.

We began to brainstorm what kinds of shows a 9 year old would watch.  Unfortunately, all the shows we came up with came from our childhood: Alf, the Cosby Show, and Full House to name a few.  These shows, while age appropriate, aren’t likely to be interests that his peers share.  I doubt that many kids in the fourth grade watch the antics of Willie Tanner, Cliff Huxtable, or Joey Gladstone.

So we’re on the hunt to introduce NHL to some shows that suit him both in terms of subject matter, age appropriateness, and peer popularity.  We won’t show him a program to merely because everyone else is watching it, but it would be nice for him to have common interests with his classmates.

What shows do you think suit a nine year old boy?

Note: The HDTV image above was created by jgm104 and is available via

Battling Against The Cough

cough-battleNHL has asked me many times if I’m proud of him.  Usually, it’s over a trivial matter such as being chosen at random in Hebrew School and winning some chocolate.  Where my pride in my son really shines through is when he sees his limitations… and then exceeds them.

NHL recently had a band and chorus concert.  As we approached the school, we could tell he was nervous.  He kept insisting that we were going to be late and got angry when we wouldn’t let him storm into the building and instead insisted he remain calm.  (For the record, we were about fifteen minutes early and it was going to take us only one minute to get in the building.)

As B went to drop NHL off in the area that he’d wait until it was his turn, JSL and I procured some seats.  B took a long time coming back because, apparently, NHL’s anxiety was getting worse, not better.  I definitely sympathized with him.  I clearly remember the anxiety I felt before my grade school orchestra and chorus concerts.

As NHL’s group’s turn neared, we could see him by the door with the rest of the kids who were ready to perform.  He was having trouble standing still and we could tell he was talking non-stop.  Two classic signs of NHL-anxiety-overload.

The doors opened and NHL came in.  He was in the back and the band performed their songs.  NHL seemed to do well (though, to be honest, I couldn’t see him that well from where we were.)  Then they left.  NHL wasn’t finished, though.  It was chorus time.

This time, NHL was situated right in front.  The first two songs went well, but then NHL ran into a roadblock.  He began to cough.  His allergies have been bothering him and although he’s taking medicine, he’s still prone to coughing fits.  We could see his face go red as he struggled to breathe, stay calm, and keep from coughing enough to sing.  At times, it looked like he might lose it entirely and begin to cry.

He didn’t, though.  He powered through and sang louder.  He even began to dance a little while he rocked out to the songs.  Yes, his coughing fits came back every so often, but he didn’t let them slow him down.  He just coughed into his arm and then returned to his singing.

I was in the stands videoing the whole thing with a big smile on my face.  THAT is why I’m proud of NHL.  He’s a talented kid and when he doesn’t give up he’s able to rise above what holds him back.

My Son, The Artist

Both of my boys love art projects, as the mounds of paper that we’ve collected over the years attest to.  Recently, however, NHL got to be a part of something bigger.  His school, and many more, had students reinterpret some pieces of art found in the New York State Museum.  The artwork was put on display in the Empire State Plaza’s concourse near the New York State Museum.


Over the weekend, we stopped by the exhibit to have a look.  After some searching, we quickly found NHL’s art.


We were so proud of NHL.  He did a fantastic job.  We even got our artist to pose for a photo with his artwork.  (Begrudgingly, he doesn’t seem to like having his picture taken.)


Of course, JSL felt left out so he posed with the artwork as well.


We also looked at all of the other art pieces on display.  NHL loved pointing out his classmates’ art that was hanging up.  Meanwhile, all of us enjoyed seeing the various pieces.


It is clear that there are some very talented artists in our schools.  Here is hoping that we get to see some more amazing pieces from them in the years to come.

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