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Guatemala Again!

I am all signed up to build another house in Guatemala July 6-12!  I will build with my Aunt and Uncle’s Team Dakota unless . . . a Team Missoula comes together. I wonder . . .

It all started with my Grandma and Grandpa! They gave me a high school graduation gift: go to Guatemala and work! I built a house for a family.  We were called Team Casas: my mom, uncles, aunt and cousins, and some new friends.

Monday morning we packed Brandon’s truck with all our tools; leveled the ground, prepared the foundation and poured cement.

Tuesday the walls went up and we poured the cement for the front porch.

Wednesday we hammered up the siding, put in electric, and worked on the roof. I took some breaks and played games with the children. And I had Spanish Lessons!

Thursday we finished the house and had the Dedication.

Friday we went to Antigua just for fun. I went on a hike with Ron, Kay, my Mom and Uncle Jeff. We also went shopping and ate lunch at McDonalds.

Saturday morning we got up early and went to the airport. When I got home, I knew that I wanted to go to Guatemala again and build another house. I get to go again. I am excited.

Right now the plan is to go with Team Dakota but I want to ask my friends in Missoula if they would like to make a Team Missoula. It costs a lot of money: $8,000 for the house materials. And then each person has to pay $125.00 for room and board for the week; and airfare to Guatemala City: $700-$800 per person.  It is very expensive.

I get to go again because I am using some of my goat money to pay for my trip this summer! I was in FFA my Senior Year and I raised a goat, Kanga. I sold him at the auction for $2,400!!! I paid for my new chicken coop with that money and I used some to go to China and I will use the rest to go to Guatemala again. Newspaper article about the auction at the Fair. 

So, dear friends in Missoula, I wonder if anyone would like to join me with your time and/or money for a Team Missoula July 5-12, 2014?  If you are interested, please let me know by Saturday, March 29.

Happy Chickens!

The story starts with `sad’ chickens at the Ag. Center  My mom and I were at the FFA Fall BBQ in September. I was having lots of fun seeing all my old FFA friends and eating a potluck dinner. They roasted Lefty and Harold—goats that were friends with my goat, Kanga. Well, Harold was the mean one. But Lefty was a very nice goat. Anyway, I ate some of Lefty’s meat. It was good. It is called `chevon.’ I liked it. My mom was being silly and she just ate salads.

Anyway, back to the `sad’ chickens. It was dark and we were in the car headed for home when my mom suggested that we visit the chickens, `just to see what they do at night.’ We drove around back close to the chicken coop; all I had to do was open the car door. But I didn’t.

`Don’t you want to get out, Mathalia? To see the chickens. Maybe they have started to roost.’

`No. I stay in the car.’

`Aw, Come on! It will only take a minute. Don’t you want to see them find their bed for the night.’

`Stay in the car.’

So I waited for my mom and when she got back all she talked about on the way home was how `sad’ the chickens were: `Oh, Mathalia, the chickens were so sad; they had no place to roost. I counted seven chickens up on the window sill. All the others were huddled next to the door. The poor chickens! We will have to tell Grandpa and maybe he can build them a nice roost.’

And so we told Grandpa. Two days later the next thing I know is that we had an appointment to go out to the Ag Center with Grandma and Grandpa after dinner. There was a big surprise in Grandpa’s truck!  Thank you Grandpa!’

We drove out to the Ag Center in the truck. This time I got out and went to the chicken coop—my mom did not need to try to coax me. I wanted to see how the chickens liked their new furniture. Grandpa put them into the coop. I couldn’t really help very much but I could take pictures. Grandpa drilled the `ladder’ or roost onto the wall so that it would not fall down. And then he drilled the nesting boxes in place.

When everything was all done, we stepped to the side and waited in the big doorway and watched the chickens. They were so funny! They didn’t know what to do with all the new stuff in their hen house.  Popping their heads up and down, looking and looking.

We wondered if they would want to go on the roost without any coaxing. We watched and waited. And then one flew up on one rung and up another step and up another step, just checking it all out. Most of them liked it right away. They settled in very comfortably for the night. They were the `happy’ ones. Then there were some who wanted to stick with their routine of roosting in the window. I completely understand where they were coming from; they wanted their `normal’ sleeping place. But they used the first rung as a launching site to get to their window destination. Three chickens did not want to have anything to do with the new roost. They were huddled next to the door and my mom grabbed them one by one, handed them to me and I put them on the first rung of the roost. Poof! Each one of those three chickens flew right back down to the floor! We tried a couple of times and then just let them have their way. Silly chickens!

Chicken Update: Work

I wrote about enjoying the chickens in my last post. The next thing my mom wanted me to learn: feed and water them, and clean out the coop. The fun was over and now the work! `Wash out the water pan, Mathalia.’ Well, directions like that don’t work for me the first time I do something. So we both held the pan and then her hand pushed my hand around to wipe. We cleaned the little pan together and she did the big bucket. I filled the bucket full of water which was easy. My mom carried the bucket and I carried the pan.

I walked into the coop and I stopped completely frozen at a standstill because the chickens were pecking and making me crazy. My mom said that they were hungry and thirsty and told me to hurry up and put the pan ON the brick so she could give them their water. I shooed the chickens and put the brick IN the pan! I thought my mom would be so proud because I was `shooing’ chickens. But she laughed! And then she did it right so the chickens could have their water without waiting for me to understand directions.

Oh what a relief! The chickens stopped pecking. Once the chickens were happy then I could start helping again. My mom gave me the cup of food and showed me how to pour it into their feed dish. I did not bend down and get close to the dish. I just poured it down on their eating heads.  My mom laughed!!

The next time my mom brought the feed dish outside for me to fill. It was easy to fill it but then the tricky part was getting it back into the coop with all the hungry pecking chickens. My mom opened the door and the chickens rushed at the food and I  froze and dropped the feed dish. My mom started laughing and telling me that I had to pick up the dish and move it to the middle of the hen house.  NO WAY!! Not with so many pecking chickens!

She showed me how to find the handle under the hungry chicken that was perched on top. She started taking pictures while shooing chickens back into the coop and left me to figure it out by myself. And I did! I stepped over the crazy chickens and then I patted the one chicken off the handle and picked up the feed dish and set it down farther inside.  My mom was so proud of me: shooing a chicken and moving the food dish.

One day we had to clean them out. My mom thought I would not be much help but I surprised her! `Clean out the coop’ does not work for me. But scooping the dirty wood shavings into a nice pile far away from the eating chickens and then handing me a shovel and telling me to put the shavings into a bucket was just what I needed. I showed my mom that I like to take care of chickens! We had the coop looking clean with fresh wood shavings ready for the first day of school.

Chicken Update: Part One

I went out to the Ag. Center to feed and water my chickens this weekend and I found an egg!! Well, really my mom told me that there was something very exciting in the chicken coop and I had to find it: I found a big black feather. She laughed and told me to keep looking. Then I saw the egg! I took it home and ate it for breakfast. Yum!!

During the summer we tried to visit the chickens every day. My mom wanted me to get used to them and not be so afraid of their pecking: `Chickens peck, Mathalia; that is just what they do.’

At first, my mom made me go into the coop but I always got scared with all the pecking at my boots and shorts. My mom wanted me to enjoy the chickens and not be afraid of them. We worked out a system: I waited on the stoop and she brought out one chicken at a time. This worked a lot better for me.  Sometimes we remembered a rag for my lap. Sometimes I got poop on my pants: `That’s what happens when you are a farm girl, Mathalia!’

My mom sat with me and the stoop and kept an eye on the chicken because . . . if the pecking startled me, I let go of the chicken! Hah! And I don’t run after chickens—that’s my mom’s job: `Mathalia! Don’t let go! I am not fast enough to catch her and you are not going to help me!’ In fact, my mom was pretty good at catching chickens—too bad I never got a picture of her chasing a chicken. But you never know maybe such a photo op can still happen :).

After petting and talking to the chicken, we took her around to the outdoor chicken run. My mom held the chicken while I climbed the ladder. Then she handed me the chicken and my mom yelled:` Hold her Mathalia; don’t let go!’ And she would run around, get her camera ready and say, `Okay now!’ Hah!  We sure have had a lot of fun trying to get nice pictures!

Senior Year Slide Show

My friend Rachel, my mom and I made a video to share at the Missoula Aquatic Club Banquet May 2013. My mom printed and cut up 100s of photos; I chose the ones I liked; I wrote the captions and then I typed them into the computer. I selected the music and my friend Rachel came over and put it all together. Today my friend Christy taught my mom how to upload it and embed it in a post. I am excited that I can share it!

Siblings Part Three

Thursday, August 1, was a normal day at home: visiting my lamb, Domino, and my goat, Kanga, at the Ag Center and helping my FFA friends get ready for the Fair. It was on my list to go to Adult Swim after a short nap but I did not wake up until suppertime. My mom said it was okay, `You were exhausted, Mathalia; you needed to sleep.’ In the evening Matthan showed us his Green Mountain Summer pictures from Vermont. He can be a very wild and crazy brother when he is hanging out with his friends. Then he helped me post a picture on Facebook. I hope I can remember how to do it after he is back in Los Angeles!

Friday morning I went to lap swim with my mom and I had a very `Adult life’ adventure which my mom thought was fabulous but I was NOT very excited about it at all!! The morning started out just fine: we got up early and ate a little snack, rode the tandem to the pool, checked-in for lap-swim, swam, took a shower AND then she rode the tandem home without ME! She LEFT me at the pool!! While I was in the shower, she told me:  `I am frustrated, Mathalia, because you are soooo SLOW; I have things to do at home; I am NOT going to wait for you.’  And then in case, I did not understand or hear her words above the noise of the shower, she wrote me a note and left it on my swim bag. Wow! I was hurt and angry!! You should have seen me walking home: boy, was I quick!! When I got home she was happy and PROUD of me for my very quick walking AND for my very `adult’ problem-solving skills but I was still pretty ANGRY as you can imagine! I felt better after I had eaten a full breakfast and unpacked my swim bag.

By 4:00 when my mom was leaving for Spokane to pick up Morielle, I was happy and we had worked it all out. Still she thought I would want to stay home, relax, go to bed early, see Morielle in the morning. `NO WAY!! I want Morielle.’ And so she let me come along with her: more driving, more pot holders, more napping in the car. We got to Spokane early and then Dad texted Mom that the flight was delayed even more so we ate our little supper snack and then my mom took a nap in the car. I was messing around with my camera, taking pictures of her while she was sleeping and that woke her up so then we were both playing around with out cameras. It was funny.

But then it was time to get Morielle so we put money in the meter for parking the car and then we went inside and we waited some more. I was ready and waiting with my camera to take a picture of Morielle when she came out of  airplane! Morielle thought it was all very funny: no one was coming to greet her with a hug: I was trying to get a good photo and my mom was taking pictures of me taking pictures of Morielle. Morielle thought we were both CRAZY. Finally, we were happy with our photos and could give Morielle a welcome-home hug. She thought we were being very funny with our cameras but we take our photography very seriously.

Lots of talking and laughing in the car on the way home and then Morielle suggested a funny radio show: Cabin Pressure. It was very funny but then my mom started to fall asleep so we stopped listening and she and I took naps while Morielle drove us home: glad she had not forgotten how to drive a car!

Domino Up-Date

Lamb Weigh-in at the Ag. Center was a long time ago and I am just now writing about it! So much has happened since then and I will try to bring you up-to-date. Lamb weigh-in was very easy for me and it did not seem to be too sore for my little lamb, Domino.  Friends helped me with the paperwork and then we led Domino on the leash and we waited in line. I remembering hog weigh-in was so noisy; the pigs were squealing and kicking and fighting the whole way. Lamb weigh-in was very quiet—maybe a little `baaing’ from the lambs but no squealing and kicking and dragging while they moved down the line. Maybe when it was each one’s turn, we would hear a little `baaa’ but no squealing or squawking. When it was our turn, they took out Domino’s yellow tag with my name on it and they put in another tag with the number 322.  And they painted some green paint on his ear and gave him another stamp. He `baaed’ a little bit and we had to get him on the scale:  34 pounds.  Mr. Venier said that we would work on it so that he would grow bigger and stronger before the Fair. We took him for a little walk and then we put him in the outside coral while we went to talk to the chickens.
Lucas helped us find my chickens and we painted green finger nail polish on their feet again. We only painted the feet of 6 chickens, not 8.  Lucas said that my two Polish Hens didn’t make it—they are very hard to take care of when they are little he said. My mom said that six chickens is very good—now we are completely legal if we decide to move them to our house in the city sometime this summer.
When I was in school, we took Domino for a walk when we were not busy with something else. One time we went for a long walk and then it started to rain!! We were very far from his pen so we all got wet. My mom wanted me to walk fast but I usually slow down in the rain so she took Domino back to the pen as fast as he could walk. My mom called Kayti to see if he would be okay or if he would get cold. We were very cold and wet but Kayti said that Domino would be just fine.
And sure enough the next when we went to take him for a walk the next day, he was warm and dry. This time we did not go very far away from his pen. Then we visited the chickens and they were much calmer than the day before when it was raining. Sometimes the chickens are CRAZY; they are always pecking and trying to get out the door and then other days they are happy and softly clucking, making their nice soft chickens sounds. On those days we go into the coop; I bring in a chair and sit down and my mom puts a towel on my lap to catch the chicken poop. I like to put out my arm hoping that a chicken will fly up and roost on my arm. My mom catches the chickens one by one and puts them on my lap so I can pet them and talk to them. It is really fun. I mostly like it when they roost on my arm, my shoulder or even my head! One time I had seven chickens on my lap and I was not scared! It was fun!
After lamb weigh-in day we had 4-H Extravaganza which was really fun for me because I learned a lot of new things about animals and how to take care of them and I won a prize that would help me with my new lamb. We started with the a BBQ dinner with hamburgers, salad and cake for dessert. Then we had The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. I liked that part and I liked the part about winning prizes! My name was called and I got to pick a prize. Tianna helped me choose a green halter for Domino. Then we learned about goats and about showing sheep and pigs. My mom thought it looked like a lot to learn: holding the lamb by his head, leading him in a line with the other lambs and owners, making the lamb stop and stand straight, looking good and strong, keeping his legs out straight, watching the judge and changing sides as the judge moves down the line looking at all the lambs. The older FFA students tried to encourage her and said that they would help us and the best thing we could do was to go to the Ag Center everyday to take Domino for a walk so that is what we have been trying to do.
AND then Domino got sick and didn’t grow. My mom was wondering about why he wasn’t getting bigger like some of the other sheep and then some friends told her that other lambs were sick too—they had caught an upper respiratory infection from the goats and that two lambs had died. Oh, no, now what do we do??!!  Fortunately, Mr. Andres talked to her about it and told her that he gave Domino some medicine and that he had a red line on his back because they were watching him. Okay. That sounds good.  And then he said that he thought I should take a goat instead of Domino to the fair because he did not think Domino would `make weight’ which means that he has to weigh 110 pounds by the Fair. So he got all the paperwork ready and I filled it out and signed my name; he signed his name and my mom signed her name and then Mr. Andres showed me my goat: # 608. He was not a very friendly goat because the FFA student who chose him at first didn’t take him for walks or give him treats so then I was able to take him. He was very jumpy and feisty as my mom likes to say. I tried to take him for a walk but he did not come with me so my mom had to take him for a walk:  he jumps; he squawks like a goat, not like a pig; he sticks his tongue out, puts his bottom on the ground and squawks: I will not walk with you!! and then he pounces! Sometimes it is scary so that is why my mom takes Kanga on the leash and not me!! I named him `Kanga’ because he jumps like a Kangaroo and I like the book `Winnie-the-Pooh.’
Of course my mom did not want to abandon Domino completely so now when we go to the Ag Center. We catch Domino and then we catch Kanga and then we go for a walk together. This is on a perfectly good, normal day. Some days, my mom spends a long time running around the field trying to catch Domino—he does not come with the other sheep when she brings a bucket of grain for treats. And some days some of Kanga’s friends come out of the pen when they are not supposed to and then my mom ties Kanga’s leash to my arm, otherwise I will let him go when he gets a little jumpy and then she has to run around, chasing the other goats back into their pen, getting them grain to try to make them want to go in their pen. Every day at the Ag Center is a little bit different!  One day while my mom was out trying to catch Domino in the field, four pigs got out and they took our shoes and started to play with them and snort around with them! It was CRAZY! I was all by myself and I might have said, `stop it pigs.’but my voice is very soft so they didn’t hear me but I was too scared to shoo them off our shoes, like my mom had to do when she got back with Domino. So anyway, after the walks and the treats, I always want to go see the chickens! My mom tries to talk me out of it sometimes when things haven’t been going well with goat and lamb chasing: aren’t you tired, Mathalia?  Don’t you want to go home? and go to bed? NO, I want to see the chickens. And I always win! In the chicken coop, my mom calms down; after she grabs me a chicken or two, she will pick up one or two herself to hold and talk to. She is getting very good at grabbing chickens; they are much easier than a feisty goat or lamb who only likes to eat grass, she says; well, they are easier if they stay in their coop—if they get out, then I watch my mom chasing after chickens and they are pretty tricky because they can fly and they can go under the porch. As soon as I learn how to take pictures on my new camera, I will take a picture of my mom running after the sheep!
 

Graduation Day!

My Graduation Day was wonderful!  We started the day by getting up early so we could take Uncle Jeff to the Ag Center before breakfast. It was crazy but he wanted to see Domino and my chickens. My mom was very thankful that the gate was open so we did not have to climb any fences. Uncle Jeff got distracted by the pigs—he loves pigs because he had a pig project when he was in FFA. We got Domino out of his pen and walked around a little but we did not have much time because we had to get home and get ready for the BBQ and get to Graduation on time. My mom had chopped up the treats Domino did not eat last time but this time when they were in small pieces, he gobbled them right up. Then I gave him a regular-sized treat and he chewed it up! My mom said that it was because now he knew how good they were. Then Uncle Jeff started giving Domino’s treats to the pigs and to the goats! I thought it was about time to visit the chickens! But the chickens were were very pecking and pushy. I don’t know if they are like that every morning. Maybe. We could not even get in the door of the chicken coop because they were all pushing and pecking at us trying to get out AND some got out were fluttering around the barn and under the porch. My mom and Uncle Jeff tried to catch them and put them back with their friends. My mom caught a few of them—she is getting very good at catching chickens. Uncle Jeff was impressed. But then we had to go. We saw Mr. Andres and he said that the chickens would be just fine—they like to get out and then they like to go back with their friends.

Uncle Jeff meets Domino and shares treats.

Uncle Jeff meets Domino and shares treats.

So we said `goodbye’ to the chickens and headed for Rosaurs to pick up my graduation cake.  And then at home it was rush rush and `be quick Mathalia’ `be quick’ all the while my mom was scrambling to get ready for the BBQ after graduation. It was CRAZY. But she still had time to curl my hair and help me look nice. Finally we were out the door and on our way! My mom wanted to walk to the Adam’s Center so that we could relax and `enjoy the moment’ as she likes to say. I wanted to wear my gown and she took lots of pictures of my walking to my graduation. At the Adam’s Center my friend Tara helped me with my tassel and the white collar. Then my mom said `goodbye’ and `have fun’ and she went off to save good seats for everyone. My teacher WyAnn came in and took a picture of me with my friends Ashley, Dustin and Megan. She was a little sad that we were leaving Big Sky High School.

Then we got ready and put ourselves into the right order to go in. The Ceremony started right at 12.30. The teachers went in first and then we went in. We followed my friends Kate and Ana into the Adam’s Center Arena. My line followed Kate. I was so excited!! We did not sit down because it was time for the Star Spangled Banner. I liked it a lot. Maybe The Star Spangled Banner was my favorite part except the part about getting my diploma. Then we listened to speeches by my friends and a speech by Governor Schwitzer. He talked about his favorite teacher and how he wanted to go to Argentina and travel many places in the world and then he came back to Montana to serve Montana as Governor. He encouraged us to travel the world and then come back to Montana because Montana needs you is what he said. I wanted to tell him that I am going to Guatemala for a mission trip after graduation. Then it was time to get our diplomas. My last name starts with `S’ so I was in the second section. I went up with my row and I saw my mom, grandma and grandpa, Uncle Jonathan, Aunt Laura, Olivia and Bremen. They were waving to me. I didn’t wave back. I was paying attention. Ms. Helmer said my name very nicely:  Mathalia Adrianna Stroethoff—she got the `strut-hof’ part right which made my mom and dad happy. I was just happy to get my diploma and shake hands with people. I got to shake hands with my friend Michael on the stage and then they took my picture and then I got a little mixed up about how to go back to my seat but my friends helped me find my way. At the end of the ceremony, I threw my hat up in the air because I was so excited and happy and proud! And then it was over. I went out with my friends and there were lots and lots of people. My friend Brook helped me find my family. Then we took lots of pictures just like we did when it was Morielle’s and Matthan’s turn. Uncle Jonathan was being really crazy during the pictures because grandma asked him to try to distract me—she did not want me to smile for the camera.  Silly grandma. I talked to friends and took pictures with lots of friends and then we walked to the car and went home. My mom and dad and everyone were getting the BBQ hamburgers ready. This is when I found out that Schyler was sick and could not come to my graduation which is so sad. It is so sad to be sick when you go away on a trip.

We ate the delicious dinner of hamburgers, green beans, fruit salad, chips and, of course, ketchup! Then my mom brought out the cake:  blue and gold for Big Sky and graduation caps and a little diploma with my name on it in frosting. We took lots of pictures and everyone was being silly trying to get me to smile or not smile, I was not sure. Then I got to open my cards and presents. I got lots of money and some cool stuff like a new puzzle, a graduation picture frame, a workout outfit for the gym, and my parents gave me a camera. I kind of knew that was coming because my brother and sister both got a camera for their graduation. Then my mom asked me if I wanted to take a nap, yes!

I woke up just before Ally came to pick me up for the Senior All Night Party. She brought me a present too—a picture of the two of us at Big Sky last year when she was a Senior. I like it very much and put it up on our picture shelf. I got to ride in her little truck and my mom and Uncle Jeff followed because they wanted to see what the party was like. I remembered the tickets and then we registered for the GoKarts. While we waited, we played funny games like hit the fish with a bat; ride the motorcycle on a video road; dance on the spots on the floor and ball games. I saw lots of friends and I had lots of fun!  Finally, it was our turn to ride the GoKarts. I found a helmet and everyone helped me get into the Kart and then it was time to go. At first I was kind of scared and I went really really slow but the second time around the track I was going faster and then I bumped into the wall. One of the workers came to help me get unstuck and ready to drive again. I bumped into the wall a couple of times and so they helped me and Ally’s Kart broke down so they got her a new Kart. I went around the track twice and I think Ally went around 3 or 4 times, I am not sure. Anyway, it was really fun. My mom took some pictures and then she and Uncle Jeff said `goodbye’ to us. Ally and I played more games and tried some LazerTag I think it is called. Anyway, the last game was just too exciting for me and it did me in so Ally brought me home after that.  What a full, fun, fabulous Graduation Day from walking Domino to driving a little car and in the middle receiving my high school diploma.

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend we had a little drama in the sheep pen!  On Thursday my mom and I went out to walk Domino and visit the chickens BUT Domino was not there! We asked different friends but no one knew where he was. My mom thought maybe his tag got switched and she did not recognize him anymore so she texted some FFA friends. They did not know where he was. She waited until Friday morning before she wrote to Mr. Andres and Mr. Venier. They did not know either but they would look. Soon they found him out in the big field! I don’t know how he got there but we were so happy because he was lost and then he was found! Everyday this weekend we went out to the Ag. Center but each time, we found the gate locked! My mom did not know that it is okay to climb the fence or walk around so we missed seeing Domino until today. I was very happy to see him but I don’t know if he was very happy to see me—I had to pull him along for the walk. He kept wanting to eat grass and my mom kept saying, `Mathalia, you have to show him that you are in charge; tell him it is time for a walk and later he can eat.’ Well, I did that a little bit but I also let him do what he wanted to do: eat grass.
On Friday I picked up my yearbook and brought it home to show my mom. We sat on the sofa and read it together. It was fun to look at all the pictures and remember my very fun Senior Year. I remembered Spirit Week! My mom remembered that I had two Spirit Weeks—one by myself; one with friends: I was Eliza Doolittle and Dustin Henry Higgins; I wore pink as a Senior; I wore Blue and Gold because I am an Eagle! I remembered Halloween and my Snow White costume; I remembered that I forgot to wear black on our Orchestra photo day. My mom says that it is okay—`you don’t look as sharp and professional as you do when you have a concert but we will always laugh because you forgot to wear black on that day.’ It is funny. I remembered Prom with Ian and that we were `Cutest Couple’ last year. My mom asked me if I was sad to be a Senior and to be graduating. No, I am not sad; I am happy. I am excited to graduate and start my Adult Life. My mom said that it is a little `bittersweet’ which I really do not understand but she said it is very nice to have the yearbook because I can look at it and remember my years at Big Sky High School. Yes! And I want all my friends to sign my yearbook—it will be fun the last week of classes to ask them to do that for me. 
On Saturday I got up early and went swimming. I called my mom and she picked me up from Splash Montana. We drove to the Ag. Center so that we could take Domino for a walk and visit the chickens. But the gate was locked. We were very disappointed. Then we went to Walmart and bought some new notebooks. I needed a new notebook for sermon notes and my mom wanted me to get a notebook for my adult life. She said that I can keep track of things in my adult life:  things like my choices, decisions, goals and accomplishments; and special things that happen to me—gifts from God as she likes to say. There were many different kinds of notebooks; I chose one with `Trust in the Lord’ on the cover. ``Trust in the Lord’ is perfect for every day of the rest of my life; and for every day of your life since day one,’ said my mom. 
Early Saturday morning swim at Splash.

Early Saturday morning swim at Splash.

After shopping and lunch we worked on my Creative Writing notebook:  cutting and pasting and putting my stories and poems into the two books: one for me and one to keep in the classroom for the students who will take the class next year. In the evening we relaxed and watched Downton Abbey. I left early because I was tired and wanted to go to bed.
Creative Writing notebook.

Creative Writing notebook.

On Sunday we left for church a little early so that we could check on the gate at the Ag. Center: it was locked. After church we checked again:  still locked. We were very disappointed!  After a quick lunch, we got right to work on my Creative Writing Notebook. We worked for 3 hours and then my mom took a little nap. After a little while, I decided to take a nap too. After the nap we were back at work on my Creative Writing notebook. After supper, I read my yearbook again.  
Locked gate all weekend.

Locked gate all weekend.

On Monday, I got up early and practiced my violin. My mom said that I could choose the songs to work on because I don’t have any more concerts at Big Sky. I chose Minuet 3, Amazing Grace, and For the Beauty of the Earth. After practicing, we were working on my Creative Writing Notebook; this time I had to type the title page and the table of contents. I tried to be quick because I wanted to work on my blog but we finished just in time to go to grandma and grandpa’s house for grilled hamburgers, strawberries and ice cream and games. It was fun—my grandpa was extra specially nice to me because when he `mugginsed’ me, he did not give me a card and take away my turn but he made me stop, look and think about how I should play my card. My mom said this was being generous. While we were working on puzzles, he had to keep reminding me to pay attention; he thought I was falling asleep. On the way home, I asked my mom if we could go check on Domino. So we drove out to the Ag. Center yet again; and still the gate was locked; then we drove around the back and found another gate with a note about not bothering the important research going on so we gave up. At home my mom suggested that I take a nap. Well, okay I went in to lie down but I played a trick on her and took my year book with me . . . and that was the end of any successful nap, said my mom.  
I am excited about my last days of high school. Today was a Blue day; Wednesday is a Gold Day and Thursday is a Blue Day with a very special assembly for Seniors. It will be a fun day! Graduation is on Saturday. This weekend, I was thinking about all the special people who are coming to watch me graduate and I was very thankful and excited: mom and dad; grandma and grandpa; Uncle Jeff; Uncle Jonathan, Aunt Laura, Schyler, Olivia, and Bremen!
Photos of chickens, just for fun:

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!