Live Life to the Fullest

My school was greatly impacted this week by the sudden loss of a well-loved teacher, Kenna Robards.

I have read many touching descriptions of Kenna by her students, close friends and co-workers.

Although I didn’t know her as well as some, her spirit continues to inspire me as the words “live life to the fullest” have echoed in my mind all week long – every time her name is mentioned or I come across one of the many pictures of her shared by those who loved her on social media.

Kenna did live life to the fullest. One friend shared that Kenna “did more in a day than most people do all week.” She showed up for her students in a big way, attending their basketball games, plays and more. She was always willing to step up and volunteer.

I know that as she watches over us, she would want us to live life BIG, just like she did. As I read the synonyms for the word “vibrant,” each one fit her to a T: enthusiastic, spirited, lively, full of life, energetic, sparkling, dynamic, passionate, determined.

Kenna was larger than life. To know her, was to love her. She would light up a room, and not just some days. She was a big personality and in the best possible way.

While I am almost old enough to be her mom, she always made me feel special, just like she did everyone. Her last words to me were that I was a great role model and she always told me I was a good mom. She did that for everyone: made them feel loved, supported, included, special.

Kenna helped me keep up with the times. She taught me how to Snapchat and I did my first Snapchat post with Kenna.

She was a treasure at my school and if I am heartbroken over this young person I adored, I can only imagine the impact this must be having on her family, close friends, her current students and teachers on her hall. My love especially extends to you all.


Soundwaves at Gaylord Opryland on a Budget

We had the best experience at Soundwaves. And it wasn’t just the water park. Everything about our stay was satisfying from customer service when we arrived, to our fancy schmancy hotel room to enjoying walking around the beautiful hotel grounds.

She was hoping there was a Starbucks!

When you book your package, you can request early arrival, which we did, and they will hold your bags and let you go ahead to the water park while they are preparing your room. They text you when your room is ready.

You will need to pay $32 for parking and it is only $8 more for valet.

We thought ahead and packed a pool bag with everything we would need and had our swimsuits on under our clothes. You won’t need beach towels; they provide them for you!

Once your room is ready, you can grab your bags, get your bearings and go back to Soundwaves if you want. We took everything to our room and checked out our digs, then spent another hour on the lazy river at Soundwaves.

Cuteness overload!

In addition to the lazy river and a traditional pool, Soundwaves offers something for everyone in the family, from a gentle toddler area, to a more daring kid area with climbing and an obstacle course, to surfing and super fast water slides.

We recommend locking up valuables in your room. Lockers cost $12 in the Soundwaves area.

As far as food, we didn’t go there, but it was nice that they had Decibels restaurant inside Soundwaves. It looked cool if you wanted to grab a bite without worrying about drying off and changing clothes. You could just eat in your swimwear.

They don’t allow you to bring outside food into Soundwaves. We did bring lots of snacks with us on the trip and made frequent visits to our room to consume them and save money.

If you are on a budget like we were, the pizza place located in the Delta was yummy and a good deal. It was $4 for a big slice, which was enough to fill me up. Pizzas are cooked in wood fired ovens and it was great because pizza is a favorite food of my picky eater who is five.

We did splurge on room service. Our girls begged for desserts from room service. My big girl devoured the tiramisu and my little one turned the creme brûlée over to me after trying one bite. It was amazing.

Booking your stay. You will need to book a hotel room or a party room to do Soundwaves. Check out all deals available. My daughter wanted family time instead of a party, and really wanted to stay at the hotel anyway. I didn’t look into the cost of booking a party room, but it is an option to consider.

When I booked there was a Soundwaves package, and when you go to the website for Soundwaves/Gaylord Opryland, you will most likely end up on Marriott Bonvoy website since that is who you will book through. I was able to find a teacher discount just by doing a google search, and if you live in Nashville/Davidson county they offer a special discount. Be sure to follow Gaylord Opryland on social media. They post offers and discounts there.

Another way we were able to get a better rate was by being flexible with the date we chose. Please do this. There can be a $200 or more variance in cost from one day to the next.

We went for my oldest daughter’s birthday and booked the for the end of our spring break. Her birthday is in June and we just went so that tells you we were extremely flexible. Waiting until June would be a) peak season, and b) have costed three times as much. When I pulled up their rates calendar where you can see prices for each day of the year, that date was the lowest, so we jumped at it. An example of the rate calendar is below.

Get approved for the Marriott Bonvoy credit card for $200 credited back. Be sure and read the fine print: we had to use our debit card initially for the deposit, then they transferred our balance to the Bonvoy card upon arrival at the hotel.

And if you use my referral link, you can earn 3 free nights, if you spend $3000 with your card the first three months. We were able to do this easily just by putting all of our expenses on the Marriott card during that time.


Here are some more pics from our stay!

Water = cold. Soundwaves is a warm 86 degrees!
Bring sunscreen. Both girls got a little sunburned.
They loved exploring the hotel as much as Soundwaves

Human dryer! So cool!

Edited to add (9/20/19):

We just booked our SECOND stay at Opryland Hotel this year, and it was FREE with our Marriott Bonvoy points! We will go this weekend for Madeline’s birthday. She picked to go to Soundwaves instead of having a birthday party! 🙌🏻

I had been wanting a rewards card for awhile, and after doing lots of reading I settled on Bonvoy. Not only did we quickly earn points for two free nights at any Marriott (and Opryland Hotel is owned by Marriott 🤓) they also gave us a $200 rebate from our stay for AC’s birthday.

We earned the $200 rebate by putting our first Soundwaves stay on the Bonvoy card. I was skeptical but sure enough, the $200 was credited back to us on our next statement just as promised.

We earned the two nights by putting all of our monthly purchases on the Bonvoy card then paying it off at the end of the month. Sure enough, an electronic certificate appeared on my Bonvoy app for two free nights. This company is true to their word and I feel like a have made a wise choice choosing this card! Too good not to share!

If you use my referral link below, if you spend $3000 with your card the first three months you will get 3 free nights stay from Bonvoy. I earn points for each of you who get the card using my link. Win win!

We love Soundwaves, Opryland Hotel and Marriott!

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Earn a 3 Free Night Award with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for the card. Learn More.