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!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Castaway Cay
Part 1

You have to love the day that you spend at Castaway. It's the most perfect day of a cruise. We ate breakfast and watched the ship dock. As soon as they give the all clear, we're headed off. You have to love how easy it is when you just walk off the ship and onto a private island. It took no time and there was no wait. There are towels for you to grab on your way off (and return as you head back) The decor of the island is precious. I love the little spill they give you on the tram and that you can read on the schedule for the day. It's a cute story about how Castaway came to be. We went to the family beach for the first part of the day. Dad & Andy decided to skip snorkeling, instead just swimming around the family beach area and looking at the fish. (We realized when we arrived @ Disney that Andy left all his snorkel equipment at home, oops) Mom & I hung out and relaxed, people watched and of course I was back & forth taking pictures.

We ate lunch, which is YUMMY over there! There was SO MUCH fresh fruit that was fantastic, all sorts of salads, burgers/hotdogs/chicken/ribs, fries, chips, ice cream, cookies, cake... YUMMO- It is one of our favorite meals, our kind of food!!

After lunch we headed over to the adult only beach, more on that later....

As soon as we're off the ship I'm snapping pictures.
I meant to go back and take some closer ones of the Black Pearl and forgot.

Beautiful ship! See the pirate ship on the side???

A photo op at every turn.

We arrive on Castaway and immediately start thinking that we must come back!
They were talking about a 4 night cruise next summer that is going to
go to Castaway twice. We knew we had to check it out!!
This place has to be what Heaven looks like!

Beautiful views....

Awwwww..... I love this guy-

The parents enjoying a dip in the warm, clear water.

There was a big ole fish swimming around in the water at the family beach. He was huge.
He's near the top left of the picture, can you see him?

While Mom is napping, Dad & Andy are looking at fish...
I am going to visit "The Big Guy"!!
Get out of my way kids, I want to see Mickey Mouse!

Our hermit crab friend. He was under my chair, so I put him up there to take a closer pic.
I think it's pretty cool!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Friday in Nassau

Friday morning Andy & I were up and headed to breakfast so we'd be ready for our excursion. Here is a picture of our breakfast spot on the VERY B A C K of the ship! It was really a neat place to eat and catch the views as we were getting closer to Nassau.

We arrived and met our group. It was time to be off to a boat that would take us to Black Beard's Cay. Andy & I had visited there before on a previous trip and loved it. We didn't add the stingray swim last time because it was an added fee, this time it was all included for about $35 or $40. You spent 3 hours at the beach, as much time as you wanted in the water with the rays (feeding them too), snorkel equipment, lunch (grilled hot dogs/hamburgers/chicken with chips and drink) and it was a 20ish minute boat ride there to and from.

Note: For those who Disney cruises and think of doing the ray thing at Castaway, I don't recommend it. If you have the choice between doing it in Nassau & Castaway, do it in Nassau @ Blackbeard's! We went and looked at the area in Castaway. Not NEAR as many Rays, you only get an hour in the water with them too! You pay more money (like $45) to have less time with them and less of them. Nuts! Spend your time @ Castaway doing other stuff!!

Oh, you know you're in the Bahamas when you see .... Starbucks right? Crazy -

We did the swimming with rays first thing, awesome! I was sooooo glad we chose to do it this time. It was one of (if not #1) favorite all time excursion for us both. We LOVED it!!! Andy was able to snorkel with them all he wanted. I'm not a snorkel fan, but I was able to hang out with them all I wanted in the water. They are amazing and social creatures. It was like being in a room with tons of cats! The rays rub on your legs, touch your legs all the time and swim between your legs. It's crazy. They are all "manicured", no barbs. (They say it's like cutting your finger nails, it's something they have to do often. There are BIG rays and tiny rays, every size in between. There are oodles and oodles and ooodles of them!!

The Island....

When we fed them we had to get down on our knees in the water. They came around and gave us squid to feed them. I was under the impression we'd get a PIECE of squid, WRONG. They were handing us WHOLE squid (eyeballs, 8 "legs" and ALL)!!! Eeeewwww... that was the worse part. We held them under water, near the bottom. The rays came and swam over our hands, sucking the squid out of our hands. It was like a vacuum, very cool!! The rays would SWARM around you when you had food, they were all around you front/back/side. It was awesome!!!

We had a blast and didn't want to leave. When we were boarding the boat and talking about how awesome it was someone working on the boat asked us if we wanted to stay. He said that they'd be back in an hour to take the last group back to their ship. The Carnival guests came an hour after us and didn't have to head back yet. Our ship wasn't leaving until much later, so we said sure we'd stay. He gave us extra tickets to get something to eat and drink again. (free) We were thrilled!

When we boarded the boat to return the 2nd time we thanked the gentleman and gave him a big ole' tip!

Friday night was also Pirates IN the Caribbean night. How much fun is that??!! We love the pirate "show" up on the deck, so fun!! The fireworks over the ocean, well... you just can't describe how amazing it is!! We dressed up a little but the pic I took is HORRID. I was 100% sad that we didn't get a pirate Mickey or Minnie picture. Andy promises to dress up more next time and do a picture right!

(Notice Mickey on top of the screen after he "flew" across the ship?!)

Did I mention I think it should be required that everyone go on a Disney cruise at least once??

This is just a boat we saw on the way to Black Beard's and I thought it was fun with their clothes hanging out there!!

Goodbye Nassau, until we meet again. (Which knowing us wont be long)

((There's a neat picture of us holding a ray. It wont scan right now, so I'll it to it's own post later))

Monday, October 01, 2007


I had to take another trip "time out" to share a few things from school! I wish that I could share pictures with you of my actual class and the fun things we do!! Since I can't, this will have to do!

We went to the fair this past Thursday, which also happened to be my birthday. I
had the kids 110% convinced that the ENTIRE preschool was going to the fair just to have a birthday party for me! It was so fun! They were so excited and I over heard a little friend in the hall tell another child "you know we're all going to the fair tomorrow b/c it's my teacher's birthday". So sweet- We had a ball, it's always one of my FAVORITE field trips. I guess b/c it's the beginning of fall to me when the fair comes to town, I love the farm animals and the kids are so excited about our first field trip. The class gave me a gift card for my birthday (Barnes & Noble, FUN) and they each made & brought a birthday card. Here is a picture of my wall in the room where I hang things they make for me at school or "letters they write to me" at the writing center.

I also have one of my favorite art projects of the year hanging in the hall right now. During bear week the children paint GIANT bears with finger paint, it's so fun (and MESSY)! The bears are laminated, big ole wiggle eyes and felt noses are added. They are too cute! They are holding paper picture frames the kids colored that have a photo of them with their bear in it! There's a sign on the wall that says "God made me BEARY special"!!

We also have "Donuts with Dad" tomorrow. Here is a picture of the gift we made for Dads! The kids drew a picture to put in the frames for tomorrow. I'll take a picture of them with their Dad though and then send it home for the frame. They also answer questions about their Dad and I give the Dad a copy of that. They are HILARIOUS!

There you go, just a few fun things from preschool!