Monday, September 7, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

Teaching: Thoughts Of A Coming Year

When I was younger I never had an answer to the question of what do you want to be when you grow up. My main thought was I'm 7 (or 10 or 13) I'm pretty sure I have time to decide but I can't think or plan that far ahead. In high school I wanted to be a pastry chef, FBI agent, marine biologist. I went off to college majoring in Criminal Justice. After a semester I went undecided and spent a year and a half taking a hodge podge of courses that were a lot of fun and while they were interesting, they weren't something I ever committed to. Then I finally got it, I wanted to teach - I enjoy the little people so let's go spark a mind. I sat in senior seminar and when asked by Dr. Summers where did I see myself in 5 years? 10 years? My first thought was the same as always - I can't plan that far ahead. My second thought was in the classroom. I never wanted out, never wanted to reach for administration. I got certified and began teaching. I taught for 6 years to little people (1st & 2nd grade), tiny people (Kindergarten & Pre-K), and even medium people (3-5 grade). I spent time out of the classroom to reboot and figure out if it's where I do belong. Turns out the only one who needed to figure that out was me - everyone else knew it's where I was supposed to be. I have since been settled pretty happily with little people (2nd grade to be specific). There was a rough year but I thought the summer was my chance to reboot, reflect and revise (the usual 3 R's of the summer for a teacher). Within the past week I have found out that I will not be going back to the little people. I now will be teaching art (something that never, ever was a thought of a possibility that I might do when it came to teaching) and working with the administration on more than a few things. Things that I never imagined or were in the bigger picture. However as I switched gears after spending 2 months getting ready for a new crew of little people, I found I now need to prepare for a subject I had never taught before for not only little people, but also tiny people, medium people, big people (middle school) and tall people (high school). I've been handed a piece of our schools scheduling, fundraisers, working on the school's accreditation, and whatever else is needed to assist our school's principal (who is awesome). I never dreamed of this scenario, it was not in the equation. There was a period of shock but I needed to very quickly come to terms that we won't get enough second graders to require 2 classes and that means come August 24 I needed to have a plan, so I started planning. And as I started planning and organizing I realized I was getting excited. It wasn't my plan, it had to be God's plan. There is a reason that this is my new role. I've always liked to think of myself as a positive person so I decided I'm going to keep positive. I also owe a great deal of that to the great support of my husband, my favorite friend and co-worker, and my principal. So I've come from a place when I was a little person of having no clue what I wanted to be to a place where I'm doing something I never dreamed I ever would or could be. I'm not a Van Gogh but I love fonts, color, and it's making my creativity flow. So here is to new beginnings and places that were never dreamed of. If we can now see the dark side of the moon then yes, I can be an art teacher. I hope all teachers are getting ready with hope and open minds & hearts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Printable: Motivational: Let Go

Here's a motivational freebie for you today!  Sometimes we have to remember it's not in our control and just let go...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Printable: Disney: Ratatouille

Here's my next Disney inspired printable.  It's a quote from one of my favorite Pixar movies - Ratatouille. I love how Chef Gusteau inspires Remy to be who he is, even though he is only a mouse. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Disney: Restaurant Review: Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom)

There are many, many options for delicious, tasty eats at Disney World.  One of my VERY favorites is the Be Our Guest Restaurant
Park: Magic Kingdom
Area: New Fantasyland

This place is just amazing to eat in.  The food is superb.  The decor and ambiance is amazing - you are in the Beast's Castle.  You can eat there for all 3 meals.  Breakfast and lunch is considered quick service.  You order your food from a kiosk, you get a rose to put on your table.  You pick a seat, put the rose down and wait for them to deliver your food right to your table. It's awesome.  Dinner is a table service and a reservation you need to have at the 180 day mark.  This is our first night tradition.  Ever since it opened we've had dinner here on our first night.  The coolest part that we discovered last time is if you pick the right time, when you come out you can see the Wishes fireworks from the bridge.  It's the best place I've ever watched the fireworks on and you can only get on the bridge if you are having dinner at Be Our Guest. They even have the grey stuff and it's so delicious!  They have a great selection.  My little already knows she's getting the tomato soup and grilled cheese dippers again.  You can check out the menu here.  We've not had anything bad here at all.  We've had dinner and lunch here.  They started breakfast after our last trip but we plan to go 3 times next trip so we can have all 3 meals. For us, this is a Disney must do. 
The little dressed up in a Belle like dress the first time we went and she had a blast dancing with the waitress and the Beast.  Here are some pictures of our times there. 

 They even have the rose in the West Wing

 Delicious lunch
 A mountain of grey stuff on top of a chocolate cupcake

Monday, July 20, 2015

Printable: Binder Cover Series: Conferences Cover

It's been a while since I put up my last one but I didn't forget!  Here's the next one for all your conferences information. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Printable: Teaching: December Writing Prompt

Here's the next writing prompt.  This one for December has 2 on it actually.  They can put on their Christmas wish and what they are thankful to have. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Printable: Teaching: November Writing Prompt

Here's the next writing prompt - this is for November so it's about what students are thankful for. Remember you can collect them all and give them all together for a student keepsake at the end of the year. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Printables: Lyrics: Here Comes the Sun

I LOVE music.  Songs are just as inspirational, motivating and healing to me as any quote.  So you'll see these on my page from time to time as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Disney: Ride Review: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

They say there are 3 mountains in the Magic Kingdom (I say 4 as of last Spring). The first time I ever went to Disney World in 1988, my favorite was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Park: Magic Kingdom
Height: 40 inches
Fastpass+ Available

I was five and roller coasters were not my thing.  I would ride only one - The Trailblazer at Hersheypark.  It was just full of twists and spirals.  I was assured this was just like that and was tugged on the ride.  IT WAS AWESOME! I rode it over and over.  It was the Runaway Train ride (I didn't learn its' actual name until quite a few years later.)  It's a pretty long ride for a roller coaster as it takes you through the haunted mine town.  I remember being 5 and marveling that the train did not have a conductor.  I still love this ride today.  I now love any and all roller coasters and this is still a favorite.  It's been refurbished since but has only since improved it.  This is a great ride for everyone.  I still think it's a great first coaster for kids to try because it's not about the big drops, it's about twists and turns.  I do recommend getting a Fastpass+ for this because it tends to have long lines since they can only run a certain amount of trains at a time (instead of a constant moving of cars).  

Printables: Faith Series: I Will Choose Good

Sometimes we just need a reminder...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Teaching: October Writing Prompt

I have the next writing prompt for you!  It's for October and the shape is an owl (my favorite) and the prompt is "I'm hooting because...".  I thought it's never too early to start celebrating your accomplishments in the year so that's exactly what they are doing. Enjoy!

Printable: Motivational: The Last Cookie

I have learned from my own observations, and obsessive collecting of motivational quotes, poems, songs and stories since I was about 12, that just because something is motivational doesn't mean it has to be earth shattering, how did they see into my soul profound.  Sometimes motivational means looking to Cookie Monster to break it down in a way everyone understands.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Disney Vacation Planning: Disney Dining Plan

If you've booked a Disney vacation then you've heard of the Disney Dining Plan. I'm a fan of this, it has made it possible for my family to enjoy the great culinary experiences that you can find all around Disney that we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.  As I say with everyone one of my Disney posts, do your research.  Make a mock up of your itinerary and see if you'd use the any of the plans to their full potential. All information for the plan you can find at the Disney Dining Plans page at the Disney World website. One thing I have learned is the most accurate information you'll find for anything Disney (including calendar and hours) gets better the closer to your vacation.  Most restaurants are on the plan and I learned before that the restaurants listed usually are not the entire list.  I called to ask once if certain restaurants would be added to the plan and they were confused because they were never off, but they were never listed in the PDF brochure.  So always check at the individual restaurant page and click on the "Some Dining Plans Accepted" link to check.  I feel that Disney just wants to get bookings open for the next year as soon as possible and puts out the information they have at that time. Like I said, the information only gets more accurate and detailed the closer you get to your vacation.  Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, Disney offers 5 dining plans to help fit your family's budget and needs.  Each plan offers dining credits, when the plan refers to the number of credits you get it's to the number of nights you stay (not days).  So rule of thumb is if you are sleeping at Disney that night, you have credits.  If it's the day you leave, you have no credits so if you plan on using them that day make sure you plan to have enough credits left to eat there.  Credits come in 3 categories - Table Service (sit down restaurant), Quick Service (fast food) and snack (the little yummies offered all over the place). It's easy enough to make a plan to do 2 quick services in one day if you need a table service left on your last day or you're doing a 2 credit restaurant. Each plan also comes with a Rapid Refill mug. It's a Disney mug you can refill unlimited number of times during your stay.  

Quick Service Plan
Most of the time this is the plan offered when Disney runs their free dining special. If you want to upgrade to any of the other plans, you just pay the difference.  With this plan you get 2 quick service credits and 1 snack credit per night of your stay.  As the plan suggests you can only eat at the quick service restaurants found on property. (Don't discount quick service restaurants, they are delicious!). If you are a more on the go family or tightly watching your pennies this is a great option. 

Dining Plan
This is the base plan. We've been on this plan the last 3 times at Disney, and it's been awesome. It's kind of the "everything you need" dining plan. With this plan you get 1 quick service credit, 1 table service credit and 1 snack credit per night of your stay.  You get to experience the great quick service of Sunshine Seasons (Future World, Epcot), Be Our Guest lunch (Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom), Flame Tree Barbecue (Discovery Island, Animal Kingdom) or Pizza Planet (Streets of America, Hollywood Studios) for lunch or dinner and then you get to enjoy a table service at any of those delicious restaurants (this is a long list, a separate blog post to follow) and a snack.  Like I said, it's been a great option. 

Deluxe Dining Plan
This plan is what we booked for our vacation next year. The difference between this and the regular dining plan is more credits and the ability to do more table service restaurants. We did this because there are some incredible signature (2 credit) restaurants coming to Disney Springs (Downtown Disney's soon to be new name) and we wanted to be able to try them without breaking our out of pocket budget.  Plus, going back to Cinderella's Royal Table (Cinderella's Castle, Magic Kingdom) and finally trying Le Cellier (Canada, World Showcase, Epcot). With this plan you get 3 meals and 2 snacks per night.  Essentially you get 3 credits a day. You can use 2 credits at a signature restaurant plus a 1 credit each day.  You can use it at quick service as well. The way it was explained to me was that once a day you can use the credits at a quick service.  So this is a great option if you want to have more freedom in how you use your credits. 

Premium Dining Plan
With this plan you get breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 2 snacks per night of your stay.  On this plan they don't work on credit, it's redeemable as 1 credit for any restaurants (including signature (2 credit) restaurants). They can be used at quick service as well. This also comes with unlimited use of recreation equipment, child activity centers and tours.

Platinum Dining Plan
With this plan you get breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 2 snacks per night of your stay.  On this plan they don't work on credit, it's redeemable as 1 credit for any restaurants (including signature (2 credit) restaurants). They can be used at quick service as well. This also comes with unlimited use of recreation equipment, child activity centers and tours, viewing at Wishes and Illuminations, preferred seating at Fantasmic. Also tickets for Cirque du Soliel and a Spa treatment. 

Here are 2 great links that helps you look at the dining plans

Shows you pricing and participating restaurants

A great chart showing what's included in each dining plan (and what's not)

It can be overwhelming but take it one at a time and look at what is best for your family.  I think it's worth it to try it once, you will not regret it.  And when in doubt just look for the logo...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Printable: Disney Quote: You are Stronger from Winnie the Pooh

I have a freebie for you today!  Winnie the Pooh has so many great quotes so I have one to share with you today.  It's perfect to resize and make a small copy of to hang somewhere so that you can have a quick motivational pick me up throughout the day.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Teaching: September Writing Prompt

Getting kids to write is hard.  It's a constant struggle to get more details and more information.  It's even harder to capture a snapshot of who they were in the year that you had them in your class.  I started making monthly writing prompts for my students each month.  These prompts were pretty simple but they loved being able to hang them out in the hall to show everyone, they loved showing off who they were.  At the end of the year, you put them all together and it turns into a pretty cute keepsake that they have to show who they were, what they dreamed, and what they wanted.  So I'll be sharing each month I have.  I start the first week of school, which here is the last week of August, but since it's so little of August I keep it up through September.  As you can see it's on an apple and you can fill in the grade and they fill in their goal. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Disney Vacation Planning: Magic Bands and Ticket Options

So the best thing that Disney has done in the past year or 2 is roll out the Magic Bands. This little bracelet is linked to ANY reservation you make - hotel, dining, theme parks, etc. You touch the mickey on your bracelet to the mickey on the key pad, stand, or hotel room and presto! You're in line, in your room or eating a delicious meal.  They come with the Magic Your Way package or any ticket you purchase.  With the package you get to pick the color you want (I believe they have 7 colors available right now (gray, red, yellow, orange, green, blue and pink)).  You have until 30 days prior to arrival to lock in your color choice because they then get sent out to you! That's an exciting day - just take a look. 
On the back of them it has your name and number.  Take a picture - in case you loose it. 
The gray part is also removable to make them fit better on little wrists.  Naomae's fit great on the smaller size, I did notice that parents of young toddlers kept their bracelet on their own wrist.  I made the remark that if Naomae was that age I'd do the same thing. 

Now picking a color of Magic Band is the last and easiest choice you need to make regarding your ticket.  First, you need to decide your number of days.  Just because you are going on a 10 day  trip does not mean, you're going to want a 10 day ticket.  10 days is the maximum amount of days Disney sells.  We did 12 days in 2014 and had to make sure we had 2 days where we didn't go in the park.  If you are doing a longer trip like that, those are great days to go and explore Downtown Disney (the soon to be Disney Springs) and your resort.  For us, this time we are doing a 10 day trip but will only be getting an 8 day pass.  Why? Our last day we have a tradition of going to Downtown Disney and having lunch at T-Rex before catching the Magical Express back to the airport. (The mood on that bus is very different from when you first get there) So right there, we could go with a 9 day ticket, however we learned that we need a rest day and want to go exploring with all the resort has to offer (I already can see Naomae going down the sea dragon water slide about a thousand times) so that's how we came up with 8 days.  Disney vacations are awesome but they are not restful, you come home needing a vacation from that one so it is smart to give yourself a day to catch your breath and maybe a nap time during the heat of the afternoon. 
When you get your ticket - that is a base ticket.  You can only do 1 park a day - no switching parks and no water parks.  There are 3 options you can add to your base ticket.  It sounds weird but we tend to do a mock up itinerary of our trip to see what options we need, if any to add to our ticket.  Park hopper has turned into a given for our family.  When Naomae was younger we used the park hopper because we did 2 parks in a day.  We would go to one park in the morning, go back to the hotel to nap and then go the another park in the evening (the evening park was where extra magic hours would be happening and where we'd be eating that night). We've always seemed to have reasons to hop around so we are picking that option again.  
The 2nd option you can pick is called Water Parks & More - this includes the 2 miniature golf courses, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Disney Quest and ESPN Zone.  We did opt for this last time. The number day ticket you get is the number of times you can go to one of these.  So if you bought a 6 day ticket, you have 6 times you can pick one of the water parks, golf courses, etc. We went for it last time because of the longer trip and I'd totally do it again, it just isn't right for this coming trip so we are skipping it. 
The 3rd option is Park Hopper and Water Parks & More so if you think you'll use both, get this. It's the option we added the last time we went. 
Again, I can't stress enough planning and making a mock itinerary.  It's not the full blown, written in stone one but think about what goals you have for your Disney vacation (the parks you want to visit, where you want to eat, how you plan to fit it in with the time you have) and that will be the indicator for what ticket and options you should get. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Printables: Binder Cover Series: Bible Binder Cover

Here's my next binder cover - Bible!  

If you're looking for a set of binder covers that are for all subjects and all the same design then take a look in my shop.  I've started putting in full sets of binder covers of the same designs (with more on the way!). The full sets are $2.00 for 16 covers. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Printables: Faith Series: My Lifeguard Walks on Water

Printables are great, but they are even greater when they help remind you of the faith that keeps you strong.  My personality is one that can take a downhill turn very quickly inside so I have come to find that reading positive messages of all kinds, especially faith and help me turn back around. So here's one for you.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Disney Vacation Planning - Choosing a Resort

So you've decided you want to go to Disney, huh? So where are you going to stay? So your first decision is if you stay on property.  For us, it's no question - the benefits of Disney transportation, Extra Magic Hours, Dining Plan - are worth it for us.  It all depends on what is right for your family.  We did stay off property twice before trying a Disney resort and haven't looked back. Now, deciding to stay on Disney property doesn't make your choice of where to stay any easier because there are a variety of resorts to choose from. They are categorized to fit every budget.  They have Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas.  So far we've only stayed at Value Resorts and have loved them.  We did one trip at All Star Movies and the past two trips at Art of Animation.  As much as we love Art of Animation the only section that has standard rooms is Little Mermaid and it is the farthest away from everything - pool, food court and the bus.  After spending all day at the park, walking all the way back to the Little Mermaid room borders on torturous. We've already started saving for next year's trip so we decided we were going to go ahead and splurge on a Family suite room at Art of Animation (we've been dreaming of a Nemo suite since 2012).  Well that led to us being curious and being curious for anything Disney always leads to some pretty cool stuff.  Like discovering that you could actually budget for a Moderate or Deluxe resort.  So we started looking at the Polynesian resort - it's just going through an upgrade, we LOVE Ohana's and Naomae's favorite Children's center is Lilo's Playhouse (newly renovated, formerly The Neverland Club).  They have movies on the beach, where you can also watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Water pageant.  It is a Deluxe resort but with the Summer savings they seem to do every year, it would work with our budget.  This is where doing research can be a curse and a blessing.  As we were looking at online reviews and YouTube videos, we also discovered Port Orleans.  Port Orleans is 2 resorts - they have Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter.  So again, we did our research and decided to try Port Orleans French Quarter.  I cannot stress doing your Disney research enough.  Read LOTS of reviews (remember a review is an opinion so read lots to get the full picture) and watch LOTS of videos (YouTube is great for the visual learner in us all).  We knew exactly what resort we're going to stay in 3 times now.  In the end, it's a gut feeling, something you just know. I'm excited that we'll be expanding our Disney minds and trying something new.  I have created a Resort Comparison worksheet to help you out.  It has you fill in resort type, room type and rate, if it has a dedicated bus (a bus only for that resort and not shared) and resort activities - Polynesian has beach movies, Port Orleans has fishing, marshmallow roasts and carriage rides.  Look at it's proximity to the parks.  I found out that most attractions from Port Orleans French Quarter are only 10 minutes, plus you can take a boat to Downtown Disney.  So get out there and research what is right for you.  Whatever you decide - ALL Disney resorts come with their great service and magic.  So be adventurous and try lots. We've decided we'd like to try different resorts each time because it changes the 'Disney factor' and makes that trip unique.  We've been lots and we've got lots more trips to do but we always make them unique, each one is always different. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Printable: Motivational Series: Attitude of Gratitude

Here's another motivational printable for you.  I have color and black and white available.  This would be good anywhere, not just a classroom!

Smithsonian National Zoo

We went to the zoo!  Naomae had a great time seeing all the animals.  She loved the otters playing on their backs with rocks.  It was a very hot day and so most of the animals were napping.