Yessons from Yellowstone…

1)  If you drive around, they will come.  We saw all of these just off the road (except the two bears fighting over food.  That was at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone–an awesome not-for-profit wildlife and educational center that provides homes for bears and wolves unable to be in the wild–most having become accustomed to human food.  See full review HERE).

2)  NOT having cell service is a good thing.

3)  Every gift store is different.

4)  You can really appreciate the beauty of God’s world in Nature.

5)  Cameras these days are so much better than those of old.  Judge for yourself from the images below:

Explanation on photos for those curious:

The first one is actually in Thermopolis, WY, where there are thermal hot springs as well just like in Yellowstone (part of the same underground geothermal area).  I couldn’t resist the cloud formations.  Beautiful!

My daughter actually took the photo of the Mastiff Geyser sign.  She couldn’t resist since we own two English Mastiffs.  It was an ode to them!

The geyser is Old Faithful.

I can’t say enough about the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center.  Please see my full review HERE.  If you are looking for a wonderful animal center to support, look no further.

The buffalo (proper name is bison) have the right of way in Yellowstone.  This guy walked right by us on the road.

The deer are black-tailed deer–quite rare in Wyoming.

This white wolf was a loner and we saw him two days in a row.  The buffalo nearby completely ignored him, not threatened in the least by a single wolf.  I kept wondering what his story was…

I’m assuming the two black bears were a pair of recently-weaned young (a year or so old) but we didn’t stick around long enough to find out.  We were extremely close.  When you’re in Yellowstone, you know there’s a bear or a moose or something rare by the number of cars alongside the road.  We stopped here because of just such a scene.  We crested a hill and right in front of us was this pair!  We snapped a couple of photos and got out of there!  Everyone else seemed to be hanging out but I’m not one to be a bear snack!

Outside of Old Faithful, the other geyser pictures posted are from Norris Geyser Basin.  We stopped at others but I liked these the best.

Like all the other animals we saw, the moose was standing in a river right by the road after you entered the park from the West Yellowstone entrance.  Eating contentedly despite the crowds.

The camera I used was a simple Sony 12.1 Mega Pixel Cyber-Shot.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

I can’t say enough about this place.

Located in the beautiful small town of West Yellowstone, Montana, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is an awesome not-for-profit wildlife and educational center that provides homes for bears and wolves unable to be in the wild–most having become accustomed to human food or orphaned as cubs.

They run educational programs year long.  According to their website, their mission is:  “to provide visitors to the Yellowstone area an opportunity to observe, learn, and appreciate grizzly bears and gray wolves.”

Keeper Kids Hiding Bear Treats!

But the reason we visited was for their Keeper Kids program (I have to admit). This is where kids ages 5-12 (I was disappointed my 4 year old couldn’t do this) get to hide food for the bears.  The bears are rotated in their outside enclosure in order to give them a break and so the guests get to see all of them.  So in-between a rotation, the kids hide snacks (mainly fruit), which the bears find (assuming the twenty or so crows who have nothing better to do than steal the bear food don’t find it first).

My girls LOVED this.  Randy, our guide for the day, did an introduction to bears beforehand and then took the kids back to hide the food.

Our favorite is 101.  She’s the 101st bear who was tagged in Yellowstone over 30 years ago and lived in the wild until recently when she became accustomed to human food through human error.  She adjusted slowly to being in captivity but Randy informed us she is doing much better.

While there, we got to see 101 and Spirit get into a tiff over the snacks (see photo below).

101 and Spirit “discuss” who gets the fruit!

Randy told us they like to mix up the bears who socialize together as stimulation but there are definitely bears who do not get along.  We didn’t get to find out which ones as he was distracted by other questions and we had a long day ahead of us in the park (which included our moose and grizzly sighting!).

They also have 2 wolf packs on the premises (these guys were sleeping while we were there but I did capture this picture while this guy got up to change positions!) and raptors.

Where Should I Go Next?

Inside, they have a great “museum” with stuffed bears (most of which were killed illegally) and informative displays as well as a well-stocked gift shop.

I would definitely recommend this place.  It is well worth the entrance fee and we will definitely go back if we are ever in the area.  I like supporting causes and I find nothing better to spend my money on than animals who need help for whatever reason.

Other fun pictures from our day:

I believe this is Sam, the largest bear at the center.
“Does life get any better than this?”
Does a bear get more gorgeous than this?

When I’m Rich and Famous, I am SO Hiring a Professional Editor…

What I’m Dreaming Of…

I just spent 2 hours editing a grand total of 2 of my novel pages.

With every edit I tell myself this is the last one.  Then I convince myself to do one more reading…

Always my downfall.

So “this is my last reading.”  Was supposed to be quick.  Supposed to be…

Exasperation reigns right now.

I now know why every author thanks their editor on the “Thank You” page of their book.

And as soon as I get a novel published, I’m hiring one.

Because this stuff should DEFINITELY be left to the professionals…

Homeschool Curriculum 2012-2013

Here’s my curriculum for the forthcoming school year (my kids are 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and preschool):

Math:  Singapore Math 3A and 3B and 2A and 2B and Miquon Math and Kumon Math Workbooks for Grade 2 and 3

Science:  Apologia’s Astronomy Textbook, Journal, and Lab Kit.  I do want to do an Earth Science unit but I’m seeing how long Astronomy takes us before I decide.

Writing:  IEW’s Medieval-Based Writing Lessons

Handwriting:  Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting

Grammar:  Michael Clay Thompson’s Caesar’s English, Grammar Voyage, Paragraph Town and Practice Town

Spelling:  Riggs Institute Level 2 and Level 3

History:  Story of the World Volume 2:  Medieval History and accompanying Activity Book

Bible:  BSF’s study of Genesis and leftover curriculum

Latin:  Latin for Children A

Spanish:  Spanish for Children A and Rosetta Stone Latin America

Greek: Greek for Children A

Geography: The Complete Book of Maps and Geography

Art:  Artistic Pursuits Book 2 and Art of the Middle Ages (Art in History)

Music:  Guitar Lessons and Note Study from Hirsch

Nature Journaling:  Weather Permitting

Miscellaneous purchases:

Medieval History Wall Timeline from Knowledge Quest

National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers

What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know

The Kingfisher Atlas of World History

Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations by C. E. Thompson

Note for Preschooler:  My goal is just to teach him to read, which I will start with the phonograms and then move on to The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington.  Anything else he picks up from our daily school is just an added bonus.  He won’t be Kindergarten until next school year but I’m hoping to jump start him.

Review of Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Program

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

Last year, we used Shurley English for our grammar curriculum.  We finished up Shurley English in February and March so I was stuck:  what do I do for the last 3 months of school?

I didn’t want to invest in more Shurley English.  I like what they do but it doesn’t move fast enough for me.  Plus, the material does not cover a whole school year.

So, I began the search i.e. googling and found Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Program.

It appeared stellar.  Rave reviews from homeschoolers.  Material difficult.  Classically-driven (my cup of tea).

So, I invested in a only couple of books because I spent A LOT of money last year on curriculum.

And I was glad I did.

This program is everything it says it is and more.  I can tell you right now I am a better writer just in the 3 months we completed this and I can’t WAIT to begin in August!

We ordered:  Grammar Town, Practice Island, and Sentence Island.  We skipped over Grammar Island because my kids already had that knowledge from Shurley Grammar.  My kids loved Sentence Island which is written using animal characters.  Here, I only ordered the Teacher’s Manuals.  I really don’t think you need the Student Manuals in a homeschool setting.

We only did this for about 3 months or so so I will update sometime later for a full write up but I wanted to get my recommendation out there.

This forthcoming year we are doing:  Caesar’s English, Grammar Voyage, Paragraph Town, Practice Town and Music of the Hemispheres

There is no recommended implementation schedule (again, my cup of tea) so you can customize it and do what you want when you want to.  I’m excited to see what we learn next!

Review of Anne Elliott’s Foundations Bible Curriculum

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

We used Foundations 1:  Preparation for Christ by Anne Elliott last year.  I chose this one because it starts in the beginning (Genesis) and goes chronologically.  This is simple to use.  You read a bible passage, do bible drills, discuss it, and then move on–exactly what I was looking for.  She also uses Calvary Chapel’s coloring sheets for the little ones.

However, this covers the entire Old Testament so huge chunks are left out in order to squeeze it into one school year.  We often added our own when we wanted to read more. This really needs to be broken into two books.

Ms. Elliott writes two more books that cover the New Testament after this is complete.  You can preview these on her website HERE.  This looks to be a bit more thorough because it is broken into the two years.

For this year, I haven’t decided on Bible Curriculum yet.  We are doing Bible Study Fellowship’s study of Genesis and finishing up Foundations 1 when we have the chance. I’m unsure if we will continue onto this or jump over to Apologia’s What We Believe Series.  I will see how this school year goes first and maybe invest in this in December.