I think the 2022-23 school year is off to a pretty good start!
We had such good intentions of finding “Hidden Mickeys” while we were at Disney World. We were prepared to look everywhere, and we even had a a list of some of the known ones as a starting point. But…I guess we were just wrapped up in the experience, of being there (we is actually a good thing!), because for the most part, we forgot altogether, and even when we did remember, we couldn’t find them. Except for the one on this manhole cover we spotted our first day at EPCOT.
Does it count? I mean, I think it does? If you weren’t looking down at the right moment, it would be easily missed. So I say it counts, and at least we have evidence we found one of them!
For our first Disney Dinner after returning home from Disney World, I turned to the “sandwich of the future,” the Handwich! I chose chili as the filling, but there are so many other options…I think we might have to try some more of them! Creating the cones out of crescent roll dough was only a little tricky (the real struggle was getting them off of the forms when they were done!), and they didn’t fall apart quite as much as I expected when we were eating them.
For dessert, I made 50’s Prime Time Café-style peanut butter and jelly milkshakes (or just jelly, for Moose), which were really delicious!
This is about the halfway point in the Disney Dinners I planned, so there’s more fun to come…stay tuned!
Today marks the start of my 15th year as a home educator!
We started the day with the Schultüte, as is our tradition:
I think they were a hit!
And of course I took pictures of my students…it’s still a little hard for me to believe that I’m down to two, and one of them is in her second year of high school!
We did some light schoolwork…religion, math, a read-aloud, and a bit of language arts. We’ll get into the rest of the subjects tomorrow, but the first day of school is mostly about fun, including building a new Lego set. I got something really different this year…an art set of Mickey Mouse, which was the perfect way to bridge summer school and our vacation to the new school year! And since we started school before everybody else, the rest of the children were still here to help!
It was (I think) a really fun build!
Here’s a closer look…I think I may get a second copy of this set for our last day of school, because there are alternate building instructions to make Minnie Mouse, and I would love to have a matching pair!
I think we got the school year off to the right start!
Time for a look at my favorite first day of school tradition…the Schultüte! I enjoyed putting them together even more this year since I’ve been putting so much work into making our German/Austrian heritage a bigger part of our daily lives. I included all of the items you would expect…candies, school supplies, and a few fun things:
I wanted the fun items to reflect our vacation, so I added some Goofy blind bag pins, and some Lego Muppets minifigs:
This is always a fun beginning to the school year!
Chickadee is in fifth grade! She’s especially looking forward to reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this year!
Ladybug is a sophomore now! She’s especially looking forward to the second of year of the history cycle (the medieval period), and doing more cooking (this year’s cooking theme is The Lord of the Rings).
What can I say about this year’s summer school? One thing is for certain…I know I’ll never top it!
Yes, we had a reading list, and there were some amazing choices on there (Ladybug in particular really enjoyed many of the titles), but this summer was all about travel and experiences, including visits to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It was like four days of field trips on steroids, where we went on rides, built things, and even learned things! (And let’s not forgot the three days of field trip equivalents in Washington D.C., where we visited monuments and memorials and museums, toured the US Capitol, and walked the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon! Plus the day at Kennedy Space Center after our Disney fun concluded!)
Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:
And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:
It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!
And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!
We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.
Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!
On Thursday, we chased one last wild hair of mine for the summer, and drove up to Chicago for the day. We had a few goals, starting with visiting Buckingham Fountain, which we didn’t get to do in May…it was just as grand as I remembered it!
The place we really wanted to spend time at, though, was Navy Pier, the last really big thing on my list of Chicago things to share with the Fab Five. We walked all the way around it, and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to do it…it was in the 70s with a beautiful lake breeze!
Seeing the anchor from the USS Chicago is kind of amazing…you just don’t realize the scale of the size of one until you see it for yourself!
The views from the Pier are amazing!
I also finally got to reunite some of my Homes Bracelets with the place they represent…Lake Michigan!
There was no way we could do all of the things, so I picked one big attraction…the Centennial Wheel. It is very similar in size to the Ferris wheel in St. Louis, but the views of the skyline and Lake Michigan are a lot more impressive than anything we have here in the Lou!
We stopped for Rainbow Cones after our ride. I really prefer the original Beverly location, because it has so much character, but the scenery made the five flavors taste even better!
We walked over to Polk Bros. Park just across the street:
We also shared a burger from the Billy Goat Tavern, just so we could say we had one:
And then we walked back through the mall and to the end of the Pier again:
I will never tire of the view!
The other big reason for our trip north was so that Bunny and I could visit the Rare Dirndl design studio, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, which is a really cool place! We toured the studio, did some shopping, and most importantly of all, got to meet and talk to the designer, Erika Neumayer!
On the way home, we stopped at Portillo’s, as is our tradition:
I’m not going to lie…it was a lot of time to spend in the car in one day (although we certainly had days that were longer on our vacation!), but it was worth it to get to see Chicago one more time before the end of the summer!
The best souvenirs of a trip are the ones you can wear, and I picked up a whole outfit’s worth before and during our trip to Walt Disney World!
Just as I did with my Kyber Crystal necklace, I decided to order this beautiful Disney World 50th Anniversary dress before we left for our trip. I didn’t know for sure if I would actually bring it with (spoilers…I did!), but I knew I wanted to have it as a wearable memory. Lucky for me, the Disney Dress Shop dresses tend to have a retro feel, and this shirtwaist dress definitely fits my personal style!
The print is beautiful, featuring the castle and fireworks in the anniversary color scheme, as well as embroidered 50s scattered throughout.
While we were at the Magic Kingdom, I picked up a Loungefly mini backpack that matches the Minnie Mouse ears I found at the same shop (the Emporium). It has the same castles, fireworks, and 50s as the dress, plus the major Disney characters (Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip and Dale). A helpful store employee even found me what she called the “perfect bag,” (they’re all a little different) with a 50 right in the middle of the front pocket!
The dress also has a pretty yellow belt. I’m also wearing a silver belt underneath, because I can never tie a belt tight enough. And did I mention the pockets?!?
I’ve got a whole Disney World 50th Anniversary look!
Besides the Minnie ears, I accessorized with my Cinderella key necklace, a single gold glitter bangle, and a pair of Minnie Mouse hoop earrings that are another souvenir of the trip:
I mentioned that I brought the dress on the trip…here’s a look at my outfit right outside the castle!
I’m really glad I found these special pieces that not only commemorate our trip, but also the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World!