Friday, 29 November 2013

Caring for a Bearded Dragon

We have had lots of fun with our newest pets and have learned a few hard lesson along the way.  Firedrake is proving very responsible for caring for the reptiles, except for the picking up the poo messes, that she can't do yet:(.  So it is my job.  Just so you know, bearded dragon poo stink, really bad:(  MarioFan while interested in the reptiles is not as keen to really help and because he is so jumpy and loud the lizards are a bit nervous around him.

Every day we let the Bearded Dragon out of his cage to exercise and it gets itself into the most interesting situations.   We never leave him unattended.   This is called glass surfing, he sees his shadow on the window and tries to attack it.  It has gotten so bad that I have had to place a brown paper bag on the back of his tank to decrease the glass attacks:)

Daddy has really taken to the lizard as well and every time Isaac seems to want to climb on his head and Daddy lets him:)

While the main staple of a Bearded Dragons diet is greens they do need crickets and there is no pet store close by our home so I found I was spending too much time driving to get crickets. I decided to purchase live crickets online.  It cost as much to ship the crickets to the house as the actual box of 500 crickets.   I keep telling myself I am saving in gas money.  I bought  a size or two too small I think and the smaller the cricket the higher and faster the littler critters can jump:(  I must have a dozen or so that have escaped and are hopping about my home.  We are slowly tracking them down.  BTW  500 crickets is a lot of crickets but they don't sell them in any smaller amount sizes, still debating whether I will do this again.

Bearded Dragons need baths, so we have designated this plastic tub as Isaac's and it can be used for nothing else

He loves his warm soaks

and poos in it every single time:(

The hardest lessoned learned so far is that the heat lamps of the reptiles are incredibly hot.  Even though I warned the kids many, many time never to put the lamps on the floor...while cleaning out the tank, without thinking, I set the lamp on the rug for a moment and it burnt a hole right through the carpet.  I was so mad at my self but at least I did it and not the kids and now they can see why you never ever set the reptiles lamp on any surface. 

I have since bought lamp holders that now permanently hang the lamps so they never have to be moved about.  We didn't have these when we did the above fire demonstration.

I don't have any pictures of Lizzy our leopard gecko but she too is proving to have a bit more of a personality then our previous gecko, Sparks.  She comes out of her house to listen to the kids play piano.  She is still very nervous when held so we are working on handling her a bit more on a daily basis.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Visiting a Weather forecast Center

Another recent field trip included a trip to the local National Weather Service Office.  This was one time my husband was a little jealous he had to go to work and miss out on all our fun field trips:)

When we arrived we were taken into a meeting room and given a brief presentation on weather and how forecasters attempt to forecast the weather.   The presenter was quite funny in accepting that they don't always get it right but the reasons are pretty justified.  There are just too many variables and last minute changes in the weather system to predict with 100% accuracy.  I almost felt sorry for the weather forecaster after hearing the process:)

Next we were taken into the work room and shown various computer screen that explained temp,  cold fronts and other things.  I admit I have very little knowledge of this area so some of the things he talked about went right over my head.  I need to bone up on my meteorology skills.

Showing the kids how they change the computer screen to add information.  

Meeting one of the local Meteorologist.  This office is one of five that covers the state of Missouri and is manned 24 hours a day.  Their forecast go out to airports, radio/TV stations, to companies needing information due to their business.  

Kids were told that once while working on reporting and tracking a Tornado in the area, all of the people working had to hide in this small office closet which is outfitted as a storm room, complete with extra thick walls, ceilings and a thick metal door.  

In addition to the tour the children saw several videos of various storms and learned some safety precautions that we can take in the event we are ever in that situation.  For example, during a tornado if caught outside the worst thing to do is run for cover under an overpass.  The overpass acts like a wind tunnel and throws debris up into the rafters of the overpass which is where most people like to try and hide.  While occasionally you might hear of someone surviving there it is not advisable as more are killed and the news doesn't report those incidents.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!!!  Enjoy this time with your family

Friday, 22 November 2013

Learning about the soap making process

We have been going on lots of field trip at least once a week, it is our way of getting out and trying to meet new people.  A few weeks ago we went to a local Soap shop in a part of town called the "Hill"  I am told this is the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis and it is full of wonderful restaurants and bakeries.  I need to go back and scoop that out a bit more:)
The gentleman that owns the shop used to make soap out of his home and now has a staff of 6 and says he ships his soaps all over the states.
We were introduced to the Soapy the owners dog and shop mascot

While waiting for our tour to begin we looked around the stop and the kids found some Soap sculptures they likds

Once the tour began the kids were given a smell test.  Small bottles of common smells found in soaps along with a few unusual ones.  Did you know that the smell of coffee can neutralize smells?  After a couple of sniff from several of the tubes we were instructed to smell the tube that held the coffee smell and then we were able to continue our smell test.  

We saw racks of drying soap bars, since Christmas is coming up they are super busy filling orders.  The soap needs to dry up to 3 weeks to reduce the water content 
Kids were shown the two main ingredient needed for soap...vegetable oils

and Lye...
the shop uses only natural colors which are plant based.
Once the two main ingredients are mixed together it results in a chemical reaction and the liquid is pours into containers and kept that is not a bed in the shop it is where they store the liquid soap until it harden, the chemical reaction is complete, and the soap hardens
Next the shop assistant brought our a wire cutter which is how the cut the large blocks of soap into small rectangle shapes

The smaller rectangles soap blocks are then cut into uniform bar sizes

Next it goes to the packaging center

the labeling machine

The have lots of labels even some that are specialized.

After touring the soap factory the kids were able to make  decorative soap piece to take home

Using cookie cutters MarioFan made the the state of Missouri and his soap smells like black licorice

Firedrake made a leaf shape  and smell like lemon

I bought several christmas presents at the shop to give to the children's various tutors and even bought a soap that claims to help resist mosquitos which I intend to try next summer, as I was bitten a lot while camping.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Wolf Howls

While we were in Colorado we stop at a wolf rescue facility.  My daughter loves wolves and while we have been to several wolf sanctuaries, this is the first time we have ever heard the wolves howl, it was pretty amazing.

The tour guide got the wolves started

and then the wolves just kept howling

It was so exciting to be able to be apart of this!  Made Firedrakes day!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Learning about Mining for Gold

While in Colorado we heard about a gold mine that we could tour, outside of the town of Cripple Creek.

Kids thought this was hysterical
This mine is a little over 1000 feet deep into the Earth.  We learned that this actually is not that deep for gold mines; there are mines in South Africa that go well over a mile underground.  At that depth, the heat of the planet begins to become a serious hazard for the miners.

We had an excellent tour guide who demonstrated many of the tools miners used, we saw how the equipment changed and improved over the years.  However most of it continues to be quite loud!

Tenderfoot miners' jobs were to fill these containers of soil and rock.   They needed a quota and many could not mange it.  
Supposedly Jack Dempsy, one of the most famous boxers in history, was fired from two different mines because he didn't meet his quotas.

Everything underground is powered by air pressure from compressors on the surface.

Getting an explanation on how dynamite was used and how it was carefully labeled to go off in a particular sequence

The explosive and the detonation cord used to set off the explosion.  Properly handling this type of explosive is a highly skilled job.

When mining gold you have to follow the veins so there are many levels.

Often people were sitting on nothing more than a board for hours using heavy and  loud machinery.  It was not unheard of the vibration of the tool to literally knock someone off their board and then falling many flights to their death. 

We rode an old carriage under ground

See saw a miner's bathroom.

Next we were taken into a locked room were we saw gold nuggets

We heard about the woman who owned this mine (which was considered very bad luck, so she only visited her mine twice giving it to her son to operate)  The story goes that she was walking along a path and sat down to rest and at her feet she found a gold nugget.

Seeing gold in a nugget

We were each given gold ore which is not the same as the stone above.  

If we use toxic chemicals and produce a great deal of heat we might get a teensy tiny silver of gold!

Learning about the bell system in tunnels which we were told was a standardized system  and every mine in the world should recognize these signals.

The elevator taking us up and down in the mine

Next we stopped at a working mine, we could only tour the outside of the plant.  Here is a tire of the big trucks that carry the dirt.

We also saw a reclamation section that the mining company is working on to bring this area which has been completely stripped of gold back to life

This mine is an open pit mining operation

At the top we saw the old mining company buildings that still remain

The old mining town
I thought it was good for the kids to see how gold was mined in the 1800's which is very different from how it is done today.  We also did not know that gold ore needs so much processing to produce actual gold.  We asked the miner what he thought was the most dangerous mining occupation, and he said that, in his opinion, it was coal mining due to the explosive nature of what's being mined.  In either case, underground mining of any type is still one of the most hazardous jobs in the world.