Yellowstone and Environs

I thought about it and realized that I needed to post pictures here with my phone and then come back and annotate them. Easiest way I know to do this. They are not in any proper order, I'm just posting them.

We spent a night in Jackson, WY on our way from Salt Lake City and Yellowstone. The night before was the super rough one with Gray up in the night puking his guts up. Earlier he had enough energy to go down the Alpine Slide, but after that he didn't want to get out of the car. This was taken on our way to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We were driving to get to the highway and stopped when I saw this. That arch is made from shed elk antlers. What you can't see is that there's one on each corner of this park. Ut.

We took a ride down an Alpine Slide. It's something a ski resort carves into the hill side so that there's some way for them to make money during the winter. Runs right under the chair lift on the left. In the Winter it's completely covered in snow and you'd never know it was there. This is the first time I ever rode a chair lift. Fun! Gray wasn't feeling well but well enough for a ride.

Gray rode down the slide with me. So I only managed to snap a picture of Gwen as she went last.

You can tell they are so enthused to be at the Grand Tetons. I thought it was beautiful. They were "NO MOM! We don't want to have our picture taken!!" "Too bad, get out of the car"

I saw this as I was pulling out of that parking lot and thought it was hysterical.

On our way out of West Yellowstone, we found there is a Wolf and Grizzly refuge. This picture is not zoomed, the wolf came that close to the window. Beautiful!

A HUGE mushroom on a tree I spotted as we were leaving a rest stop somewhere in Montana.

The really, really, really cool Dragon on A Merry go round for Missoula.

As we left Missoula for Kalispell my van flipped 100000 miles. Woot

harold the hoopty car

The trip thus far

I left home last Sunday with a fully packed van and four kids. And a dog. The dog got left with mom.

The ride to Reno was uneventful. We checked into Circus Circus with no problems. We were disappointed to find the buffet closed, so we ate at their in-house diner. The kids had hamburgers.

We got up early and started the drive to Salt Lake. I was warned by several people that there's not much to see between the two. I found them wrong. Gently rolling hills, little valleys, rivers, trains, livestock and gorgeous colors of vegetation! I was really impressed by the abrupt change in the landscape between Nevada and Utah. You knew immediately you were someplace different.

We spent two nights in Salt Lake visiting one of my friends. We went to This is the Place Heritage Park in the morning. The kids really enjoyed it. Its a living history park and the houses are either historic buildings moved to this area or are recreations. I liked how they showed both the homes of poor people and those who were better off. Ike was fascinated by the blacksmith. We also got to see the live version of "gotta piss like a horse" I've never seen that before and the kids were impressed. We spent the afternoon down in Temple Square. The history museum was interesting and the visitors center was fascinating. Then we walked around the temple. There are two sets of impressive doors that haven't been used in ages. If temple-goers want to go in, the entrance is a street away and you go underground. I shudder to think about how they would get everyone out case of fire. The other thing about the Temple that struck me is it's size. Or rather lack thereof. Now. It's tall. It's gloriously tall and impressive. However, the footprint is quite small. I think my Mom's parish church has a bigger footprint. I was expecting something like a Roman Catholic Cathedral size. It's not. I was told they spent 40 years building it. For some reason, I wasn't too impressed. They've been working on the Gaudi Cathedral for over 100 (131 so far with another estimated 13 to go (a couple of wars halted construction, go figure)). Gray decided that he was going to get sick that afternoon and spent the afternoon in my arms. Sleeping. He also decided to pop a pretty good fever that night. But he woke up the next morning bright and chipper.

We spent the 28th driving to Jackson, WY. I got to see wheat fields for the first time ever! Cool. I tried not to breathe too deeply. Pretty drive. I found a road allanh s husband Randy needs to drive. Not only did it have the joy of curves and ups and got to dodge livestock! It was an uneventful drive. Jackson is gorgeous! We definitely want to go back. We only spent this one night and there's so much to do! Gray decided to get really sick on this night and we were up from about 1:30-4:30 with him alternatively vomiting and extreme EBS. Poor thing. I left a huge tip for the housekeeping crew, he threw up all over the bed several times (after Ike woke us up at 6).

We got up and went to this alpine slide I read about. It was awesome!!! First time I've ever ridden a ski lift. Then we hit the road. Drove through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Amazing thunder storm overhead as we entered Yellowstone park, and then we crested a hill, and the storm was gone. Blue skies and warm sunshine. Had to convince the children to stick around long enough to see Old Faithful. I had to bribe them with ice cream. Wow. Just wow. Drove out of the park to our next hotel. Gray was miserable by this point and needed to go to bed. Ended up seeing a bison just wandering down the road in the opposite lane before we got out of the park. Yes! Only wildlife we saw in the park. Got to the next hotel and put everyone to bed.

On the 30th we drove to Missoula, MT. There's all these little signs on the side of the road telling you interesting things to see. I stopped at one called the "Lake that Tilted". It kinda caught my attention. Serious earthquake in 1959 literally tilted the lake and created another billion gallons of storage area. It also dumped 80 million tons of rock on the north end and drowned a campground. The mountain damage is obvious and you drive ON TOP of the fallen rock. It was kinda eerie, but also fascinating. Got to the hotel in Missoula.

Everybody felt great the next day on the 31. Joe was flying in and we had time to kill. We had breakfast and then I started to feel awful. So did Ike. I finally got us out of the room and into the car and stopped at the Carousel for Missoula. There's a dragon for the kids to ride!!! Ike was sufficiently sick, he stayed in the car to sleep. The other three rode it twice. Then we hit the road for Kalispell and Joe. The drive was nice, but I was feeling too awful to really notice anything. I got to Joe an hour late. =( But we got to the next hotel and I went to bed while Joe took care of the 3 non sick kids.

This morning we got up and moving and checked out from the hotel with like 5 minutes to spare. We stopped at a local grocery store for food for a couple of days and made it to the house we are staying at. It's gorgeous. On a lake. The kids played. And passed out.

Flute/Recorder Case Level: Advanced

Say you have a child like mine, who picked up the knitting needles as if she were born with them in her hand. A level 1 or 2 case would neither hold her interest, nor challenge her in any way. This project will. I got the pattern from the Handwork Teacher at the Sacramento Waldorf School. All students make this case. It's gorgeous. It's a challenge. Have fun!!

Yarn used is Lamb's Pride by Brown Sheep in Worsted Weight. Names (if known) are given in () the idea is that you start with the purple on the bottom section and end up with red at the top.
CO 24 stitches. Each Section is 10 rows each

Section 1 (purple) garter stitch
Section 2 (periwinkle) reverse garter stitch
Section 3 (skyway) stockinette
Section 4 (2 greens) color work. 2 Rows color A, 2 Rows color B
Section 5 (lime, goldenrod) Checkerboard (stockinette/colorwork) 3 stitches yellow, 3 stitches green for 5 rows, then 3 stitches green 3 stitches yellow for final 5 rows
Section 6 (Goldenrod) 4 X 4 rib
Section 7 (Orange) Checkerboard stitch
Section 8 (red/pink) Fair Isle (create a SIMPLE Fair Isle pattern. Like a Cross or and X over 5 rows)
Section 9 (Red) eyelet stitch

Put right sides together and sew seam across bottom and side. Finger knit a cord, weave it through the eyelet stitch on top, tie off. You now have a completed patchwork Flute/Recorder Case

(Place holder post so I don't lose the pattern for Gwen. I'll post pictures when she's done. She's in the middle of Section 5 right now.)

Self Assessment utilizing Waldorf Teacher Expectations

 Self Assessment using the Waldorf Teacher Expectations


1.        Teacher’s use of art as meaning-making for the students

The only art I produced during this internship was some chalkboard drawings to support the stories the children heard. I drew Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, and Harriet Tubman. In the pictures I attempted to invoke a specific mood. I think I accomplished this, but it’s a task that I find difficult. There is great room for improvement in this, but I’ll keep on trying!


2.        The sense of aesthetics in the environment and in the carriage of the teacher


3.        Teacher’s diction and use of speech

I don’t shy away from utilizing complicated words in my speech. I could use some more practice in my descriptive language, it is something that has been trained out of me. I tend towards language that is short, succinct, and to the point. Descriptive language feels florid to me, and I’m still searching for that happy balance. If I’m paying attention to my speech, my diction is good…but it will get sloppy in my excitement. I also have a very “big” voice.  Sometimes it can be overpowering in its strength.  I know I forget how loud I can be, it is something I am consciously working on.

4.        The teachers memorization of verses, songs, activities

I need to work on this.  For as amazing as my memory for random minutiae can be, my memory is deplorable when trying to memorize verses! By the end of the four weeks I still hadn’t fully memorized the morning verse. Songs are easier for me, but I’ll still struggle with the longer songs, like all four verses of “America the Beautiful” or “What did Della Wear O?” That being said, I did memorize the song I taught and I learned that I have to learn it twice. Once as a whole piece, and a second time broken up for teaching. I got lost trying to teach the John Henry Song, but I had it cold when I sang it as a whole piece. That was a very disconcerting and embarrassing experience, which I shall strive to never repeat.


5.        Teacher-developed Main Lessons, individual student verses, art

I wrote a single dictation for this class.  I feel that it was at an appropriate level for this class. Writing something with an academic voice is easy for me. Asking me to write a poem? That would be much more difficult. My work in the drawing is developing. I am very new to drawing, I have to keep reminding myself that I am a beginner and that I am improving. I tried very hard to create good chalkboard drawings and did not hesitate to ask for help if I couldn’t figure out how to do what I pictured in my mind.


6.        The teacher’s use of inner work in relationship to his/her vocation

Yea, yea, inner work. What’s that? To be honest, this area is a struggle for me. Well, more specifically, finding the time to spend on my inner work is my struggle. This four week window was a very crushing physical experience.  The early morning and the long commute each way contributed to my physical exhaustion. Getting sick on top of it didn’t help either. I would go to bed, start the Ruckshau and pass out before I got to eating dinner.  I did, however, manage to picture the class in my mind before sleep. So at least there was that.


7.        The teachers authentic engagement with the students

I feel I did this quite well. It did help that one of the students in this class is a former student of mine from another school which helped. But I feel that by the end of my experience I was making good connections with the children.  I miss them. It actually hurt to not go back after the Easter Break.


8.        The teacher’s process for watching student acquisition of critical thinking skills.

I don’t have a process…yet. I will have to work on creating one!


9.        The teacher’s sense of gratitude, awe and positivity.

I hope I made this evident to not only Ms. R but the class. I am still incredibly grateful for the experience I was given, I learned so much from everyone and it strengthened my love of this work.


10.     The teachers engagement with other adults as partners in creating the community of learning

I tried to spend my time observing what was happening around me. Taking in what actually happens in a Waldorf School.  That being said, I did reach out to several members of the community besides Ms. R for help. Whether it was advice on drawing, or questions on reading materials,  or just instruction on how to do something, I tried not to shut myself off members of the community.


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One of the most useful things I've ever learned from watching TV

So, many years ago (like 10.5) I was watching a rerun of E.R. This guy comes in saying he'd accidentally shoved a button up his nose. Dr. Green grabs a face mask attached to a, um...billow? It's a thingy for the breathing part of CPR, no one actually blows, they squeeze this balloon. Like I have any idea what this thing is called, whatever, you get the idea. Puts it on the patients mouth, tells him to close the other nostril with his finger. Squeezes. Button flies out of nose. Cool!

A couple of weeks back, Gray shoved something up his nose. When I first looked up his nose, I thought it was an extreme booger. I no longer keep the booger-sucker-outer thingy that every mom of an infant I took a kleenex, closed the opposite nostril, and told Gray to blow hard. Two blows later, whatever it was flew out. (I don't remember anymore)

I told you that, so I could tell this.

I'm out grocery shopping tonight. I've been to both Costco and Target with all four kids by myself this week. I asked Joe if I could go grocery shopping alone, and wonderful man he is, said yes. Anyway, I'm in the checkout line and my phone rings.

"Hi Babe!"
"I need you home now"
"I'm in the checkout line, is that good enough?"
"Yes, but don't dawdle"
"Okay, what's going on?"
"Gray shoved a pill up his nose"
"Oh. Take a tissue, close the opposite nostril, have him blow hard a couple of times"

I hang up.

I read a silly article on Prince George wondering if the wee prince is going to be snipped.

Phone rings.

"It worked! No rush."

Hah! Silly things off of TV for a $1000 Alex!

I hope, however, he doesn't make a habit out of this...annoying and disgusting.


Lesson Plan 6: Washington DC

Element of Main Lesson:

Plans for Teaching:

Introduction of the Activity

After giving the children a chance to sum up and review the content of the block, Ms. R and I decided that the children needed a last story for the children needed to be one about the Nations Capitol.

Steps in the Activity
After the dictation, use a song to give them an out-breath. Have the children re-settle into their seats and introduce the story. After the story, time permitting, I'll pull out my scrapbook of my trip to Washington DC in 1989. It's stuffed with pictures and souvenirs

Maintaining class participation in the activity: (embedded in steps?)

The children know how to behave during a story.

Reflection on doing the activity:

This is the second "history" story I've told (as compared to a biography) and in some ways it was just as frustrating as the first. I'm seeing that I'm having a hard time bringing history to life beyond the knowledge of names, dates, and places. Maybe its not quite so important to know a timeline of the events. Maybe it's better to find the lively pictures. I did try, I tried to paint a picture of the conditions of the civil war, the plight of the Bonus Army, and MLK's "I have a dream" speech, and those moments did touch the children...but the physical descriptions and basic history of the city...not so much. This is something I need to work on.

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Lesson Plan 5: Dictation

Element of Main Lesson:
The Do or the Work

Introduction of the activity
We've spent the last few weeks studying the history, culture, and geography of the United States. The Review part of today's Morning lesson was a discussion of what could we remember of those things. After we have discussed these three things, the children will take a dictation. The aim of the dictation is to support the children with their spelling, vocabulary, and an opportunity to sum up the block.

Plans for Teaching:
The Review
Draft for Dictation written and approved by Ms. R ahead of time
Unknown spelling words to be written on the board, prompting the questioning child to spell word on own if possible.

Steps in the Activity
The Review
Hand out draft writing paper
Read entire dictation
Read dictation again, a sentence at a time
Turn in drafts for teacher approval

Maintaining class participation in the activity: (embedded in steps?)
I need to go slow enough to allow the slower workers to keep up, but also go fast enough to keep the faster workers from getting bored and making trouble. I'll have several copies of the Dictation to hand out for the children who need more time.

Reflection on doing the activity:
This actually went really well. I took several days to write my draft and figured out that some words would most likely cause problems for everyone. The actually dictation took me a bit to find the right flow of how fast to speak it. At first I went too fast, nobody could keep up. But by the end, I found a comfortable pace that seemed to keep everyone happy.

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