Monday, September 26, 2011

Start Something That Matters, Beautiful Ants, $3 Backpacks!!!!

back to the real world

Hi!!  I know it's been a long time. In fact it's been over two weeks.  My last post was from my last day in Ireland.  I sure had a great time and I miss it, but I have to say that everything went smoothly in my absence and the children have been great since I’ve come back.  I have a hodge-podge of things to share with you.

I didn't mention this, but this touched me.  Clarksville recently had a tragedy where many bikers died in a tragic accident.  Sunday, holding a vigil at the funeral home.

I really have a great class and I’m lucky, not all of my co-teachers can say the same.  When you have a great class you are motivated to go above and beyond.  We read a Native American folk tale week before last.  It was entitled, The Strongest One, and it was about ants trying to figure out what was strongest in nature.  I remembered that I had an old ant farm and some years I get ants for the class.  I told the class, ordered ants on-line on Wednesday or Thursday, and believe it or not….. They came in today.  Needless to say, the kids were thrilled.  One little boy says the cutest things.  He said, “Those ants are quite beautiful!”  They  don’t usually last very long, but, I know we will enjoy observing them for several days.  The children have already gotten excited because they have seen some of the ants carrying grains of sand!

my beautiful ants

I’ve just finished  an amazing, inspiring book written by the creator of TOMS shoes, Blake Mycoskie.  I have written about Tom’s in several blogs and I’m the proud owner of  5 pairs of Toms.  If you aren’t familiar with the company, they give a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair of shoes sold.  In this book, Blake not only shares how Tom’s started, but he also shares the stories of other socially minded companies.  I find it very interesting and a coincidence he started the company the same year that I went on my first trip to Honduras! I  won’t spoil the book for you, but, I think anyone,  (mission-minded or not) will enjoy this book.  I find that many of my experiences with my Honduras work and my $$$ raising with the earringproject have mirrored the things that I read in this book.  If you live near-by, you are welcome to borrow it from me.

Honduras Update:  The Saturday market has kind of slowed down, but a slow day this season was a good day last season.  I have continued to do well, and I’m well on my way for the expenses for 2012.  Maybe, I can build another house!!!!  I have also decided that I’m going to be more organized in my collecting of donations.  Last year, I had so much that I couldn’t take it all.  This year, I’m collecting throughout the year so that I can get things early enough so they can be shipped by container.  I’ve started with collecting school supplies.  Unfortunately, people can get a little “donation jaded” if you get my drift. 

I was in Wal-mart yesterday after church and they I had a cart full of $3 children’s backpacks.  I bought as many as I felt I could affort and immediately posted a message about them on FB via my IPhone.  Just a minute ago, my doorbell rang and one of my neighbors had sent her son over with a bag of backpacks!!!!!  That sure made my day!!!!!  God is good!!  Thank you Tonya!!!!
Cocoa and I were thrilled about these backpacks!!

I am going to leave you with a poem that is attributed to Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley.  It's in the front of Start Something That Matters.


To laugh often and love much
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
endure the betrayal of false friends

To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition

To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have suceeded.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cliffs of Moher & Dromoland Castle

Nick and I walked around Killarney after dinner.

This morning we left our hotel in Killarney and headed toward Limerick.  We actually rode on a ferry which was interesting considering there was about 8 cars, 2 tour buses and a semi on it!  The ferry ride lasted about 20 minutes.  As we were driving through County Limerick, I looked it up in my guide book and it had no mentions.  We’ve all heard of Limerick, but I guess it isn’t really a tourist destination.

After traveling an hour or so, we got into County Clare.  Much of the county is on the coast and many people rent vacation homes there. (They don’t look like the ocean side vacation homes of Florida.)  One little town had a monument of Charlie Chaplin because he and his family loved to vacation there.

Our tour guide, Tom, called this this the Divorce Castle.  He added, "she got the other half!"  He was always quick with a joke.  On the serious side, we saw castle ruins every day, often several times a day.

Around 11:30, we made it to the Cliffs of Moher.  A Lord O’Brian owned the land for some time and built the tower (you’ll see it in my pictures) so visitors could enjoy the breathtaking views.  I really can’t find words to describe the cliffs, but I hope the pictures do them justice.  We had lunch in a cafĂ© there and looked around in the shops.  They built these into the hills as to not take away from the natural scenery.

View from atop the tower


Our trip was basically over after that.  We were the only family who chose the option to stay in Dromoland Castle.  Our tour guide didn’t recommend that we go with the rest of the group to their dinner at the Bunratty Castle.  That was an additional fee and we had already paid extra to stay in the castle.  We met our transport and said our good-byes to the group.

The Dromoland Castle was also built by the O’Brian family.  It was built in the 16th century and can be traced back to Irish Gaelic royalty.  The grounds were beautiful and our room was very nice.  We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was kind of nice to be on our own and be able to relax for the evening.  Our transport will be ready to pick us up tomorrow at 8:30 am and we’ll be flying out of Shannon Airport which isn’t too far away.  We fly to JFK, with a layover there and we will be getting home tomorrow night.

Nick, Lucas and I strolled on the grounds.

I can’t imagine that there could be a more beautiful country in the world.  The people have been very kind and welcoming, and every town we visited had lots of interesting things to see and do.  According to my guide book, there is so much to see and do in Ireland, you could spend months there.  Who knows?  Maybe I can come again someday!  If you are ever thinking about taking a trip overseas I would definitely recommend Ireland.  I also would recommend Brendan tours. It was well organized and the tour guide was friendly, witty, with always a wealth of information.  I felt the expense was well worth everything we did.

After I get home and have a few days to unwind, I’m sure I’ll have a blog that will wrap up my thoughts and feelings about the trip. 

Pray for safe travels!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seeing God's country, Ring of Kerry

This morning I started off the day with a “leisurely” hike in the Killarney National Park, which is the largest national park in Ireland at 20,000 acres.  I say"I" because Nick and Lucas decided to sleep in.  The park has a lovely estate called Muckross which was first owned by a family who overextended themselves sprucing up for a visit from Queen Victoria. 

This huge plant had prickly leaves and was a type of rhubarb plant.

They call these local drivers for hire jarveys.

This little town we went through is famous for their Puck fair every year we they honor the goat.
 The estate was then bought by a wealthy family from the US who bought it for a wedding present for their daughter.  The daughter died at a young age and the family gave the land back to Ireland. I enjoyed the hike, but it was a little more strenuous than  it was described and I was concerned for some of the less fit and healthy folks.

Peat bog pony

The land was beautiful, but it actually reminded me of the mountains around Gatlinburg and Asheville, NC.  We found out that the American owners had brought lots of plants and trees onto their land that was not indigenous to the area.  Rhododendrons had also been brought in some time in the past.  Although, they are huge and beautiful, they have become invasive.

You can see my new sweater and scarf made from Irish wool.

We had lunch here.

Our hike ended around 10:30 and we went back to the hotel to pick up those who didn’t come with us earlier.  The afternoon was spent driving on a 100 mile drive on a peninsula called the Ring of Kerry.  I won’t try describing the beautiful cliffs and shoreline, but I will add lots of pictures!  We had our lunch at a neat little place with a thatched roof.  The restaurant had delicious Irish food, desserts and sandwiches.  Lucas tried a shepard’s pie and he loved it.

We learned about ring forts which were the remains of the round homes left over from ancient times.  They are also called fairy rings.  I'm not sure if that is what is in this picture.

We probably took 50 pictures of sheep, but these are actually goats.

They marked their sheep with paint.  The sheep were all over the moutainside.
It was very foggy, so our views weren't the best during this part.

We stopped at this little town for a bathroom break. 

Can you tell it's windy?

Killarney, the town we are staying in


Tonight, we have one last dinner in the hotel that is provided by the tour.  Nick and I have talked about walking around Killarney tonight after dinner.  It’s another neat town with lots of quaint shops.  Tomorrow, we are to get on a ferry and see the Cliffs of Moher and that will be the last day of our tour.  We are still having a great time, and I have to say I haven’t been as tired as I thought I would be.  I’m sure I will have one more blog post!

Until next time!