Last `Ordinary’ Week

This week is my last ordinary week before I graduate so I am pretty excited and grateful for all the interesting experiences I had in High School. At Big Sky we only have 4 classes a day, not 8 as they do at Hellgate.  That is why we have Blue Days (periods 1-4) and Gold Days (periods 5-8).

Today was a Blue Day which means that I had Painting Class the first thing in the morning. I took Art all four years which was really fun. My para-teacher, Mark, says that I have a distinct style and that he could recognize a `Stroethoff’ anywhere.  Mostly I like to draw.  I draw most of the cards that I send to people like Birthday Cards or Get Well Soon cards.  This semester we painted a picture of ourselves and we took them to the library for a little display.  Today I brought home some of my work from the semester and I brought home some of the supplies we used during the year. We have done this at the end of every year but this year is different because I am a Senior. Next year I will not be taking Art Classes. My mom says that does not mean I am finished with Art because I can enjoy drawing and painting my whole Adult life and maybe even ceramics and sculpture if I really miss it.

After Painting Class, I have English Class on Blue Days. On Tuesday this week my mom visited English class because she wanted to see how I was doing and how she could continue to help me with my reading next year in my adult life. My reading teacher is Connie and Mikayla is my peer tutor. My mom was very happy to see how hard they make me work on my reading and my thinking as I answer the questions. Connie and Mikayla do not give me the answers; they wait for me to figure it out on my own.  My mom said that she wants to follow in their footsteps next year. Connie said that it is good to read a little bit everyday. Then Mrs. Huffman came to get me for Speech Therapy and my mom wanted to watch us work on the iPAD. First I put the words in the right order for a nice sentence and then I read the sentence out loud. I spoke loudly and clearly and then we played it back so I could hear myself.  At first I couldn’t hear myself very well but Mrs. Huffman told me to use my big voice and then I tried again and spoke in my big voice. She said, `good job, Mathalia’ and I could hear myself better in the recording too.  It was fun! My mom thought that this would be a good thing to work on in my adult life too.

After English and Speech Therapy, I have lunch and then after that I have Culinary Arts which is one of my favorite classes.  My sophomore year I took Culinary Arts 1 twice because it was so much fun and because I learned so many helpful skills. This semester I am taking Culinary 2 which is a lot of fun. Last week when my mom came to visit we made fried rice. I chopped the meat and the peppers.  I also helped with cooking and with cleaning up. Then we all shared our fried rice. My mom thought it was delicious and wants me to make it again at home as part of the things I will learn for my adult life.  Sure!  No problem! In Culinary Arts 2 we have also made pie crusts, soups and breads.  I like helping with measuring, chopping vegetables, washing, drying and putting away the clean dishes and the dirty towels.

After Culinary Arts I have Voc Prep 2 or I take the Ag Ed bus to Dillards and then I walk to the bus stop and go to Prudential on Tuesdays and The Writing Center on Fridays. On Tuesday I worked at Prudential. There were no bills but I helped prepare Sales and Listing Files. I had to make lots of copies. My mom was impressed that I can make two-sided copies and that I remember all the code numbers.  Of course! I know what I am doing, silly mom!

Tomorrow is a Gold Day which means that I have Orchestra, Creative Writing, Lunch, Ag Ed. and Voc Prep 2. Tomorrow in Orchestra we will be celebrating a very successful Final Spring and Award Concert. Our Concert was Wednesday night and we played Allegretto from Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven or The King’s Speech, Symphony No.1 second movement by Mahler and Jupiter Theme from `The Planets’ by Holst. Mrs. Haarvig gave out awards for District:  I got one Award for my Solo and one Award for my Duet with David.  David will receive his Award on Friday because he could not come to the Concert. I missed him very much. She gave all the Orchestra friends their Awards and then she gave me a yellow rose because I am a Senior and will be graduating. My mom says that it was a Gold rose because Orchestra has always been on Gold Days and that Gold Days are special because I like Orchestra so much. Then we showed my slide show—the one my friend Rachel helped me make. It was fun! We played some more music and then it was all done. I am afraid that I must report that my mom was being a little silly during the concert. I wanted to tell her that it will be okay. We will figure out new and different ways for me to enjoy playing my violin.

Orchestra Class with Mrs. Haarvig.

Orchestra Class with Mrs. Haarvig.

After Orchestra on Gold Days, I have Creative Writing. In August my mom made a list of classes that I could take and I chose Creative Writing and I am so glad that I did. We read lots of poetry and short stories and I wrote many poems and a story this year. Our last assignment is to make two handmade books with our favorite stories and poems from the whole year. We have to make two books exactly the same:  one for us to take home and the other one for our teacher Lorilee.  My mom and I worked on my book last weekend and we are going to work on it again over Memorial Day Weekend. It is a big project. Wednesday night—right before the concert we had an Aerie Reading. They did not read my short story `Just Before Spring on My Street’ but I know that it will be published in Aerie Big Sky. My mom ordered two copies because she is so proud of me.   This is one of the first poems that I wrote this Fall:

My Violin is

by Mathalia Stroethoff

A vintage voyage, an old journey

Symphony recital Orchestra concert,

trip Beethoven, Mozart, Bach

Practice and Practice and Practice

to wonder worlds sing in my ear and soul.

Row bridge boat over quiet whisper water

paddle rhythm until beaching in another land.

After Creative Writing, we have lunch break. I usually like to take hot lunch but sometimes they serve something that I don’t like.  On those days I take a cold lunch. On the first day of every month I ask Wendy for the Hot Lunch Menu for that month.  I take a copy home and decide which days I want to take hot lunch and which days I want to take cold lunch. I write this on my calendar. I pack my own cold lunches so my mom doesn’t need to think about it at all. I always bring my own water bottle because I always say `no thank you’ to juice, milk or pop because they cause me to get more congested and then my left eye starts to bother me which is rather unpleasant. I hang out with teacher Mark and other friends during the lunch hour in the cafeteria

After lunch on Gold Days, I change into my Ag. Ed. clothes and take a bus out to the Ag Center Farm.  In the Fall my teacher was Mr. Andres and we studied Animal Science.  One assignment was that I had to cook supper and bring in a little in a plastic bag to show Mr. Andres that I really did cook with meat.  He wanted us to know where our food comes from. I don’t think he knew that we have friends in Eastern Montana who give us real grass-fed beef.  Yum! I also gave a pig a shot in this class! It was fun! In the Spring I studied Plant Science with Mr. Venier. We planted seeds in January and now I have beautiful tomato plants; well, they are not so beautiful anymore since we brought them home. I hope we can figure out how to take good care of them.  My mom is not as good as Mr. Venier is with growing plants. How do you like the beautiful geraniums he and the students grew in the greenhouse?

After Ag. Ed. I change back into my nice school clothes and get ready for Voc. Prep 2 or I go to work. Tomorrow I will stay at school and work at Eagle’s Nest Thrift Store. Then I will ride the school bus home which will be very nice because it is not very often that I ride the bus home anymore because I am so busy. My mom says that I will miss the school bus next year. Yes, maybe I will miss it but for now I am excited about graduation and the start of my adult life:  two more Gold Days and two more Blue Days and one day to practice and then GRADUATION! I am so excited!

Inspiring Student and Special Olympics

This week was really fun because of Special Olympics and because of a special dinner honoring inspiring students.  I hardly know how to begin to tell everything!  I like it dance was my favorite part!  My friends Jessica and Kenzie thought carrying the Torch for Opening Ceremonies was very special!  I will start with Wednesday and then try to tell everything in order:  Track and Field Day  I got to hold the Torch for Opening Ceremonies and lead the Parade of Athletes around the track field.  My friends, Jessica and Kenzie, got to walk with me and it was really fun to do it together.  Sometimes the Torch would blow out because of the wind but the policewoman would light it for me again.

It was very exciting and my mom took lots of pictures but only a few turned out well.  After Opening Ceremonies we had lunch and then I ran 50 meter race and after that race I played soccer with my team. I think we won but my mom thinks we lost but it doesn’t really matter because we had lots of fun!   In the later afternoon and evening we had the dance which is always my favorite part and then we ate a delicious turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, green beans, and a delicious homemade roll.  I had a piece of cake and then my mom whisked me off to the next event in the gym across the hall.  This was the National Honor Society induction ceremony.  Somehow I missed it last year but my teacher, WyAnn, made sure that I got in this year which was really nice of her.  After the candle lighting exchange from Seniors to Juniors—I got a little mixed up because I was a Senior getting inducted and not a Junior but it all worked out in the end.  At the end then I got another piece of cake—it was so big that I shared it with my mom and dad.   And then we went home;  I was very tired and very excited about everything.

On Thursday we had Special Olympics bowling which was fun.  I went bowling with Megan and with Jacob.  It was funny because there were two M.S.’s playing but I knew when it was my turn to bowl.  I did a good job. I got a strike once and a couple of times I got a spare.  My mom thought that was pretty good.  My score was 71, I think, but I really did not keep track of scores and things like that. Then we went back to school and had lunch.  I went swimming after school for a short time but I had to get out early and put on my pretty dress to get ready for the Inspirational Student Dinner.  The event was very exciting.  They had a name tag waiting for me and they took me to table 27.  We had six people at our table:  my mom and dad, WyAnn my teacher and two more Big Sky Friends.  We listened to speeches and then the students had to get ready and my principal, Mr. Laboski called my name and I walked up the stage where Dr. Apostle gave me a medal and I shook lots of people’s hands and everyone clapped and then I sat down with my mom and dad and friends.  Everyone was very proud of me and very thankful for the wonderful honor.  There were only two students per grade for each school and I was one of them which was a very special honor. We had strawberry shortcake for dessert.  The strawberries were very good!  After the dinner we took some more pictures and talked to friends.  And then we went home; I was very tired and very excited about everything.

Then on Friday we had Special Olympics Swimming which was really fun because I saw lots of swimming friends at the pool.  My Coach Sarah was there and she was helping everyone and she helped me too.  I cheered my friends when they swam their races.  And I swam 100 free and 100 breast.  My mom and Sarah were there making sure I swam a nice, legal breast stroke. And I did!  It was fun!  I didn’t get my ribbons from swimming yet but my mom thinks I got a blue ribbon for the 100 breast because I was the only swimmer swimming the 100 breast which was not much competition.  It was fun.  After swimming, I still had more school and then work at the Writing Center.

What a busy day and what a busy week.  My mom laughed and laughed when she saw me come to the Writing Center:  I was carrying all the stuff I needed for that day and two snack containers from Special Olympics:  my school backpack, my swim bag, my violin for orchestra class, and two buckets from the snacks my mom sent and I was wearing my Letterman jacket and it was 70 degrees outside.  When I turned the corner, my mom couldn’t believe that I brought all that stuff on the Ag. Ed. bus and then walked to Mt. Line Bus stop at the Mall and then got on Bus #1 to Miller Hall and walked to The Writing Center.  She felt sorry for me so she took some of the stuff home so I wouldn’t have to carry it home all by myself.  But when I got home, she insisted that I do it all over again for a picture.  Silly mom.   So I had to put my letterman jacket back on and my back pack, my swim bag, my violin in one hand and the two snack containers in the other hand.

My Letterman Jacket

On Tuesday I was so excited about the Swim Banquet because I am a Senior and it was my turn.  After we picked up my friend, Jenny, we got to the Banquet on time and got some ice-cream.  There were lots of people and it was hard to find a seat.  I wanteto see the slide show but Coach Helen wanted to start with awards.  Then it was Big Sky’s turn and I went up in front with my friends Caelin and Jenny;  Cameron came later.  Coach Helen said nice things about each one of us and we got a package with blue and gold ribbons for Big Sky:  a North Face back pack, a big laundry bag with my name on it and a blue/gold pot holder from myself :-).  And then my swim friends came up and gave me a letterman jacket!  My friends helped me put it on and then everybody stood up and clapped. Then I went back to sit with Jenny and I wore my new jacket.  Coach Helen gave more awards and we had a slide show of lots of pictures from High School Swimming.  It was fun!  My favorite part was the jacket and the slideshow and the ice-cream! (Click here if you want to read about Missoula Invitational Swim Meet and click here if you want to read about High School State Swim Meet in Hardin.)

After the banquet my mom wanted to take pictures with friends and with coaches.  Coach Helen said:  next year I hope you come to Masters’ Swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  And my friend Hailey said:  next year I hope you will come to the Grizzly Pool to watch us swim. We took my friend Jenny home and then we were in the car and we were quiet and I was thinking and then I said `next year.’  My mom said, `Hand me a kleenex, please.’  And then she reminded me what Coach Helen said about swimming Masters and what my friend Hailey said about watching my friends swim next year.  `Are you a little sad?’ she asked me.  `No, I am happy.’  At home I put our senior picture `This is not our first Rodeo’ poster in my scrapbooking box `High School Swimming is all done,’ I said and then I went to bed.  I was tired and excited both at the same time. 

On Wednesday I wore my Letterman Jacket on the bus to school.  My mom told the bus driver about the Swim Banquet and about the jacket.  She was crying a little bit.  Silly mom. But now I know when she does that that she is giving thanks and being proud of me so it is okay.  At school I did not put my jacket in my locker.  I wanted to wear it to my classes.  In painting class, I was careful not to get any paint on it;  in Culinary Arts I was careful not to get any dough on it; and at lunch I was careful not to spill my lunch on it.   I wanted to wear my Letterman Jacket because . . .  well just because I was grateful and proud and excited . . .  everything!  

On Thursday, I got up early and helped pack the car to drive to Utah to see Matthan swim.  I wore my Letterman jacket in the car.  When we got to Deer Lodge my mom asked me if I was warm and if I wanted to take off my jacket.  So I took it off because the car was warm.  I made 10 pot holders and then my mom wanted to listen to The Iliad by Homer.  She said that that after The Iliad we could read The Hobbit.  And that is what we did. We got to the hotel in Salt Lake City and then ate dinner at McDonalds.  I had grilled chicken wrap, small fries, garden salad and water with no ice.  At the hotel my mom and I watched Downton Abbey.  It was so happy with the baby and then it was so sad.  

In the morning we got up and ate breakfast.  I made 10 pot holders and then I played games with Grandpa and then Uncle Jeff came and we played more games. And then we waited and waited for Matthan.  We were so excited!  And then Matthan came to the hotel with his USC swimming friends.  I showed him my Letterman Jacket but he was not very surprised about it—he already knew I was going to get it—he kept the secret.  Good job, Matthan!   He said that it looked nice on me and we took a picture together.  And then we talked and talked and talked.  It was fun!  Then after McDonalds with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Jeff we went to the swim meet.  Matthan swam 50 breast.  Go Matthan!  Go SC! It was fun!

Saturday morning we got up and we ate breakfast in the hotel and we played more games and did more talking and then it started to snow.  It was very prettyeveryone was worried about the roads for going home.  But Matthan was very excited to see the snow!  He misses snow in southern California.  Then we went to the swim meet.  Matthan swam 100 breast, 200 breast, and 200 IM.  Go Matthan!  Go SC!  It was fun.

We drove home in the snowstorm:  I made 10 more pot holders;  I listened to The Iliad for my mom; and in the night I took a nap and then we were home!  Sunday we went to church, unpacked our stuff, worked on homework and then relaxed.  

playing games together at the hotel
playing games together at the hotel
Go SC!  Go Matthan!
Go SC! Go Matthan!
USC @ Utah
USC @ Utah
#1 SC Fan!
#1 SC Fan!
sporting Trojan and Eagles gear
sporting Trojan and Eagles gear

crazy southern California boys

with my coaches

with my coaches

My Very Fun Long Weekend With Winter Special Olympics

Two ribbons and one medal for skiing and snowshoeing!

Two ribbons and one medal for skiing and snowshoeing!

I had a fun weekend with no school on Monday and Special Olympics on Tuesday and Wednesday! So this week I have only two days of school: one Gold Day and one Blue Day. I am tired but I am excited to wear my medals to show my friends at school. Anyway, I had a busy weekend and a time to catch-up at least a little; my mom likes it when we get paperwork done!

So on Friday I got home and found the schedule for my swim meet in Helena on the table waiting for me. That made me excited to get ready for Saturday. So I packed my stuff all by myself! And then I went hunting for my mom. She was in the attic working. I joined her and did a little weaving on my big loom. There was something wrong with foot treadle #3 so my mom helped me a little but mostly I was weaving all by myself. Then I was going to make some pot holders but I changed my mind and asked my mom to read The Hobbit with me. It was scary. The gobblins came into the cave and took all their packages, baggages and ponies too. I went to bed early and got up at 5:00. My mom said it was too early but I wanted to get ready all by myself. The only thing my mom helped me with is a pillow: she asked me if I would like a pillow so I could sleep on the bus. I said `yes.’

My mom said that this was my last regular swim meet and that she remembered driving Morielle and Matthan to Sentinel parking lot for their meets. This would be the last time for the early Saturday morning drive. It was very dark and gloomy with fog. I saw the pretty moon and I saw my mom crying: `what are you doing?’ `I am giving thanks; could you hand me a kleenex, please.’ silly mom.

On Sunday Grandma and Grandpa were sick and the piglets at the FFA Farm had not come yet so we stayed home and worked on homework. Then when we were done doing our paperwork, we finished watching The Dark Knight Rises. There was a football game and The Star Spangled Banner and I liked that part and then the game went crazy with guns and shooting and people screaming. It was scary. What happened is more guns and shooting and funny flying cars. And then it was sad at the memorial service.

I went to Winter Special Olympics on Tuesday and Wednesday. I rode the bus and watched a movie. I went nordic skiing and I went snow shoeing; I did not ride the snowmobile and I did not ride the sleigh or go sledding. Then I went to the hotel and had the dinner and the dance. I ate pasta, salad, bread, cake and ice cream. Then we had the dance. I got to wear my prom dress again because the theme was `It’s a Formal Affair.’  My roommate, Jade, told my mom that I was the dancing queen again. It was fun! I slept in the hotel room with Jade and on Wednesday I went skiing again and snowshoeing again. I won two ribbons and one medal. It was fun. I rode the bus home and watched another movie. My mom came to get me and we went home. I told her everything that we did in the car. At home I unpacked my stuff and packed for a Gold Day. And then we ate supper and we heard a noise:  what’s that funny noise?  It was Morielle calling on the computer!  It is called FaceTime. So my mom put the computer on the desk and we talked to Morielle while we ate our supper. It was almost like having her home for dinner except that she had just gotten up in the morning. I showed her my jar of applesauce and she wanted me to pass it right through the computer so she could eat some for her breakfast! We said `goodbye’ on the computer and then I got ready for bed because I was very tired.

My Very Fun Missoula Invitational Swim Meet Weekend!

100 meter breast stroke race

100 meter breast stroke race

Missoula Invitational Swim Meet 2013 is my turn! I remember when it was Matthan’s turn: 2010. I remember taking a picture with Matthan, mom and Mathalia. It was fun! This year it was my turn to take a picture with mom and dad. Grandma and grandpa were there too. Grandma was taking pictures with friends: Mathalia and Jenny; Mathalia and Caelin. And then they called my name and Kathleen Ward took my picture with mom and dad and by myself and with my senior friends.  It was so fun!

And then Dan at KPAX took my picture with a big camera and he clipped a little microphone on my sweatshirt and then he talked to me about swimming and about violin and then he talked to my mom about swimming and about violin and about everybody cheering for me. She cried a little. silly mom.

Jenny wrote my races on my arm so I was on-time: 50-free, 200 relay, 100 breast. I remembered swoosh—no poufs. My mom was happy about that–no D.Q.’s. silly mom–it doesn’t matter!

On Sunday I went to church and everybody was talking about the newspaper and I didn’t understand until we got home and my mom showed me my name in the newspaper about Hellgate Girls! I was so proud and excited! I read the newspaper with my mom and then I took it to grandma and grandpa’s house and they read the newspaper and grandma made a copy and then my dad read the newspaper. Everybody was talking about it at swim practice Monday morning. So this year it is my turn and it is fun!

On Monday I got up at 5:00 to swim then I practiced violin and made 10 pot holders. I worked on my Senior Project paper work with my mom. Then we went cross-country skiing. I fell down and I got back up all by myself. Then we went to Joseph’s Coat and my mom bought me a button for my new hat. It’s cute. Then I read The Hobbit with my mom. It was a crazy fast day! The one thing I wanted to do was to read The Hobbit and we did! The one thing my mom wanted to do was to go skiing and we did! And then I went to bed early: 6:30!

And this . . . from mom . . .

I knew the senior recognition was coming and I knew the KPAX interview was coming; I just didn’t want them to come—somehow block them out or cut me out of the picture. Saturday morning I read a very meaningful blog from Morielle in China wondering about her future and of course, I immediately transferred her thoughts to my worries about Mathalia’s future after high school: all the concerns packed into my little brain AND this being her last high school swim meet in Missoula, AND wishing they could do the T.V. interview without me. Hah! So the simple prayer from James, may we do the right thing and may you use Mathalia and her story as it goes to a wider audience.

Interestingly, the KPAX reporter asked me about her disability: what is her disability? Huh? I don’t know . . . yes, I have to fill in paperwork about her disability but I rarely talk about it: it is written on her face. So maybe I said something like: Down Syndrome, Cognitive Delay, low-muscle tone, speech issues, impairment? not sure what I said.

Then he asked me about her name! Wow! Okay, dear Lord, here you are working: `it took three months; we wanted something meaningful for her. Athalia means the LORD has shown His strength . . . through her weakness. This certainly has been the case and can be seen clearly with her presence on the team.’ So far, so good until he asked me about my thoughts regarding the cheers and response from the crowd irrespective of team loyalties. . . . well, you know, silly mom.

Anyway, I’m not done with the story: another example of how very very present I have been experiencing my Heavenly Father this year: Sunday morning reading the Old Testament Lectionary Reading for the second Sunday after The Epiphany, Isaiah 62

. . . and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD shall give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of your God.

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,/Disability

     and your land no more be termed Desolate/cognitive delay

but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her and your land Married;

       for the LORD delights in you . . .

as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,

           so shall your God rejoice over you.

So present, so very very present. My mind was filled with unpleasant labels and misgivings about not being able to keep my composure in front of the camera. And thinking, wondering about Mathalia’s future. Yes, this is her Senior Year and it is a lot of fun and very exciting but after this, then what? She has a disability very much so. My heart is worried and troubled about many things. AND he knew this and he prepared a reading for me, just for ME because we did not read that passage in church. Mathalia shall be called `My Delight Is in Her’ and the Lord delights in her and her God shall rejoice over her. No need for me to be anxious and trouble. He has got Mathalia covered in his wings. So well primed my tears that you can imagine what happened in church when we sang the line: He lives to calm trouble hearts in I know that My Redeemer Lives and when my pastor read the newspaper article in the adult Sunday school class. I am a complete basket-case this year AND Mathalia takes it all in stride: `2013 is my turn.’ Surrounded by ten thousand gifts and I am worried and troubled about many things. silly mom.

May I be given the power to enjoy them; the power to see and enjoy is also a gift of God. Ecclesiastes chapter 5 🙂