Why Montana Bear School? | Learn to Read | Common Core Standards Love

How many people have asked me this these last few days. Why Montana Bear School? What is Montana Bear School?

Here’s what it says on my why page:

Teaching Experience


I have worked as a teacher in numerous classrooms from pre-k at Head Start through 2nd grade in the elementary schools over the last 10 years. I’ve taught over 500 students since 2003. My favorite part of teaching is watching a student have an ahah moment when all of a sudden they master a skill that they have been struggling with whether it’s writing their name, counting change, or reading a script in a play the delight in a child’s eyes when they learn something new is exhilarating! 

My Elementary Education

When I went back to school I thought it should be fun! My elementary teachers were amazing and school was delightful! My third grade teacher Mrs. Chaplin taught me how to do puppets. Mrs. Tiernan who I had for both 1st and 2nd amazed me when she would play the piano and we would sing or play the recorder! I loved everything from reading and writing to kickball! I can still practically remember our bus route!

Montana Bear School

Montana Bear School is a combination response to the questions parents have asked me over the years about what they could do to help their child succeed in school and things I want my students to know. I hope that by watching the videos students will say, I want to try and parents will do the activities at home with their child. 

Subscribe here to be notified when Bear School is ready!

Check out our youtube channel while you wait!


Lesson Plan Designs

One of my favorite parts of teaching is coming up with lesson plans. Having the common core standards to teach is a great way for me to make sure my students are gaining the skills they need to succeed in life in a logical order. It also allows me a certain freedom to develop lessons that I know will help my students understand the basics.


How to Love Math


I loved math all through my life and I’m sure this is because I have a strong foundation of quantities. I love to do problem solving, think about numbers in different combinations and working with objects to build understandings. I’m the kind of kid who could sit up until midnight figuring out a math problem cause I couldn’t sleep until I found the answer. I’ve played thousands of games of monopoly and yatzhee!


Awaken the Giant Within?

So yesterday as i was driving around Babb and yet again over the terrifying Logan’s Pass on Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun road I was listening to Tony Robbins on


audible logo

I don’t understand why do i seem to be the only one practically hyperventilating? and I’m on the inside lane. I cld never drive over the edge side. Maybe in a low to the ground car.

If you don’t already know I’m terrified of heights so for the last 3 summers I’ve been taken the shuttle over the pass to build up my confidence. It hasn’t helped being way up high in my pickup although deep down i dream of being a jammer… or even a shuttle driver bc they’re more likely to talk to hikers…

And i do LOVE the old blue❤️pickup


Anyway while I’m driving Im listening to Tony Robbin’s audio book

Tony Robbins Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

and he’s going on about reaching out for the biggest thing you can think of and all i can think is end war- make it obsolete.

My version of that looks something like this:

  • Healthy nutritious food and water are provided to all humans
  • All countries support the ICC (International Criminal Court – I mean we all get along in the US no ones worried NJ’s gonna attack Texas)
  • All people have access to a quality education starting in pre-school through college. College is free provided grades are kept to a B avg or above.

In the meantime I’ll work on what i can to help anyone who has access to the internet can learn to read and calculate! Today I came home and made another dozen videos for Montana Bear School and put together some of the pages. It’s a big project but it’s also lots of fun.




I have also been painting on my story Levi Bear about the little bear who want’s to go to the East Glacier School which is part of where this whole idea came from!East Glacier Park School

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Starting School with Confidence | 8 Things I Wish Every Kindergarten Parent Would Know

Is your child starting kindergarten this year?

Kindergarten is very different then it was when I was student teaching just back in 2003! It’s much more like first grade then when we were kids. None of this is set in stone, every school district is different and every student moves at a different pace but these are some things I have noticed over the years will help a child enter kindergarten with confidence.
Many students will pick up these skills as they go but many will never get the chance to play with blocks, explore with paint, or develop a love of creativity in their early childhood classroom in today’s modern world of education.

Model and Lead Don’t Test or Create Pressure

One important note between introducing your child to concepts and testing them. As your child’s first teacher you should always be modeling and leading. These skills should come in an enjoyable, low pressure environment. As a parent your job is to help your students feel comfortable around letters and numbers.

Be careful not to create stress anxiety by expecting them to remember all or even any letter sounds. But helping them learn the names of the different letters and practicing saying them is the best pre-reading practice you can give your child. Some children may need to hear a letter sound 700 times, no exaggeration, others will get it after just a few. Many need 70 repetitions before they are confident with each phoneme represented by the 26 letters of the alphabet.

1. Just because your child knows how to sing the alphabet song doesn’t mean they know the alphabet…

Begin with the letters in their names.

Write the alphabet on a piece of paper and have your child point to the letters in their own name.
MT Bear School

Click on image to see video

Start with their first name and then learn their last name too. They might want to find the letters in your name or mom or dad, siblings etc. This is fantastic. But get them to start learning the letters in random order.

Letter Sounds.

Students should also recognize that letters have a name and a sound. I think the most confusing thing to any child is that s makes the sound sss, and most of the time c sounds like a k! How many words sound like city, circle or cereal? Why doesn’t sort or sink, or September start with a c? Why do candy, color, or counter not start with k? It actually amazes me how fast they pick it up!
If you have magnets on your fridge and you’re having an apple for snack, help them   find the letter that makes the sound a. If you’re making dinner point out the letter d and talk about dinner starting with the sound d. If you’re having ice cream for dessert, point out the i and the c. Recognizing the beginning sound of words is the essence of phonics.
They will learn all of this in kindergarten but it is helpful to have it reinforced at home.

2. Your child should know how to write their own name.

Name Writing at MT Bear School Link
But this is pretty easy to teach most 5 years olds inside of a week. They love to write their name! Start by having them trace it and before long they will be writing on their own.
You can write their name with a pencil and let them trace the letters with a marker, you can write with the marker and let them trace it with a pencil, or you can make stencils.
Many times I have just written the letters with small dots by hand, but you can also download tracing fonts for free very easily. Most schools use D’Nealian script because it blends well to cursive.
Easy free download u can type any name and it will print it for them to trace. If you have any trouble don’t hesitate to reach out to me by email , and I will type them in your child’s name and send them to you to print.
Writing in capitals is fine and easier for young hands. They will learn how to write lower case soon.
 golf penclsl for small hands
One big thing I learned at Head Start is the itty bitty pencils you get at the miniature golf course to write your score with are perfect for tiny hands. Imagine eating out of a tablespoon all the time. That’s what holding one of those oversized pencils is like for children. Having a small pencil is just right for their child sized grip.

3. Your kindergartener should be comfortable with the numbers 1-20.


They should at least be familiar with the numbers 1-20 even if they can’t say them all in order. They should be able to count their fingers up to ten and start to recognize the numbers up to 20.
Recognizing Numbers 1-20 at Montana Bear School

Recognizing numbers

Recognizing numbers counting 5 objects at Montana Bear School

One of the hardest concepts for students to learn is that 13 starts with the one and not the 3, fourteen is not written as 41… The rest of the numbers work that way, 24 starts with twenty and ends in four, ninety-five starts with a 9 and ends in 5, so why does fifteen not start with 5 and end in teen (10)? Talk about confusing!
So the more opportunities they have to count up to 20 or even 100 (especially as the year progresses) the better!

My favorite things to count that you can find around the house:

  • pennies
  • buttons
  • beans
  • cereal
  • paperclips
  • pompoms
  • small rocks
  • leaves or flower petals

Not just say the numbers in order but actually count objects. Start with 5 items, move on to 10 and then eventually get all the way to 20.


As a side note, you can’t make enough piles of 10 and count by 10s up to 100!

4. Rhyming is essential.

You can’t appreciate rhyming until you try to teach a child who doesn’t know how to rhyme. There was a lot more to nursery rhymes then I ever realized. The repetition and lull of a nursery rhyme is one of the best ways to help you child develop a love of reading and language.
Singing songs is another great way to build your child’s sense of ending sounds as many songs are written in rhyme.
Nancy Cassidy Book of Kids Songs
Some of my favorite children songs include: The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, The Monkey and the Engineer, The Fishing Blues and Mamma’s Soup Surprise.
My favorite rhyming books include:
Wild About Books Rhyming Story
Giraffes Can't Dance Rhyming Story
Any Dr. Suess
Sylvia Long Hush Little Baby
My favorite book to sing is Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long… it just happens to fit my voice really well…
The more your child can fill in the blank or rhyming word at the end of a line the better. Many students love to chime in at the end of a rhyme or a repeating phrase!

5. Cutting, pasting, and coloring are skills they will need but not have enough time to practice.

When I worked at Head Start students had unlimited access to craft supplies everyday. They could glue endless pompoms, glitter, and buttons etc to colored paper making designs, pictures or cards for loved ones to their hearts content. They had access to paint, glue sticks, water colors, and more! They could staple, tape, and cut and repeat over and over.
We would start out with the younger ones helping them hold paper and navigate the scissors with care, but by the time they left they were confident with how to create masterpieces or booklets, or complete any tasks we assigned. When students arrive in kindergarten the amount of time they get to complete these tasks is limited each week.
When my grandkids were little each had their own “art box” to play with when they came to visit. Each shoe box covered in wrapping paper contained colored paper, pictures to cut out, stickers, a glue stick and some crayons and/or markers. I usually had glitter around the house or other odd objects they might request.

Junk Mail Clean Up

The more free time you can give your children to play with junk mail cutting, gluing pictures and creating mini-masterpieces the more confident they will be in elementary school to solve problems and develop critical thinking skills.

6. Building with blocks is a basic learning skill.

Students need to develop confidence in their ability to fix their mistakes. Building a tower seeing it tumble and doing it again is a great way to develop basic engineering skills. Students gain a strong sense of geometry as they figure out how different pieces fit together. They learn about both the positive spaces and the negative spaces and how fitting pieces correctly will help a structure become strong and solid.

First graders can create complex designs with Legos. Second graders would amaze me with what they could build with clothespins and the different structures and designs they would make with pattern blocks or connecting cubes. Balance is an essential skill we try to teach but if they don’t have practice building things in 3 d they will struggle to know what the right answer is on a Smarter Balance assessment down the road in 3rd grade.

7. Pre-Reading is essential.

Your child can already read every picture book you hand them. They do not have to read it word for word but by simply explaining to you what is going on in each picture they are developing essential pre-reading skills.
  • Predicting
  • Picture Walks
  • Cause and Effect
  • Creative story telling
are all skills students will gain by making up their own stories to go with the pictures. There are a handful of great books where there are no words and students are required to narrate the story themselves but any book will work.
Just sit back and listen and encourage your child to make up a story for each page. As they grow and listen to you read it’s fine if they tell the story back to you by memory.

8. Board Games Rock!

I feel like I can’t emphasize this enough. There’s all sorts of great skills students will learn when playing board games. Besides basic social skills like how to take turns, play fair, and be a good sport, there is a ton of counting in most games! Students will roll dice, add and subtract and get to recognize doubles in a fun environment! Cards teaches them many of the same skills as ice!

Cooperative Learning Games

Of course I’m not the best when it comes to competition and so I’d be remiss not to mention one of my favorite games called Granny’s House it’s a cooperative learning game where the goal is for everyone to make it Granny’s house with a gift. There is only one piece and its an all or one team building game where each person rolls the die but you all move together. There are obstacles along the way and players work together to solve each problem and make it to the end!

9. Read to your child.

Enjoy reading together. Read as much as you can. The more vocabulary you develop the better. You can read the cereal box, a recipe, the coupon section of the paper, street signs and store windows, food labels at the grocery store,

There’s Plenty of Time

If your child can’t do these things before they enter kindergarten don’t worry. I’m sure their teacher will help them learn many of these skills but I believe that their confidence will soar if they have these basics under their belts before they walk in the door! Wishing you a wonderful school year and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything! Every child is a parent’s world and helping every student feel successful is what makes me happiest!


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Bear School Coming Soon!

Levi Bear wants to go to the school in East Glacier. One night Levi and his friends find themselves inside the school on a full moon.

Now you can see what the bears learn at Mrs. Beyer’s Summer School.


Sign up to receive updates on the release of the new children’s book

Levi Bear Goes To School

For a sneak peak at Bear school check out our YouTube channel


If you go down to the woods today your sure of a big surprise!

if you go down to the woods today you may not believe your eyes!

The bears are learning their letters names and sounds, how to write their names and even how to sing some songs all in the woods today!

IMG_2603Zoey Zebra Bear, Baby Bear, Black Bear and Brown Bear along with April and AJ practice picking out their names:


The teddy bears picnic and play in the woods all summer long!

A visit with Monte Dolack – Mentoring Workshop

Monte Dolack Gallery
This year I got to spend an amazing afternoon learning in a personal workshop with one of the most magnificent painters of our time. He is truly a modern day impressionist and I will love his work forever. John Lee Dumas always talks about getting a mentor. How it is just essential to find someone that is where you want to be. So I reached out to Monte and he managed to fit me in one afternoon after just a short 5 month wait! There was a time I couldn’t imagine having Monte Dolack‘s success, but from the minute I walked across the threshold into his studio I felt myself walking into my future.


Just Like ME!

So many things were familiar and similar to what I already do but on a grander scale and others were new to me and I learned a ton! His journals are incredible works of art on their own, it made me see what I should focus on when traveling. His books for inspiration, his drawer full of blank journals, his photos and easels and paints and cabinets! Everything was fresh new and exciting and nostalgic at the same time!
Monte Dolack Website Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary

If you could own once piece of modern art who’s art would you choose?

It all started back when, I was listening to the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood’s Podcast  about the business of being an artist. What a great resource! If you haven’t checked it out without a doubt you should if you’re interested in growing your business as an artist.
Anyway, she posed the question if you could own any piece of work by a living artist who would you pick. I knew immediately. Monte Dolack. He’s been one of my favorite artists since I moved to Missoula back in the late 80’s.

Notecard Love

His notecards were for sale in all the stores! His paintings were everywhere! His art was ubiquitous! There are 128 posters for sale on his website! I mean he was prolific! He would design posters for the Missoula Symphony, Montana Coffee Traders and numerous environmental groups. To say nothing of his beautiful paintings.
Monte Dolack Website bio

Big Take-Aways

Some of the most important take aways I go that day were:
  • Do lots and lots of sketches!
  • Take lots and lots of pictures! (I already do this – at least I thought I did)
  • Practice, practice, practice. Enjoy the journey, enjoy each sketch as it’s own and play with different ideas till you get it right. Your sketches should be a quality that stands by themselves as a piece of art. This is one of my all time favorite pieces of his of the Browning Coffee Shop. I drive by there every morning.

Browning Coffee Shop

  • Journal professionally. When traveling journals can be like a book themselves. Someday hopefully Monte will publish some of the pages from his journals. They are incredible. I love books like that.

Marjolien Bastin’s Nature’s Sketchbook  and Sara Midda’s South of France: A Sketchbook are two of my favorites! I look through them for inspiration all the time. I think his would fit right in with these! I would treasure a Monte Dolack journal forever. His travels include the amazing Glacier National Park but Europe as well and they are just wonderful! 

  • Invest in lots of books. Use books for inspiration. Use books for color studies. Use books for reference. He has as many books as I do!
  • Learn that internet thing and do your best to make it efficient. He has 2 giant iMacs or at least a screen and a macbook. I can’t remember but he uses his macs as much as I do!
  • He said he’s sold cards on Leaning Tree. I’ve always wanted to submit my paintings there. I should do that today.
Monte Dolack Images

On Being A Professional Artist

One of the things he said to me I will never forget was in response to my question, should I worry that if I try to make a living off of my art I will grow to hate it? You hear that all the time, just because you want to bake, doesn’t mean you want to run a bakery business…
Elizabeth Gilbert Quote from Big Magic
I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic but she practically screams at people in her book that you shouldn’t try to make a living off your art.

“This is why I made a promise to my writing life when I was about 15 years old. I said to writing: “I will never ask you to provide for me financially; I will always provide for YOU.”

I was willing to work hard, in other words, so that Creativity could play lightly.”

So I have always gone back and forth between trying to make a living off of my art and having a job and painting in between… Anyway Monte Dolack told me when he was young he worked in the mine with his dad. His Dad, and his Grandpa had always worked in the mine and if he could paint for a living the business part was worth every minute in order to not have to go back in the mine and he got to spend so much time painting he thought it was completely worth it!

What it Means To Me

teaching at BES
What it means to me though is take a job as Batgirl (aka newspaper delivery girl) so I can focus on creating my podcast or teaching during the school year so I can have summers off to work on a children’s book.
Almost every decent body of work I have completed I did during a time of unemployment. The nice thing about teaching is having a steady 2 months to focus without having to search for employment. Cause that can be a full time job on its own.

100 Painting Challenge

Monte challenged me to do 100 paintings! AHHHH! I will try. I’m so curious to know how many I have done. I miss my website. In 2010 I made a website using Mac’s iweb. It was the best platform… I miss it so much. It was so easy to navigate, blog, post items for sale. And I’ve never found anything to work quite like it.
Monte explaining sketching procedures

I love his filing cabinets!!!!

Anyway, one of these days I might go through all my portfolios and paintings etc but for now I’m off to work at my desk this Christmas break and looking forward to spending next summer painting. Fingers crossed.
Anyway, I have wanted to share this beautiful day since last April, and haven’t had time. But it’s been the best vacation of reminiscing of a great year and a fantastic life. So lucky to live in Montana!
 And many blessings and thanks toMonte Dolack for sharing his world with me!


Polish Those Shiny Pennies

To be honest my first reaction is probably still my last.


Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams  book is probably my biggest productivity book because it allows me to FOCUS on whats in my head at the minute and evr since i created her scrapbooking jrnal or whatevr she calls it and look back thru it I see Massive Imperfect Progress!!

So even though I have a note on my desk that says


Follow One Course Until Success

What would John Lee do?

I still feel like its important to polish those shiny pennies and feel that part of my overall success is my ability to get so much done and use my time wisely by following my passions… If i had stuck with my art i wld nvr have started the Organic Gardener Podcast which has taught me so much and since deep down my all time dream is to be a biographer its not only taught me about gardening and building an audience its taught me ( and built my confidence) how to be a gr8 interviewer..and aftr 3 years of being online my website which had 0 yes 0 views according to Godaddy in 2014 has had over 2500 in 2015! So its helping me learn a lot about getting traffic and creating an audience…

I mean 2016 was INCREDIBLE!!!
I went to Paris


Im gonna break 250,000 downloads any day!!


Bookstore love? Doesn’t that sound dreamy?

Bookstore love?

A lot of people have asked me lately has belonging to SCBWI been beneficial? I have to say 100% No, 1000% , No, 1,000,000%.

Going to events and meeting authors who were just where you were a few years ago as well as authors who have been writing for years is invaluable. The learning curve is incredible.


I recently made the SCBWI blog my homepage. I can’t miss a thing and am current on what’s going on in the Children’s book world every time I open a new page. And I use the shortcut CMD+L all the time! (if you don’t know what that does it means you can open a new page in your browser and just press the command key and the l key at the same time and it will highlight the space bar and search google or whoever your search engine is right away… and if you go to certain websites a lot like amazon, or the organic gardener podcast home page or the library or Facebook or wherever you normally go the website will usually auto-fill after just a few letters)

Anyway… just an FYI if your on the fence about paying $80 or whatever the annual fee is I guarantee its the best buy on the planet. That’s not even $10 a month. It’s incredible what you get and what you learn. I should have been an avid member forever…

“Come up with a simple craft and offer to read your book along with a couple others. The store will love you.” Anyway heres some great advice from the blog. Wouldn’t you love for bookstores to love you. from Mary Anne Fraser

The Freedom Journal | John Lee Dumas | Podcaster’s Paradise | Making Your Dreams Come True


So I’d like to say a little bit about the Freedom Journal by John Lee Dumas.


I think it was so amazing that my Freedom Journal arrived the day before I left for Paris. I have been listening to Entrepreneur on Fire which is John Lee Dumas‘ podcast since the Fall of 2013. Without a doubt it has changed my life as well as many many many others. I often say John will get a nobel peace prize in economics some day for leveling the playing field of business. I feel like I have gotten an MBA from listening to his show. (and yes he is up to episode 1258 today, and I am about 8 episodes behind but basically I have listened to all of them).


Anyway I signed up for John’s Kickstarter campaign back in December so to get my journal the day before I left for Paris in February was a real sign I was on the right path!



So to start day one of my Freedom Journal on Day One of my trip to Paris seemed incredible. When I joined the Freedom Journal Facebook Group, I posted my goal: . Immediately Kate Erickson responded (this is why these guys rock because they actually talk to their listeners all the time)

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 7.28.36 AM

So after pondering Kate’s advice for a few days, I decided maybe she’s right. I should self publish a book and then go from there. So my Freedom Journal goal is:

To self-publish my book Dreams Do Come True on amazon. I decided I would do this in 80 days instead and then spend the last 20 days promoting it and searching for that elusive agent… I have to admit, I am worried I am not gonna reach that goal, as I don’t have as many pages done as I should.

Building Connections

The very first author who had self published a book on amazon was  I met on Instagram was Irina Trzaskos.


I bought it right away and still love it. Especially my Christmas card that year matched one of her illustrations:



20141205-003800.jpgskiing mouse

Some other authors who are helping me on this journey include the amazing marketing maven Katie Davis

How To Write a Childrens Book


 Janet Fox who I met when she was a panelist at my first SCBWI conference in Bozeman, MT



I love her book Faithful, a historical novel about Yellowstone Park. And now her new book the Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle just had an amazing review on B&N.com that will make your order yours today but I’m just warning you, spoiler alert at least for the first couple of chapters . . .


And this week especially! Ona Praderas has been a big inspiration with her book Hip Heroes which just launched yesterday and I highly recommend you order a copy and give her a 5 star review ASAP!



Anyway, I started this post this morning because I have to say, the Freedom Journal has been essential in helping me stay FOCUSED…






I can’t believe how many “ah ha!” moments I have…

How many things I know I should do but never seem to have the time for are getting scratched off my to do list.


I love to go back and reflect, I love the way I notice patterns in my place where you fill in your struggles, I love to read through it, and I can’t wait till it’s done. I think it will be a book I will look back on for years to come and remember different things about building my business.

I love the way it makes me see what I need to do to move forward. It organizes my ideas, helps me design my days and weeks focusing on small goals and helps me create this sense of urgency with a specific deadline, it has to get down in this sprint.

How many realitizations I’ve had…. since I started to follow the Freedom Journal  steps.




It also inspires me to take chances. To step outside my comfort zone, to analyze what I have to do to move forward.


but speaking of this sprint time to work on Dreams Do Come True… this spirit my goal is to have the first 10 pages done ready to give away as a free download for per orders down the line on Launch day … May 5th 2016!

And remember to sign up for my email list to know when launch day is coming and when you can download your first ten pages for free!


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com


I I ahould have tried to make a map when I was there maybe I wouldnt have got lost so much. Still just figuring out all the places I went and streets I walked on and I left my bus map with the manager of the hotel with my left over tickets and said go ride the bus!! Ser Paris from above ground! Don’t be in such a hurry!


Day 4 in Paris | Paris Dream Comes True | An American Artist Goes To France

GareStLazarrePanoramaToday starts out at the Gare Saint-Lazare

I woke up at midnight tossing and turning, determined to figure out my train ticket. I don’t think I ever went back to bed, maybe for a little bit. By 8:30 am I was headed out, determined to get to to Marseilles… My $300 trip was now over $500 plus I would need to stay in Marseilles overnight?

The final  decision, after I packed and everything came … when I checked my phone… STORM… RAIN… awful weather headed towards the coast and Spain…

RouenTrainDepartSo time to change plans. My mom had suggested I take the train to the countryside and go to Rouen… to do this I would need to leave from the Gare Saint-Lazare.


These were some cute cards I thought… I do tend to take a lot of pictures of notecard stands as proof of concept… people tell me this is a dying form everyone just sends emails anymore but at the same time I see them at every checkout stand….

I got there at just the right time to get a ticket, but the the train was late so I had some time to look around. I had wanted to spend a good deal of time in books stores, so I went to a little magazine/newspaper shop and started to read. The regular newspapers seemed to complicated (part of why I had wanted to really sit in the children’s bookstores…) but after looking at several Vogues and Cosmos etc, I stumbled upon the Gardening magazines. These were lovely and it was hard to choose. I know I made the right choice when I got home and Mike even found some things he liked even though he couldn’t read a word of it!

Finally we’re off… It’s an hour and a half ride to Rouen… We will go right by Giverny?! I can’t wait. Even though I can barely keep my eyes open… I want to look out the countryside. The French trains are so stylish and comfy with plush seats in purple and green even thought they seem quite old (maybe they get a lot of use…) very chic and soft.

When I finally arrive in Rouen, all I want is to sit down enjoy some coffee and breakfast. I decide I am going to treat myself to a real meal today. I’ve been here half my trip and haven’t really eaten out at all except my first day… so I think this will be the perfect place to enjoy a nice meal… some yummy eggs? My Uncle had told me you could get great omlettes in Paris for a decent price so I figured maybe today was the day even though I was in the country…

If you know me… you know one thing… I never go downhill first. I walked past the first cute little coffee shop thinking there would be more. I should have spent more time studying the map perhaps… Idk… But out on the street and up behind the station I headed… up… up… up…





I did find this little tiny boulangerie at the top of the hill, where I got a cold little mini quiche … Did I mention how cold it was out?  It’s freezing by the way (btw) so walking uphill is quite helpful to keep me warm as well… the sun is trying to come out… It’s funny, for being such a sweets girl I never bought any pasteries or those tiny little pettit fours or anything while I was there… (well maybe that’s not true… 2xs I bought a little baked good to get change…) But I walked by quite a few of these cute little pasterie boulangeries and never bought any chocolates or fancy treats…

Quite the view once I got up on top… Seems like a lot of exercise…


I love this cool car!


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I watched this cat walk back and forth across that roof several times trying to get down. I know Mike would have liked it!

Finally a place to eat!!! The first place I walked by!!  These kids were eating these chocolate treats that just looked absolutely to die for so I had to try a chocolate waffle instead of my dreamy eggs… I thought about trying chocolate mousse but I figured the kids probably knew what was best. They looked like local students? They didn’t have any eggs at this place btw…. And it had a full bar?

Is that a typical thing in France to have a bakery/coffee place in a bar?

I barely had time to eat and start my sketch and it was time to hop on the train to Giverny  … oh did I mention, I had decided to go back and walk around Giverny… driving by had about killed me on the train ride to Rouen and I just had to go back and check it out even if the gardens weren’t open.

I follow the feet right out the door!! So excited! And first off I see Bicycle rentals!!! I think oooh! Maybe I can get an off season deal?!


But no, it was too early. No bikes yet… (Another bar mind you…)

So I head into town, sure I’m following the sign to the Musee that I’m also sure says open all year even though it was in FRENCH… I’m sure that’s what it said… but it didn’t matter because I never did find it…

OK Cool! A sandwich shop I can get some real food, but she was basically closing down for the day and didn’t have a salad or sandwich, just some bread from the morning… I figured I could find something ahead…

Can you believe it! A farmer’s market! What luck!!!! I’m so excited! And they were closing so it seemed like a good time to meet some farmers… but… I realize that my Stay City Apartment friends were right again!!! Don’t expect people outside of Paris to speak English as easily as people in Paris do…

I did get some yummy carrots to snack on and some cilantro, a fresh lemon and a turnip for dinner from this lovely couple. I handed out a few Organic Gardener Interview questions and business cards but I don’t think anyone could possibly understand what I was saying …

Did I mention that the bus drivers really take care of you? … I know this is a little off topic, but they really do… even if they don’t speak English they seem to be able to say … Madame, you want to get off here, or they will even take you to the right bus stop if they are going by where you want to go…. if you use your ticket within an hour I think it usually works for a transfer… ANOTHER PLUS FOR RIDING THE BUS!! As if you need another?

This guy spoke fairly good english! He sold me the blue bling case for my phone I got!!! I just love it and it would keep my phone safe… if I hadn’t shattered my screen already. But I’ll be set when I get it fixed now. And I’ll always remember my blue bling Paris case and trip overtime I look at my phone…


Finally! I find this cute little underpass. It’s got the most  awesome mural… I didn’t get a good shot underneath … there were a bunch of teenagers down there… and I thought I should give them some privacy…

Finally I find the bike path. IDK why I never set my run meter, I’m sure I must have walked miles and miles on this day… More graffiti even out here even though it’s kind of nice…

I took a million pictures of houses in both Rouen and Giverny… you’ll have to wait till I paint them to see them… but this is just proof that I can get completely lost anywhere. I thought this treelined path should take me directly back to the train station but no… I ended up way far away… I passed this really cool skate park, I don’t know if you can see it well but it had an awesome ramp or two…

But I managed to get back to the station just in time… I had less then a 10 minute wait and was I ready to sit down…


Just another example of the biggest Contradiction I thought about Parisians… this guy has this giant bag containing a juicer of all things and he’s doing what? Yes.. smoking a cigarette? Have they not heard the news that smoking kills you?


I was so happy when I left here even if I didn’t see any official Monet paintings … I know one thing … I could live there someday … seriously.

I had a LITTLE more luck with these guys… I still haven’t heard from any of them, but they did take my interview papers…

I should have spent my last 5 euros on some of their flowers… they were beautiful and my daffodils in my place were dying and I ended up having to go to another ATM before I got home anyway… I mean what was I thinking? I’m gonna go another 4 days without spending any Euros…

OVERALL A GREAT DAY!!!!GareSt.LazarreBIgSmile