In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


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WOLF School Is WOW

When my daughter was in 5th grade back in 2009, she attended WOLF (Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility) and it was a great experience for our entire family.

2009 was the first year that this conservation based school was in business.  The classrooms were located in the old K-Mart building just West of Bass Pro.  They didn’t have a playground.  They had a parking lot.  They didn’t have a lunch room.  The lunches were catered by Parkview High School and they ate their lunch on the floor.  The kids didn’t care they loved the school, the field trips and the teachers.  One of which is still teaching there and the other?  Unfortunately moved on.

Fast forward to now and if you live here, I’m sure you’ved noticed serious construction at the corner of Sunshine and Campbell.  We live extremely close to this intersection so getting Lauren to this school was no problem for us.  WOLF School is now located in a brand new building and it is totally amazing!

We attended the Grand Opening last Thursday evening.  Lauren still volunteers when she can and it’s getting harder with school activities.  She does travel most of the summer with my parents as well.  But we do our best to get some hours in.  After school is out most of the time.  My yoga teaching requires me to be at work when she could be attending animal handling classes.  Lauren had already been inside the new shcool once.  She attended a lock-in prior to the public opening. 

This is the Grand Hall or the entry way.  The classrooms are on the left and are completely secure.  The green wall at the end of the hallway will be removed eventually.  This will allow a connection to the Bass Pro retail store and the WOW museum.  Basically the school will be open to the public so hence for the secure location of the classrooms.  Each area has a neat diorama by the door that features the theme.  So there’s a River Room and so on. 

The classrooms are really cool too.  They have neat stuff on the ceilings just like the Bass Pro store.  One room has the experience of water and a cave system.  One room has grass and flowers like the plains.  Of course there’s no lack of taxidermy and other outdoor gear on the walls as well. 

The ceilings in the main hallway and in the convention rooms are beyond high.  Just massive and beautiful.  The  convention room has a beautifully painted wall mural of the outdoors that was still in progress.  I believe the speaker said it will also feature a real waterfall too.  The gigantic chandeliers in that space are covered with what looks like animal skins.  Real ones?  Probably.  The concrete floors are embedded with animal tracks and the bathrooms?  No mirrors and the stalls appear to be metal with scenes of the outdoors overlayed into them.  And they also have gorgeous stained glass windows and a big round stainless system for handwashing like 6 kids at one time.

While wondering about Harry Potter came to my mind with the dark, thick wood and stone in the architecture.  My favorite space was a big room with big round tables.  The West wall houses the biggest stone fireplace that I’ve ever seen.  We attended the Awards Banquet this week and enjoyed a really nice dinner in this cozy space complete with the fireplace roaring.  The walls are adorned with vintage photos (big ones of course) of the Morris family on outdoor activities. 

Once the place is landscaped the kids will have a playground.  A place for archery.  A fully stocked fish pond where they can fish, clean and cook fish.  The yard will also feature a nature trail with native plants and a cave.  Heck.  They might not need to go on field trips as everything will be in-house.  Was my daughter jealous to see all of this?  Not really.  She mentioned how her class was the first class and they were the pioneers.  I do feel like chances of getting into this great program will be harder now because the building is so incredibly cool.  But if you have a child entering 5th grade, I highly encourage you to apply.  We feel honored to have had this experience and very lucky to be part of such a beautiful new space.


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Ritter Springs is Yoga

The WOLF School (conservation based 5th grade) that my daughter attends held their camping trip this weekend at Ritter Springs Park.  We had great weather with the exception of lots of wind Friday night!  We rented a tent which was missing some poles and heck, I don’t even think the rain cover went with it, but you make do with what you have and it’s all good.  Check out our weekend pad.  Stellar.  Actually, it was great!  More room than we really needed that’s for sure.  

100_37521Fast forward to that same evening.  We were scheduled for a Night Hike.  I had no idea where we’d be hiking, or what we’d be looking for and neither did anyone else.  We hiked to the mouth of a cave and checked out the bat flight.   We all stood around the mouth of this cave (like a huge sinkhole actually) and watched around 3,000 bats (not kidding) come and go.  They flew over our heads and side swiped our cheeks.  It was cool. 

Sleeping that night was cool as well.  The breeze was a little bit too much at times and it really kept whipping at our tent.  In turn that kept me awake, being the light sleeper that I am.  I didn’t think a bottle of wine was appropriate for this trip so I dealt with the wind.  I sat outside for awhile and checked out the stars and felt the wind on my face, I went to the bathroom (which was a hike) and watched my kid sleep like a baby.   

 

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I was up at 6 a.m. and took a jaunt down to the creek and meditated for half an hour.  I had originally planned to be in STL this same weekend with one of my favorite yoga teachers, but this trip was yoga in itself.  The grass around this creek was so lush and green.  I truly felt like Frodo might pop out from behind one of those trees any second.  I took advantage of the early morning sun to capture some of the beauty. 

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There were several activities we could sign up for and I let Lauren pick them all.  So on Saturday morning I found myself signed up for Trail Running.  Uh oh.  I’m no runner.  It was obvious that our guides were serious runners but they weren’t intimidating one bit.  In fact, a few of us found ourselves connected by some other time or place and I always enjoy reconnecting with people under different circumstances.  We learned about trail running do’s and don’ts.  We then headed to the lake and creek for a short little run.  Here’s a photo of our trail running team.  Go WOLF School!

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After lunch (all the food was provided) we met up with our cave guides and headed to Junction Cave.  This cave is up high, steep high above the river.   We stopped at an outbuilding and grabbed flashlights, hard hats and gloves and onward we went.  Actually, 3 people from Nebraska just happened to be walking by and the guides asked them to join us.  They’re probably thinking that the parks here in Springfield, Missouri totally rock right about now!  We had great guides and we were amongst another fun group of people.  When we arrived at the cave, we did a little cleaning.  This cave is open to the public and people like to leave lots of marks in the way of graffiti, candles and broken glass.  You remove graffiti with water (preferably cave water) and a wire brush.  How simple is that? 

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After a bit of cleaning, it was our turn to enter.  We were able to go in about 150 feet or so.  At one time, we all turned off our flashlights.  I have never, ever experienced darkness like that in my life.  You literally could not see your hand in front of your face.  It was awesome!  I shot a great photo of a cave salamander and a bat.  Below is my daughter Lauren, her friend Sierra and Sierra’s aunt, Jeri100_37592

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We slid on out of the cave and down the hill back to camp!  We played some  games, challenges and puzzles with groups that were fun, but I will say by the time we got to that event, I was spent! 

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I’m hoping for a smooth transition from this very cool 5th grade, to 6th grade when we re-enter civilian school.   And, if you have a 4th grader that likes being outdoors, applying for WOLF school is a great idea as well.

Go camping, it’s so worth it.


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Sarah Palin in the Burg

The WOLF School meeting was good.  Focus was on some winter gear, forming a parent organization (since there is no PTA over there) and of course, all the positive things that are happening with the kids.  I’ve already mentioned before, how close my daughter is to several of the kids already.  I think the stuff they do at that school, enhances bonding.  They also mentioned how the kids have increased independence and how their self esteem has risen.  I totally agree.

The meeting was at Bass Pro.  They have a Starbucks, lucky me. I was able to get my favorite tea on the way out.  This cold, will NOT ruine my weekend.  The place was also crawling with a bunch of people, doin’ the set up for Sarah Palin.  Guess she’s going to speak at Bass Pro, not MSU like originally planned.  When you think about it, I guess Bass Pro is more appropriate!  The kids are actually walking over to see her speak today.  I’ve never been to a politcal rally, I’m 41, my kid is 10.  I’m not envious though, I have little patience for politics, they actually exhaust me.  I met someone at the Starbucks kiosk that said they were going to send their kid to school tomorrow in an Obama shirt.  OK.  I’m undecided on who to vote for, but I am leaning towards Obama.  My entire family will disown me.  I will have to live in exile with my brother in Boulder, the land of the democrats!

Back to that Starbucks tea.  Quote #292 was on my cup.  I dug it, so I’m sharing it.

The way we get to live forever is through memories stored in the hearts and souls of those whose lives we touch.  That’s our soul print.  It’s our comfort, our emotional nourishment at the end of the day and the end of a life.  How wonderful that they are called up at will and savored randomly.  It seems to me we should spend our lives in a conscious state of creating these meaningful moments that live on.  Memories matter.   – Leeza Gibbons

Now, I don’t know much about Leeza Gibbons.  I don’t watch much TV.  There are some things, that you just don’t expect some people to say.  Hence the above.  But, I truly love moments of revelation, who knew?  Just another fine reason to not judge people by their outer shell.

Off to heavily medicate and teach a class.  I hope I can kick this enough to really enjoy the yoga at the workshop.  At this moment, I’m thinking all the meditation and breathing will be out for me.  My labored breathing right now, would take everyone flat out of their state of bliss for sure!  If not, just being there will have to do!

 


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First Week of School

School Bus Top

Our kids don’t have to ride the bus, we live close to every single school that they have to attend.  I consider us lucky!  They don’t have to get up too early and they don’t have to waste too much boring time in transit.  Our son is liking his sophomore year so far.  The school has undergone serious construction and he said he felt almost as lost this year as he was last!  To top it off, they actually distributed the wrong schedules to everyone the week before school started, so the first couple of days were a bit crazy!  It’s all good now and he’s just patiently waiting for Spring track to start!

Our daughter made it thru her first week of WOLF School.  I was a little concerned at first.  A few of the other parents whose children did not get in also made some comments.  One was “I heard it’s going to be really tough, do you think she’ll make it?”  Please, it’s a conservation based school, not boot camp!

She had been at the same elementary since Kindergarten.  It was a small, friendly elementary, up the street from where we live.  She had bonded with many girls there and at this new school, only one other kid was chosen from her previous elementary and it was a boy.  When I picked her up yesterday, the kids were all outside waiting and she was lingering.  Then, she hugged like 2 other girls good bye!  Wow!  How great to make friends like that in the first week. 

I do feel the circumstances they are in has made all the difference in the world.  They spent the day Friday out at the Watershed.  She said it was a bit cold to swim but they got in the water none the less.  They studied leeches, mayflies and water pennies.  She absolutely loved it and can’t wait until next week when they go to Bull Creek.  What a wonderful opportunity and hopefully this is just the first of what our public school system will offer in the future!