Monthly Archives: September 2015

Disneyland v. the Magic Kingdom at Disney World

We were very lucky to have the opportunity to visit Disneyland so soon after our visit to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom with Gran and Pop last Thanksgiving. Both were unforgettable trips, but the differences between the two parks were striking.

In case this is something you’ve been wondering about, I’ve got a few pictures to share.

Main Street at Disneyland (Sleeping Beauty Castle)

Main Street at Disneyland (Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background)

Just past Main Street in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World (Cinderella Castle in the background)

Just past Main Street in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World (Cinderella Castle in the background)

Sleeping Beauty Castle decorated to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle decorated to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland (just past Main Street)

Cinderella Castle after Elsa had decorated it to celebrate Christmas in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World

Cinderella Castle after Elsa had decorated it for Christmas in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World (on Main Street)

Disneyland is a wonderful adventure. It is more dynamic than the Magic Kingdom – things change there all the time (probably since their primary audience remains the same – locals). This is actually kind of a weird statement since Disneyland still has so many of the “vintage” rides (like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) that have been phased out in the Magic Kingdom. To explain, right now Space Mountain is haunted with ghosts for Halloween and will transform into “Hyperspace Mountain” to celebrate the return of Star Wars in November. The live shows change often. If your timing is good, you’ll always have a unique experience. It’s smaller, so it’s easier to navigate. Since a good percentage of the visitors are local, the crowd doesn’t really pick up during the week until after work or school. If you stay at one of the resorts, you can get back to your room in less than half an hour so a rest in the middle of the day is super easy (at Disney World, even if you stay in a resort, plan on a two hour round trip just to grab something from the room). Even with all that, I could really see why Walt Disney wanted a do-over after creating the original park. It is close quarters. The Matterhorn overshadows Sleeping Beauty Castle. Cast Members move through the park in costume since there are only a few ways in or out – it’s disconcerting to see a group of Haunted Mansion butlers strolling through Fantasy Land. Disneyland doesn’t take “there’s only one Mickey” seriously: Mickey rode in a parade and hosted Fantasmic (both outdoor events) simultaneously.

Many of the attractions in the two parks are similar – if not the same. The jokes on the Jungle Cruise are equally…remarkable (you have to be a special kind person to lead a Jungle Cruise).

The Tea Cups at Disneyland

The Tea Cups at Disneyland

The Tea Cups in the Magic Kingdom at DisneyWorld

The Tea Cups in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World

The Magic Kingdom at Disney World is a machine. Cast Members enter and leave the park through a network of underground tunnels so you’ll never see a cowboy near Prince Charming’s Carousel (unless he’s 5 years old and dressed up as Woody). If Tiana is in a parade, she is not meeting visitors in Liberty Square. Everything is bigger. Brighter. I found that it was tidier – I never noticed trash in the bushes or under the benches. While the park doesn’t change as often, there is perfection in its stability. Maintenance happens each night. MAGIC BANDS are amazing! The wait lines are better sheltered from sun or rain. Every Cast Member addressed Ellie as ‘Princess’ whether she was in costume or not (she mostly was, but still). At Disney World, every Cast Member contributed to the magic. Our housekeeper was the Star of my personal Disney Experience. Our towels were origamied every day (I wanted to take the elephant home but I didn’t). We came back to the room one night and all of Ellie’s stuffed friends were playing hide and seek in the bed. I felt as if the Cast Members enjoyed having us visit.

Remember how our beds at the Disneyland Hotel had fireworks? The headboards in our room at the Port Orleans Resort in Disney World room did this:

Disneyland is a splendid proof of concept. DisneyWorld is the actualization of a dream.

You should absolutely visit one if you’ve visited the other, there are unique attractions and events at both. If you wish to pick, my opinion is that the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is the better experience.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Disneyland!!!1!

Every now and then Michael has to go “to the office” out in Santa Monica. This time we went with him. Mostly because we could (yay homeschool + frequent flyer miles) but also because Disneyland!

Ellie and I knit on the plane.

Goofy met us in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel.

Our room had its own fireworks.

Captain Hook met us right inside Fantasy Land.

Ellie had tea with the Mad Hatter and Alice.

We also saw a couple shows (the new Frozen show is excellent), the Haunted Mansion was all dressed up as the Nightmare Before Christmas (we went through a second time it was so cool), we watched three parades, rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad four times, and experienced 102°F without the humidity (it’s different). Disneyland during the school week was outstanding – we didn’t wait more than 20 minutes for anything.

After that, we switched towns and visited Michael at work! There was candy! And lunch!

Then Ellie and I hung out in our very nice hotel room with a deck, went to the beach,

rode the ferris wheel that was there, completed a puzzle, lost a tooth (Ellie did, I still have all mine), played games at the office, did one school assignment,

read some Anne of Green Gables, and ate a lot of veggie bacon. Oh, and Ellie opened the Disney Store on Thursday morning!

Ellie bought her Halloween costume at the Disney Store this year. It’s not what you think.

Now that we’re recovering from lack of sleep and jet lag, I feel that I have enough perspective to say that it was a pretty great week!

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 5



I finished my Pig! I also disabled all the toy listings in my Etsy shop. No worries, they’ll be back in October.

School. There was some! Ellie wrote her story-summery paragraph completely independently and it was perfect (except that “ribbin” needed an o instead of that second i).

Up until this point, all the paragraphs/sentences have been focused on retelling/summarizing a story. For Social Studies, she got to editorialize about the story themes rather than just rehashing it. It was pretty precious, she called out all the animals involved for not being very nice. I was very happy to see that the curriculum changes at the right time – Ellie was getting worn out with summaries. So: If you’ve only read the first few lessons in an Oak Meadow Coursebook, don’t think you know what the whole year will be like.

So many costumes - she's making ribbon bookmarks for art.

So many costumes – she’s making ribbon bookmarks for art.

This was a really nice week for us with many activities that we’ve come to love and lots of new ones (poetry!!). In Health she tried to convince me that the Princess First Aid Kit had everything a home first aid kit needed (it didn’t, I had brought the Red Cross’ list with us to the pharmacy). We compromised with a regular first aid kit and some Darth Vadar Bandaids.

My flu shot is modeling the aforementioned bandaids.

My flu shot is modeling the aforementioned Bandaids.

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the sun is coming up a little later every day. So I get to see things like this when I walk in the early morning:



I’m going to leave you with that. Next week is something else entirely.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 4

This week was a challenge. Every day there was something that interrupted our school time: coming back from the beach on Monday, Girl Scouts on Tuesday, piano at a funny time on Wednesday (Monday was a holiday), she was part of a Flag Ceremony on Thursday (Girl Scouts), and Friday was the bi-monthly play group. This week was another lesson in just how important rhythms are to our everyday and that ‘scheduled’ does not always mean ‘convenient’. Flexibility is a Life Skill.

Frog Collages are also a life skill.  I'm glad I never recycle All Animals!

Frog Collages are also a life skill. I’m glad I never recycle All Animals!

Ellie finished the first of the two provided Grade 2 Readers and we wrapped up the first Language Arts story series. I hope the new Main Lesson Books I ordered get here quickly – she’s only got room to fit one more lesson in the Language Arts book. Next year, I think we’ll use high quality, spiral bound, artist’s sketch books with hard covers instead of the traditional Waldorf-style Main Lesson Books so that everything will fit in one book. I think this will work better for the science journals too; field work and finished work can all be together in one place. (Honestly, a big part of me wants to make the transition to sketch books RIGHT NOW before we get in any deeper.)

More mancala, lots of Anansi, mirrored drawings that cross over the line, and a little science research project (on frogs) were some of the activities that filled the rest of the week. Edited to Add: The puppet show! Ellie’s puppet show was brilliant. I don’t know how I forgot about it. She made the puppets we didn’t have.

action coloring shot

action coloring shot

Music is a big part of the Oak Meadow curriculum. Songs, verses, and rhythm activities have all made appearances in the first month. There is also specific learn-to-play-an-instrument instruction with recorders. The lesson books are easy to use; we worked trough the first half of Beginning Recorder over the summer. However, we chose to substitute piano lessons for recorder instruction this year. Ellie did have the recorder out to play ‘Hot Cross Buns’ a couple times this week, so I think I’ll learn a few more notes to pass along.

The frog that started all this is on the stump.  If you look close you can see him.

I wanted to post a video of Ellie playing ‘Old MacDonald’ but she said NO WAY. Here’s a picture of a frog on a stump instead. Look closely.

Lesson 4 brings the end of the first month of school. Lesson 4 also brings the first time we submit work to Ellie’s Oak Meadow teacher. I’ve got to take extra time this weekend to sort photographs, scan lesson assessments, label files, and figure out how to work Google Docs.

Ellie is knitting away on her scarf. I’m knitting away on a pig. The sample card for Mermaid skin is here and I think it will work well! Now I’ve got to pick colors for her hair and her top.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lesson 3

So last week…I created a Mancala fiend.

because Africa for Social Studies

because Africa for Social Studies – I also told her about William Kamkwamba

There were mirrored drawings, stories, writing, reading,

ch and cl were the blends of the week

more consonant blends,

and animal observations (birds this time). I am a big big fan of the science progression – Lesson 4 has a research project! We went to the Mobile Museum of Art just because we could. The scarf continues slow but steady, she works on it while we read Anne of Green Gables at bedtime. Ellie looks at me Meaningfully when knitting is mentioned in the story.

Mostly it was all about mancala. We played in between every single activity. You probably think I’m kidding.

Oh, and she lost another tooth! To be perfectly precise, she yanked it out at dinner because it was “too hard to eat.”

Every time she smiles, I start giggling.

every time she smiles, I giggle

Mermaid Yarn (thought process)

I’m going to ramble about yarn. Brace yourself.

I’ve ordered the tail yarn for the mermaid for the pattern example. Berroco Espresso – this time I got Pistachio. I’m waiting to see it in person before I order the rest of the yarn for her top, skin, and hair. Espresso is a 50/50 cotton/acrylic. This violates my “earth-healthy yarn” code. I’m using it anyway because it is a) perfect and b) novelty yarns are typically a compromise. While a hand-dyed wool would work beautifully, I’m trying to find readily available yarns for the Mermaid. She’s such a mix of yarn types, I don’t want people struggling to make her ‘look like the picture’ because they can’t get ahold of the yarn I used.

Her skin color is problematic. Once you factor in a less popular yarn weight (chunky) and my earth-healthy preferences for fiber…there’s not a lot left. I’d like a smooth organic cotton (not a fluffy one like I use for animals). It would be nice if I recommended a yarn that didn’t need doubling and one that is relatively easy to find (not a custom yarn from Etsy). Finding skin tones is just tricky anyway. Everything is dyed in beautiful, bright, clear colors right now. There are very few browns, tans, neutrals, or whatever the pale shades are called (haha ‘ecru’) available right now. I may end up with Pakucho held double. I’ve ordered a sample card so I can see it in person. Pakucho is color grown cotton which means lots of cinnamon, olive, and tans. Unfortunately no dark browns, but I’ll keep looking. I have to use a lighter yarn for the pattern example so that the stitches show up in the pictures, but people come in all kinds of colors! A doubled worsted does give people more options to fine turn their mermaid’s pigment so this might actually be better than a chunky that’s only available in a couple colors.

Are you following my thought process? All that to say, I will go with doubled, non-organic cotton yarn if one has a variety of ‘neutral’ shades. If anybody has a suggestion? I’ll include other recommendations in the pattern notes no matter what I actually knit her with.

P.S. Ruth has pointed out a couple South African yarns that look great but don’t have retailers in the US yet: Nurturing Fibre and Vinni’s Colours. I don’t mind international shipping, but neither of the companies has color cards with the yarns actually attached. It’s a big gamble to take if you’re trying to match colors, so I’m not ordering for the Mermaid I’ll keep you posted (Nurturing Fiber is first on my list: bamboo/cotton chunky).