August 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday ~ Retro-Rad

Welcome Wordless Wednesday Blog Hoppers!

For the record, the old bride and groom Mickey Ears ROCKED!

Thank you to Focused on the Magic for hosting!
Focused on the Magic

Why I Plan to Apply to #DisneyMP (Again)

As a child walking into Disneyland I seriously considered running away from home and hiding out in Fantasyland for the rest of their life. I figured Aurora wouldn't mind if I slept in the castle. In this magical wonderful place that inexplicably smelt of hot buttered popcorn and ice cream cones and hope, everyone feels welcome and at home.

Sharing the magic of family togetherness and memory-making with other people is a real treat. Nothing comes quite so close to the idea of living everyday in Walt Disney World or onboard the Disney Magic. Nothing is quite so fun as meeting for coffee with a friend to discuss port adventures, kids clubs, and amazing destinations.

Then, I applied for the panel last year.

Everything changed.

I belonged to a few different Disney discussion forums, but somehow, meeting fellow super fans among the Disney Parks Moms Panel hopefuls made the whole community come to life for me. Maybe it was the mystery of figuring out the tweets. Maybe it was the feeling that everything routine about the search was new last year. Maybe it was serendipity of social media blooming and new leadership at the panel search. Whatever it was, it was above all else incredible, wonderful and special to talk to these ladies (and men) in our own little "waiting room." The humor and wild creativity was heady stuff. The antics and off the wall theories (Hunger Games round? Reality Show for the final contestants?) made the waiting quite the bonding experience.

These are my people.

People who have an issue figuring out what a #DisneySide could be because they are all Disney Side. Almost a year later, we are still friends. We follow each other's blogs. We share well wishes and help and laughter. This community is surprisingly without drama aside from the obvious who made the next round shake-up.

If I made the #DisneyMP (the Disney Parks Moms Panel, that is) last year when I had applied, I would have jumped up and down, squealed, run a half marathon, checked that it was real a million times and started planning for the training. Then I would have helped hundreds of people plan the Disney Cruise of their dreams. The #DisneyMP hopeful friends I've made would cheer (just like I will cheer if it is their year to be recognized for their incredible love of Disney.)

Instead I got the world's most pixie-dusted "no" and after a brief mope, returned to helping friends, relations, and acquaintances decide on sail dates, staterooms, and ships. There is something remarkably rewarding in knowing that you told the family with the "Total Ironman Fan" boys about MARVEL's  Avengers Academy on the Disney Magic. So while I did not make the Disney Parks Moms Panel in an official capacity last year, I continue to be the most outspoken advocate of all things Disney in my circle of friends. I continue to help plan trips. I continue to hope and dream and help others imagine their own perfect vacation.

Though I love my role in the Disney Fan chorus, some part of me still longs to explore the role of Disney Moms Panel and see what adventures lie down that path.
I am ready to apply again.
Let's get this party started!

Do you plan to apply? Have you applied a previous year?

August 18, 2014


Winter season break becomes a little more magical for Oncers (fans of the ABC show Once Upon a Time.) Aside from my usual hanging on the #OAUT twitter tag for hints about the spring episodes, I can enjoy something fairytale with a lovely touch of the whimsical. Galavant boasts a score by musical phenomenon and Disney Legend Alan Menken (everything from The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast to Tangled) and lyrics by Glenn Slater (Tangled and the stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid).

"Huzzah And Tally-Ho! Sit Back And Here We Go!"

I don't think so.

Seriously fun?
I'm betting on it! I love that it doesn't take itself too seriously and I'm definitely going to watch it. Will you be tuning in to see this offbeat musical epic adventure?

August 15, 2014

The Game is Afoot!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Disney Parks Moms Panel applications should open sometime in the next fifty-five days.
Everyone is full of hope and pixie dust.

And everyone is already having fun driving themselves crazy over twitter.
Specifically over the twitter account of Gary Buchanan. Gary, also known as the Jedi Master of the Moms Panel and the Social Media Manager of Disney Parks,  rallies the hopeful guests during application season (which is fast approaching.) He tirelessly puts a face and a smile on the search team. He made even getting the world's most magical rejection letter easier to bear. Kuleen wrote an perfect blog post on Gary the other day and she characterizes his creative imagination perfectly. This unbridled enthusiasm leads to fun and hijinks that can only be found in late night Red Bull fueled twitter-fests.

While a normal person would look at Gary's tweet about the munchkin coroner visiting The Great Movie Ride as an interesting bit of trivia, #DisneyMP hopefuls jumped right into researching and discovered vital details. The actor who portrayed the munchkin coroner celebrates his birthday on September 2, so will that be the date that applications open up?
Or will that be the date they close?
Will it be the only date to apply?
Or is it, as it appears to a casual observer, random trivia.

Some of his clues are more obvious.
For example, a recent tweet in Na'vi, when translated, let us know that there would be four or more rounds this year. Yes, the obvious clue required translating the language of Avatar into English. He occasionally gives hard cut off dates (like this tweet with the promise that an announcement will be made within 17 days.)
My favorite (possible) clue so far?
This tweet.
Are you (like me) hanging on Gary's every tweet hoping to find a hint of #DisneyMP pixie dust?

August 14, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

I wish...
more than anything...
more than jewels...
I wish...
more than the moon...

That it was Christmas so that I could watch one of my favorite musicals glow in the light of this new theatrical release. So that, as Kylee puts it, we can see the real story. (We love our DVD of the original Broadway production, but being a theatrical production, does look "staged" rather than "real." Hasn't stopped Kylee from watching it a dozen or so times, but still.)

undefined on Disney Video

After years of voting this on our, "I wish it were a major motion picture," list, many of my theatre friends seem (quite) put off that Bernadette Peters is not playing the witch (as she did in the original Broadway cast in 1987.) It seems my theatre friends who are upset may have forgotten all the wonderful high school and community theatre productions they either staged and starred in over the years.
I haven't.
They were wonderful, beautiful and heartbreaking.
Yes, Bernadette Peters is incomparable in the role of the witch, but I'm excited to see what Meryl Streep does to make her own witch and I believe she will.

For those of you unfamiliar with the original musical, for it is a musical, the basic plot is (much like Once Upon a Time) all of the fairytale characters live in the same village adjacent to a foreboding woods. Centered around an archetypical childless Baker and the Baker's Wife (as they are referred to throughout) this is not exactly your standard Disney film musical. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Rapunzel, the Witch, a Giantess, two princes (one of whom is known for his charm) and a pair of stepsisters dash in and out of the woods on quests for love, for a child and for a reunion with a beloved pet cow . Much in the vein of original Grimm fairy tales, some more adult themes (infidelity, blame, guilt, responsibility, lying, death, loss) have their moment in the spotlight. This wasn't a film we blindly let our children watch but rather sat down and discussed it with them as we watched it. It gets scary. Although there is a happily ever after, much like in the recent Disney film, Maleficent, there are bound to be a number of scary spots before we get back out of these woods.

We will see if Disney toned down the adult nature of the original but I'm guessing the film will end up PG. Sondheim (who provided Music and Lyrics both for the original Broadway staging and the new film adaptation) admits that there were some alterations he agreed to for the Disney version, but overall "I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie."

I am looking forward to taking this adventure and heading back Into the Woods!

August 13, 2014

20 Lessons From My First 40 Days of Homeschool

No need to send a search party, we survived the first eight weeks of homeschooling! I consciously made the decision to step back from my blog and focus on working through the growing pains of our brand new lifestyle.
Crazy Hat Day at VBS
After only a week, I'd learned quite a bit. After two months, it's quite incredible to see how things I worried about (difficulty balancing the kids differing curriculums) never materialized and other things that I never considered (like spelling difficulties) took center stage.

Here are the twenty random things we learned during our first forty days of homeschooling!

1.) Let It Go.

2.) Seriously, something's got to give and I am okay with priorities shifting.

3.) Schedules are necessary.
My kids need to know on certain days they will be doing certain things at certain times or they will never get anything done. Likewise they do best knowing camp is in three weeks and a friend is coming over tomorrow afternoon. We keep a pretty consistent family schedule Monday to Friday. For unusual things, we keep a family calendar where the kids can see it.

4.) Flexibility is necessary. If someone is sick or just has the blahs, sometimes it's okay to just skip a day, or push it off to the afternoon, or do it in an entirely different way. If the weather is beautiful, feel free to head to the park.

5.) Balance is necessary. See 3 and 4.

6.) Listening to my kids is not the same as letting them be in charge (just like steamrolling over their opinions is not good sound leadership.) If I'm getting good feedback 80% of the time but spelling always gets groans, is there another way to teach it?
Spelling practice is inexplicably more fun in chalk on the driveway.
Feedback as constructive criticism is muy importante.

7.) Budget (both time and money)

8.) Don't be afraid to schedule in lots of "nothing goes here" time.

9.) Listen up. There are some awesome podcasts out there specific to homeschool. I LOVE Fletch and Kendra of Homeschooling IRL. They are hilarious and honest and refreshing and just fun.

10.) The library is my friend.
Free DVDs? Sure thing! My kids love watching Bill Nye and Mythbusters and National Geographic DVDs. Never mind the dozens of books my kids read for fun.

11.) Sharing my work with my husband.
I always feel like sharing at the end of the day helps me refocus. It's nice to get another (adult) perspective on the longer view of things. Ben will suggest things and reaffirm my choices.

12.) Without inundating him with every detail of the day in the first five minutes he walks in the door.
Even when my kids are reading one of my very favorite books of all time.
It can wait five minutes.
Ben drives upwards of an hour each way on his commute most days. I've finally learned to give him a little space to unwind before I launch into a laundry list of schooling highlights.

13.) Teach my children to respect him too.
After the kids greet Ben, I (TRY  TO) carve out a little quiet time where we both head back to our room so Ben can tell me about his day and relax for five minutes from commuting. I love hearing about his day and it helps us reconnect before we jump into playing with the kids.

14.) What's a motto? (Nothing. What's a-motto with you?) Time to enjoy some pie in the sky big picture vision-casting. Pick a mission statement, a motto, a quote or a life verse for your school. If you're the do it yourself type, write your very own mission statement. Either way putting it in writing helps you shape your future decisions. It's good to do this when you still remember why you want to homeschool.

15.) "If you can dream it, you can do it."
So we've come up with our dream/motto/verse, but how does that translate this year?
We wrote Chris and Kylee's name at the top of a page and created sections for different parts of their growth this year (educational, physical, spiritual, etc.)
In each section we wrote things from the tangible (join kids choir, read cursive, learn to carry in addition) to the more abstract (love school, enjoy reading on your own, improve spelling). This was when we correlated goals to curriculum.
So how do you eat this elephant? One bite at a time.
This is the plan for this month? This week? This part of the plan breaks down the 36 weeks of literature curriculum and 160 math lessons into manageable chunks. I get a planner and a pencil (and an eraser.)

16.) Have a Plan.
A clear plan for the time being includes a current curriculum that is working for my kids and all the school supplies to carry it out. We have some idea of when we will take breaks over the next six months. Part of the beauty of homeschool is that if we wake up one Monday and want to take the day (or week) off we can.

17.) Don't try to see the future. It doesn't work.
My second grader, Chris, started launching into how he wants to homeschool college the other day. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. He realizes (somewhat) college is 10 years away but I think he, like me, enjoys having a goal and a plan. I've researched enough to realize it is possible to plan out our curriculum through 2024. I've also realized it is not the wisest to put my hope in my own plans. I plan to reevaluate far too many times between now and then to worry about college for my second grader.

18.) Fun for me, for the kids, for our school and our afternoons too!
It is important that I loved the curriculum we picked because at kindergarten and second grade, I'm involved in reading aloud most of their lessons. My love turns to enthusiasm spilling over to share with the kids.
Even with this enthusiasm, some days we need a break and head over to a friend's house. All of our kids just play with each other and we visit.
Taking time off with Kylee to teach VBS?
Or we go to SkyZone.
Or the pool.
Or we do school in our pajamas or super hero costumes or pirate gear or in a tent.

19.) Research a little, pray a lot, make your curriculum decisions and then Let It Go.
That one perfect curriculum that is custom made for your family? It doesn't exist. Instead hundreds of really great curriculums exist. Many will work great for us. Some won't. Our current choice is working great.

20.) One can never have enough socks.
Or sharpened pencils, erasers, underwear or peanut butter. Doubling up on purchasing these little everyday items just makes life easier.

Do I still feel hopelessly green from time to time? Yes! Especially listening to homeschool mom podcasts where the hosts have been teaching their homeschool students for (literal) decades. The difference is I have confidence now that I did not have back on the second of June when this homeschool adventure began.
I have confidence.
I can work through the problems and struggles and still make sure that everyone eats dinner.
I can laugh and learn and enjoy the process.
I can homeschool.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Disney blogging.
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