Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years in Orlando

You'll notice that I said New Years in Orlando, not technically in Disney World! Here are some things I've learned over the past few days.

#1) Georgia has been in a severe drought since very early in the summer. The ONLY days it rained this summer, were the ones we spent camping at the lake. The day the drought officially ends and we catch up on A L L the rain, the day we leave for Disney World! We had torrential amounts of rain from the time we left Dallas until we went through Valdosta and crossed the state line. Then, it cleared up beautifully! The sun came out and it got up to 81 degrees, then.. the rain started again, the temperature dropped back to 70 and we couldn't see the car in front of us. Then, the rain stopped, the sun came out and the temperature rose ... for 15 miles. The rain returned and well, you get the idea. All the way to Orlando. EVERY TIME it rained like that, a wreck happened and traffic came to a stand still. EVERY TIME, I kid you not. Some wrecks were fender benders that everyone stopped to gaze at while others were serious and very sad. It only took us about 9 & 1/2 hours, which isn't that much longer than our typical 8 hour trips. B U T it was a horrible drive and felt more like 15. Ugh!!

#2) Shades of Green will always make room for you when you are a frequent guest, UNLESS you are desperate for a room. I have called so many times wanting them to be full so we can go somewhere for 40% off, they always find room for us when we say how often we stay there. The calendar online reads FULL, but they have a room for us. We were pitiful and desperate yesterday, there was no room in the inn! There wasn't a single room available on property at Disney, not one.

#3) When you are desperate and have been driving in the rain for hours, you're tired, hungry and frustrated .... the first hotel you come to that has a room isn't always the best choice! We have stayed in some very small and very old places before, we can take it. We're not picky, give us clean and cheap and we'll be ok. After all, we're just sleeping there.... right? WRONG!

*note- it does NOT look like this picture in real life*

Ugh... we got a room, unloaded our stuff and walked across the street to UNO'S Chicago Grille, which was pretty darn good. Then we returned to our room. I wanted to get a shower, where I found we didn't have wash clothes, what's with that? Fine... We are ready for bed..... there are no fitted sheets, there is a top sheet .. on the bottom. There are 5 lights in the room, 2 of those don't work. This morning I discover a hairball I haven't seen before on the wall in the bathroom and as much as I shed, this one isn't mine! (I shoulda let Jo handle this part of the trip too huh?)

We wake up and desperately start looking for somewhere to go. Andy gets Shades on the phone (says "It's an emergency"), who still can't squeeze us in. I get Disney on the phone, who have one room open at Saratoga Springs for $399 a night, holiday rate... fun. (I did talk to a lady I'd talked to before, I remember because her name was "Briar Rose" that one sticks with ya. Cute though!) We can't do that- Then Andy goes off on a marathon spree of looking for places and rooms. More on that later.

#4) Orlando experiences 80 temps in the month of December and rarely see more than a light afternoon shower of rain. When we arrive, we bring it with us... the crappy weather that is. Today it was warm, but rained pretty much all day.

AND... There's more. Today on the news they said the high on Wednesday is 48 or something. It's suppose to freeze that night, big time. It's the COLDEST TEMPS IN FIVE YEARS!!! Yep, we bring all the fun huh??

#5) The three most crowded times of the year at Disney are Christmas Day, February and New Years. I'd experienced the first two times, first hand. Might as well see if they were serious about the third, right?!

They were serious. Today the Magic Kingdom posted a FULL sign on all the road signs, no kidding. I've never seen that before. Of course we're off property so would have to park somewhere else to get over there. Who would want there with so many people though? Nah-

#6) When the Magic Kingdom gets full, the next closest park that people would drive to is EPCOT. We decided we'd give it a try, ewww..... We got through the gate, but would had to have parked on the V E R Y last row of the parking lot. It was about to be FULL as well. Again, who really wants to be there with that many people? What are you gonna be able to do, seriously? Nah- Forget it.....

#7) Winter Summerland is such a dang fun place to play putt putt. Who knew that it had so many little fun things at each hole. I HIGHLY recommend you take time to go if you haven't before. We had a blast!! We are going to go back later this week to play the other side, we played "winter" today and want to play "summer" as well. Oh, and YAY for 50% annual pass discount.

AMBER & JONATHAN: Do you have time this week one night or next weekend to go play? Wanta join us?? It's so much fun!!! It'll be like $11 with your passes total, who can beat that? Oh and we ended up making ressies today for eating too, I know... I know... we said we weren't gonna do that this trip. I'll email you our days, times and places. You two are welcome to join us anytime!!

#8) Homewood Suites by Hilton is my new favorite "non-Disney" place to stay in the world! HOLY MOLY!! Andy found this place and seriously became my hero! It wasn't "that" expensive for a holiday rate and it is fabulous. The smallest are a one bedroom/one living room & kitchen suite. It is adorable. The kitchen has a stove, dishwasher, table, chairs and full size fridge. There is a menu thing that you can ask them to go grocery shopping with and they bring it to you within 3 hours. The living room has a couch that makes a bed, a leather chair, leather ottoman thingy and large TV. It has a window that overlooks the pool area. The bedroom has a king bed with 8 pillows (we had 2 in our whole scary room last night) and the most comfortable bedding in the world. (You can order it for your home) It has a HUGE TV with on demand movies, a chair and a window that looks into the pool area. There's a huge closet and huge bathroom.

*not my picture, but looks just like this... our suite has 2 windows that look at the pool area that's inside the middle of the buildings like this, it's also VERY heated...*

The lobby area offers a FREE hot breakfast buffet in the morning and a "welcome home" thingy each night. From 5-7 you can go eat for FREE. Tonight they had a salad bar, bread, spaghetti, drinks and home made cookies. Are you KIDDING ME? Every night it's different. (hot dogs, chili, fettucini alfredo, oriental chicken, the menu is on the fridge door... I feel like I'm at home)

FREE wireless internet access in your suite, the lobby, where ever. Can't get your wireless to work, no problem... they have a computer person at the desk to help you! (I needed a connector do hickey they let me borrow for some reason)

#9) Celebration is for sure the cutest community on Earth! When we win the lottery (right after we actually start playing) we are moving to Celebration. I'd said for years that we were going to visit and we finally went out there today. HOLY MOLY, it's absolutely the neatest place ever!! I felt like I was in that movie with the "fake" town, what's it called?? The drive out there we didn't pass a single soul, no car, very odd. We get there and it is as cute as Terry & Amber promised. The houses are so gorgeous, big or small. House or apartment, take your pick. They are all awesome. They were decorated for Christmas and I wanted to move right in! They have their own schools, town square with shops and business', post office, parks, playgrounds, sports leagues, random picnic benches or swings by ponds, the whole bit. It is DISNEY HEAVEN!

*nope, not my actual picture... this is celebration though*

#10) I really do love Bahama Breeze! We have one near home and have eaten there once, I loved it then too. We never make it over to the mall though, never. I forget it's out there. We have one in the same parking lot as our hotel, so we ventured out there tonight. (After actually driving around and looking for it BEFORE we realized it was the same parking lot.... felt so dumb...) They have THE BEST BBQ chicken flat bread ever! (Andy got cheese & tomato flat bread) We both got salads and I got a "strawberry sunrise" to go! (Orange sherbert, orange juice and strawberry syrup, no alcohol thank you kindly and it was THE BEST thing ever. I may go back tomorrow night for one too!! NOT KIDDING) It was fantastic and our bill was just @ $30, can you beat that with a dessert drink to go?

#11) Helicopter rides in Orlando aren't as much as I'd feared. I have been screaming for years that I AM RIDING IN A HELICOPTER AROUND DISNEY WORLD. (I even talked to Emmy about it, right chickie, ages ago?!) We checked it out today and the prices were much cheaper than I thought. (Really cheap compared to what we've paid in Niagra Falls and Gatlinburg) We are going to do it this week, hopefully the sun will return for it! I want it to be a sunny clear day!

#12) Golf "outlet" stores in Orlando aren't cheap! We found a golf store and I found about 3 bags that I'm in love with, all too much for me to handle though... Well, I guess if I played more I could see getting one.... but I don't. They were so cute.

#13) We really enjoy Rain Forest Cafe, seriously! We decided to browse around downtown Disney today and eat lunch at Rain Forest. Where, even though it was crazy crowded everywhere, we walked right in! I got a yummy turkey wrap and Andy had crab cheese dip. Both were yummy! There merchandise is VERY cheap right now, on sale!! (go go go) Andy got a rain coat, jacket thing that's black & gray .. very him. Says "Rain Forest" Orlando on the small right side and it was just $21. ALOT of sweatshirts were just $21 and t shirts were 2 for $19. Nice, quality stuff too, not the cheapy junk!! I thought about Christmas shopping for next year!!!

#14) Surprisingly, I can come stay in Orlando .. never make it to a park and be 100% content and enjoy myself a ton!! I never thought that was true. I expected to pout if we didn't go to a park for at least part of our day, we have passes for crying out loud. It wouldn't matter if we went for just awhile. But I confessed tonight that I really didn't want to go EVEN THOUGH IT'S NEW YEARS EVE AND WHAT WOULD BE MORE FUN THAT STARTING A NEW YEAR AT MY FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH???? It's so crowded out there and still raining on and off. We really did have a great day without going into a park, we still have SIX days left of this trip and I'm perfectly content with sitting here online rambling to whomever decides to read this on New Years Eve, no kidding! We're going to watch a movie on demand or TV and I'm guessing totally miss all the excitement. Just like at home.... LOL!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

Christmas Eve morning Andy & I went to Mike & Faye's house for breakfast. It's tradition and yummy! My sister in law is a fantastic cook! We opened presents and both boys got new golf clubs. Matching Taylor Made Drivers.. I'm sharing a picture of the two boys with their toys. Of course Andy has TWO in his hand because he bought himself one of those. Then Mike & Faye gave him a new super duper putter. They hit golf balls in the backyard, boys will be boys. It was a great morning of food, fellowship and family!

Christmas Eve evening we went to dinner with Mom & Dad. It was definitely different compared to our typical tradition when we use to spend the evening with my Grand parents too. Breaks my heart! We returned back to Mom & Dad's for presents and hanging out.

Christmas morning we woke up to find Santa had visited! We are both big kids and love to see what Santa brings. As tradition has it, I got a letter from Santa. Those are my favorite part of Christmas Day! Here are the goodies he left for Andy. The Tigger in the picture is mine from my class this year. They gave it to me with Disney Dollars for our trip this week!! He got a new Callaway golf bag, 2 head covers, a golf towel, cologne, a book, running clothes, golf balls, golf tees and stocking goodies. The picture of me with my goodies was blurry, but I got lots of neat stuff too! Including the new bigger lense for my big digital camera, a fun icee/slushie/smoothie maker, movies, a very special book and stocking goodies. Some new and some not so new. Silly Santa!! (Andy had already bought a new driver for himself and he bought me a new smaller digital camera)

Oh and never fear Santa left a goodie for Gizmo too! Sadly the girls got left out this year, I don't know what Santa was thinking! I'm sure it was a mishap and they were treated to all sorts of special treats this week! We felt horrible!

I didn't share this earlier, but here is a picture of a special gift that I got this year from a family at school. It looks like a typical version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. It doesn't look that special, does it?! It is though!! It is an autographed copy!!! Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE books, I'm pretty obsessive about it. (Just read some of my previous blogs) I am just as obsessive about children's books, I LOVE them!! So to give me an autographed copy of one of my favorite authors, well.... what could be better?! I was super thankful! This sweet family went to see Eric Carle when he visited the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Come to find out Mr. Carle is 75 this year and going to start seriously limiting his guest appearances and book signings. I feel very special that they thought of doing this for me!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pre Christmas

A few weeks ago we had Saturday Christmas at my Mom's sister's house. Lots of fun, food and family. It was nice to see some family members that we hadn't seen in quite awhile and to catch up with everyone. My aunt is awesome and I have all these memories of great times with her growing up. She let me do all the fun things that Mom wouldn't let me do, I so hope to be that fun aunt to Layla, Tanner and "Trella" (don't ask)! Strangely enough, I forgot to take a single picture, very unlike me!

Friday night I had my girlfriends over. Unfortunately one of our gang was sick and didn't make it. Misty, we missed you bunches. We ate, laughed our butts off, played a game where we laughed until we cried, ate more, laughed more and had the best time ever! Midnight arrived way too fast.

Last night we had our Christmas get together with Andy's oldest brother and his family. There were fifteen of us and Ms. Layla Grace did well entertaining us all! Uncle Andy & I got her a ball pit, filled with balls of course. She had so much fun and knew how to dive in the moment she seen it. It was soooo funny! There was another ball in the room that everyone kept tossing in, but it was purple and I actually bought it for her this summer. She knew it didn't "go" with the ball pit and she'd throw it back out and say no, funny girl. I think she may be a "tiny" bit anal like her Aunt Monica.

Today was an awesome church Christmas celebration. I love the Sunday at church before Christmas, touches my heart big time. I get the warm fuzzies and am reminded of what an awesome God we have!

(Newsflash here: If you didn't know, we actually "came home" last weekend and moved our church membership letter back to First Baptist.)

We also went to lunch with Mom, Dad and Grand Mother today. We ate out and returned to "her place" for opening presents and tons of chatting. (and Laughter galore!) It was a relief to celebrate Christmas with her on a day other than Christmas Eve, I'm not sure how I would have handled that without Grand Daddy there. I am missing him and our Christmas traditions so much! Grand Mother and I were shopping earlier this week and she pointed out that she guessed this would be my first Christmas ever not getting a doll, she's right. I'm not doing well with that either, makes me very sad. A part of my life is gone with Grand Daddy. She will join us for Christmas Day Lunch @ my parents house too. Here's her door that we decorated a few weeks ago!

More to come.....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas from preschool! Don't you love the season?! The first picture is just one of our zillion crafts from December. We made two different quilt pieces and put it together in the hall. The other piece is a gingerbread man they painted. Terry, you'll appreciate the quilt aspect! Not your typical quilt, but it sure was cute.

We have made ornaments out the wazoo. We made popsicle snow flakes, popsicle picture frames with wooden reindeer & pictures of the kids with red noses and headbands on reindeer day, clothes pin reindeer made with a volunteer Mom and bead candy canes! Our tree has been jam packed with all sorts of gifts! Fun, fun, fun!!

We talked about the birth of baby Jesus and made a "Christmas Story" book. It went something like this "Three wise men, followed the star, to the town of Bethlehem, to see the Savior" With appropriate crafts on each page. We got a big laugh because we had three wise SNOWmen. I couldn't find another "man" to use and we dipped a snowman cookie cutter in paint to represent our wise SNOWmen. Fun!

Some of you may remember our Gingerbread Day from last year. Parents come in on a Monday when all of our classrooms on my hall are not full and we used those rooms. We invited our neighbor class to join us this year. (B/C my "old" assistant, AKA: greatest friend ever is now the official teacher in that room) We broke up into very small groups and the kids rotated to fun activities ran by parents. We played gingerbread man bingo, tossed gingerbread bean bags on letters & numbers, made these foam gingerbread ornaments that say "Jesus warms my heart", made a book about how to prevent a gingerbread man from escaping, made gingerbread men magnets, played gingerbread men file folder games and painted wooden gingerbread men that had ribbons for hanging. Our director even got in on the action and ran our painting activity, it was a ton of fun!!

We acted out a new favorite poem. "Five little snowmen, all in a row. Each with a hat and a big red bow. The sun came out and stayed all day, then one little snowman melted away." The kids wore hats & bows when they were snowmen and we had one hold up a sun. The melted as we said the poem, it was a hoot!!!

We did all sorts of other fun things in December. I am very proud of our brand new idea for a parent gift. I was "picture framed out" this year, it's usually what I do. A teacher friend at school came up with a version of this idea and she was kind enough to let me "borrow" it. ((Shout out to Carolyn, thanks)) I LOVE the outcome and will keep this idea forever I think! ((Funny b/c she said the idea came from my niece. So..Trisha, thanks to you too!))

Which all brings me to one of the reasons I blogged tonight. I shared this story with some of you earlier today. I was sitting down today with the children as they wrapped their parent gift. I let them chose red or green bulletin board paper to wrap it with. They helped me cut the paper and they did all the taping. It isn't often that I get to sit down for awhile just to chat with each kiddo individually, we're always so busy with jobs and such. Sitting there wrapping, I took time to just chat. No rush today, no real agenda. We added ribbon, they wrote their name and mom/dad on a star die cut name tag. All the while we chatted, I love those moments!!

Christmas music was playing on the radio and they were all in centers busy working/playing. Some were using clip boards and writing words in our room, one was at the writing table writing a "naughty/nice" list for Santa from our friend's names. Two friends were listening to "The Gingerbread Man" on tape with microphones. (I can't get them to use the word HEAD phones) Some of my guys were building a city in blocks, a few girls were "baking Christmas cookies" with play doh and two girls were going crazy with Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas stamps and cards in the art center. It was a busy place, a little loud YES, but busy. There was laughter and conversations galore.

I had to pause (over and over honestly) during the morning to stop and say thank you to God for each and every one! I smiled (and almost cried) as I reminded myself of just HOW MUCH I LOVE MY JOB!! I can't imagine anything more important than loving, educating, nurturing and sharing God's love with these little people. They are amazing and I am lucky their parents share them with me each day!!

Tomorrow is our Christmas program, all 120 four year olds on stage together. It is something to behold. I'm sure the angels in Heaven are all singing along as we sing Silent Night, J E S U S (think "bingo"), We're Following a Star and a few others. One is called "Happy Birthday Jesus" and is not your typical version, it's absolutely heart stopping and makes me practically weepy when those little voices belt it out!!!

We are all animals as we arrive on stage, my class is first and we are mice. We will wear gray shirts, wear mice ear headbands and have pink noses & whiskers. We arrive to say "Who is coming to our house? Someone, someone said the mouse". It goes on as all the animals know someone special is coming to their house, but they just aren't sure who. Then everyone realizes we are welcoming baby Jesus! It's very sweet!!

We'll return to our class for a small party where we'll make jingle bell and bead bracelets, oreo snowmen snacks and open presents! We do a "book gift exchange" and I gift them a box of wrapped books too! We're also playing pin the nose on Rudolph. You just can't beat a fun Christmas party!

Don't you wish YOU were still in preschool?

I love my job, I am blessed. Remember the reason for the season and enjoy these quotes from my munchkins!

What makes reindeer fly?
The little necklaces around their neck.
Christmas dust
Reindeer food
I think Santa gives them sprinkles or sparkles
Magic, Santa magic

How does Santa get into your house?
He just says .. Hey fly up there! and I can go down the chimney and put presents under the tree.
He has to open the door, he rings the doorbell
Through the chimney
In the chimney, if the fire was on he would burn his bottom

What does Christmas mean?
Getting everything out like Christmas trees
Celebrating Jesus' birthday
I went to Nanny's and she passed out presents
That Santa brings presents & food

Because it's just so exciting

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Santa Arrives at my Door!

So some of you know this story already. You may wanta skip this one. For the rest of you.... here goes.

I have an awesome group of friends who do a secret Santa each year. We exchange names and on a regular old day, like today, Santa arrives at your door step. There I was cleaning my house when Santa delivered a box to my house! My box JINGLED! It was fantastic!!!

Now, it's not Christmas yet. (As Andy lovingly reminded me) Some people might have put the package under the tree to wait until Christmas. I .... am NOT one of those people! I tore into that sucker!

Here is a picture of my "loot"!!

I LOVE & adore Pooh, for those of you who don't know. (Is there any such person?) I have a collection of Christmas Pooh's that sit on my steps in my house. This new guy is awesome. He is much softer than the others, I love how Disney is making their plushies much softer these days. I'm a sucker for a stuffed animal of any kind. There are about 6 who have permanent residence on our bed!

The purse there, is a custom made one, thankyouverymuch! She knows I'm slightly obsessed with Vera Bradley and she made my very own "T.K." brand! It's awesome blue & yellow fabric, it's quilted (she rocks) and the inside has three yellow fabric pockets.

It was also a stuffed purse! It has a Pooh Pen, very fun! There was Burt's chapstick, gum and all sorts of fun candy! Ghiradelli (sp?), Mickey Chocolate Bar and a Mickey Head peppermint bar thingy....holy moly!!

It is SO MUCH fun to buy things for a friend in secret and SO MUCH fun when your door bell rings with a surprise gift at Christmas time!! Loving it!!

Terry, thanks again. (for the zillionth time) And.... YOU ROCK!

Merry Christmas from the Tanners!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Traditions
the movies section

**This was originally posted last year in December. In sticking with traditions, it looked like a great time to share it again. I love Christmas movies and have so many favorites. We've watched the Grinch on TV already and the DVD version of "Christmas Vacation." Watching all the movies is a huge tradition. Don't forget to read the end and post your own thoughts!!**

'Tis the Season

You know the holidays have arrived when TNT is playing Christmas movies every night & Charlie Brown Christmas comes on network TV. Gotta love it. So many movies, so little time. Here are some of my favorites, too many to list them all. I could watch one a day through December and not get through them all!! Love, love, love them!!

As I finish this, I go back and think of all the ones I've left out. I'll never remember to name them all. The Disney CG film where Minnie & Daisy are ice skating, love it. Snowden on Ice, love a good ice skating movie. Prancer, oh Prancer.... Have you seen it? I love that movie, not very well known. Jingle all the way, makes me laugh. Christmas with the Kranks, fun. All the Home Alone movies are great for the holidays, the first is my favorite by far! It's a Wonderful Life, classic .. though I don't love this like everyone else, I watch it still. Twas the Night Before Christmas with the mice in the clocks, fun. Little Drummer Boy, the movie about the Christmas that almost wasn't.... what's that one? (Oh - The Year Without Santa Claus) Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Santa Claus movies, those are all good. Ok, I can never name them all, I have an entire cabinet section FULL of Christmas movies only!!

Charlie Brown, man... You have to love the story there. The music, you know it when you hear just a few notes. What a great sound track!!

A Christmas Story, how can you not LOVE this movie? Who doesn't feel for the kid when the bullies are after him, who doesn't love the scene where he sticks his tongue to the pole, you know you quote "You'll shoot yer' eye out" and how about the end where they are singing in the Chinese restraunt? You know you love it!

Frosty or Rudolph? Could you pick?? Why pick, let's take 'em both!

Grinch, you know it by heart ... right?!

White Christmas, everyone needs at least one good musical for the season! This is such a classic! Makes me wish for snow as I watch it and drink my hot chocolate.

Smoky Mountain Christmas, WHAT?? You haven't seen this redneck hit?? Seriously?? Watch it, it will be on CMT again. It's great. Sweet story and it's not Christmas unless I've seen this one a few times! Love the kids!!! Dolly is the woman!

Miracle on 34th Street, do you like the old one or the new one???
I love them both, I watch them both each year.

Ok.. you're on a deserted island and can only have one Christmas movie with you. What are you taking?? Me, hands down... I'm taking Christmas Vacation!! This could very well be my favorite movie of all time, period. It makes me laugh until I cry, every single time I watch it. No kidding!! When my Mom's side of the family gets together for Christmas, we have this movie playing. We all know it by heart and once I forgot the movie... it wasn't pretty-
Love, love, love, love it!!!


Your turn, tell me your favorites. What is your favorite Christmas movie? Do you watch it at a particular time of the season? Do you watch them on TV or DVD? Favorite memories from them?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm thankful...

As this long Thanksgiving weekend is coming quickly to a close, I guess I should officially blog what I'm thankful for. Of course, there's no way to mention it all because I am truly blessed. Here's a good start though of things great & small.

-a loving, always there, forgiving, all knowing, compassionate God! (with a creative sense of humor)

-my kind, funny, smart, patient, tender hearted, easy going and designed just for me husband

-my generous, loving, fun and amazing parents

-my Grandmother & a place where she gets amazing attention & care, we know she's loved

-the love of a Grand Daddy that's no longer here on Earth, but whose influence will always remain

-the love of a MawMaw & PawPaw that instilled the difference between right & wrong, the importance of going to Church and obeying God and reminded me every minute that they could that I was loved

-an extended family all around on all sides that are wonderful, loving, fun and special to us

-a house to call my own filled with things I'm blessed enough to buy (including new carpet, no matter how much work it's involving - he he he)

-our pets, the comfort of a warm & fuzzy friend does wonders for the soul

-friends who make me laugh, love me no matter what & make time for me .. share the same values, bring new opinions and outlooks, keep in touch often and generally make life brighter .. friends who share things and insights that can eventually change your life -

-friends who aren't geographically close, but close at heart...who are there for fun & encouragement, who find "face" time when they can and I couldn't imagine life without

-food to eat, money to buy groceries and eat out

-two vehicles that are good to us and get us where we want and need to go

-the ability to afford vacations, time away with just Andy or with our families, it's often times I live for!

-my computer & the internet... it keeps me connected to so many people I love and opens a world of information at my fingertips, think about how amazing it really is

-my job.. and it's not just any job...but a place to work where I get to (and am suppose to) share the love of God, have fun, play games, watch children learn new things, work with amazing people who become great friends and know it's a place building the future

-my kiddos, my students, my babies! I love them with my whole heart, they make me laugh & even cry. They give themselves and make me a better person. I'm thankful for parents who open their lives & hearts to share their kids with me and the family we become together.

**air conditioning, heat, ice for drinks, Coca Cola, fresh fruit, warm snuggly blankets, soft pillows, Disney World & the magic it makes me feel, rocking chairs on big front porches, music of all kinds, Church, big tables for large gatherings of those we love, big extended families and the fun they bring, candles that make my house smell yummy, fall leaves, crisp mornings made for sweaters, scarves & coffee, antique stores, used book stores, places to visit that feel like a home away from home, good neighbors, big rowdy family get togethers and small intimate ones, cameras to capture memories, books to read & the ability to do so, worn Bibles that show they've been read and read and read and read, flip flops for summer, the lake and afternoons spent there with family & friends, our camper and the awesome chance for getting away that it provides us with, Christmas lights around town, stores decorated for the Holidays with music playing and excitement in the air, high school football games on Friday nights, the sound of waves constantly when you're at the beach, giggles of children having fun, hugs from kids & wet kisses from babies, stingrays you can hand feed, dolphins you are allowed to give a kiss on the nose too, homemade gifts, warm cookies with a cold glass of milk, memories of days and friends gone by, dreams of things to come-**

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving
From Preschool

One of the fun things we did last week: I read a story called "The Night Before Thanksgiving". It's about a group of children who go to a turkey farm on a field trip. While they are there, they spot Farmer Mack Nugget's AX sitting by the barn. The children make great friends with the turkeys and decide to help their new friends escape. They stuff the turkeys under their shirts & take them home as Thanksgiving guests, not dinner!! The assignment was to disguise a turkey so that if Farmer Mack Nugget comes to our school, he wont find any turkeys there! Here are the turkeys!! So funny!! Love Em'!!

We also thought of things we were thankful for and wrote them on feathers to dress our turkey int the hall. We know that all blessings come from God and we are sure to remember to stop and say thank you! Our prayer for the month is: "Thank you God for taking good care of us. Thank you for food, family & friends." How simple and how true. May we all stop not just at Thanksgiving, but all year through, to say thank you for ALL the blessings in our lives!!

We also made these super cute block turkeys. This is one that I borrowed to bring home, take a picture and show you. I think they make adorable shelf sitters!!

So, Happy Thanksgiving from our house (and preschool room) to yours!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Reading Blog - Part 3
Fall Reading

I'm sure that some of you are bored silly when I write my book reading blogs, but it's all mine. So here goes! I ended with the end of July and introducing my NEWEST favorite author, Denise Hildreth. Her 3 Savannah books are all by FAR my favorite reads of the past entire year!! If you don't read anything I recommend, check out those books and Mary Kay Andrews. You can't go wrong with either author!! (Mary Kay Andrews was my last year favorite author)

In August I read 9 books. They were all good, but the two worth mentioning were the other two in the Savannah series. So, enough about that. READ THEM!!

In September I read 9 books. Top 2 would be:

"The Quickie" - James Patterson ... Very good! Lots of things going on in this one and it's fast paced as always!!
"You've Been Warned" - James Patterson ... This one is strange. It's all over the place and there is SO much going on. It's not like anything he's written before. I liked it, but it's VERY different.

In October I read 7 books. Here are the worth discussing...

My least favorite book that I've read in a long, long time is "The Jane Austen Book Club" by: Karen Joy Fowler. I was soooo disappointed. I LOVE Jane Austen and most books & movies about her. Since this movie looks great, I thought I'd like the book. It took me weeks to read and it's a fairly short book. I couldn't just stop, so I plugged along. There are SO many characters in it with so many more characters in their lives. Then they refer to all of Jane's books with all their characters too. It's just too much to keep up with for me. Ugh!

I found another GREAT author! I randomly picked up a book in Target that looked fun, thank heavens I gave it a shot! "Confessions of a Shopoholic" by: Sophie Kinsella .. What a hoot! She is from England and they remind me alot of the Bridget Jones books & movies. The main character is a single girl who loves to shop. She's in huge debt, but goes on being able to justify any purchase she makes. She NEEDS everything she buys. (I can relate) They are great books, about 5 I think. (I've since read another and can't wait to buy the 3rd)

"Knit Together" by Debbie Macomber was another good book. It's a devotional type book, true story and inspiring. She's an awesome romance writer and it was great to get this look inside her life and faith. I enjoyed it alot, read it slowly like a devotion book.

"The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks. His books are always great, he's always been a favorite author. This book is just as good as the others. I don't want to say much, it's something you need to read for yourself if you enjoy him. I can say this though, I would think it could cause some controversy. It makes me think about a certain topic and if I had been in the situation that the characters find themselves in recently, it would really upset me. Great book, very thought provoking. (Did I spell that right?)

"Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows" by JK Rowling. I wont say too much, I wont spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet. Well, I waited long enough to read this one, right? Seriously though, WOW. Great book!! I had planned on reading all the others again before reading this one, I just couldn't bring myself to make time though. This is my favorite book of them all, hands down. Usually it takes me awhile to get really into the story and remember whose who. This one had me from the first page, I LOVED it! The ending was classic, great great job!!!

Read on dear friends, read on!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Magic Kingdom
Day two of our Disney W

Thankfully we woke up to find Steve was as good as new! After breakfast muffins in our room, we were off! We took the monorail from the TTC, you just KNOW you're at WDW when you hear the monorail spill.... I LOVE IT!!

We headed down Main Street where we had the place pretty much to ourselves! We were there pretty early. We headed to Tomorrowland and straight on Buzz. (I kicked Andy's rear!) We moved to People Mover, Carousel of Progress and then on to Fantasyland. We rode Pooh (the lines were still really short and only about 10-15 minutes), Snow White, saw Philharmagic, Peter Pan and Small World. We headed back to Cosmic Rays for lunch. (Where somewhere I missed Terry's phone call for lunch, dang it!)

Then it was on to Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion and the Tiki Room. We got fast passes for Jungle Boat (by now the lines were L O N G and it was VERY crowded) and waited to ride Pirates. They walked through Swiss Family Tree House while I watched the parade in there too. Oh we fit Country Bears in there somewhere too -

Then it was time for dinner @ Crystal Palace. Great buffet (yeah Amber, a Disney buffet... I know, I know...but we really like this one) and tons of fun!! Of course I wanted my picture made with everyone again, though we'd just eaten there last month! :) I'm a big kid!!

We came out for a little shopping and then went back for Monsters. We missed Stitch, it was closed. We chose to skip Spectromagic (even though I LOVE it) and rode the Riverboat. Andy still loves that thing, just like my Dad. Silly boys - (A little boy decided he wanted to go home with Andy and kept holding his arms up for Andy to pick him up, too funny!) Then we decided since we were headed back in an hour after the fireworks, we'd get wet! We rode Splash Mountain, toooo fun!! We forget how much we LOVE that ride, it's a big time favorite. I just can't stand being wet all day, so we don't ride it much anymore!

We got off in time to find a great spot for the fireworks and have a magical end to our evening!! (It was super foggy from showers of rain and the fireworks were sometimes hit behind the fog, it was a wierd but neat effect)

It was a really great trip. I'd been really nervous about riding for 8 hours to just spend 2 days, but it was 110% worth it. I now know that if we can only go for a weekend trip, I'll be fine and appreciate any time I have there!! It was nice to see Shades again, it's kind of like an old friend. It was also fun to take family who hadn't been in so long. We can't wait to go back with the whole Tanner clan in 2009 and take the kiddos!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekends were meant for Disney!

We just returned from a whirlwind weekend trip to our favorite place, Disney World!! We finally talked Andy's brother Steve and his wife Teresa into going with us! We left on Thursday when I was finished with school and returned yesterday. (Sunday) I was a little worried about an 8 hour trip down and back, with only two full days to have fun! I HATE to ride in the car!! It was SO VERY worth it though, I'm SO GLAD we went!!

We really did have a great trip down. We made bunches of stops (as usual) and were still there in just over 8 hours, not too bad. We checked in at Shades of Green in no time. They are getting ready for the PGA tournament coming this weekend, the golf course was closed for the time being. There was all kinds of activity, decorations, etc... as they were getting ready. It made Andy & I REALLY wish we could be there for it!! For the first time in our 7 stays there, we were not on the golf course. That made us a little sad, but since we weren't there AT ALL really - it didn't matter! Our balcony did however look at the Mickey pool and that was nice.

Friday: We went to MGM! We were there even before the park opened and that was a first for us! We were able to see the little "opening ceremony" and that's cute. Then it was wide open!! We headed onto the Great Movie Ride first and walked right in, I love that thing! Then we headed to the back of the park that was totally empty, amazing! We saw the Muppets 4D and then headed to the BackLot Tour. After the first section of the backlot tour, we were headed to the tram. We were walking through the prop house and I saw them.... just ahead....

It was the DREAM TEAM!!!! We were at the right place, at the right time, AGAIN!! We got for the first time, dream fast passes!!! WOOOOO WHOOOOOO!!!!!!! What a way to make the weekend extra special!!

After the BackLot tour we were headed to the Tower of Terror. My brother in law gets motion sick (worse than me, if you can imagine that) and we were a little worried about the tower, but he did GREAT! It was fantastic, fast passes rock! Then we headed to Rockin' Roller Coaster, but it was closed for the time being. We headed to the Animation walk through & Little Mermaid instead. Then it was the Walt walk through, a bite of lunch in there somewhere and they rode Star Tours. (I can't do that one, makes me SICK) We saw Indiana Jones and then Sounds Dangerous. (Hadn't done that in Y E A R S)

I'm the only nut in my family with my eyes open!! Of course I'm also screaming and holding on for dear life. That is my brother in law and sister in law clutching each other for dear life next to me by the way. And Andy, Lord bless him. He closes his eyes on EVERYTHING we ride!!

I'm so ready for the Toy Story ride to be open and wish they'd come up with a plan for the empty spot where that audience participation show was ages ago. That has been empty for YEARS!

We had dinner reservations @ Sci-Fi that evening and had just enough time to get back to Rockin' Roller Coaster before dinner. My BIL assured us he'd be fine, he does roller coasters well. It's my favorite roller coaster in the world, I LOVE it!!! He on the other hand, didn't hold up so hot! Ooops!!!! We almost killed the poor man! After dinner, which was even better than the last few times we'd eaten there, it was time to call it a day and head back. There was standing room only @ Fantasmic, so we didn't see it. I bought another poster from that oldies stuff store. (What's the name? I love that place!) It's a "Fox & the Hound" movie poster, too fun!

When we got back Andy & I hit the ice cream shop and sat on the balcony for a little bit. The perfect ending to a great day. It was super cloudy all day, but didn't rain a drop on us! The weather was in the upper 70's and it was fantastic!! The crowds were super low, even if we hadn't had the fast passes! Great, great day!! (A little ripple there at the end for my BIL, but he survived. Although barely-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I've been re-reading.....

"The Great House of God" by Max Lucado. I read this devotional book years ago when it was new and I've decided to go back and read all my Max books before buying new ones. A few posts back I talked about how amazing the "Planet Earth" DVDs are to me. When reading a chapter in my Max book last week, it all came together. Those "Planet Earth" episodes can bring me to tears, strange but true. I am amazed that God took time to make so many things for our pleasure and his.

On Pg. 44 Max says "Why did he do it? A shack would have sufficed, but he gave us a mansion. Did he have to give the birds a song and the mountains a peak? Was he required to put stripes on the zebra and the hump on a camel? Would we have known the difference had he made the sunsets gray instead of orange? Why do stars have twinkles and the waves snowy crests? Why dash the cardinal in red and drape the beluga in white? Why wrap creation in such splendor? Why go to such trouble to give such gifts?"

He goes on to describe how we do it for those we love. We search for hours, days, weeks for those perfect Christmas gifts for those we love. We write beautiful words in cards to express our love & concern for friends & family. We take time to give gifts to show our love for others.

Then he says on Pg. 45 "That's why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, 'Do you like it? I did it just for you.'"

God didn't have to make all those beautiful colored tree frogs in the jungles that most people will never see. He didn't have to make and allow those tens of thousands of multi - colored fish to live miles below in the sea where most of us will never go. But, he did! He took time to do it anyway. They're there and occasionally when something like those TV specials come around, we're able to glimpse even more of God's splendor that's just waiting on us to discover! We live in such a TINY little spot of his universe and don't take enough time to be amazed at just what all is out there. What HE made, designed, gives life to. I stand amazed.

He ends chapter 4 on Pg. 46 with this..."just because we can't imagine God's giving us sunsets, don't think God doesn't do it. God's thoughts are higher than ours. God's ways are greater than ours. And sometimes, out of his great wisdom, our Father in Heaven gives us a piece of Heaven just to show us he cares."

Max says "You don't have to agree with me, but I would like you to consider it with me. You don't have to buy it, but I at least think about it. Here it is: If you were the only person on earth, the earth would look exactly the same. The Himalayas would still have their drama and the Caribbean would still have its charm. The sun would still nestle behind the Rockies in the evenings and spray light on the desert in the mornings. If you were the sole pilgrim on this globe, God would not diminish its beauty one degree. Because he did it all for you ... and he's waiting for you to discover his gifts." (emphasis his)

So the next time you see a sunset, notice a flower in bloom, watch a red bird out your window, find a walking stick bug while camping, see a fall tree full of orange/red and gold leaves, see a mountain top covered in snow, hear the waves of the ocean crash on the beach over and over and over, see a waterfall that never runs dry, smell that powdery fresh smell on a new baby and hear the giggles of little kids .... stop and notice! Take time to thank the Great Creator & designer of that beauty!! Take time to remind yourself that he did it all for you! That my friends, is HUGE!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ms. Tanner's Class

Come on, take a trip with me. Let me show you my world, preschool! Come on down the hall, actually from this end, you've come up the back way. That brown door also leads to my room, to my mini kitchen. That hall door stays locked all the time though. (And I forgot to take pics of my shelves, fridge, sink, etc... "the mini kitchen")

Those orange squares were our easel painting this week. Sometimes we can paint what we want, this week it was painting with our month color and our month shape. Those things glued on are our square poem & orange song words. The kids can now spell & read the color orange, from the song. (They can also spell & read red now) Then there is my generic yellow kid door. I use to change it for every season, holiday, whatever. Like I NEED one more job at school. I decided that was for the birds. You see a sign hanging over the door that is for Sunday School, thankfully they aren't using my room this year!!! (Yay!! You have no idea. When they use it you must shut everything up for the weekend, no fun!) Then you see my wall "self made" bulletin board with our fall quilt, I'll show you it closer soon. Oh, stop sign is my serious food allergy warning.

Here we go, let's look at the centers, one by one.

Known to the children as "Table Toys". This center has puzzles, Mr. Potato Head (and that red & white bucket full of pieces, including Disney ones) games, lacing cards, geo boards, gears, alphabet blocks and on and on and on.... It's also currently home to our pumpkin. Oh, and it seems one dinosaur "Kaylee - a - saurus" headband that got left at school. The bulletin board behind it has black paper with circles. That was one of our first week of school "a dot is alot" when using glue bottles lessons.

Moving on. Here's our Science Center. There are a few pictures out of magazines on the wall and then some pictures. They are ones I've taken @ Animal Kingdom or various zoos! I picked up that little aquarium lamp (shoulda turned it on for you, our guest) at our neighbors yard sale for $2, a steal! The blocks on top are a listening game. You have to shake them and match the sounds. There are plastic bugs, magnifying glasses, shells, magnets galore, a talking microscope with oodlles of slides, an insect puzzle, a magnetic mini aquarium and various other junk that I can't remember from the picture.

Language & Literacy Center:
This shelf is one of the places in our afternoon center time where the kids can pull out what they want to. During our morning center time, they're allowed in all the centers. Afternoon centers are small groups with myself or Ms. Misty, games or "work" that I have put out for them or they can choose something from this shelf. If they choose something here they are "playing with a purpose" without knowing it! File folder games, an alphabetical order puzzle, Boggle Jr., fishing for #s, sorting shapes, driving on letters & numbers, rhyming mouse game and on and on and on!

Here is our schedule on the wall in the apple. Then it's our art center. There are all kinds & colors and paper on top of the pink cart. Coloring sheets, construction paper, card stock, left over scrapbook paper, you just never know. In the drawers there are markers, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, funky scissors, glue, glue sticks, popsicle sticks, wiggle eyes, buttons, die cuts, feathers, sequins, hole punches, well... you get the idea. There's a list on the wall there that has the kids listed who have lunch bunch or dance daily, so we know who goes where after school.

This would be the block center. They are to "stay on the rug" with blocks. There is a farm with all sorts of farm junk. A box of cars, Lincoln logs, animals, dinosaurs, wooden train track with train/road/cars, small legos, pirate stuff that goes with a castle, doll house stuff that goes with a doll house and then of course, BLOCKS!

This shelf is just inside the door, on your right. The top shelf is random books with animals. A picture of me and my "partner in crime", assistant teacher and greatest friend MISTY! (love you and why don't you start your OWN blog instead of lurking here *wink*wink*) There is a shelf for the kids pencil box that has much more than just a pencil. There is an orange basket where they put their communication folders when they walk in the door, FIRST THING. It's where I look for notes from parents, I send home stuff, etc.... Then those bottom drawers are there's for whatever. They put work in it, art stuff they're working on or whatever. They have blue bags that they hang on their chairs and keep their snacks in and stuff.

Here's the view of our circle time area. The block center is located there, but obviously closed when we're having together time. That purple part of the board is designated for Sunday School, they don't use it so it has kid magnet faces there for now. You see our calendar, spot for helper name, weather chart, Bible verse & prayer for the month, yesterday was/today is/tomorrow will be area, a paper with some scarecrow songs to work on, the radio on the floor, my chart paper on the floor for Monday. (It says "Firefighters.... They are going to help me brain storm what they might do as we start our fire safety week) The red/yellow/blue bucket cart is MY circle time stuff. Books to read, CDs to use that day, poem cubes (don't ask), flash cards, yadda yadda.... Then there is another chart stand that has our color poem/song on one side and other charts we're working with, but it's turned around to our "morning news" chart. Three kids a day share morning news and we use it for various literacy/pre reading skills. This week we talked about putting a period at the end of a sentence and we went back and circled all the letter (e) in our news since that's this weeks letter. We do other stuff each week with it. One kid takes it home when the chart is full. Oh and there's the dry erase board there too. It has random junk written on it for Monday already. We're talking about same & different, so I drew rows of stuff for them do look for what's different in each row. The alphabet is on the wall up high, the colors are to the right & birthdays are bottom right. The rules song/chart/poster is also on the right, near the board.

Here is the view from "my area" of the room. I have a table and all (coming in a second) Of course I teach preschool SILLY, so I NEVER sit there during the time the kids are there! It's useful when they leave though! Those are dinosaurs hanging from the ceiling that they made with their Dad's during Donuts for Dad's last week.

Here's the reading & writing centers. On the far left you barely see the file cabinet that has pictures on it. Those are one class picture for every year I've taught, they're awesome! Let's see, reading on the left. I just brought this shelf in last week (from my Grandparents house) so I am not organized there yet. I am DYING for buckets for the books, but haven't gotten that far yet. There are books about our theme on there (just put up dinosaur and got out fall & fire safety books today) and there are ABC/Color/Counting & Faves that stay out all the time. Then there are class books that we make. We make A L O T of class books (Misty, you're nodding your head) I LOVE LOVE LOVE them and so do the kids!! This year everyone will take home one of the class books to remember our year! Oh that yellow crate is puppets. The bottom shelf is a cd/radio/tape player with headphones & beside it a bucket of books with tapes/cd's. We just started using it 2 weeks ago and it's WILDLY popular! We are ANXIOUSLY awaiting them to get better at using it themselves!! Those pillows there, I made 'em!!

Then there is writing on the right. Reminds me, I must grab my "Fall Words" poster to hang up. The "school words" one is hanging there. I encourage them to write a word from the poster. There are ALL kinds of paper, stationary, cards, envelopes, etc.. there to write with. There is dry erase stuff there (Amy stuff you gave me AGES ago is still in use) There is a thingy with fancy pens & pencils there too. They think they're hot stuff using fancy pens, anything to get them to write. Then there is a little book that we add to with words we talk about. Their pictures are there with names, to write letters to friends and other often used words. Then you see the wall to the right where I hang stuff they make me. Currently it's the bday cards that they made me and brought to the fair!

And now I'm looking at my toys on the top of the file cabinet my "Talking Larry" & "Talking Mater", there's a huge poster frame there waiting on a class picture I had printed in 16X20. I can't wait to hang it up!! Oh and on the wall behind those centers. You can't see it well (and it's totally against the law I'm sure) but I decorate with copies of the fronts of favorite books. I color copy them, laminate 'em (Go Ginger) and hang 'em up.

Here's looking at MY area. Oh Lordy, where to start. The curtains, made 'em. (Well, I think Mom helped with those) The stick kids on the wall were bought at the scrapbook store in Pigeon Forge after I BEGGED for them. My closet which is stuffed, on top are tons of games, my Chicken stuffed animal whom I LOVE and the "birthday box" that has the "fake cake" for birthday parties and goodies. (you pick one when it's your birthday) The book shelf on the left has a zillion books (though the theme books are at home in theme boxes, those are just faves I can't live without) and it has "work" books on it. The top has drawers labeled "Monday", "Tuesday", etc... On Thursdays I stay late (3:00 today, HOLY MOLY) and put everything in each drawer I'll need next week. I'm ANAL organized at school. (Andy's wondering what happens to that organization at home) There is a cork board thingy on the wall with TONS of pictures of those I know & love. Then there is the file cabinet, ugh! Stuffed. The top has the toys and then it has more drawers. They say "Next week", "week after next" and "further still". I keep stuff on going there, ready to toss in the drawers when it's time for that week. Told ya, anal organized!! Oh and there's a frame up there with a priceless quote (that I can't think of this second, about ... doing something with all your heart...and that's how I feel about school) Andrea (love ya & miss ya & see ya again soon) gave to me last year! That brown thing that says Preschool has art shirts, plastic bags, cleaning supplies and all sorts of garb in it. Then there is my table, packed! My flower pot a parent made me ages ago with stuff in it, one of my favorite things in the world. My duck lamp, CD box, "work in" box and then there's Ms. Misty's table. (She gets the tiny one, bless her! BUT.. She's the ONLY one that has her own space ... SO THERE)

Ok, looking from the door into the room. You might notice I have a stand without a TV on the wall. If they used it for Sunday School, there would be a TV. Part of their curriculum is a DVD. You see my purple word wall, we put words that we learn and should know. The yellow wall is the photo wall. Each kid has their name and I end up filling the wall up as the year goes on.

Here's the bulletin board in my room that's a work in progress. There is this "homework bag" that's making it's way home each night to different houses. (Actually there are 10 October homework bags that go home) Anyway... this one has fall books to read and then instructions to go on a leaf hunt, pick up leaves and go home to make leaf rubbings. I'm hanging the rubbings up as they come back from home.

Here's our Fall quilt. I think it's so cute! They sponge painted with the cat or bat. I may go back and put their picture in the face, we'll see. They talked about patterns as they glued on the mini purple and orange squares. Then we tore paper for the jack o lanterns, they are super cute and abstract. They were stressed about tearing & not using scissors, too funny! Then I have ribbon tied here & there. Obviously the ribbon is cuter in person, looks odd in the photos.

There ya have it, my world. I wish I could share photos of my kids that I adore. I wish I could show you the AWESOME pictures that I took at the pumpkin patch yesterday, sooo great! But... the tour of my room will have to do. Come back anytime, you're welcome to join us!