Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Season of Simplicity

“What title best describes the current phase of your life? How would you name it? Season of _____________.”

This year I have been trying to have the Season of Simplicity.

I tend to over commit and do too many things which leave me stressed out and anxious.

I enter knitting contests and then stress about the deadlines. Even though there is no penalty for not finished on time and missing the entry, I stress about this self-imposed deadline. I think it is a good idea when I start and then I kick myself later. This year I have only entered one year long contest which is knitting a stuffed animal each month. It takes me about 2-5 days to finish a project.

I don’t agree to serve on any more than 2 committees in one year. I’ve been asked to serve on several and have even felt like I wanted to serve at that time but then I remember my promise to keep it simple and I decline. Later, I’m usually glad that I didn’t commit to anything new.

I will not agree to teach more than one graduate class a year. I’ve committed to teaching the practicum every July until they no longer want me. I don’t want to teach during the fall or spring anymore because it seems to go on forever.

I’ve even streamlined my yearly goals and I’ve found that they are more manageable and easy to monitor. When I’m checking the results at the end of the month, it is easier to record my results.

If I buy any clothes, I am making sure that they are easy to clean and care for.

I’m trying not to worry too much about the “what ifs” and enjoy the “here and now.”

I think this would be a fun lesson to do with students at the beginning of the school year and then revisit it at the end of the year to see if they were successful.

How would you name your season? Please share.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

MSC Divina August 2017

Last week we were on the MSC Divina again for the fourth time. The price was right and we weren’t doing anything that week so we decided to sail on it again. The captain is Marco Massa, Hotel Director is Zbigniew Lisowski, Cruise Director is Andre Schlemmer, and Guest Relations manager is Carmelina Juliano. We had cabin 12285 with a full balcony. Dinner was at 6pm at table 519.

Day 1: Saturday 8/19/17

We arrived at the port at 10am and was through security and checked in by 11am. At 11:30, they let us board and we were at the Calumet Buffet at 11:45 waiting for them to open lunch at noon. The cabins were ready at 2:30pm but we could get in our cabin and drop stuff off before then. We bought a couple of books of drink tickets to use (18 alcoholic drinks for $89 and 18 nonalcoholic drinks for $49). They said we can buy more during the cruise if we need to. After lunch, we walked around and then decided to have some drinks. Don had 4 martinis and I had 2 cosmopolitans before the 3:30pm excursion talk. At 4:30 we had the life boat drill and then went back to the cabin to finish unpacking. I realized that we did not pack any dress pants for Don. After a little nap, we went to dinner at 6pm. Don wore his slip on black sports pants. We ate with a very nice couple from Michigan: Billie and Artie and the service was very good. After dinner, we walked around the deck and then went back to our cabin for an early night.

Day 2: Sunday 8/20/17 At Sea

I was up on deck at 5am playing on my computer. After breakfast, we walked an hour on the walking deck. At 10 I went to the arts and crafts where we decorated t-shirts with solar eclipse pictures using markers. Then we went to have a Frappuccino at the coffee shop. After lunch, we went back to our cabin. The ship sent us a bottle of Prosecco and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries which we enjoyed on our balcony. Then there was a Captain's reception where we had free cocktails before our formal night dinner. Exciting evening though. Some guest had to be evacuated by a coast guard helicopter to the Caicos Islands and then flown to Miami because of a medical emergency. After dinner, we peeked in the theater and watched the end of the show Mask.

Day 3: Monday 8/21/17 At Sea

After breakfast, we walked an hour on the walking deck. At 10 we had a Cruise Critic meet up in the Black and White Lounge and they served cocktails and h’oeuvre’s. Plus, they had a huge cake for us and we took a group picture. We met a nice couple Linda and JD from Paducah, Kentucky. Before lunch we talked to Natacha from Portugal who oversaw the Arts and Crafts. At noon, we had lunch in the Eataly Steakhouse. I had a 16-oz. ribeye and Don had this huge lobster! We also had appetizers of cold cuts and cheeses. For dessert Don had the cannoli and I had the bombolino which were like powdered donuts. After lunch, we ended up having a coffee drink at the coffee shop while we tried to figure out when the solar eclipse happened. Then we decided to walk to deck 16 and see what was going on. We found a nice spot where there were 5 other people hanging out: Brian and Kevin and their son David from Connecticut and Tasha and Jeremy from Colorado. Brian kept lending us his special glasses so we could see the eclipse which was very cool. We watched it until about 3:40. At 4, we went to a Veteran’s meetup and the only other person who showed was Brian. Then we had pre-dinner cocktails until we had to get ready for dinner. At dinner, they moved a new couple to our table: Shamali and Debra from Ft. Pierce. Shamali is a chef at a nuclear power plant and Debra works in a jail. About 6:30, Artie and Billie showed up. After dinner, we went back to the room to prepare for our next day in St. Maarten.

Day 4: Tuesday 8/22/17 St. Maarten

We got off the ship around 9am. We got to the beach (water taxi was $7 pp round trip) and got 2 chairs and an umbrella for $15. The guy started at $20 but when we said we would walk around first, he lowered it to $15. We got our bucket of beer from Caribbean Blend and it was $2 per beer so we ended up with 2 buckets of 6 beers while we were there. I got to visit my friend Suzette and gave her a shawl that I made. She was very busy in the restaurant. We left around 2:30 and came back to the ship. After cleaning up, we had a snack and an hour nap before going to dinner.

Day 5: Wednesday 8/23/17 San Juan

We got off the ship around 8:15 and walked to the fort on the right but we got there around 8:45 and it didn’t open until 9am so we walked to the fort on the left. It was already so hot and humid that I was soaked in sweat by the time we got there. We walked around and bought a Gatorade before leaving and walking around town. We walked about 5 miles before returning to the ship around 11:30. We ate lunch and talked to the executive chef (from England who now lives in Spain). Then we went back to the cabin to relax. On the way, they said that the dock was closed while the Allure of the Seas tied up and we watched as two ambulances were waiting. Eventually two gurneys were taken aboard ship so I hope those people are going to be okay. Then we relaxed in our cabin until 4pm. We had a cocktail before the Black card party. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to have a picture with the captain. After that we went to dinner and then came back to the cabin. I watched a Sex in the City movie until I went to sleep.

Day 6: Thursday 8/24/17 At Sea

After breakfast, we did our exercise walk. For lunch, we went to the Eataly Steakhouse and I had a filet mignon (8 oz.) with a side of peppercorn sauce and Don had the surf and turf (5 oz. filet mignon and lobster tail). Both were excellent! After lunch, we had a Chococinno at the coffee shop. The rest of the afternoon we relaxed on our balcony until it was time to get ready for the evening. We had pre-dinner cocktails in the Divina bar and then went to dinner. After dinner, we went to the Welcome Back party where we sat with Linda and JD and Brian and Kevin. Before we left, we got a picture with the Captain. Then we went to the show Treasure Island which I enjoyed. There were a lot of Cirque du Soleil type acts in the show.

Day 7: Friday 8/25/17 Nassau

We didn’t get off the ship at all. After breakfast we did our exercising. Then we went back to the cabin and packed until lunch time. After lunch we relaxed on our balcony until it was time to get ready for dinner. We picked up our free photo with the Captain and then we went on to dinner. After dinner we stopped for a cocktail before the show. Then we saw the show: Tribute to Michael Jackson. After the show we had a couple of frozen coffee drinks before returning to the cabin and putting our suitcases out in the hall.

Day 8: Saturday Debarkation

We had breakfast at 5:45 and then met in the Pantheon Theater by 7am. At 7:15, they escorted us off the ship. Getting our bags and out through customs was extremely fast and easy. We were in our car and on the road by 7:30. We got back home by 6:30pm.

Things I Learned:

1.     Champagne is sparkling wine from France; Prosecco is sparkling wine from Italy.
2.     The number of cruise critics are growing at their meet and greet but the number of people that signed up didn’t all show.
3.     The number of Black Card members are growing.
4.     They didn’t offer martinis at the Black Card party or the Welcome Back Party
5.     It was nice to see Carmelina the Guest Relations manager again.
6.     We like the Choccocino (frozen coffee drink) the best at the coffee shop.
7.     The food isn’t that great on MSC unless you go to the specialty restaurant.
8.     The coupon books are the best value on the ship!
9.     You can’t save the coupons and use them on another cruise.
10.  We never got our 2nd bottle of Prosecco or plate of chocolate covered strawberries.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Teaching Multiplication Using Lego Bricks – Book Review and Giveaway

I recently read Teaching Multiplication Using Lego Bricks by Dr. Shirley Disseler which was sent to me for review. I am not being paid to give this review. The teacher edition is $14.95 and the student edition is $9.95.

This book is geared for grades 2-5. The lessons include Finding factors, Multiplication using set models, Fact families, Blocks and Bricks game, Multiplication using place value/Bundling models, Multiplication using Array/Area models, Multiplication modeling challenge, Multiplying two-digit by one-digit numbers, Multiplying larger numbers, and Multiplying two-digit by two-digit numbers.  

Students are encouraged to keep a journal on their lessons which is a great learning tool. Each chapter is broken into two parts: Show Them How and Show What You Know. Each chapter is well written and carefully explained along with fabulous color visuals.

I really like the use of using Lego bricks because most students really enjoy them and I believe using the manipulatives help students learn abstract concepts much easier. I believe once the lesson is complete, the teacher can easily add more practice if needed. In fact, after reviewing the lessons, I couldn’t wait to get out the Lego bricks and go through the lessons to see if they were easily followed and they were!

Brick Math is a complete program for K-5 and uses LEGO bricks to teach the six basic elementary math subjects: Counting and Cardinality, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Fractions. I asked to review the one on Multiplication to sample the lessons. I think these books would be great for teachers to use in the classroom or in a homeschool situation and would highly recommend them!

The publisher has also generously offered to provide a free book for a giveaway! So, if you are interested in entering for a chance to win one of these books, please leave a comment below and an email address so I can contact you if you win by September 4th. I will choose a winner through a random number generator on September 5th so please spread the word to other educators who may be interested in this.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Back of the Book Blurb #73 Challenge

From Sioux's PageSioux offers this challenge.

She posts a picture and you need to imagine it as a graphic for a book. You choose the genre and book title and then write a blurb that might appear on the back of the book.

The blurb should be 150 words or less (not including the title). The genre is wide-open.
Each blogger should include their blurb on their own blog, and link back to this post. Have fun with it. Go to the other posts and comment on the other blurbs.  You can do fancy techy things with the photo.

(Join in if you dare...! It sounds like fun! I think this would be a lot of fun to do with students especially since they would be expected to write 150 words or less!)

Love Conquers All

Heinz was in love with Marie! He had asked her out several times but she always had a reason she couldn’t meet with him. One time she had to waterproof her mittens and another time she had to clean the lint out of her carpet. If she would let him, he’d be glad to help her. Finally, the opportunity came! She said a rat that ran under her building was keeping her up at night and she was too tired. So, he spent all day in the sewers under the buildings and finally caught that darn rat with his trusty rifle! Then he popped out of the manhole outside of her building and called up to her apartment. He hoped that now she would be able to go out with him after all! Will she go out with him now? Read on to find out. (145 words)