Thursday, September 28, 2023

Freedom to Write and Share

I love blogging and when I started 16 years ago, I had a purpose. Recently I decided to take a step back and not blog on a scheduled basis. I realize now that I still love blogging, writing, and sharing, but my purpose has changed.

I want to share what I’m thinking or doing that others might find interesting. Sometimes I write about our travels so that in the future I can refer back to what we have done and where we went. I’m starting to write down the prices that we spend so that in the future, I will see what changes have occurred. I like to write about things that I’m doing just to keep the memory alive.

One of the things that inspired me was reading other people’s blogs. The two blogs that I have found extremely fascinating are Bedlam Farm Journal by Jon Katz and Full Moon Fiber Art by Maria Wulf.

In June I read The Story of Rose: A Man and His Dog by Jon Katz. When I find a book I like, I’m usually curious about the author so I did some research. Then I found Jon Katz’s blog and I’m fascinated with his photography and his stories. From there, I was connected to his wife’s blog and since I’m a knitter and a spinner, I was intrigued by her blog. I don’t have to agree with everything they say but I love seeing life from their point of view. I feel as if they are my friends (even though they have no clue who I am) and that they are my neighbors (even though I don’t live anywhere near them).

I look forward to their posts and how interesting they are. That is when I realized I wanted the same freedom. It was time to move away from my “Monday through Friday” educational posts. I wanted to write for the enjoyment of writing. I wanted to share things that interested me and even add my own photos that I like.

I was going to write them a note about this but decided I would put it in a blog post because I tend to be too wordy. I feel like I “know” them since they have become a part of my daily life. I added their blog to so I don’t miss any updates to their blogs and I look forward to their new posts.

Thank you Jon and Maria for helping me feel free to write for the joy of writing and sharing!

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Knit-A-Way Retreat Day 2

After breakfast, we drove north along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a lovely drive and we stopped at several places to do a short hike/walk. We visited the Linn Cove Viaduct, Julian Price Park, and Moses Cone Park. The weather was cool and a little breezy but it was a beautiful day. We had a late lunch at the Anchor Diner in Spruce Pine.

When we returned to the lodge, I knit until dinner and Don relaxed in our room (watching TV and reading). I got to know some of the other knitters better. After dinner, we had our nightly meeting.

I won a door prize from Twice Sheared Sheep (Idaho) which was a bag of yarn, a row counter, and a project bag. Next, we had Show and Share (like a fashion show) and I was able to show off the mittens and socks that I designed.

It was a great day and I was in bed by 9:30.


hiking to an overlook

Linn Cove Viaduct

Julian Price Park

Moses Cone Park

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Friday, September 22, 2023

Knit-A-Way Retreat Day 1

We had Day 1 of the retreat at Big Lynn Lodge in Little Switzerland. Since it is only 2 hours away from home, we took our time on the way here. We left home at about 8:30 and stopped at antique stores along the way. We drove to Bakersville to find the restaurant we ate at last year (Bonnie and Clyde) which had wonderful food. Then we drove through Bakersville but there wasn’t anything there so don’t waste your time going there!

We checked into room 139 around 3:30 pm and even though the parking spaces were marked, people didn’t park in the correct space so we didn’t have a space. Don found an open spot to park in. Our room was nice with a min fridge, TV, and internet. Don watched TV while I knit and visited with people. I turned in my charity soap sacks and entered my camper blanket for the clothesline contest.

At 6 pm, we had dinner and sat with Betty Buck. Our dinner was very good (Ham, corn, wild rice, tossed salad, and peach pie with ice cream). Don went back to the room and I knit until our evening meeting at 8 pm. Some door prizes were given out but I didn’t win anything. I was in bed by 9:30

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 21, 2023


A streak can defined as “a consecutive series.”

I find that a streak can be very motivational.

Not losing my streak helps me log in my food in a food diary. One time I was up to logging in for 1025 days straight. Unfortunately traveling and camping interrupted that streak.

I have been logging in my exercise distance in a group challenge. I have been logging in for 1688 days.

I am also learning Spanish on Duolingo and I’m up to 675 days in a row.

I don’t want to lose that streak so it motivates me to keep going.

I think this would work for students too. Have them come up with a goal and keep track of it. Make a chart because visuals can help motivate also.

For example:
  • Homework turned in on time
  • Completed assignments for the day
  • Stayed on task for 90% of the class time.
  • Got along with peers.
  • No referrals to the office.
I’m sure you could think of more about a specific student in your class. What would you come up with?

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Stepping Back

I have been doing this blog for 16 years now and I think it is time to take a step back. I've been trying to blog Monday through Friday every week except for holidays.

Now I find myself really hunting for things to write about that might be relevant to new and struggling teachers. I don't want to write stuff that is just fluff for the sake of writing.

I'm going to continue writing in this blog when I feel like I have something I want to share. I might find an educational resource that is worth sharing or a technique that I find that others might enjoy learning.

I'm going to continue to write about our travels because I feel like traveling is part of my life-long learning.

If you have a question or need advice on a specific topic, please feel free to reach out to me and I'd be glad to write a blog post about it.

Even though I won't be posting Monday through Friday, I still plan on keeping a presence here. In the meantime, I want to continue traveling, reading, gardening. knitting, and learning.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Monday, September 18, 2023

Historical Hall of Fame

I found this idea recently in this blog post:

Who Has Influenced Mankind? Let Your Students Be The Judge Of That – The Historical Hall Of Fame

I think this would be a great big project for any class on any level. 

“The project centers around the students getting the chance to nominate someone they believe is worthy for induction into this Hall of Fame.  This can be anyone from any time and place.  The nomination should be someone they feel has impacted or continues to impact mankind.” 

Students pick a person and fill out a nomination form including an essay saying why they think this person is worthy of the nomination. Then they do research and come up with a 3-5 minute presentation that is presented to a panel of judges. 

Judges can be adults within the school or school district or even business people. 

Judges’ scores and student grades determine who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. A ceremony can even be planned where students receive a certificate in honor of their nomination. 

I think this would be a fun activity and would incorporate a lot of different skills. 

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Friday, September 15, 2023

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/15/2023

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

American Ideals Virtual Field Trip - “Immerse students in the living, breathing process of democracy with a virtual celebration of America’s unique history of civic engagement. Students will get a special look inside The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and hear from alumni of various education programs held onsite there, to learn how they can practice leadership, communication, and informed action in their everyday lives. Give students the tools to develop their civic voice and build their best future using the values upon which our nation was founded.  Hear from students around the country who are pioneering change in their communities.” (L:M,H; SA:SS)

Reading Like A Historian - “The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features a set of primary documents designed for groups of students with a range of reading skills.This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues and learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence.” (L:M,H; SA:SS)

Notecard Confessions - “Note card confessions are a social media trend to bring attention to a story that needs to be told. They tend to be very powerful and emotional.” (L:M,H; SA:A)

Flippity - “Easily turn a Google™ Spreadsheet into a Set of Online Flashcards and Other Cool Stuff!” (L:T; SA:A)

Introduction to AI for Educators: Using ChatGPT Preview of the AI for Educators Course - “Explore the incredible potential of AI in education with this eye-opening video! Witness firsthand how artificial intelligence can revolutionize your day-to-day tasks, making your life as an educator more efficient and rewarding than ever before. From automating administrative burdens to providing personalized learning support, AI is here to transform the way you teach and inspire your students.” (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Happy Blogiversary!

I started this blog on September 16, 2007. I wrote about Why Am I Doing This?

I looked at my purpose and I don’t feel it has really changed much. I still want to do this to help teachers. I’m still teaching so I’m still able to share my ideas in person as well as online. I have also added some personal posts rather than writing it in a separate blog because I try to tie them in with my role as a teacher. I’m always looking for new strategies and ideas to be a better teacher and I’m always learning something new every day. I think that is important in our role as teachers to model how learning is important every day.

So, after 16 years, I’m still plugging along, and if you have been with me for a long time, thanks for hanging in there. And if you are new, thanks for finding me. Feel free to comment, share ideas, ask questions, or open a conversation.

Photo by Daniel Huniewicz on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

HAL Nieuw Statendam Part 2

The ship can hold 2666 passengers and 1036 crew. Our captain was Eric Barhors (from the UK), the hotel director was Rene Tuinman, the Food and Beverage Director was Cliff Strerath, and our Cruise and Travel director was Clare Adams. We had dinner at 5pm every night at Table 36 and our servers were Joko and Adi. Our cabin was 4105 and our cabin stewards were Hery and Wira.

Click here to see pictures aboard the ship.

Day 15: Copenhagen 8/23/23

We watched new passengers come aboard. What a different atmosphere with this new group of people. There were a lot more children and the passengers seemed more aggressive. Elevators were more crowded, and people forced themselves onto the full elevators. At dinner, we had the same table, but we had different servers. The man behind me (he was here the last 2 weeks also) said that we almost didn’t get into Lerwick because our Covid numbers were so high (20%). We didn’t go to the show since it was the same as the last 2 weeks.

Day 16: Sea Day 8/24/23

After breakfast, we sat on the deck above the pool for an hour. I’m surprised how many people were in the pool and laying out as if they were in the southern Caribbean! Don tried to walk on the outside deck, but it was so cold that he had to put on his wool cap! I went to the Cruise Critic meet and greet and met some nice people. Michelle, the woman who organized it thanked me for sharing info about the train in Copenhagen. I’m glad she found the information useful. After that, Don and I walked around while our cabin was cleaned. We’ve been having trouble with the TV, so the cabin steward had to reset it for us when we got back. After lunch we watched TV and I napped, then we left for dinner, the TV went out again. The cabin steward told us he had to call for a technician. Around 6:45, I called guest services to complain that the technician still hadn’t come, and then suddenly the TV started working. At about 7:15, the technicians showed up and when the channel was changed, the TV wouldn’t work again. They had to take the TV off and do some stuff with wires. They got it going again.

Day 17: S. Queensferry 8/25/23

Click here for pictures of S. Queensferry.

At 7:45, we had to do face-to-face immigration in the theater. After putting away our passports, we got right on the tender. We were on the land by 8:30. Then we walked along the shore road to the Port Edgar Marina. Next, we walked to the Tesco Supermarket but stopped at the Coop to see what they had. We didn’t see anything we wanted so we kept walking uphill to Tesco. We decided to have a couple of diet cokes before leaving. Then we bought some snacks and an eight-pack of Diet Pepsi. It started raining on and off as we walked around town. We got back to the ship around 12:30. After lunch, we watched movies until dinner time. We decided to skip the show and went back to the cabin to finish watching movies.

Day 18: Lerwick 8/26/23

Click here for pictures of Lerwick.

We arrived in Lerwick around 10 a.m. It was a cloudy day but eventually got sunny. We decided to stay on the ship and relax since we had just visited here on Monday. Of course, the TV didn’t work, and we had to call for them to send the TV technician. When we arrived, we saw two ships in port where the tenders arrived. They were the MV Hebridean Princess and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. We had lunch and watched TV until dinner. After dinner, we returned to the cabin to watch more movies. The show was Lincoln Stage Classical Music so we decided to skip it. At dinner on the Lido deck, we met Franci and Bill from Missouri who told us about a guy at the Excursions desk this evening screaming his head off yelling that he couldn’t believe they sold that excursion to him because his wife could have died! After dinner, we watched movies in our cabin.

Day 19: Sea Day 8/27/23

In the morning, our TV didn’t work again, so they sent the TV technician. Then we went to the session on Cruises for Your Bucket List. Next was the talk about Marconi -The Wizard of the Wireless. After lunch, we went to the port to talk about Akureyri and Isafjordur. It was very informative. We watched movies until dinner and then watched more after dinner.

Day 20: Akureyri 8/28/23

Click here for pictures of Akureyri

At 9:30 a.m., there was a talk from the Crow’s Nest that could be heard on the Bow camera channel. Unfortunately, our TV was working again (the 7th day in a row) so we had to call for the TV technician again. It was 43F when we arrived in port. We docked at 11am but we had lunch before we got off the ship. When we got off the ship, we walked towards the botanical gardens. We were told that the Hop On Hop Off Bus makes 11 stops and costs about $40 per person which is pretty expensive so we decided not to do that. We walked to the Botanical Gardens which was free and only open from June through September. On the way, we found a yarn store, but I didn’t buy any yarn. Then we saw the Akureyri Lutheran Church which was very pretty but they charged 5 euros to go inside so we just admired the outside. Next, we went to the Botanical Gardens, and they were lovely! There were more flowers blooming than I expected to see. After that, we went into town and looked through souvenir shops. Next, we walked to the mall and found a grocery store (Netto). We bought a couple of Pepsi Max (181 IK each) so I could get change back in coins. Then we went back to a couple of shops to buy a magnet and some postcards. On the way back to the ship, we stopped at a little gift shop that had a local magnet. He also let us in to see the indoor skateboard park. Then we got back to the ship before dinner. When we got back to the cabin, the bathroom floor was flooded, and we had to call guest services to send a plumber. After dinner, we came back and watched movies.

Day 21: Isafjordur 8/29/23

Click here for pictures of Isafjordur

We arrived in port at 8 a.m. This was supposed to be a tender port but instead, we were able to dock. We let the big crowds go first since we didn’t have any plans. We were off the ship by 8:40 and walked around town. Most places were closed. So, we walked around the harbor to the other side where we saw some hiking trails. We walked a couple of them, and the trail was mostly loose rock. We went to the steep hike but stopped at the base of the steep stairs. The views were beautiful. Then we wandered back to town. First, we stopped at Netto, the supermarket. Then we found the post office where Don bought some collector stamps. We stopped at a yarn store, but the owner wasn’t overly friendly, and the yarn was expensive, so we left. We ended up back at the ship in time for lunch. After lunch, we returned to our cabin for a rest. We didn’t have any movies or internet in this port because the system was down.

Day 22: Grundarfjordur 8/30/23

Click here for pictures of Grundarfjordur.

We got on the tender around 8 a.m. Sam and Patty joined us so we could all get on the tender early. Then we took a left and walked all the way to Gundarfoss (a waterfall). We walked through a sheep pasture to get to it. When we got there, we also saw another waterfall to the right. Then we walked back to town and continued to the other waterfall, Kirkjufellsfoss. Across from that was another beautiful waterfall. Then we decided to take a side trail up towards the back of the town and found two more waterfalls. We followed the trail back to town and checked out some souvenir shops. I went into 2 stores where the owners were knitting. We were back on the ship for lunch and while we were there, a man fell and had a seizure. When he came out of it, he was very agitated and started getting aggressive with the people trying to help him. Then we relaxed in our cabin until dinner. The TV wouldn’t turn on so I unplugged it and replugged it which helped it restart. Guest services called to see if our TV and bathroom was working, and I didn’t mention that I fixed it myself. It was a dressy night, and we went to the dining room for dinner (jumbo shrimp for me, escargot for Don, filet mignon, and crème brulee for both of us).

Day 23: Reykjavik 8/31/23

Click here for pictures of Reykjavik.

We arrived in Reykjavik around 7:30 am. There was a complimentary shuttle to take us to the City Center so we were downtown by 8am. We passed the Hodi House which is where Reagan and Gorbachev had their summit meeting in 1986. We walked around town and found all the places we wanted to see when they opened. We also walked to the Lutheran Church which is the tallest building in Iceland. It was hard to find a public bathroom but I finally went into a hotel and used one. Then we bought magnets at Hard Rock Café. I also bought some yarn at the Handknitting Association of Iceland. We also went to the Iceland Phallological Museum and bought a lot of souvenirs. Then we got the bus back to the ship and had lunch. After lunch, we just relaxed around the ship until dinner. After dinner, the Captain announced that there was a change in our itinerary. Due to the approaching storm, he canceled our stops in Djupivogur (Iceland) and Runavik (Faroe Islands). Instead, we are heading to Norway and will stop in Stavanger and Leirvik.

Day 23: At Sea 9/1/23

After breakfast, we sat out by the pool until it was time to go to the session on Ask the Captain. While we were relaxing, they called for first responders to a fire on Deck 1. Apparently, there was an electrical fire in cabin 1043 which they put out and there was smoke. Then they had to evacuate cabins 1021- 1063 until they could get rid of the smoke. The captain talked about the change in the itinerary and how we were trying to outrun the storm. He also talked about the fire. After lunch, we went to a session on The Act of Happiness which was interesting. We called guest services 3 times to reset the TV by this time. After dinner, we came back to the room to plug things up and the TV was out again, so I had to call guest services. We went to the show to see the illusionist, Gaston Quieto and when we got back to the room, the TV was even worse than before. Guest services said that they would send the cabin steward and then the IT person was called. The cabin steward said that the IT person just left. Guest services called back and said IT was working on it and I asked if they could call me and let me know if the IT people say they got it working. It didn’t get fixed. I called guest services and asked if we could have an appointment with the hotel director and we were told we needed to talk to the guest services manager first, so we had an appointment to talk to Hugo at 9 a.m.

Day 24: At Sea 9/2/23

After breakfast, we had an appointment with Hugo, the guest relations manager to tell him how frustrated we were with our TV repairs (which have been daily since we got on the ship on Aug. 9). If we were at home, a TV repairman would not come to my house every day to fix it or I wouldn’t pay him! The manager was under the impression it was fixed so there was a lot of misinformation going around. Of course, they fixed it before lunch but when we got back to our cabin after lunch (to watch TV - aka take a nap LOL), they were in there fixing it again! We ended up going to the World Stage Theater to hang out because it was too windy and wet to walk outside (they roped off the doors to the outside). We met Genero, the light technician, and had a nice conversation with him. At 3 p.m., we went to the Port talks to hear about the 3 ports in Norway we were going to visit (Stavanger, Leirvik, and Kristiansand). When we got back to the room, we watched TV while it was working. To apologize for the inconvenience, the manager called to give us a complimentary dinner at a specialty restaurant, Canaletto ($30 pp) which was nice. I insisted that he didn’t have to do that, but we ended up accepting it. The food was VERY good! After dinner, we went to the show to see Anil Desai, who did impressions of famous people. Some of them were pretty good. Then when we went back to our cabin at 8:30pm, the TV wasn’t working again. Guest Services reset it but the TV tech showed up at our cabin at 9pm and said it wasn’t reset right and he ended up fixing it. Hopefully, it is really fixed now….

Day 25: Stavanger, Norway 9/3/23

Click here for pictures of Stavanger.

We got off the ship at 8:30 and walked around town until noon. It was a pretty town, but everything was closed because it was Sunday. We had lunch on the ship and then watched TV in our cabin. Of course, we had to ask Guest Services to reset the TV again. Guest services sent us chocolate-covered strawberries as an apology for the TV. After dinner, we came back to the cabin and watched movies until bedtime. We went to bed early since we had to get up early.

Day 26: Leirvik, Norway 9/4/23

Click here for pictures of Leirvik.

This is a new port for this ship and we had to tender to shore. We arrived at 7 a.m. but we didn’t get off the ship until 7:45. Most things didn’t even open until 8 a.m. The first thing we did was look for the grocery store. We found it in the mall (3-story mall) and the post office was in the grocery store. Don bought stamps there. Then we found the library and movie theater. For the next few hours, we just walked around town. We found a yarn store (in the building that said Trio) where I bought 2 skeins of Alpaca yarn for 30 NK each. Then we found another big yarn store next to an Asian market and I bought 2 skeins of Camel yarn for 20 NK each. Around noon, we went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we went back to the cabin to relax. I started doing a little packing too. After dinner, we came back to the cabin to watch movies.

Day 27: Kristiansand, Norway 9/5/23

Click here for pictures of Kristiansand.

We arrived in Kristiansand and got off the ship at 7 a.m. We walked around town until noon. The post office opened at 9 and we also saw the Extra grocery store. It was a very pretty town. After lunch, we packed. I checked in for our flight and it let me check in for the first leg but said the other legs were unavailable. It kind of freaked me out. I texted our neighbors Molly and Trevor, and Trevor said we would be okay since we checked in at the first leg. After dinner at the Lido deck, we put out our bags in the hallway and relaxed.

Day 28: Disembarkation

Click here for pictures of flying home.

We were scheduled to get off the ship at 7:30 because we bought transfers to the Airport ($38 each). The bags were near the buses and when we got off the ship at 7:30, we found our bags easily and got them on the bus. One lady got on the bus and said that her husband left a bag in the cabin. He had to go get it and would take a later bus. We arrived at the airport at 8:40. 

Then we had to stand in line at the British Airways counter to check our bags. We finally checked our bags in around 9:15 and then had to go through security. Don had 2 bottles of unopened sodas that he forgot to toss so he had to get rid of them. We finally got to our gate around 10am and then we boarded at 10:20. The flight to Heathrow was not bad but it was a full plane. We got to Heathrow, and it was overcrowded with planes so we had to get off the plane on the tarmac and they bused us to the terminal. Then we had to find what terminal to go to and get on a bus for that terminal. We finally got to that terminal and then had to go through immigration to show our passports. Next, we had to go through security and I had a bottle of water that I had filled up at the airport in Copenhagen and had to toss it. We finally found our gate within 5 min. to spare before boarding the plane. This was the long flight to DFW and there were 3 seats in our grouping, but the plane wasn’t full. The person in the window seat never showed up so we had the 3 seats for the 2 of us. It was a nice flight and we got dinner (chicken and rice and a chocolate coconut cake for dessert). The nice flight attendant was an older man and he had a great sense of humor. When I told him that the dessert was great, he brought me 2 more! Later they came around with ice cream which was good too (or I was hungry). Before we landed, we had a cold chicken wrap which was delicious. I watched some movies on the flight, but it was dark and I didn’t get as much knitting done as I had hoped. When we got to DFW, we had to go through Customs and then get our bags from baggage claim. It seemed like we just moved our bags from one huge room to another room where we checked them back in again. Then we had to go through security again and this time, Don had a water bottle he filled up at Heathrow that he had to toss. 

We finally got to GSP around 11:30pm and it seemed to take forever to get our bags. We finally got them around midnight and Dyanna and Earl were waiting for us outside the baggage claim area. 

Things I’ve Learned:
  • Even though we stayed on the same ship, a new group of passengers can really change the atmosphere of the ship.
  • The captain is repeating the same sea trivia that he used the first two weeks.
  • We didn’t need to get off the ship in Lerwick since we had just been there a few days before.
  • Iceland money- 132 Icelandic Krona to $1 USD
  • You can take a public bus to Godafoss waterfalls in Akureyri (but we didn’t).
  • Our friends went to the Natural Baths in Akureyri and wished they brought their robes from the ship to keep them warm as they walked to the baths.
  • Isafjordur has a smaller population (2600) than the people on our ship.
  • There are several hiking trails in Isafjordur.
  • It was about 2.5 miles to Grundarfoss and the same to Kirkjufellsfoss.
  • A bus would take you to Kirkjufellsfoss for 10 euros.
  • I was disappointed to miss the Faroe Islands but I'm glad the Captain outran the storm. 
  • The Rotterdam was caught in the storm and faced 26 ft. waves and hurricane-force winds. 
  • Norway was nice.
  • 1 USD = 11 Norwegian Krone
Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

HAL Nieuw Statendam Part 1

The ship can hold 2666 passengers and 1036 crew. Our captain was Eric Barhors (from the UK), the hotel director was Rene Tuinman, the Food and Beverage Director was Cliff Strerath, and our Cruise and Travel director was Clare Adams. We had dinner at 5 pm every night at Table 36 and our servers were Eko and Ikram. Elena was the assistant maitre'd who was amazing! Our cabin was 4105 and our cabin stewards were Hery and Wira.

Click here for pictures from the ship.

Day 1: Embarkation 8/9/23

We got to the port by 10am, checked our bags in, and went straight through security. We boarded the ship by 11am. Even though our cabin wasn’t ready, we were able to put stuff in the safe and store our packs in the closet. Then we went to the Lido deck for lunch. After lunch we walked around the ship until our luggage arrived. After unpacking, we had the safety drill at 2:30 pm where we had to go to our muster station and check in. Then we had to watch the TV safety information (which we did while unpacking).

After the safety drill, we walked around until it was time to go to dinner. I made a reservation for 5 for a table for 2. When we got to dinner, she told me that if we liked it, we could tell her and have that table every night. Dinner was nice and we were done early enough to get a seat for the show, Musicology. After that, we returned to the cabin to watch TV.

Day 2: Sea Day 8/10/23

I was up by 5 and sat on the Lido deck to play on my computer. Don joined me around 8am. After breakfast, he went to the shore excursion talk while I went to the Cruise Critic meet-up. Then we met on the Lido deck across from the pasta bar. Linda and her husband, Steve (Minnesota) joined us for lunch and we had a nice visit. After that we went to the 2pm, Port Talk. We went to tea at 3pm and sat with Cathy and Paul (Wisconsin). We enjoyed visiting with them too! By then it was time to change and get ready for dinner. Dinner service was great, and we were able to go back to the cabin and relax before the show. We watched the British comedian, Chas Burnett who was pretty funny! Then we went back to the cabin and watched the movie Lightyear before going to bed. We had to turn our clocks back an hour before going to bed.

Day 3: Sea Day 8/11/23

I was up at 4:15 and went to the Lido deck to drink some tea and play on my computer. Don eventually showed up for breakfast. At 10am, we went to the Seabourne presentation. Then we had lunch at 11:30 and Don had to go back to the cabin to prepare for his board meeting. It lasted almost 90 minutes and we rushed to hear the end of the port talks, but it was about over when we got there. At 3pm, we had afternoon tea again and met a nice couple from Missouri. Don walked about an hour before dinner, and I relaxed and watched The Princess Diaries in the cabin. Dinner was wonderful! We had crab cakes, prime rib, and a chocolate puff pastry. Kathy and Paul ended up getting the table beside us so we ended up talking for 2 hours before heading to the show. The show was Humanity and after 2 dance scenes, they had to cancel the show due to technical difficulties. Then we went back to the cabin and watched A Man Called Otto.

Day 4: Liverpool 8/12/23

Click here for pictures of Liverpool.

We didn’t arrive until 10am but we were supposed to go through Immigration at 10:30. They gave each deck a specific time to go through Immigration in the theater. We didn’t get to go through Immigration until 11:30 and surrendered our passports for Ireland after that. Some people were upset because this affected their private tours that they arranged Since it was 12pm, we decided to eat lunch before getting off the ship. Some people were upset because this affected their private tours that they arranged. Once we walked off the ship, we went to the Beatles statues, but they were jammed up with people. Next, we walked to the Eleanor Rigby statue which was cute. We kept walking uphill through all the stores and people. It was a lot of fun to people watch! We ended up at the Liverpool Cathedral, the longest cathedral in the world and the fifth largest cathedral in the world. It was a beautiful cathedral and was damaged during World War II because Liverpool was considered an important port during this time. Then we went to the Metropolitan Cathedral, a Catholic church. Finally, we ended up back at the Royal Albert Dock. We went to the Museum of Liverpool but decided to save that for another visit. We were back on the ship by 5:10 and we were pretty tired. Since we missed our dinner reservation, we ate dinner on the Lido deck and then went back to our cabin to watch movies.

Day 5: Dun Laoghaire 8/13/23

Click here of pictures of Dun Laoghaire.

We got on the tender and were ashore by 8:30. We walked around town, and nothing was open yet (especially since it was Sunday). We walked down to the park where they were setting up for the Sunday market. Then we walked along the coast and even saw people swimming in the water. Around 11:30 we found a Tesco supermarket across from St. Michael’s Hospital. We bought 2 Cokes (1L bottles), 3 bags of chips, and a plastic shopping bag for a total of 7.75 euros. Then we walked the whole route again now that places were open. The market was busy, but everything looked great. We also stopped at the library where there were a lot of food vendors in the square. We also walked to the Royal Marine Hotel. We also found the train stations and thought next time we might take the train to visit our friend, Marie who lives in Edenderry. We got back to the ship by 2pm and had sandwiches at the Deli. Our toilet was acting up and had to get the cabin steward to call the plumber. It made a super loud screeching noise when you flushed it! At 5pm we went to dinner, but we skipped the 7:30 show. We put out a bag of laundry and was told it takes 48 hours to get it back. We watched the movie Ambulance until we went to bed. At one point, the ship wasn’t moving so we went up to the Lido deck to see if anything was being said about why we weren’t moving but while we were up there, we started moving again.

Day 6: Douglas, Isle of Man 8/14/23

Click here for pictures of Douglas.

This was another tender port. We got on the tender at 7:45 and it was about a 10-minute tender ride to shore. Then we went to the Welcome Center in the Sea Terminal to buy our steam train ticket. It was 18 pounds round trip, or we could buy an unlimited pass for 19 pounds per person which we did. This gave us access to the trains, buses, and the horse tram. We walked 10 minutes along the ocean quay to the train station. The train was scheduled to leave at 9:50 but we boarded the train around 9:15 and I’m glad we did. The train filled up fast. The first 2 cars were reserved for the cruise ship tours. They were 30 minutes late and the train waited for them. We took the train all the way to Port Erin (about an hour) so we arrived at 11:15. We walked towards the coast (5 min. walk) and took pictures and then returned to the train which was scheduled to leave at noon. The train arrived back at Douglas around 1:30pm. Right outside the train station was a Tesco supermarket where we bought snacks (2 cokes, 4 bags of chips, and 3 large candy bars) for 10 pounds. Luckily, I carried the Tesco bag that we bought yesterday and carried it all in that bag. Then we found the yarn store (Bon Fabric) where I saw Lucy Neatby and asked if I could take a photo with her. I bought 4 skeins of local yarn (6.50 pounds each) made with fiber from local sheep (a rare breed found on Isle of Man). Close by was the Post Office where Don bought some stamps for his collection. Next, we walked to the waterfront and took pictures before heading to the Manx Museum. There was a big postal exhibit there and Don was happy to see that. By then it was 3:30pm and we headed back to the sea terminal to get the tender back to the ship. We got back in time for dinner and then the show. At dinner, the captain apologized for the delays in the tender due to rough water (it must have been after we got to the shore). He also announced that we were only 60 nautical miles from our next port, Holyhead, Wales so we wouldn’t pull up anchor until 8pm. The show was changed from the dancers to the comedian, Chas Burnett. He was very funny, and we enjoyed his show. After the show, we returned to the cabin and watched John Wick 4.

Day 7: Holyhead, Wales 8/15/23

Click here for pictures of Holyhead.

Port Authority wouldn’t let us walk off the ship and we had to get tickets for the free shuttle to take us from the ship to the terminal. There were no priority arrangements for 4- and 5-star Mariners. We were group 2 and got off the ship by 8:30 and took the 5-minute shuttle to the terminal. It was a 5-minute walk to town across a pedestrian bridge. We walked around town and was back on the ship by 10:30 (even though they said we couldn’t return to the ship until 11am). We were back in time for lunch and then watched movies in our cabin until dinner. Right before dinner, the captain announced that it was a good thing that we were so close to this port because we were supposed to lift anchor at 8:30 but the anchor got tangled in a large cable and we didn’t leave until 10:30pm last night. After dinner we went to the show and watched the Step One dancers and singers in the show Timeless. They brought the black singer from BB King showroom to sing part of Whitney Huston’s song, but she wasn’t very good.

Day 9: Greenock, Scotland 8/16/23

Click here for pictures of Greenock.

We walked off the ship at 7:15 am. Then we walked around town. We walked towards the back and climbed about 6 flights of stairs. We ended up at this beautiful park at the top of the stairs. Then we walked around the streets in a residential area. We eventually walked back towards the main part of town. We saw a Lidl store but walked into Aldi and got a diet coke. Then we walked around and saw some yarn stores that wasn’t open yet. We found a mall where there were public bathrooms. Then we went back to the yarn store. I met several people who were knitting in the back, and I was invited in to have a cup of tea and knit with them. Instead, I bought two skeins of yarn, one from Greenock and one from Glasgow. Then we went to Tesco and bought a 8 pack of diet Pepsi, and more chips for Don (less than 10 pounds) We returned to the ship around noon and had lunch. After lunch we relaxed in the cabin and watched movies. Right before we left, they announced that we were missing a crew member but eventually we left without him. It was fun watching the scenery from our balcony. Attire was dressy night and dinner was very good. Don had escargot and I had filet mignon. We both had Crème Brule for dessert. We decided to skip the show after dinner.

Day 8: Portree, Isle of Skye 8/17/23

Click here for pictures of Portree.

We really enjoyed this port. We got off the 8am tender and walked around town. We started by walking up 2 flights of stairs to the upper main part of town. After walking around town, we stopped at the Visitor Information. I found out that we can get on the bus at 10:10 and ride it for 2 hours round trip (8.70 pounds per person). It was a wonderful trip! We went all the way around a peninsula to Flodigarry and back. We saw lots of sheep, a castle, a waterfall, and the Old Man of Storr. We got back around 12:15 and walked around town some more. Don went to a craft store and bought 4 postcards framed in glass (5 pounds). Then we went to another craft store where he bought 3 bird paintings (15 pounds) Then we returned back to the ship by 2pm. After lunch we went to the talk about S. Queensferry, Invergordon, and Lerwick. We relaxed until dinner and after dinner we went to hear the comedian, Chas Burnett again.

Day 9: S. Queensferry 8/18/23

Click here for pictures of S. Queensferry and Edinburgh.

We got on the tender at 1:35p (they said we weren’t starting tendering until 2 but they start earlier than they say). We got ashore by 1:50 and walked to the Dalmeny train station. It was down the street to the left and down another side street. Then we had a huge set of stairs to climb which would take us to the level of the red bridge we saw from the ship. It was a very steep climb and and then a very deserted path along the top to the train station. I worried about coming back in the dark and in the rain. We finally got to the top and I said it would have been worth taking the X99 bus (12 pounds per person) right there as we go ashore so we wouldn’t have to climb those darn stairs!!! It was 2:10 by the time we go to the train station. The tickets (round trip) for the train was 5.30 pounds per person. We took the 2:20 train to Waverly station in Edinburgh and the trip was around 15 – 20 minutes. . The train was very crowded, so I sat with a nice group of locals and Don stood. Luckily Waverly was the last stop because Don had to go out one door and I had to get off from another. When we got out of the station, I asked someone how to get to the Royal Mile and of course he pointed to another steep flight of stairs! We walked along the Royal Mile and saw a lot of street performers because the Fringe Festival was going on. We walked to the Edinburgh Castle, but it was closed unless you had tickets for the Tattoo. We found the Hard Rock Café (in New Edinburgh) and I used the bathroom (which was up a flight of stairs!). Then we walked to the train station around 5:45 but found out that we had Off-Peak return tickets and couldn’t get on until after 6:30. So, we left and had dinner at McDonalds. We got back to the train station and took the 6:54 train back to Dalmeny. Then we had to walk that isolated path and back down the steps which was a little creepy at that time of day, but we got back to the port safely. If we go back, we will take the bus next time because it wasn’t that much more in cost, and we didn’t have that long stair climb and walk to the station. Plus, the bus lets you off at the same place where the train station was located. They put us on a tour boat that was being used as a tender and the water was rough going back so we were glad we weren’t on those little ship tenders. I talked to a man who took the bus, and he said it took about 40 minutes to get to Edinburgh due to the heavy traffic (last time it only took us 30 minutes on the bus because there wasn’t any special events going on). We went up to the Lido deck and had some dessert because they stayed open until 9pm instead of closing at 8 like expected. We stayed overnight in this port because many people went to the Military Tattoo event that happens once a year here. The shore excursion was $599 per person and sold out so we didn’t go to it. Some people went to the later show at 9:30 and stayed in Edinburgh overnight. The tenders ran until 2am for people returning from the show.

Day 10: S. Queensferry 8/19/23

We ate a leisurely breakfast and decided to into Edinburgh today. We got on the tender around 8:45 and was ashore by 9. We got to the station at 9:15 and was able to board the train for Edinburgh. We walked around and had a beautiful day. We got back on the train around 12:15 and headed back to Dalmeny station. From there, we walked along Station Road and headed to the Tesco Supermarket (about 1 mile from the station). Then we walked back to the pier which was another pier. Then we got on the tender and back on the ship around 2:30 and had lunch. Since we ate a late lunch, we had dinner on the Lido deck.

Day 11: Invergordon 8/20/23

Click here for pictures of Invergordon.

We got off the ship around 9am and walked about 5 min. into town. Since it was Sunday, not many people were around. We walked around town and found the Co-Op supermarket. We also found a souvenir shop where we bought some souvenirs. Then we walked to the train station and to the church. It was interesting to see the community come out to weed the flowerpots and clear the drains of weeds. We were back on the ship for lunch and then relaxed until dinner. After dinner we went to the show that featured the Scottish singer, Hannah Howie.

Day 12: Lerwick, Shetland Islands 8/21/2023

Click here for pictures of Lerwick.

We took the tender to Lerwick, and it was a short ride. The weather was warm and beautiful! We walked to Jamieson and Smith Wool Shop but got there around 10 minutes too early. We saw some men though going through huge bags of fleeces and putting them in bins. When the store opened, there were several others who arrived by taxi. I bought 8 skeins of yarn and a large ball of fiber (400 g. of 100% Shetland). Then we walked around town and bought a magnet. It was a very up-and-down kind of town also which involved stairs. (I think Scottish people really like their stairs!). They also announced that there were some people who tested positive for COVID-19 and that masks were encouraged in crowded areas. Masks were put in our rooms in case we wanted to use them.

Day 13: Sea Day 8/22/23

We were lazy all day and mainly stayed in our cabin and watched movies. Most people still not wearing masks.

Day 14: Copenhagen 8/23/23

We arrived early and watched people get ready to leave. Some were cranky! It’s always a fun day for people-watching, especially since we didn’t have to get off the ship.

Things I’ve Learned:
  • Making a reservation at dinner every night doesn’t guarantee you the same table every night. I had to ask if we could get the same table.
  • We had to go through Immigration when we arrived in Liverpool.
  • We had to surrender our passports when we went to Ireland.
  • Liverpool was a fun city to walk around.
  • We would go back to Dun Laoghaire and ride the train to Dublin. It was only 5 euros each way and the train station was right by the port.
  • Isle of Man was a nice port, and we would go there again. Next time we would like to ride the electric train north, but we didn’t have enough time to do both in one day this time.
  • We should bring a snack and a drink for the train ride. The round trip took 4 hours (without getting off and spending much time at any stops).
  • Bring an extra-large plastic bag to use if you go grocery shopping.
  • We weren’t impressed with Holyhead, Wales.
  • Greenock had a great yarn store – Wee Crafty Owl.
  • Portree was a wonderful port, and we would go there again! The bus ride was amazing!
  • Always bring a bottle of water when you get off the ship (we pack an empty bottle from home).
  • Bring an extra bag in case you buy snacks at a grocery store. They don’t bag them for you.
  • I was glad I downloaded maps of different ports and places on my phone to use offline.
Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, September 11, 2023

August 2023 Photo A Day Project

I’m still enjoying my Photo a Day project on Flickr. I find it helpful to look at other people’s photos and see what I like about them, what makes them stand out to me, and the composition of the photo. I believe these will help me take better photos. 

Here are my photos from August:

Here are my photos from August:
1. 8/1/2023 Tea bags, 2. 8/2/2023 Dirty engine, 3. 8/3/2023 Phone stand, 4. 8/4/2023 Unfinished lizard, 5. 08/05/2023 Finished lizard, 6. 8/6/2023 Evening Clouds, 7. 8/7/2023 Airplane, 8. 8/8/2023 colorful house, 9. 8/9/2023 Bird, 10. 8/10/2023 Paper sculpture, 11. 8/11/2023 Camera purse, 12. 8/12/2023 The Beatles, 13. 8/13/2023 Dun Laoghaire, 14. 8/14/2023 Steam Engine, 15. 8/15/2023 Celtic cross, 16. 8/16/2023 Yarn bombing, 17. 8/17/2023 Portree, Isle of Skye, 18. 8/18/2023 Edinburgh Castle, 19. 8/19/2023 Invergordon Train Bridge, 20. 8/20/2023 Apple crisp a la mode, 21. 8/21/2023 Jamieson and Smith Wool Shop, 22. 8/22.2023 Lido Deck, 23. 8/23/23 Denmark, 24. 8/24/2023 Before lunch opens, 25. 8/25/2023 Seals, 26. 8/26/2023 Lighthouse, 27. 8/27/2023 Faroe Islands, 28. 8/28/2023 Icelandic sunrise, 29. 8/29/2023 Stairs on the Hiking Trail, 30. 8/30/2023 Grundarfoss, 31. 8/31/2023 Rainbow Road32. Not available33. Not available34. Not available35. Not available

Friday, September 8, 2023

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/8/2023

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

Make a Word Game - “Use Google Sheets to create a fun word game you can play with a friend! Along the way, learn how to use formulas and functions.” (L:M,H,; SA:LA, C)

Electoral College - “The Constitution provides for a system of electors to elect the President and Vice President of the United States. These electors are chosen to represent each state in the Electoral College. Educating students about this process is essential in developing their understanding of the political process.” (L:H,; SA:SS)

Library by the People
- “Help transcribe Library of Congress documents. Volunteers create and review transcriptions to improve search, access, and discovery of these pages from history.” L:H,; SA:SS)

Goal Setting and SMART Goals - “Understanding and mastering proper goal setting techniques will help students effectively hone in on interests and desires. Keeping yourself motivated to reach long term goals is a hurdle all individuals must accomplish to reach their intended outcome. A dream is a goal without any action plan, but dreams can easily become achievable goals. Following the SMART goals format, students will be able to develop their goals and understand the factors that go into achieving them.” (L:T,; SA:A)

Why your phone battery gets worse over time - “Explore the science of why single-use and rechargeable batteries die, and find out why recycling batteries can be challenging.” (L:H,; SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 7, 2023

For Our Own Good

Recently on a cruise, the Captain had to make a major decision to skip 2 ports and change our itinerary. There was a massive storm heading our way and he wanted to outrun it so that we would have a better experience on our cruise. He explained this to the guest several times and updated us on our progress. Many people grumbled about the change because it was disappointing not to go to the ports you wanted to visit. But he made this decision for our own good. I would rather be safe than try to attempt something that might have disastrous results. I saw a post from someone on another ship that was 2 days behind us that they had to cancel their port because of 26-foot waves and hurricane-force winds so I’m glad that our Captain made this decision.

Sometimes we have to do the same thing in our classrooms. We have to make an informed decision that may not be popular but it is in the best interest of our students. I have seen too many teachers work harder on being the popular teacher who is friends with all the students than in making appropriate decisions that are for their students' own good. I know students will not be happy with some of my decisions but I know in the long run it is the best decision to make.

I have seen my principal make decisions for the good of the school but some departments are unhappy with this decision. Again, I can understand his position and while I may not always agree with the decision, I can understand it.

I think that sometimes we need to think beyond our own needs and think more about what is best for our own good. By putting ourselves in the shoes of the decision maker, we should try to understand why this decision was made. By doing this, it might make it easier to live with the decisions that are made.

This is something that our students also need to learn. I hope talking about why I made decisions will help students be more understanding. By being transparent, it helps others understand better.

How do you deal with decisions that you don’t always agree with? Please share.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Exchanging Money

We do a lot of traveling in other countries and we try to use the local currency or our credit card. As we walk around the new town, it is interesting to hear people very confused about trying to figure out the cost of items in their own currency.

I think this would be fun to do with students. You never know when they might be in this situation.

First I would have students decide what country they would want to visit. Then find out what the local currency is. Once they know this, find out how much local currency is equivalent to a US dollar. For example, there are 125 Icelandic Krona to $1.

Then I would have them find out the price of some items they would like to buy in the country they are visiting. If the price is in US dollars, I would have them multiply that by the exchange rate. For example, a $5 magnet would be 625 Icelandic Krona.

If they were told, the magnet was 625 Icelandic Krona, how would they figure out how much it would cost in US dollars? They would have to divide 625 by 125 which would be $5.

I would give students index cards and they would glue pictures of items on each card. Then they would write the country and the price of the item in that country’s money. Then students could exchange cards and figure out how much it would cost in US dollars. After everyone has finished their card, they would share with the class how they figured out the amount. They would have to tell what country, the exchange rate, and how they calculated the amount.

I think students would enjoy this activity because it is something they might use in real life.

How would you teach students how to do this? Please share.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A Time Capsule

Recently, in a sermon by Pastor Andrea, she talked about being in school and making a time capsule that would be opened in the future. She thought about the impact of what it could have on future students because it showed what students of today valued.

I thought that this would be a cool activity to do with students at the beginning of the year and then have them review it at the end of the year to see if they still agree with the contents.

First I would have students make a list of 5 of the most important things they would add to a time capsule that would be opened up 100 years from now. What would they want a student 100 years from now find in the time capsule? What would it say about students of today and our society?

Then I would put them in groups of 2 and have them discuss these things. Next, I would have these 2 groups come up with only 2 of the things from all the combined items. After they get that, I would combine them into groups of 4 so they could come up with the 2 items. Then they would present there 2 items to the class and explain why they think they are important.

I think they would find it interesting to see how much they valued the same things. They might learn of something they hadn’t thought about.

What else would you include in this activity? What would you do differently? Please share.

Photo by Ashin K Suresh on Unsplash

Monday, September 4, 2023

2023 Goals Review for August

August has been an interesting month. We left on August 6 for Europe and have been on a cruise ship for most of the month. I finally got to go to Iceland! 

1. Learn something new. - I learned Tunisian crochet to make a couple of dishcloths. I’m still practicing my watercolor painting and my ukulele.

2. Knit at least 1 sweater - I finished with my sweater. (Collins Tee)

3. Yarn - more out than in (use more yardage than I buy) – I hope I can achieve this goal but I need to get busy knitting! Not a lot of change since I’m still in the process of knitting a shawl and a pair of socks on the ship. As of August 31:

●              Yarn used - 7719 yds.

●              -Yarn bought - 9009

3. Complete a shawl - I finished my Shawlography shawl

4. Try 4 new recipes. - No cooking done this month. 

5. Stretch regularly (at least 20 days out of the month) - We are walking and exercising regularly

6. Create at least 2 scrapbook pages each month. - Made 2 pages in August (Total - 72)

7. Participate in the Photo a Day challenge – Completed through August 

8. Read the Bible every day. - yes

9. Read 100 books - Read 14 in January, 2 in February, 6 in March, 5 in April. 4 in May, 3 in June,  3 in July, 12 in August  (Total: 46)

10. Read 12 nonfiction books. – (total: 8).

-   Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today by Valerie Bertinelli

-   Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King by Penny Junor

-   I Still Believe: A Memoir by Jeremy Camp

-   Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

-  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

-  Nowhere for Very Long by Brianna Madia

-  My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek

-  Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

What are your goals for this year? Please share.