Monday, August 31, 2009


Here's a photo of a pair of cicadas Alex found a few days ago. I thought they were dead until I accidentally dropped my camera next to them and one flew noisely away. Then, I touched the other one to see if it was OK and it flew away, too! I love how the one on the right is brown where the other is green.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1st Day of 4th Grade

Monday was Alex's first day of 4th grade!

Alex and our chihuahua, Pandy

Alex set up the timer to take this photo of us on 'our' first day of school. We started the year with our traditional first day which includes photos by the pool and going out for doughnuts for breakfast!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Telescopes & Lenses

We started back to school yesterday and one of our fun activities was to put together our Galileoscope which we received earlier this summer.

A couple of weekends ago we went to a state park for a night of games, marshmallow roasting, insect watching, and stargazing. I loved looking through these telescopes. I've only done that a few times before and we got some great views this night. Too bad the Perseid meteor shower was pretty much over!

Here's a photo of Alex roasting marshmallows that night. The whole evening was a lot of fun, though hot!
One of the neatest things abou the Galileoscope, is that you get to put it together YOURSELF!!! So, you can find out how it works! Alex and I enjoyed playing with the lenses and the challenges of putting together the telescope.
When we were done, it worked! Though you can't hold it as Alex is here - every little movement is like an earthquake and everything is very blurry. We actually need a tripod, but when I laid it flat on a table it worked. We haven't used it on the night sky yet - just around the yard - but we will give it a try when it isn't cloudy!

Last night, I gave myself a little refresher course about lenses so I could teach Alex. In this photo, she has one convex lens and one concave lens.

Today, we talked about convergence, divergence, refraction and reflection. We also watched a BrainPop video about telescopes which discussed the differences between reflecting telescopes, which use mirrors, and refracting telescopes, which use lenses. We also used a drop of water on a piece of SaranWrap to imitate a convex lens. Altogether, this has been a great study and I'm trying to decide where to go next with this Rabbit Trail.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cliffs of Moher (Final Day in Ireland)

We spent our last day in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher.

Alex with the Cliffs of Moher behind her.

We climbed up O'Brien's Tower to see the cliffs.

This lady, named Tina, was an incredible harpist. I think she made our visit to the cliffs all the more wonderful. I could have set and listened to her for an hour. (And, I bought her CD... her music is like a beautiful lullaby.)

Now we're on the side by the cliffs and you can see the tower we climbed earlier. Nana & Papa had been here a few years earlier and things have changed a lot. It is much safer! They have moved the walkways back from the edge and there is practically no way you could fall off if you stick to the paths. There were paths marked "Private Property: Do Not Enter" that weren't near as safe.... and you wouldn't believe how many people were taking those paths! (My librarian is from Ireland and she'd warned me that quite a few people have been blown off the cliffs by strong gusts so she'd warned me to keep Alex away from the edge... I was so glad they had made this view so much safer!)
Alex saw this adorable little mouse on our path. He's about the size of a ping pong ball. Papa picked him up twice to move him off the path... he blended in so well he was in danger of being stepped on! (Oh, and Alex named him Cheddar!)

We also took this boat to the base of the cliffs. Here it is coming to get us with an island in the back. I hadn't noticed the ancient ruins (to the right with the flag) while we were there!

Alex and I started our trip at the front of the boat. What a mistake! :-) We got SOAKED in just a few minutes... it was quick and we were trying to get towards the back when the drencher came.

Unfortunately, Nana got sick and I wasn't feeling very good myself. My camera also got wet in the "drencher." And, the boat was going up and down so much I was really surprised any of my photos came out. Anyway, you can see the tower we'd climbed earlier (a little to the left of center). The main cliffs are on the right, not in the photo at this time.

I loved how this feature was sticking out of the water.

And, a short video of Tina Morrissey's (was Mulrooney) beautiful music. She's been playing at the cliffs for more than 20 years! (Great video at this link - includes Tina playing part of Danny Boy.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula (Day 12)

I'm almost done blogging about our trip to Ireland & Scotland. I really appreciate the comments that have been left on these posts and the people who have told me in person that they're enjoying this virtual trip. This has taken a lot of time and it encourages me to finish posting. Thanks!

In the hotel we stayed at in Dingle, Ireland, there were windows in the roof (like there are at most houses in Ireland.) When I asked the lady at the front desk if there was a way to close the shade, she told me to look for the remote by the TV. Of course, I was looking for something like a TV remote... I was surprised to find this long pole like they use in the US in clothing stores! You could pull the blind closed or push it shut and also open and close the window with it.

This was probably my favorite day in Ireland. We drove around the Dingle Peninsula on the Slea Head Drive. It follws the coast and has incredible views. I posted a lot of photos today (23!) because there are just so many amazing things to see!

Here's a goat that was just "loose" by one of our stops.

And, a sheep... I was just amazed at how they can climb up steep slopes! Can you see the red spot on his back? The sheep in this area are branded with various colors of paint in various places on the sheep's body.

A beautiful view...

We stopped at the beach a few times. It was so beautiful!

This is Alex at Dunbeg Fort. It was built in the Iron Age. It was a ring fort and parts of it have fallen into the sea. It was amazing to see that this fort, built several THOUSAND of years ago, was put together without any kind of mortar... and it is still standing strong!

Some of the cliffs near the ring fort.

This is a beehive hut. These were built 4,000 years ago!!! They were used as family dwellings. Again, they were built without any type of mortar and are so solid!Most of the beehive huts no longer had a roof. (There were 4 or 5 huts here.)

I took this photo from inside of the one hut that did have its roof. The roof are just much larger stones.

This sculpture of Jesus was along the Slea Head Drive. We saw another very similar sculpture somewhere else in Ireland... I don't remember where, though.

Just another place I had to stop to take a photo.

Another stop at a beach.

Along the Drive, there were tall shrubs that had been planted. Mostly, there were fuschia, which I love. These shrubs were about 10 foot tall and I think one purpose was to warn you when you got too close to the edge of the road. :-) These roads were very narrow!

An old church and cemetery on the drive. Again, we were surprised that the tombstones we saw weren't very old!

Part of the drive goes up a place called Connors Pass. You drive almost into the clouds!

And the road is very narrow... and it was so cold and windy! I had trouble bracing myself to just take some of the photos.

Some sheep loose right next to the road.

This man and his donkey were way up near the top of the mountain. Like I said, it was very cold and windy up here. I wondered what this man's story was...

Some people got out and were climbing even higher. You can see we're almost to the clouds!

On the way back to Limerick, I stopped to take photos of these thatched roofs I'd seen on the way to Dingle. I saw a few houses that had thatched roofs, but this is actually a little store. I wonder what it looks like from the inside?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Driving to Dingle (Day 11)

On Monday, Nana, Papa, Alex, my nephew, and I headed for the town of Dingle. Dingle is the starting place for a scenic drive around the Dingle peninsula.

We had to keep stopping the car so I could take photos. Isn't Ireland beautiful?

Hydrangeas are one of my FAVORITE flowers. And, they are everywhere in Ireland and Scotland. I couldn't believe how many blooms would be on each bush! You could hardly see the leaves!!!
We stopped at this windmill on the way. There is a museum attached which is mainly about the Irish Potato Famine.

Alex LOVED grinding wheat inside of the windmill.

More of the beautiful countryside!

Alex had complained of being carsick on our drive and she "proved it" (if you know what I mean) right when we parked in Dingle. So, she messed up her pullover and it was REALLY COLD out. I let her wear my jacket as we searched for a store. We found these cute matching pullovers at Kerry Woolen Mills. (Not at this outlet, but we posed here when we saw the sign.)

We had planned on going further this first day, but since Alex was sick we decided to stay the night in Dingle. I'm so glad we did! Dingle is a port and we found a hotel right by the water. We went walking around that evening. Here, Alex is posing on a statue of Fungi. Fungi is a bottle-nosed dolphin that lives in Dingle Harbor and enjoys playing around people. Unforunately, I didn't realize you could take a 45 minute boat trip out to see him and you are guaranteed to see Fungi or get your money back... and they've never had to give a refund! You can also rent wet suits and go out and play in the water near Fungi.

Another view of the harbor.

The town of Dingle.

That night, we spent some time in the pub area of our hotel listening to live local music. It was so much fun!!! About half of the people there were kids and many of them were dancing. People were welcome to get up and play an instrument with the band or sing with them and several people did. I loved this Irish music and it was a wonderful evening.

This is the electric water heater at our hotel. I think every place we stayed had hot water like this. You push the "start-stop" button and you have hot water! We always left them on "medium" flow and left the temperature dial alone. It was a great shower! In the house in Limerick, you had to turn a power switch on in the hallway before you could turn this heater on.

And, I'll leave you with just a very short taste of some live, Irish music.

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