High Five for Friday...

High Five for Friday...

If ever I have needed a high five to get me going on a Friday, it's today. Without elaborating, let me just tell you that I already know that today will be crazy... I'll just have to let you know soon how it all went. Large amounts of caffeine will be involved for sure. =) Linking up with Lauren as usual!

1. Oh, Christmas movies. How I love them.
2. Stripes and leopard for the win.
3. Homemade taco stew that was Ah-mazing. I'll have to share the recipe soon!
4. My classroom is all ready for Christmas, and my Grinch board is by far my favorite.
5.  I love finding old pictures of me and my favorite kiddos! We were all babies back then. I miss those munchkins- maybe their parents will take the hint and send them to live with me? Probably not, but I'd settle for a visit. =)

Short and sweet today... got to run! Happy Friday!


Best Versions of Christmas Songs (My Ultimate Holiday Playlist)...

Best Versions of Christmas Songs (My Ultimate Holiday Playlist)...

I really enjoyed making a list of my favorite Christmas movies and all the feedback that accompanied it (who know people felt so strongly about A Christmas Story?), so I thought I'd do something similar with Christmas music.

I think it's pretty obvious that there aren't that many Christmas songs out there... just about a gazillion versions of them/artists who perform them. In fact, every Christmas I find myself asking, "How on earth did this person make it on the radio??" Anyway, these are what I consider the best versions of these songs. Feel free to chime in!

1. Angels We Have Heard on High- by Josh Groban and Brian McKnight- I fell in love with this the first time I heard it and have adored hearing it every year since. For two very different artists, this is a superb blend of vocals and it is such a cool arrangement. Actually, I would highly recommend Josh Groban's Christmas album, Noel. Every song is great!

2. Feliz Navidad- by Celine Dion (and her family!)- this is such a fun version of this song... Celine Dion's whole family joins in and it's like listening to a big party!

3. All I Want for Christmas Is You- Michael Buble- I must confess, I do, uh, tap my foot rapidly when I hear the Mariah Carey version of this, but Michael's smooth, mellow arrangement is just pure listening gold. Again, I would recommend the entire album, since it is absolutely wonderful.

4. White Christmas- Bing Crosby- probably the most classic/famous Christmas song of all time. I wonder if Irving Berlin knew what a gem he had when he wrote it? And who doesn't love Bing? Of all his performances of the song, I think my favorite is still in the beginning of White Christmas when he sings it to the soldiers; it just makes me happy.

5. I'll Be Home for Christmas- Rascal Flatts- sweet acapella arrangement and they have such tight harmony.

6. The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole- this is one of those songs that comes on the radio and makes you think, "Now it's Christmas." Although when I was little I thought it said, "And so I'm offering this simple phrase to KISS from one to ninety-two" and it grossed me out that someone would kiss 92 times. Haha.

7. Santa Clause is Coming to Town- Carpenters- Both Carpenters Christmas albums, Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas, are my absolute favorite holiday music, but this is my very favorite song on them (along with Merry Christmas Darling.) The saxophone solo in the middle is simply magical, and Karen Carpenter is pretty much my singing idol. That looow, low alto... oh, to have her voice!

8. Holly Jolly Christmas/Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer- Burl Ives- I'm pretty sure Burl Ives's voice is the definition of jolly. If silly songs are necessary at Christmas (and apparently they are), these are the versions I prefer to hear.

9. My Grown-Up Christmas List- Kelly Clarkson- good song, GREAT voice. She is crazy talented and I really love this one.

10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Kenny G- This plays during a scene on Miracle on 34th Street that I love. Saxophones are amazing, and who is better than Kenny G? Nobody, that's who.

I know that this list is not even close to extensive and that there are many more beloved Christmas songs out there... these are just some of my favorite versions. What are yours? Any that you just can't stand? (I'm not a fan of that hippopotamus song, for example.) Do tell! Happy listening/singing along/caroling! (Fa-la-la and all that!)


What I Wore Wednesday...

What I Wore Wednesday...

Ah, another week of outfit pictures with Lindsey, who is now famous by the way! Clinton Kelly knows her name! Check out the post on her blog... it's pretty cool.

 I feel like last Wednesday was about a month ago... so much has happened since then. Anybody get any good Black Friday deals? I got great stuff at Loft, Belk, and a few other places! =) Coming back to school Monday was far from easy, but I did decorate my room for Christmas and there are only a couple weeks until break so I can hang on until then, I suppose. =)


Maxi dress: Ross
Sweatshirt: Old Navy
Necklace: NY&C
Photobomb: Major

Sunday: (please ignore my mess!)
Dress: Target
Sweater: Target
Belt: NY&C
Shoes: Target

Dress: Belk
Necklace: New York and Company
Shoes: gift from my seester
Cardigan: Target

Skirt: Target
Striped top: Walmart ($2!)
Cardigan: Aeropostale (ha... I feel 13 just typing that.)
Scarf: New York and Company
Boots: Belk

I know this isn't an outfit, but I bought this shirt at Loft on Friday (50% off!) and have already had fun mixing it up with different accessories. Stripes are the bee's knees, in my opinion. So are infinity scarves.

Thanks for stopping by, friends! Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Christmas/Winter in Mrs. McNeese's Classroom...

Christmas/Winter in Mrs. McNeese's Classroom...

...before we get started, I have to share a Father of the Bride moment. When I wrote the title of this post, I imagined someone saying "Who's Mrs. McNeese?" and my replying like Steve Martin in the grocery store. "Who's George Banks?" "ME!" Sorry, I needed you to know that. 

Moving on.... I absolutely love Christmas. I may have mentioned a time or two that it is my favorite holiday by far; the glory of it definitely makes up for the crushing letdown that follows in the days after it ends. (December 26 is so depressing, no?) Anyway, I realized last year that I really love decorating my classroom for Christmas, but I can't cover every surface in red and green BECAUSE while I am extremely festive I am also lazy and there are few bulletin boards worth putting up for only three weeks. Hence, about half of my room is "Christmas" and the rest falls into the category of "winter" so that I can leave it up in January and add a few little New Years'/Presidential/Valentine's touches later on. (January-March is a total hodgepodge that I find rather dull, so I make up for it while I can.)

A nice thing about being a veteran teacher (all of 1.3 years now) is having decorations at my disposal once a new season rolls around (as opposed to buying everything like last year.) I don't take the BEST care of my stuff but I do try to keep it safe/organized and it has paid off big-time, especially my Christmas stuff. Other than a few "fillers" from Target and Walmart, everything was either from last year or made by me. Yay!

So, I bring you this year's Christmas/winter edition of my little classroom...

The obligatory (and biblically incorrect) nativity scene. One day I will get a really pretty one (like the one Jonathan has in his room) but for now this will have to do. And I know that the Wise Men were not at the manger, but apparently manufacturers haven't received that memo.

The banner here is from Target and the felt snowflake is from Walmart (both a dollar.)

Adhesive snowflakes from Walmart- $3. It was worth the money because they are colorful and prettier than anything I could cut out! =)

I never decorate the inside of my door, but I had some foam snowflakes lying around. They cost $1 at Target.

I'm pretty sure this tree is Carson-Dellosa (my favorite bb brand). It's hard to tell from far away, but each of the little trees is decorated. That was a nice 5-minute craft project that even my oldest (and grumpiest) students enjoyed!

It was stretching the truth a bit, but I did include every student's name. =) Also, I get little pieces like this laminated so that I can do names and things that I can erase later.

I have to thank Pinterest for this idea, although I can't find the original source. That red shape is half an Easter egg painted red. =)

This is one of my favorites: Pinterest again... found here. That's our pastor's face, by the way. I did ask his permission, and I think he already regrets agreeing to be my Buddy the Elf. =) 

Each day, one class gets to come up with the item for the song. I did with my class last year and it was pretty funny... "8 Christmas cupcakes", etc. I'm sure I'll here a lot of requests for Justin Bieber, which I will decline, as usual. Gotta love being surrounded by 13-year-olds...

Another $1 filler from Target.

$1 banner from Walmart.

I came up with this idea last year and did the same thing with my 3rd graders, only I made a tree instead of a wreath. I actually preferred the tree, but I think the wreath turned out pretty cute.

Last year's tree.

I felt this was a useful reminder, considering the age group I have. =)

Our class Christmas tree... the ornaments were $1 per tube at Target.

Purchased last year... I love my little snow couple! =) And I know the caption is lame... but such is life.

And I saved the best for last... because this is and will always be my very favorite bulletin board. My mom and Amy made the Grinch and Max for me last year, and even though the poor Grinch got a little wrinkled in storage, I still love it. I always stress out about the writing, since I only get one chance to make it perfect, but it turned out pretty good, I think. Don't you love the cotton balls and Santa hat? and Max's bow? Little touches like that are some of my favorite things. 

Yes, this took me FOREVER, but it's totally worth it. It's also the reason that a boy made the mistake of touching the snow on my Grinch board and I may or may not have threatened to cut off his fingers. Just kidding. But he won't touch another bulletin board again, I promise. =)

A few more ideas (I always have more ideas than I know what to do with) and things I've done in the past are:
- A Blizzard of Good Work (or good students)
- It's Snowing Good Work (or students or books or writing)
- Snowflakes are as Unique as We Are 
- Read, Read as Fast as You Can (with a gingerbread man... I'm doing this in January!)
- Good Manners Fit Like a Glove (with mittens/gloves)
- Frosty's Baby Picture (with a single snowflake... I love this!)
- Thanks Be to God for His Unspeakable Gift 
- Mr./Mrs. ________'s Gifts (with students' names)
- You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm telling you why (or part of the words)... Mrs. _______ is coming to town! (maybe the principal's name? =)
- If I Lived in a Snowglobe- writing prompt/craft (they write a story and make a snowglobe from construction paper)
- Unwrap the Gift of God's Love
- Keys to a Great Year (for New Year's... have key shapes with tips).

I hope you enjoyed the peek into my room and a few bulletin board ideas. If you aren't a teacher, then this means nothing to you =) but if you are then you can relate! =) Any suggestions or ideas you've come across recently? Please share! And happy decorating in your room!


Thanksgiving Flashback...

Thanksgiving Flashback...

This weekend was a whirlwind: eat, sleep, shop, rinse, repeat. 

A silent, empty classroom. Vacation has begun!

I must confess that I would take a large Coke and a salted pretzel from Sam's over most fancy meals. Walking around a warehouse full of bulk products with a $1.87 meal in hand? That's the American dream, folks.

I participated in Grace's Thanksgiving outfit linkup and thank goodness that Audrey gave me some last minute inspiration! My maxi dress-sweatshirt combo was perfect for the big meal and 3-hour nap that proceeded it.

Major... Mamaw's dog who seemed to think my legs were his chew toy all week.

So thankful for this guy!

Sad faces that we couldn't see the Georgia clan =(

Sorry, moving on from the PDA...

My Thanksgiving Eve lineup of Christmas movies. I think I made it through them all except for Polar Express.

Stoked about Black Friday shopping... and we are old people and lasted about 46 minutes before returning home to sleep.

Lunch at Panera on Friday was better than any deal I could have found! Seriously, their broccoli cheddar soup is my kryptonite.

I always love seeing the big tree at Triangle Town Center! 

And I had this song on repeat throughout the weekend... how have I never heard this before? I'm not a huge Phelps fan (gasp from all you fans, sorry!) but this is a great album with the exception of a few songs.

I hope you all had super days off, found lots of good deals, and ate to your hearts' (not diets') content. I do love Thanksgiving, but I'm thrilled to finally be able to go into full-out Christmas mode without being called a holiday skipper. (My nickname for Jonathan around this time of year is Ebenezer... no particular reason.) 


What I Wore to Thanksgiving Dinner...

What I Wore to Thanksgiving Dinner...

When Grace first suggested a Thanksgiving outfit link-up, I was immediately interested but also concerned because my previous lack of concern toward my Thanksgiving outfit was replaced with a feeling of panic since I had not yet packed for our trip and now I had to come up with a post-worthy outfit.

But since I can never decide what to wear anyway, it provided a handy excuse for the over-packing I always do. Thanks for being my scapegoat to a less-than-willing-to-carry-my-overstuffed-suitcase husband, Grace. So, I brought several options, as always.

I just bought this ah-dorable dress at American Eagle for super cheap (like 12 bucks) and I happened to have the proper items to winter-ize it a little.

Cardigan: Calvin Klein
Dress- American Eagle
Leggings- Walmart
Flats- Macy's

However, it is still too scando-short (I like to keep things knee-length around these parts, mostly because of my hideous knees.) So I liked it, but I will have to add a little layer around the hem. Which is okay because it needs a lining added anyway.

Tshirt, Scarf, Skirt- Target
Cardigan- Loft

A slightly dressier option... meeting the requirements of loose and flowing on top. The skirt was still a little too fitted for my liking since I plan to eat A LOT. Love the outfit, just didn't love it enough to eat/sleep/watch tv in it for several hours.

I really wanted loose on the top AND bottom, which is tricky to pull off unless you are very very thin or are wearing a muumuu and curlers in your hair (in which case, you are pulling off an entirely different look.) 
Thank goodness for Audrey who posted this outfit just in the nick of time yesterday. 

Sweatshirt- Old Navy
Maxi- Ross
Necklace- NY&Co

Maxi dress and sweatshirt... hooray for comfort and ease. If I look like a large sack, please know that it's all for a good cause. Oh, and I suppose I could have thrown on some colorful accessories, but I figured that the sweatshirt was the color of gravy and it won't show any spots. That and I left all my colorful jewelry at home because I did not do a good job of packing at all.

Same sweater from the top
Shirt- Loft
Skirt- Ann Taylor

Oh, and just for fun... this is what I'll be wearing shopping on Friday. Layers, because it's freezing outside but burning up in the stores, what with all the turkey-stuffed bodies everywhere, and flats because I am shoe shopping and I don't want to dance around yanking my boots off all day. And Christmas colors because finally I can listen to Christmas music without being accused of being a holiday-skipper. Bunch of Scrooges.

I guess I should include one where I actually fixed my hair. And got photobombed by Major (Mamaw's poodle). And standing on Mamaw's rug.

Hope you ladies have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks for hosting, Grace! And I am on pumpkin pie strike with you, all the way.




I had every intention of doing an entire "thankfulness" series, but as usual, time has gotten away from me and here I am the night before Thanksgiving, cramming it all into one post. Better late than never, right?

To be honest, I've been busy but I also haven't felt super thankful lately... because as selfish as it is, I've been pretty down about not being with my family at Thanksgiving (for the first time ever!). In fact, I was whining talking about it a few weeks ago and a sweet friend of mine reminded me that I should be thankful for my family, period... thankful that they're all healthy, that they're all saved, that we have a great relationship, etc. Even still, as the holiday has approached I've grown increasingly sad about it. 

Then, as He usually does, the Lord reminded me of just how good I have it. Several things have occurred this week that have made me realize I really have nothing to complain about. Two different friends at church have been expecting their husbands home from deployment for several weeks, only to be told that their tours have been extended indefinitely. Then, I learned this afternoon that one of my dear friends from high school lost her mom to cancer just this morning. Our family has been so blessed and I have been reminded to cherish every day and at the same time put things in perspective.

So, let me share a few things that I am truly, deeply grateful for...

This handsome, wonderful man that I happen to be married to...

These two Baines...

This little Baines...

These three (well, four) Joines...

These four Montepeques...

And all these beautiful people...

And some awesome in-laws....

And a great bunch of Baines/Atwoods...


Preacher and Family...

Friends like family...

Forever friends...

Not pictured... our church, school, health, car, apartment, salvation, and the countless little blessings that I don't have time or space to mention. Jesus has been exceedingly, abundantly good to us this year... more than we could ask or think! A new ministry, new friends, but still closely tied to the old... the best of families, the sweetest of husbands...  and the most gracious Savior. 

I am thankful for you, my dear readers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and get some rest for shopping. =)