Category: Education

A Day at the Reagan Library

Father’s Day is always tricky for me. I never know what presents to buy for hubby and this year was no exception. So, I took a “page” from our daughter’s philosophy that experiences far exceeds “things” when it comes to present giving. I took that sage advice and gave hubby a pass to the National Presidential Libraries (NARA.org) with our first stop- the Reagan Library.

This summer the Reagan library is hosting the Da Vinci collection. In essence, it was a handful of his mechanical drawings of tools. From his attempts to draw prototypes for flight to weapons that could create massive amounts of injury or death. Yes, the painter of the Mona Lisa must have spent many hours thinking dark thoughts to create such drawings that were more like “Dexter” than the angels he depicted in his earliest paintings.

Da Vinci's Artwork

Da Vinci’s life and artwork have been long chronicled.  However, there remain many unanswered questions about his greatest works and the thought processes that were involved with his artistry and his mechanical drawings.

For example,  The Mona Lisa is one piece from Da Vinci’s portfolio that is veiled in continual mystery. Was ‘Mona Lisa” a woman or a man that captured the love interest of the reportedly homosexual DaVinci?

 Secondly, the painting of the Last Supper has kept the interest and populated many a question by art and theology aficionados. Why did Da Vinci paint the 12 disciples and Christ as he did? 

Also, at the Reagan library you will find Andy Warhol’s rendition of the Last Supper.  The two juxtapose exhibits presented an interesting mix of pop culture meeting ancient masterpieces! 

Below are the replicas on display at the Reagan library.

Don't leave without visiting other wonderful exhibits at the Reagan Library.

Allot two hours to really walk and enjoy the DaVinci exhibit. Then treat yourselves to lunch or a snack at the cafe on the grounds.  

I would recommend not leaving before you visit the other notable parts of this vast library, including Air Force 1, Marine 1 and the gardens.  

In the outside gardens you will find the burial place for the President and First Lady.  Surrounded by a vista that is simply lovely.

Roses bushes adorn the exterior and must have been a favorite of Nancy Reagan. 

You will also find a slab of the Berlin Wall.  The docent indicated that this particular section was chosen as President Reagan looked the butterfly drawing that was on the Western Side. The Eastern Side is blank.  Just concrete.

Inside, there are scores of exhibits that chronicle the two terms of the Reagan presidency and his life before and after.  If visiting expect to add at least two more hours to cover these exhibits and visit the actual Air Force One and Marine One aircraft.

  

Mentoring

This past year I have had the pleasure of teaching high school students American Sign Language. I also had the experience of mentoring a senior during his required senior internship. While many thought that he would be my ASL intern, “J” found himself in the midst of my quirky world of social media marketing.

What is involved in mentoring a senior who has designs to be an engineer but by “default” ends up in media marketing? Well, first you have to set up some reasonable expectations. For me, I wanted “J” to learn that media marketing isn’t about taking selfies and posting them, but implementing strategy to help a client grow their business or promote an event.

Most of all, I wanted my high school intern to have a fun experience to put the final cap on his senior year!


I gave “J” a few activities to complete over his two weeks. What we didn’t count on was a respiratory virus to hit him like a ton of bricks, virtually cancelling all but a few hours of his first week.

He did, however, manage to get quite a bit done from the comfort of his home. Included in his mentorship was helping to create some Throw Back Thursday posts for client Donna Marie Robb, the author of HALFLING.

Then, “J’ did a comparative analysis for the confections store, Bon Chocolat Shop. Learning about who is your competition and who may be your power partners is important to the growth of a business.

This lesson was followed one about how to “take a meeting” to help local organizations grow. “J” was given an inside look in to the tourist industry of San Pedro, California from director, Scott Gray. To extend his learning, “J” created a digital billboard that illuminated for a few days in various spots throughout Los Angeles County.

One of the many renditions of the Blip Billboard that J completed.

Over the weekend, “J” was tasked to write a travel blog based on a unique experience. He was to pretend he was a tourist in Long Beach and for under $50 explore the city, have a meal and do something that would be considered, “unusual”. He checked off the “musts” and added a few of his own.

One highlight of the mentoring experience was that “J” received a personalized tour of the Sony lot in Culver City where he talked with Steve Leblang, TV researcher. While this future engineer wasn’t too excited about creating digital content for other assignments, he was happy to have an opportunity to look behind the scenes of the TV/ Movie industry. He saw the Ghost Buster cars and some other notable pieces of history, such as the numerous Oscars that Sony Films have won. Plus, he passed Bob Saget in the commissary eating with another “familiar face” (Norman Lear!)

The two – week internship culminated in a presentation. Little did I know that my life would be chronicled to considerable extent – (blushing).

As for that blog that “J” wrote about tourism in Long Beach – here is HIS BLOG. Enjoy and remember – keep learning!


My Senior Internship – Travel Blog

For my school, I must have two weeks of internship as a graduation requirement. For my internship, I had the opportunity to check out the world of Media Marketing.  One of the things I challenged to do was to go to downtown Long Beach and act like I was a tourist and have a day of fun for fewer than 50 dollars.

I did some searching and one of the most interesting parts of Long Beach was Shoreline Village. It is overlooking the Harbor and the ocean. Parking is $2 for 1 hour or $8 for 8 hours. From here you can see the Queen Mary and lots of interesting boats in the harbor. In Shoreline Village make sure you stop at the hot sauce store – Hot Licks.  They have lots of different sauces that you can sample. Some are CRAZY hot. You can also go into Village Hat Shop and try on lots of interesting hats. Ever wanted to be a pirate or safari hunter – then they have the hat for you! If you are into sweets – check out Sugar Daddies Sweet Shoppe or Rocky Mountain Chocolate. Sugar Daddies has extra large items of out of the ordinary candies. Shoreline Village also has many shops where you can get souvenirs or gifts as well as many different choices for food. They even have an arcade that has games for the young as well as the young at heart.  If you would like a really unique photo of you and your group – stop by Smile for the Birdie – and take a photo with the exotic birds! Shoreline Village definitely has something for everyone.

I ate at Gilan Pizza & Grill.  (429 Shoreline Village Dr. Ste C Long Beach, CA 90802) I shared a large pizza with two other people and we were all satisfied. The pizza was very good. The service was fast and very helpful.  After that, we grabbed some ice cream a couple of doors down. Honestly, it was nothing special but it definitely is convenient if you want ice cream after you eat pizza. If you like Ferris Wheels then you are in luck. Across the street, at Pike’s Park (it’s more inland towards downtown Long Beach) you can ride the Ferris Wheel and get a great view of the shoreline and Long Beach. You can find tickets for around four dollars on the discount service- Groupon.

Of all the activities we did, my favorite was a scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt is all on your phone. You can buy the game code on Groupon for $18 for 2 people (Groupon prices may vary). I chose Operation City Quest since it was the cheapest.  After you download the app “Goosechase” and input the Groupon code into the app, you make a team name. Once you have a team name you will get all of your questions. The objective is to find everything on the list. When you find what you’re looking for on the list you take a picture on the app to submit your evidence. The app sends you clues of things to find like, “I am tall and man-made but I am not a building. What am I?” OR “Some may call me art – others are not so thrilled to see the spray painted likes of me. Find me!”  Gotta say Long Beach doesn’t have much graffiti but found this art piece on the side of a building.

I had a great time during my day as a Southern California tourist who explored Long Beach.  I learned that a person is able to absorb the sights and sounds of a Southern California community with just a few dollars and a good pair of shoes.  

Anniversary #8 – My Journey with Thyroid Cancer

8 years.  

That is how long it has been since I heard the diagnosis that I had Stage 3 thyroid cancer and received a total thyroidectomy with neck dissection.  Over 80 nodes removed from my thyroid and neck –  with 1/3 or more of them to be found riddled with papillary cancer. Thankfully, I was in AMAZING care thanks to Dr. Ralph Tufano,  my surgeon from the renowned Johns Hopkins University Hospital.  Eight years later, I continue to be in his debt – as his surgical skills earned his place in the global medical arena as “Top Doc”.

I hate to disappoint, but that is all for my walk down memory lane. If you are really curious about the first seven years of my journey hit this link >> Louise’s Cancer Journey.   (Note; the first blog is here)

Now I am going to fast-forward with an effort to educate and enlighten readers with a few new updates in the world of thyroid disease.

First… not all diseases of the thyroid are malignancies.  There can be other “stuff” that goes awry in your body caused by a thyroid issue.  Here are some common maladies and disorders that may surprise you are caused by this little gland! 

Sadly, thyroid issues are on the rise and appear more than ever in children – even younger than 10 years of age! Reasons for this phenomenon vary – but many feel that environmental issues may be part of the problem. 

Also, new information about thyroid cancer is the updated research regarding this cancer’s genetic components.  After participating in a few medical studies, I was interested  in these findings about which variations of the cancer can be passed on to family members and which are just due to bad luck happening in your own body! (After genetic counseling and testing, I found out I had bad luck but my relatives are all “good to go”!)

Lastly, a reminder to  trust your intuition.  I have said this year after year –  I KNEW something was NOT right with my body.  I was gaining weight at a rapid pace and just didn’t have the energy I usually did. For someone as hyper as me, that was a concern! Only after a crazy string of events was my cancer discovered and by then it was aggressive.  Thankfully, I received GREAT medical care and am happy to report that all is “status quo”.  I did receive a bit of a lecture this year from my other Top Doc, Dr. David Cooper, from JHH.  He advised me to reduce the stressors in my life so I can  stay healthy. I took his advice to heart and  I deleted what didn’t need to be in my life.  It hard for someone as ADHD as me to work on having more work-life balance – but I am!

Feel free to share your experiences with thyroid issues in the comment section. We are all here to learn.  Also, here is a PSA I made several years ago with the corresponding outtake video.

Also, the number 8 when placed on its’ side looks like the INFINITY ∞ sign.  I would say that is quite apropos!

Be well.

xo,

Louise.

 

 

 

*Music by Will Z

RIP Tess Sattler (our beloved White Shepherd)

A very special community gift for a very special teacher.

Hello All,

Last week I was asked to help start a GoFundMe  page for a person I have never met.  She is a physical education teacher who through a series of life events now has debilitating back pain due to a spinal disc that has partially broken off.  Surgery is needed to alleviate the pain and start the healing, but due to red tape, her insurance company is denying or limiting much of the coverage she will need to pay for the “must have” medical procedures and after care.

I don’t want to make this article about insurance issues in our country, but rather how a community has come together in less than five days to donate a serious “chunk of change” to get Ms. Monica Wood back on her feet again. They have given her not only financial help but the gift of their love and community spirit.

Side note: I know the agony of back pain and my experiences have been nothing compared to what Monica is having to endure.  Read related blog. 


Monica Wood and I have communicated via good old fashioned texts and what I have learned is this is a vivacious woman who is beloved by the students, staff and parents at Grand View Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, California.   She exudes all the traits one needs for a  speedy recovery as she is hopeful and keeping a positive outlook. She also believes in not wasting a moment or wallowing on her situation as  she recently asked a group of friends about how to get connected with area organizations who  knit blankets for families with new babies.  Geez – that is one incredible woman!

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Monica’s unique story is best told by the many comments and  photos that have been left on the walls of the GoFundMe campaign.  I am simply inspired by each and every one.  These days we are all so busy and focused on our own lives –  but, the outpouring of love and generosity to help this educator simply is a testimony to the willingness of community members to  stop everything  in order to help.  Not only are they demonstrating their support with their wallets, but also with their hearts and social sharing to others.  Those who are in social media call the act of social sharing: #SocialGood!

From the GoFundMe “Giving BACK to Monica Wood” campaign:

Monica, You are the best! Always positive, encouraging, and energetic. We are so sorry you are having such pain. We wish you a speedy recovery. Love, Kate, JT, Edie and David <B>

 

Ms. Wood- you were the first person to really see Brendan and to help him have happy time in school. You gave him a safe place and a teacher’s love. I’m so sorry you are going through this. You deserve the best of everything. ~ <B.P/>

 

We got your back, Monica!!!!!  ~ Kari

 

 

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Monica Wood has responded to all the amazing folks in her GoFundMe “sphere” with these words

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Lastly, I conclude this note to all with a video from the GoFundMe page and also my thanks to all for reading this very special story.

 

DONATE Now

Pearl Harbor – a #MustSee

“YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Library of Congress: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. Address to Congress requesting a declaration of war, Dec. 8, 1941

It is hard to believe that the quiet port area of Oahu, known in Hawaiian as “Pu’uloa”or Pearl Harbor, was once the site of one of the most deadliest attacks ever to have occurred on this planet. It was December 7, 1941 – truly a day that will forever be emblazoned in the minds and hearts of many who still grace our world.  One way to be sure that the lessons of this era are not forgotten is to put Pearl Harbor on your #MustSee travel list!

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USS ARIZONA Memorial  (right) Photo: L. Sattler

There are many FAQs about visiting Pearl Harbor on their website. Click here for these.  In addition, I would like to add a few suggestions that may help make your visit easier.

Tip1: GO EARLY!  I mean arrive when the parking lot opens and plan on visiting more than one day, if possible.  I have been three times and at different times of the year.  It can be hot and crowded by noon no matter what month you visit, so I can’t stress enough the importance of arriving early (they open at 7am) and staying until lunch then leaving and coming back another day.  Also, wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved if you visit the entire park.

Tip 2:  The actual memorial for the USS Arizona is under renovation due to a crack – thus it is not safe for visitors to actually walk around the memorial.  Instead, there is a very nice movie and boat ride (70 minutes total)  that includes audio commentary of the events of December 7, 1941 – when the Japanese navy  attacked the harbor leaving thousands dead, wounded and much of the US Pacific fleet destroyed.

Tip 3:  The website also advises people of the following if you wish to take the boat and video tour of the USS ARIZONA:

There are three ways to secure the movie/boat tickets to the Memorial:

  1. Two months out, 325 tickets are placed online at recreation.gov. The official National Park Service website for its Parks. Please note there are three choices to choose from in getting these tickets.
  2. Each day at 7:00am Hawaii Standard Time an additional 525 tickets are placed on recreation.gov for the next day’s reservations.
  3. If you were not able to secure your movie/boat tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial online, the National Park Service gives out over 1,300 free walk up tickets each day on a first come, first serviced basis. Be sure to arrive early for these walk up tickets, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens at 7:00am.

Tip 4: Bring a tiny pocketbook / wallet / or  clear bag.  For security reasons, pocketbooks, backpacks, duffels, etc. are NOT allowed and will cost you $5 each if you have to check them in to their storage facility.  The rule of thumb is that if the bag is larger than your hand, it will not be permitted in the park.

The park rangers also advise you NOT to leave valuables in your car as the parking is not secure (although it is FREE to park!)  I learned the second day of my trip to bring a ziplock clear bag and stick my valuables in that followed by a $1.99 tote bag that I bought at the gift shop. Money well spent.

Tip 5:  Watch the movies to see authentic reel footage from World War II. And,  before you venture on your trip  watch their welcome video that you  can find here. 

Tip 6: Ask questions of the many experts and docents that are on the premises. They are a wealth of knowledge and some are related to Pearl Harbor as family members or ex-military.

Tip 7: Buy a Passport  to visit the other ships and submarine in port that are part of the memorial. The USS BOWFIN (submarine) was a great tour and given two thumbs up by my family members. Grab the free audio tape to listen- it comes in several languages.  For those who need captioning or interpreting – please see the information in the chart I found below.

HOW TO MAKE RESERVATIONS – FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum www.Bowfin.org
USS Battleship Missouri Memorial www.USSmissouri.org
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor www.PacificAviationMuseum.org
USS Arizona Memorial Tours www.PacificHistoricParks.org
Tip 8:  Food and beverage are available for purchase. They are not cheap and I would advise to buy water and then go elsewhere to eat if you want a nice sit-down meal.  Remember, two -half days are better than a long full-day , in my humble opinion.
Tip 9:   Support the memorial park by making a purchase in one of their gift shops. There are a lot of wonderful items available and they make very unique gifts for special occasions.
Tip 10: Kids are welcome, but in all honesty much of the importance of this day may be lost on young children.  I would recommend this park for ages 8 and up unless you just want to show “cool boats and a submarine” to your tots!
Tip 11: Take photos and share the stories about this hallowed site with others.
If you have a tip about visiting Pearl Harbor – please leave in the comment section below. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

All Photos by Louise Sattler

Why Journaling and Creating Scrapbooks Could Result in GREAT Mental Health Benefits!

 

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go to the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. You will discover yourself.

~Alan Alda

Every year millions of blank and lined paged journal books are sold in the United States. Amazon sells  more than a million books to those wanting to write their musings or organize their thoughts.  Equally as popular is the scrapbooking community. Those who love to mesh photographs, stamping art and stickers together in a bound book for posterity.  I may have a few of these journals or scrapbooks on my shelves or in my drawers –  and by a few I mean twenty or more.

If you are a reader of this blog, then you will know that I am an ardent photographer and love to assemble projects that utilize photos and quotes. (Read a recent article here.)   I am a firm believer that sparking your mental processes through creative outlets is one way to keep yourself challenged and active from your youth through your golden years.

Let’s look at the value of both keeping a journal and scrapbook.

What is Journaling?

Consider journaling a way to plan your current and future life while reflecting on and learning from lesson of your past. A journal is a running diary of your thoughts, dreams and concerns. It also chronicles events and your “take” on what has happened.

A journal is a “safe place” where you can emote your love for another, anger, disappointment or sadness. It is where you can let out your deep seeded grief.  While not a substitute for a trained therapist, a journal is often a tool to help guide you through the tough times in your life.

One of the most common themes among those who journal is to see how problems, once thought unsurmountable, were actually resolved,  leaving the scribe with a much larger understanding and appreciation for having “made it through” and perhaps much better equipped to cope with future challenges.

What is Scrapbooking?

Scrapbooking to me is being able to put in to themed books the milestones of your life of those of your loved ones.  Many parents, especially mom’s, love to keep sweet memorabilia of their babies first year, child’s school years and extra -curricular activities.  I for one have made many scrapbooks when my children were young. Included in these precious memory books are first words, pictures of first steps, locks of hair from the first haircuts and much more.  Being able to fill in the blanks for older children of their first years, is always a nice way to add to bonding experiences between parent and child.

Now that my children are adults, I have “shelved” these lovely books hoping that someday I will show them to their offspring and have some good belly laughs and perhaps smile through nostalgic tears.

There is positive mental health value with both journaling and scrapbooking for all ages.

As an educator, I see the value of offering journaling opportunities in school.  Children can have complicated lives, and what a wonderful way to give them space to write and reflect than a journal.  This avenue for discourse can be quite powerful if  it is an ongoing conversation between a teacher / therapist and child.  Being able to voice concerns, opinions and much more without judgment or having to actually “talk”.

Also, imagine the ability to see your child’s interpretation of their lives through the art of creating a scrapbook.  There are many templates to help a child get started and ways to stir their creativity.  Also, parents – don’t be shy!

Now let’s talk about a fun company that helps enhance your journaling and scrapbook world with their designs – The Stickii Club!

 

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Related: Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post!

 

Stickii Club is a subscription service that also makes available a la carte stickers to accent your journal and scrapbooking project. I became interested in this start-up company when I met them at a gifting suite and thought that there true to life stickers would make a great addition to creative projects, especially with journaling.  My favorite is the retro ones and travel as I love to put together my photography and utilize these stickers to help compliment the story.  (As you know photography and journaling are my way to experience calm!)

 


 

I had an opportunity to send interview questions to the founder  of  STICKII CLUB , Rita and here is what I learned:

 

Louise: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?:
Rita: I really didn’t want to work for someone else and be boxed into a strict schedule with no flexibility. I have a creative passion and I wanted to pursue that

 


Louise:  Is STICKII CLUB your first venture in to the world of entrepreneurship or are you a veteran in the business world?:
Rita: My first foray into the world of entrepreneurship but it’s taught me so much, I can see myself exploring other business endeavors in the future.

3. What was the catalyst for starting STICKII CLUB and tell us about the company: 
Rita: I’ve always had a love for stickers ever since I was little and dreamed of having my own stationery store. When I graduated I didn’t want to work for a company but had to work – at the same time I discovered subscription box services and decided to create one for stickers. So STICKII (stickers + kawaii {the Japanese word for cute}) was born. The company sends out a pack of stickers and stationery every month but because everyone has different styles, we have 3 selections to choose from every month.

4. Your stickers are more “mature” – meant for those who love to journal or make scrapbooks.  Do you journal daily?: 
Rita: Hah, running the company and creating most of its designs is how I spend most of my time so I don’t journal as much as I used to but our team loves planning & journaling and using stickers to make each entry their own. One of our team members has multiple notebooks for different things, she loves working at a place where the perk is unlimited free stickers for her to play with!

5. Are your products available online and in stores or only online?: 
Rita: For the moment we only sell online through our own website. You can do a subscription or check out our shop for individual sticker sheets and some other fun things.

6. Do you customize for large orders and if so- how much lead time? (Such as a school specific set or a set for a wedding, etc.):
Rita: We never say no to a custom order, it just depends on if the person has the art work in place or needs one of our artists, the order size, the layout, etc. We prefer to have at least a month advance notice at a minimum but we’ve managed to pull off a few miracles before.

7. I work in media, so I am curious – which of the social media platforms are your favorite and get you the most results?: 
Rita: By far, Instagram.  Our service deals in the visual since it’s artistic and a tangible product so Instagram is great at showing the photos and people get excited about what they’re going to receive. Facebook is a close second and we’ve tried other ones but these two get the most results.

8. You are offering a giveaway {SEE BELOW} – what do people need to do to enter to win and when is the last date they can enter?:
Rita:  Please follow us on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK between July 16th and August 18th.  We will announce THREE prized winners:  Grand Prize (7 packs of stickers), 1st Prize (4 packs of stickers) and 2nd prize (3 packs of stickers).  We sadly need to restrict to the United States for entries as we have to ship our prizes.  (The giveaway rules are below.)

9. Any other information you wish for our readers to know?:
Rita: All our packs come in a unique Stickii Storage sticker insert so you can keep your stickers organized and neat. Signing up means you get happiness delivered right to your door every month!

BUT WAIT…. THERE IS MORE!!

SIGN UP IS ONE CLICK AWAY! USE THE PROMO CODE:  LOUISE for $2 off a month’s subscription

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Want to WIN a set of STICKII CLUB stickers? Simply do the following to ENTER the STICKII CLUB GIVEAWAY!:

GIVEAWAY COMPLETE-  WINNER ANNOUNCED. 

STEP ONE: FOLLOW ON and LEAVE A COMMENT with the HASHTAG #StickiiClubGiveaway >>> INSTAGRAM

or

FOLLOW ON >>>  FACEBOOK and COMMENT with #STICKIICLUBGIVEAWAY

STEP TWO: BE SURE TO COMMENT ON THIS POST BELOW SO I KNOW TO LOOK FOR YOU!!! 

LASTLY:  Be super groovy if you also signed up for their >>>>  EMAIL. 

 

What will the Stickii Club winners receive??

💥 💥

GRAND PRIZE:  SEVEN PACKS (7) of STICKI CLUB STICKERS! TRIPLE WOW!!!

FIRST PRIZE:  FOUR PACKS (4) of STICKI CLUB STICKERS! DOUBLE WOW!!

SECOND PRIZE: THREE PACKS (3) of STICKI CLUB STICKERS – WOW!

 

THE RU!LES

Winners will be randomly chosen from ALL Entries who either follow on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK between July 16th and August 18th, 2018.  The giveaway winners will be chosen by a random generator on August 19, 2018 of all eligible entrants.  Residents of the United States of America only.  Cannot be related to anyone from Stickii Club nor Louise Sattler. Shipping will be by standard mail.  No substitutions or monetary trade value will be offered. Multiple follows by autobots or fake accounts will result in deletion of entry.

 

DISCLAIMER:  I received promotional product from Stickii.Club.  However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this product and would have written this blog regardless!

Home. Sweet. Home. For. Bayla. But. Not. For._______.

IMG_5085Bayla is our dog that we adopted from a Southern California rescue a little more than three years ago. She is goofy, loving and oh- an immigrant.  You see, Bayla was brought IN to the United States as a pregnant pup from Tijuana, Mexico.  Immediately upon her arrival she was offered a home, food and free medical care at a modest rescue facility where her life was far better there than her days on the streets.  She was frightened, hungry and timid – at first. And, she was almost ready to deliver her puppies. In fact, Bayla delivered her puppies only a week or so after her arrival and was able to stay with all EIGHT puppies until they were weaned and adopted out to their loving and vetted fur-ever homes.  Never was this “parent and pups”  separated or were any of the dogs placed in “canine jail” for their non-documented status.  (See four of the eight of their precious faces below!)

 

Yes, Bayla was afforded better living conditions, care and concern than that given to many humans who currently are seeking a safe life, including asylum, in  the United States.  Bayla was given a ” home sweet home” as an immigrant. She was rescued from a less than ideal life on the streets and given a permanent home where she has survived and thrived.  In fact, there are scores of  dogs every day who come in to this country as “immigrants” and are allowed to live safely in towns across America.

Some of you may be thinking that my use of Bayla’s story as a parallel to the current and much more serious situation of immigrants being separated from their families is rubbish… let me continue.

First, while in no means do I think that the circumstances surrounding my dog and those of  humans are interchangeable  –  I do find it horrific that my dog received better care and respect than many of the families who in the past few months have  tried  to “survive and thrive” by entering the United States from Mexico, Central America and South America.  Instead they were detained and maltreated at the US- Mexico border.  Additionally, many of the families were separated with parents not knowing the whereabouts of their children.  From babies to teens, parents and children have been torn from each other’s arms. Included in these heinous acts are families that have children with special needs, such as Down syndrome and Deafness.

I have listened to many  interviews of individuals who recently were detained at the border. I listened to their accounts in both Spanish and English – so I could get the true essence of their emotion vs. through the voice of an interpreter. I was so saddened by  their stories’ of harrowing travels. Their recounting of narrow escapes from terror sent chills up and down my spine. Gang threats, physical harm, starvation, etc. were mentioned over and over and over again.  At no time did I doubt these stories or believe they were fabricated. Nor did I think – “Geez that person should be turned back and learn to just “deal” with the gangs, poor living conditions, lack of opportunity or the extreme poverty that made them risk everything to come here.”

One mother said when placed in detention she had fallen asleep with her child and when she awoke her child was gone from her. Gone. No one bothered to even wake up this mother?

I have been haunted by the wailing cries of this mother. Since hearing these first-hand stories my emotions have vacillated between crying, outrage and sheer anger.

As a parent, educator and a citizen of a country that allowed my ancestors to call the United States of America  home sweet home –  I cannot fathom how  families separated from their loved ones are enduring. I just hope and pray that all of them will be welcomed in to our country with a huge amount of compassion, caring, respect and concern. If Bayla can be treated with dignity and love upon her arrival then surely we can muster that amount and much more for all humans.

I welcome respectful commentary.

 

 

Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

This is part two of a series on traveling the Pacific Northwest.  Part one may be found here.

 

“Wherever there were glaciers, the world was in a constant state of                        creation.”
John Muir, Wilderness Essays

 

First Stop: Icy Strait Point/ Hoonah

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Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, less than 40 miles from Juneau. While once known for the canning of salmon,  only since 2004 has the town of Hoonah been known as a cruise destination.  The construction of an elaborate and “official” pier and tourist center known as Icy Strait Point has turned this fishing / canning port in to a great location for travelers to explore.

We were welcomed at the entry to “Icy Strait” by a group of teens singing and playing their ancestral instruments. (Little did I know that these teens comprised the majority of the high school students who remained in Hoonah for their education.)

HICCUP #1: WE NEEDED A PLAN B

One thing a person learns when visiting remote areas, even in the United States, is to be flexible with your plans.  Case in point – the  tour jeep company oversold their excursions so instead of a guided tour throughout the Hoonah area, we took our backpacks and hiked sans tour guide.   Getting to the town “center” was easy as the hike was only 1.5 miles over flat paved terrain. (Note: Bikes, strollers and wheelchairs could make this trek without problems as there are sidewalks and paths.)

Our initial stop on this impromptu hike resulted in us stumbling upon a small restaurant/ bar. The  Office Bar   is a lot like the infamous (albeit fictitious) pub, CHEERS – as you enter a stranger and leave with everyone “knowing your name”.    Jess, one of the bartenders,  was a fountain of information and on the “ready” to pour your beer and tell stories about the history and people of Hoonah.  Ask about snow accumulation and she will show you the “family album” of local residents helping each other during snowstorms and more. When you have had your fill of beer and peanuts, head on down a few more blocks to try local fare. Fish is the menu favorite and the Fisherman’s Daughter  is a fun little place with outside seating that attracts both local families and tourists.  When you leave this restaurant turn left and walk about two more blocks. There you will find the bald eagle’s nest across from the school.  There also is a totem pole demonstration.

Best of all…  whales grace the Icy Strait region in late May and June.  While we were at Hoonah we watched more than eight whales swim and feed right in front of us.  There is no mistaking that whales are a force to ‘reckon with.”  I held my breath, as a whale watching boat seemed drifted within a 50 meters of a pod of whales. But, all were safe! Below is a video of the whales eating from the strait gobs of fish! Apparently, one “lead” whale will catch in his/her mouth enough food to supply to the others in the pod.  The tell tale sign that they are involved in this activity is the “bubbling” that happens on the surface.   When you watch the video below look carefully for the bubbling formation in the water followed by four whales coming to the surface in almost perfect unison.

 

More about Hoonah and culture… 

The culture of Hoonah fascinated me.  The town is around 700 people and the depths of their pride is immeasurable.   Children are educated about their heritage by locals and their formal education occurs in the local public school until the 9th grade. Then they can opt to remain in Hoonah or go to high school school in Juneau. (Interesting fact: The graduating class of 2018 from Hoonah was nine students.)

Hoonah is a remote area and to access it means you either arrive by plane, helicopter or boat.  There are no roads that connect this village to another town across Alaska, including Juneau.  To view a map of the area click here. 

Hoonah residents are proud of their heritage and what the legacy they have built.  I thoroughly enjoyed our time and the gracious hospitality of all we met.  If you have an opportunity to visit – do it!

Related information: Princess Cruises

Juneau – The Land of Glaciers

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TAKU GLACIER

Do you remember the show “Northern Exposure”?  I swear it is about Juneau, Alaska.   Juneau is a small town with lots to offer and if you are like me, you will fall in love with it!  Cut off from other parts of Alaska, you can only access Alaska’s capitol by sea or air but there are a lot more amenities in Juneau than “nearby” Hoonah.

Juneau, perhaps, could best be described as quaint and mighty at the same time.  There are quaint small shops and restaurants, but then you have the mighty glaciers nearby.  Mendenhall Glacier is the closest and most famous of those available for viewing by tourists.  Our family ventured on a helicopter and went to Taku, a glacier that took about a  15 minute helicopter ride from downtown Juneau.  Kudos to Coastal Helicopters  for this educational experience, but first and foremost keeping us safe!    Our helicopter tour found us soaring high above the glacier field and parkland.  Nothing can quite describe what it feels like to view glaciers from above and then walk on one. We drank clear and clean “glacier water” and took a ton of photos. Our helicopter operator was knowledgeable, humorous and most of all – experienced!

 

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Want to really experience a glacier? Visit by helicopter!

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The thickness of the trees makes for a striking view from the air. 

 

Special Note:  I wish I had studied more about glaciers and icebergs before I traveled to one. I think it would have made the experience much more enriching.   Also, for those less adventurous, consider the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

 

Stepping back in time with a trip to Skagway!

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Skagway reminds me of a movie set.  Nothing seems real because it all looks so perfect and as if time stopped 60 years ago.  I kept thinking that I was in the backlot of a movie studio – that is how clean and perfect it is! Our intent was to walk the town and then hop on the Skagway White Pass and Yukon Railroad.  Mother Nature had a different idea as a rockslide prevented us from being able to make that excursion, so our family resorted to “Plan B”.    The guys went on tour of the area via bus, while the “gals” hiked the village by foot.

A few notable highlights… 1) Go to the SKAGUAY NEWS DEPOT! It is charming and IMG_1495also reminds me how much I miss establishments that sell printed material! I had a lovely conversation with one of the salesclerks and she told me that Skagway has over two-thousand residents during the Summer.  However, when the snow flies, so do the cruise ships, and the town shrinks to a mere 900 or so.  When the winter becomes a deluge of snowstorms all comes to a halt. Like Juneau, Skagway is dependent on ships to bring goods or planes.  Newspapers are flown in daily except during the winter months.

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2) Sweet Treats  is one of those stores that you walk in because it just smells so yummy!  But, once you clear the doorway you realize that you are on sensory overload!  Decorations from Mexico cascade down from the ceiling alongside Japanese lanterns and other “party decorations”.  I was curious if there was a “theme” to this place and was told, “It is meant to be colorful.”  My friends at Sweat Treats – you succeeded!

3) Be sure to visit the White Pass train depot.  Even though we couldn’t travel by train to visit the Yukon due to the rock slide, the depot itself was worth a visit! (Note: Railroad crews were working very hard to remove the rock and check the train track for any issues. They were hoping to open the White Pass railroad for business very soon.  Get updates here via their email.

 

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

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There are not enough words in the universe to describe the majestic beauty of the Glacier Bay National Park.  I awoke early to grab a “front row” seat on the cruise ship and photograph every glacier, iceberg, mountain goat, etc. that I could see!  What I learned from the park ranger who gave the passengers a very nice description and running commentary about Glacier Bay, was that we need to do MUCH BETTER in taking care of our environment.  The glaciers are receding at alarming rates and perhaps global warming is to blame.  If you do only ONE THING on a trip to Alaska – please see up close glaciers and icebergs.  And, if you are on a cruise, please don’t make references to the Titanic or sing the theme song from the movie.

Related; Here is a link to help learn more about the wonders of Glacier Bay.

And, this link will bring you to some terrific footage taken by photographers and videographers.

Below find my video of the ice pulling away from the glacier. There is a sound, similar to the rumble of thunder, right before the tumbling of ice and rock occurs.  I am certain that I didn’t try

 

BLUE ICE?

There is a phenomenon with glaciers that is called “caving”. That is when the ice starts to separate and fall in to the water below.  It is fascinating to watch.  The glaciers, by the way, often have a blue hue. Read here for an explanation about why this happens.

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FINAL CRUISE DESTINATION- WHITTIER

Our last stop was the small coastal village of Whittier, Alaska.  We arrive at midnight and there was still enough light to see across the region.  I was amazed that this part of Alaska truly gets nearly 20 hours (or more) of light during late Spring/ Summer.

Here is a photo I snapped about 12:15 a.m. from our cruise ship of the small village of Whittier. This photo is unfiltered / unretouched. Shot with an iPhone 8 Plus.

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LAST THOUGHTS and SOME RECOMMENDATIONS….

On a scale of 1-10, I would rate seeing Alaska by cruise a solid 8.  There were a few hiccups that impacted our cruise, but, overall the experience was very, very good!

Here are a few quick recommendations:

  1. Do read up about glaciers, fjords and the history of the region you are visiting in Alaska.  I wish I had and I couldn’t really “google” from the ship as we didn’t have an internet package.
  2. Prepare for rain and mud.  We were REALLY LUCKY to have had great weather for the majority of the cruise, but it could easily have been foul weather.  BOOTS are a necessity 12 months a year!
  3. Bring sunblock, bug spray/ ointment and moisturizer as you can get a lot of sun, bugs or dry air in this regions.
  4. Have a very reliable camera/ cell-phone and protect it from wet weather and breakage with sturdy cases.
  5. Be sure to take photos of important documents and your cruiseline card, in case of theft or loss.
  6. Consider tacking on a land adventure – such as visiting Denali National Park, Seward or Anchorage.
  7. Don’t sit in your cabin or stay on the ship. Go and explore, take excursions and make memories!
  8. I used a travel agent and highly recommend doing so.  Linda Kahn – Ferrell of the Travel Store in Malaga Cove was excellent! 

 

Coming soon from this blog:

  • We found the last of the Blockbuster Stores – In Anchorage, Alaska!
  • It Takes a Village to Make a Cruise Successful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes or No? A Sign Language Explanation – repost

Often I am asked how to sign YES and NO in sign language.  Indeed there are formal signs for these words, but, frankly the obvious choice is to shake your head YES or NO.

 

If one wants to learn how to sign YES, simply make the handshape S (as below). Then bob it up and down as if it is a head nodding the affirmative.

YES! Move your wrist up and down as if this fist is your head bobbing up and down to say YES!
YES! Move your wrist up and down as if this fist is your head bobbing up and down to say YES!

 

To make the sign for NO use the “N” manual alphabet handshake and close it to the “O” handshape.  Of course, adding the headshape NO is a bonus!

 

When you say NO but you mean WRONG.  Try this sign instead!

WRONG is made with the Y handshake to the chin
WRONG is made with the Y handshape to the chin

 

What if you are indecisive? 

The MAYBE sign is made with hands being alternated up and down. As if you are saying, “If not this one, then that one”.

MAYBE - alternate hands up and down
MAYBE – alternate hands up and down

 

And, when you see DOUBLE ZEROS, that means NOTHING, NO WAY and even in Spanish – NADA!

 

 

Double ZEROS - tend to be made near the head or chest area - depending on the context.
Double ZEROS – tend to be made near the head or chest area – depending on the context.

Happy Signing!

 

*** Please note that SigningFamilies.com materials can now be found HERE at LouiseSattler.com

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