Monday, February 29, 2016

HAL Westerdam 2016

A couple of weeks ago we sailed on the HAL Westerdam out of Ft. Lauderdale. Our captain was Vincent Smit and our cruise director was Sara Kostner. Here are the pictures from our trip.

Day 1 - Embarkation 2/13/16
Embarkation was extremely smooth. We went through security easily with my laptop, my knitting, and 3 cans of diet Pepsi. We didn’t wait too long before they were letting us board the ship. Our cabin was 4090 and ready for us. The only thing we didn’t care for was that they upgraded us to a oceanview room which is also a handicapped room. This means there is less storage and no couch. The bathroom is bigger and handicapped accessible which takes up the room space. But the cabin steward, Eli (pronounced Elly) is nice. We had the lifeboat drill and one of the Westerdam singers, Zack was in charge of our group. We went up to talk to him after the drill to tell him what a great job he did and he told us he was a singer and invited us to come say hi to him after the show.

Day 2: At Sea 2/14/16

We had to turn our clocks forward one hour which threw me off. I actually slept in and didn’t get to breakfast until 7am (which is my 6am). I had an omelet and bacon for breakfast. Then I had to register online for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. After that we did our walking. At 1pm we went to the Champagne Art Auction, at 5pm we went to see the movie Spectre in the Queens Lounge. We also checked out the DVD Fargo from the main office. It was formal night (they call it Gala night) at dinner and then we went to the show All About Love at 10pm. We went up to Zack afterwards and he even remembered us from the lifeboat drill (which is amazing since they see thousands of people every week!) After the show we went to the front office to buy a postcard stamp for Grand Turk and they didn’t have any. They said that it would be mailed either from San Juan or St. Thomas.

Day 3: Grand Turk 2/15/16

We ate breakfast in the dining room and missed the announcement that cancelled the port. When we got out on the deck, the Captain came on the intercom explaining that we were not going to Grand Turk because of 40 mph winds and high seas. So, we had another day at sea. So we headed to San Juan and will arrive there early. We went to see the movie The Martian which we enjoyed. Then after lunch we walked our 3 miles and sat on the deck to relax for awhile. When it started to rain, we went back to our cabin to watch the DVD Skyfall. After dinner we went to see the illusionist, Leon Etienne who has been on America’s Got Talent, the Jimmy Fallon show and other venues. While we were waiting for the show to start, we met Jenn who usually works with the children’s program on the Westerdam but is on vacation at the time. Her husband is the stage manager here on the ship and she was taking pictures of the illusionist for publicity reasons. She was so interesting and fun to talk to! I know I probably talked too much and asked too many questions but she never acted like it bothered her. This ship has been exceptional about making guests feel welcome and special. The show was exceptional and we are so glad we went!

(ETA: I apologize to Jenn but when I researched Bacardi Rum Factory Tours when we got to San Juan and they are now charging $12 for the tours!)

Day 4: San Juan, Puerto Rico 2/16/16

After finding out that the Bacardi Rum factory was charging for the tours, we decided to tour the forts instead. We went to Castillo de San Cristobal first but it was too early and it wasn’t open so we walked a mile to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We spent a few hours exploring the fort and it was a lot of fun even though it was extremely hot! We left there and headed back to the ship for lunch and stopped at Don’s favorite thrift store where he bought about 220 matchbox cars! Then we had to lug 2 heavy boxes all the way back to the ship! Not sure yet how we will get them off the ship but we will worry about that later. After lunch we went to the Castillo de San Cristobal and explored it. We were so tired that in the late afternoon we stopped at CVS to get diet pepsi and Gatorade. After dinner we went to see the comedy show David Crowe.

Day 5: St. Thomas 2/17/16

We had a lovely day at Coki Beach at St. Thomas. It cost $10 each for the cab ride, $5 each for a lounge chair, and $20 for a bucket of beer (6 bottles). We did some snorkeling and saw a lot of beautiful fish. Next to us sat 3 very nice ladies, Janice, Joanne, and Heather from Michigan. Heather now lives on St. Thomas and was nice enough to “persuade” some people from setting their lounge chairs right on top of our feet. When we returned to the ship, we were starving so we ate a late lunch. Our 30-minute ride took over 90 minutes because of an accident and then a detour. I didn’t realize how strong the sun was and we both got cooked (I forgot our sunblock)! My hubby was so miserable that he went to bed and slept all night. He didn’t even want to go to dinner and I went alone (which got me a lot of attention from the waiters and maitre’d who kept stopping to talk to me because they felt bad I was all alone). I had a nice evening reading a good book.

Day 6: At Sea 2/18/16

It was a nice day at sea. After breakfast we went to the magic show where the illusionist showed us how he did a couple of tricks and then did some new ones. Then we had a special luncheon for 3 star mariners (their frequent flyer type program). After lunch we went to a question and answer session with the Captain which we always enjoy. Before dinner we went to see the movie Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks in it and it was great too! After dinner, we skipped the show and packed up one of the suitcases.

Day 7: Half Moon Cay (Bahamas) 2/19/16

We had a lovely day and got off the boat today in Half Moon Cay. We sat on the beach for about 30 minutes before deciding that it was just too cool to swim so we returned to the ship. Then we were able to walk our hour before going to lunch. After lunch we finished packing until it was time to go to the movie to see Steven Jobs which was interesting. Luckily I found out that I needed to move my clock back and not forward so we got an extra hour of sleep. After dinner we went back to the cabin to put our suitcases out in the hall.

Things I Learned:

1.     I don’t need to pack as much as I did.
2.     We need to put on sunblock when we go to the beach even if we sit in the shade.
3.     Bring extra duct tape.
4.     We like sitting at a table for 2 for dinner.
5.     7:45pm is a good time for dinner.
6.     Anytime Dining is not as bad as I expected.
7.     Pack one suitcase to the brim the day before you have to pack. Then pack only 1 suitcase on the last day.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 2/26/16

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Growth Mindsetby Classdojo; “In 1978, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck made a profound discovery: children who believed their intelligence could grow did better in school, and better in life. She called this basic belief about intelligence “mindset.” In 2016, Carol Dweck’s lab at Stanford, PERTS, partnered with ClassDojo to bring this important lesson to classrooms everywhere through a five episode video series.” (L:E; SA:A)

Bedtime Math – “Every day, we serve up a quick bite of wacky math just for fun. It’s nothing like school. Parents can sign up by email, on our website, and on our free app. Whether it’s flamingos, ninjas or pillow forts, kids can see the math in their favorite topics. No logins. No drilling. No scores. It takes only 5 minutes a day, and kids clamor for it. We make math the cool thing to do after school. Our Crazy 8s math club is designed to get elementary school kids fired up about math. Every week, kids get to build stuff, run and jump, make a mess… and make friendships at the same time. Our fun, free kit makes it easy to host your own after-school club for 10-20 kids. It’s nothing like your usual math club.” (L:E; SA:M)

CSpan Classroom – “free primary source materials for social studies teachers.” There is also a free electoral college map for members (it is free to join). (L:G; SA:A)
5 Dice – free iPad app;A math game intended for upper elementary and middle school students that helps students enjoy practicing their order of operations. The game encourages students to use higher order thinking to solve the "target" number by working backwards given the answer but not the equation. The best feature about this simple math game is that teachers are able to receive immediate feedback of their students’ progress through email.” (L:E,M; SA:M)

Quizalize Make fun games on any topic, to play in class or as homework (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Message of Peace

In “Peace Across the World” – A Global Message from  On an e-Journey with Generation Y,  annemirtschin talks about how her students were asked to compose messages for “Peace Across the World” for the World Peace Song project partners..."

Then she asks,
What would your message be?

Peace is when everyone can get along without violence even though we have our differences. We accept that we are all different people and can live with that. People can disagree but be okay that they don’t agree on everything. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and treated with respect. Peace is when we recognize that alone, everyone has strengths and weaknesses but if we all work together, we can be strong united. As a knitter, I know that one ply of yarn is not as strong as a 4 single strands plied together.

What would your message be? Please share.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cast Iron, Cast on – Book Review and Giveaway

I recently received the book Cast Iron, Cast On: Cooking and Knitting Through the Seasons by Becky Herrick and Calley Hastings from Cooperative Press to review. I am not being paid for this review. The book is for sale on Amazon for $26.95 or $16.95 for the Ravelry download.

To begin with, I loved the Table of Contents which shows pictures of each individual project. Chapters are divided into seasons and by the month showing the knit project(s) and recipe(s). Each season is also designated with a specific color which makes it easy to view. Recipes and patterns fit the New England climate.  There were 16 patterns and 22 recipes.

The back of the book includes links to the yarn sources used in the book and also a list of abbreviations and their meanings used in the patterns.

There was a wide variety of the types of patterns from gift bags, accessories, to garments. The patterns were easy to read including the required skills needed to complete the project. Included were great photos of each project. Size ranges for garments were from XS to 5X which was fabulous along with how much positive or negative ease was expected. Schematics were give which are extremely handy especially when blocking. There were 11 of the 16 patterns that I would definitely want to make.

Some recipes were a little too advanced for my simple cooking skills but some were easy enough that I could be successful with them. Some of the recipes were intriguing enough that I might give them a try and expand my horizons.

I think this is a fun book to have and a great addition to any collection of knitting books. I believe it would help me grow as a knitter and a cook.

If you like the book and want to enter to win a digital copy, please leave a comment below by March 9 along with your Ravelry name or email address.  I will draw a name on March 10 using a random number generator and the winner will get a digital copy of the book. Please check it out and let me know what you think!