Art Contest Again

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Portrait I submitted.

I entered the Art Contest for young people with disabilities at the last minute. It was crazy doing the Made Fair and getting everything done for that contest but we did it!

The theme was `The Journey.’  The essay is too long but I copy parts of it for you to read. Along with photos of the pieces I submitted. Enjoy!

I wrote about how I `journeyed’ into the pot holder business; how my Mom put her hands on mine and made the pot holder at the beginning; and how gifts for teachers moved into actually selling them around town.

My tandem bicycle was my first major purchase. The tandem has opened up `The Journey’ experience to us. Some `journeys’ are simple as riding to the library or the post office; others are opportunities to exercise and get out of the city to enjoy the natural beauty around Missoula.

I `journeyed’ into the fiber arts for my Senior Project. I took a weaving class at Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners Conference. At the Conference I bought a kit for Australian Locker-hooking. My `Trinitarian Triangles’ piece demonstrates my `journey’ into joy. I went to the Conference intending to learn to weave. Unexpectedly I tried something new suggested by a vendor who took an interest in my endeavors. My Mom read the directions and helped me. Already I have made many trivets and the small wall hanging I submitted for this contest.


Trinitarian Triangles

This past year—my first year out of high school—has been `journey’ of discovery. I discovered that I respond unfavorably to many foods. This has led to `journeys’ into new recipes and ways of eating. I am also learning how to monitor my own physical and mental well-being by journaling. Keeping a journal is a way of tracking the `journey’ in thought and action. I love it. It helps me feel confident and competent as I `navigate’ into the unknowns of adult life.


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‘Sun and Moon”

I also began to explore photography with the camera my parents gave me. The photo I entered was taken in Antigua, Guatemala:  Sun and Moon. The cycle of work and rest; activity and refreshment; childhood and adulthood.  I love to photograph all of my `journeys’ from the exotic to the everyday: XinJiang, China to dinner in the oven .


My Mom was a bundle of worries this year as I transitioned into my `adult life.’ Yes, I was slow and uncertain and maybe a little sad to have high school be all done. She was worried. But I would like to tell her that it is a `journey.’ I am learning what it means to have so much free time and learn what I like to do with that time. I am on a `Journey’ and I am enjoying each step of the way.


I entered a photo of the scarf I dyed using fiber reactive dyes and ice! The process was unique and rather messy. When the ice was all melted the scarf was brown and muddy looking.  But . . . when we washed it and hung it to dry, it was beautiful.  And so it is a metaphor for `The Journey:’  the journey may be messy, uncertain, confusing but we know the Guide and can walk with Him in confidence and joy.  Thus my `Trinitarian Triangles’ piece shows that `Trust’ is part of `The Journey.’ My scarf sends me into `The Journey’ in style.


‘Journey in style’


Disclaimer:  Mathalia has a developmental disability which means that she is cognitively delayed. Her mom helped her write this essay. Her artwork is less a philosophical statement about the `Journey’ than it is a visceral response to her openness to the possibilities around her. She loves her life; she likes to try new things and meet new people even if that means she may be pushed out of her comfort zone. Her love of `The Journey’ encompasses a deep trust in the One who guides her each step of the way. Her artistic explorations and expressions are her way of saying: `I don’t know what it all means but the One who does holds me in His hand.’


June 1: one year of adult life!

Last year June 1, 2013 was my high school graduation!! Yesterday was exactly one year of Adult Life!! My Mom was crazy—she spent the day laughing or crying, silly Mom. I am happy to report that there is good progress with my Mom.

Yesterday she waited for me in the car—no nagging. No `hurry up, Mathlalia’s.’ We were late for Church, of course. Next Sunday, I am going to try to `be quick’ or ask for help.

At Church we read Psalm 100 and my Mom was being silly. I know Psalm 100.  It is one of the Psalms I memorized this year:


Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come before his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,

And his faithfulness to all generations.

Then the Pastor made it worse by talking about the Apostle Paul: ` my strength is made perfect in weakness.’  My name, Mathalia, relates to that verse because it means: the LORD has shown his strength . . . through my weakness, the LORD shows his strength.

It was a very good sermon for my Mom: stop looking at the disability and look at the strength. Silly Mom! She keeps forgetting meaning of my name! I am glad the Pastor reminded her exactly on June first!


Anyway, this year on June 1st I played at my violin recital! It was really fun and my teacher said that she could tell that I was prepared and confident! This is because I have been practicing my violin.


I don’t always like to practice but I have been learning about `delay gratification’ which means: work first; play second. For example, this week I practiced violin and then I went to Oula Exercise Class.  My Mom says this is a very `adult’ choice.


I did it on Memorial Day too. I practiced violin and then I went ate hamburgers and played games with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma even had a present for me: a new puzzle.  My Mom said that I should NOT count on a present every time I practice violin. I won’t but it was a nice surprise cute cats watching a movie!

Anyway, the recital was very fun. Kaylie was a Senior! I said `Congratulations!’ Last people said `Congratulations’ to me. Senior is all done for me. Now I enjoy adult life. I saw my third grade teacher. She said, `Mathalia, your playing brought tears to my eyes.’ Oh dear, she is just like my Mom!

At home, I made my Mom laugh when I went outside to gather eggs. She said, `Silly Mathalia.’ I opened the door and one by one they all went out into the yard! My Mom chased them back into their hen run. She is getting very good at it!

Graduation Part Two

After the big graduation—the one where we did not see Matthan and the one where Matthan sat with the wrong school—we went to the School of Cinematic Arts. We wanted to meet Matthan and take pictures. But he was not there. We took pictures anyway—I was the star: Uncle Jeff wanted me to put my hands out in the shadow pretending to be a famous movie star or something. It was funny!


We walked back to Matthan’s house and there he was! I got to wear his lei and still. It was fun. My Dad and Uncle Jeff took a nap: Dad was tired from driving Uncle Jeff from saving seats at 6:00 in the morning! I ate lunch at Matthan’s house and then he left for photos with friends.

We went to the Shrine Auditorium for the next Graduation. In College you get two ceremonies in one day!! Pretty cool!  We were hoping to sit and rest in the air conditioning but the doors were locked: we scrunched up against the building to stay in the shade.


The Ceremony was very nice. I was listening and I paid attention when the speakers talked more about `adult life’ and about `feelings’ like disappointment.  They also talked about doing little things well and telling stories in movies. All very cool. My Mom said that I got the most important things.

Well, the most important was watching Matthan walk across the stage and receive his diploma. He was very small but we got to see him on the big screen.  I took a picture. It was fun!


After that we went to the reception at the School of Cinematic Arts. By the time we got there, the fruit was all gone so I ate a gluten-free bar from my mom’s purse. I took some photos of the food but I did not eat any. Dad and Uncle Jeff ate lots of goodies but I was very brave. I waited. Then we took some more photos around campus. Uncle Jeff found more free food: half a box of pizza! `Lunch for tomorrow,’ he said.

Pizza is not gluten-free. Matthan made a us a nice gluten-free supper.


I was very tired.  Matthan’s Graduation Day started very early in the morning. It was very hot. It was very exciting. It was very fun! I was exhausted!  Congratulations Matthan!


In the morning my Mom was being very silly: taking pictures of the hotel! Crazy! I guess she was feeling sad that we might never come back to this hotel again! We stayed in this hotel each time we visited Matthan because . . .  Now this is really silly. Because she knew how to get from USC to hotel. Well, this is not completely true because she has taken a few wrong turns these past four years but we never got in an accident: maybe it helped having a `Montana’ license plate on our car.

Matthan had all his stuff outside ready to pack into the van: bicycle, skis, books, boxes, lots of stuff. We said `goodbye’ `see you in June’ and we were on our way home again!



Matthan’s turn: 2014!

Graduation  Day: May 16, 2014! I had put this date on my calendar in September. And it finally came! The Graduation Website to arrive on campus at 6:00 a.m. No problem for me to get up at 5:15 because I was so excited.  I tried very hard to be quick: I ate applesauce in the car on the way to Matthan’s house. When we got there, Uncle Jeff had already left for campus. He saved chairs for us.  This gave us some extra time: Matthan had made some nice breakfast sandwiches for us to eat.


After the quick breakfast, it was rush rush rush: Dad dropped us off with the car and then we started looking for Uncle Jeff.  My Mom was confused about his directions: groupie section @ statue’s 4:30 for 40 meters. Fortunately we saw him with his hat so it was okay. Uncle Jeff and I hung out together taking silly photos while my Mom walked around taking her photos.

At 8:00 it was time for a bathroom break. My Mom put me in line at the port-a-potties and told me to stay put and save our place. I was confused and sort of lost wondering what she wanted me to do. Some people in line helped me and then she came back:


`I found an open door Mathalia! We can get out of this line and use a bathroom in a building. It will be nicer and faster.’

I said `goodbye’ to the friendly people who helped me stay in the line and then I had to stay close to my Mom otherwise I would get really lost!

Then we saw Matthan! with four friends! We were so lucky! There were so many graduates walking around but we saw him! I took a really fast photo before he rushed off with his friends.

My Mom told him, `We are sitting very close to the School of Cinamatic Arts, Matthan.  Maybe we will see you.’

`No, I am not sitting with my School.  I am going to sit with the School of Business.’

Oh, okay. So we did not see Matthan again and we don’t know if he stood up with the Business School—we did not see him stick out of the crowd of graduates when School of Cinematic Arts stood up. 🙂


The speaker had a nice speech and I tried to follow it. He talked about `adult life’ about `feelings’ and about gratitude.  My Mom said that I got the most important points.


At the end, the President had the students stand up and said, `I warmly salute you.’ And then they read some Latin and Greek which was something about the Kingdom of Troy will rise again. I know about this because last year we listened to the Iliad on the road to Los Angeles during Spring Break. And I have a picture with Matthan at Tommy Trojan Statue.  We took this photo when he was a freshman. Now—with Graduation—there was a long line of people for Tommy Trojan so we skipped the Senior Tommy Trojan photo.

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Road Trip California!



I love road trips! Matthan’s Graduation trip was the best: almost 2500 miles! Four days driving and one fabulous Graduation Day! I loved it. May 16, 2014 was Matthan’s turn and I was ready to celebrate!

Baccalaureate was 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. My mom said we had to get there early in order to get a seat. So the race was on: MSO LAX!


`Can you get up at 5:30 a.m. Mathalia? You can sleep more in the car if you are tired.’

I was up and ready to go. I even skipped my usual breakfast routine which is not easy for me but I wanted to be on-time!

I sit with the driver on road trips and I have everything I need with me: looper bag to make pot holders; book on CD’s and book to follow along—this time Pride and Prejudice; my feelings book to keep track of bathroom-water breaks, feelings and activities.

When my Dad drives, I make pot holders and I take photos. When my Mom drives, we listen to the book and I take photos. It is all very fun!



After dinner at McDonald’s, I fell asleep in the car. My Dad woke me up at the hotel and pointed out our room. Well, it was dark and I got lost so he had to come and find me and show me the room.  I barely got settled in bed when my alarm went off and it was `hurry up, Mathalia, hurry up!’

More driving. I took photos of the Virgin River Canyon and my Mom took photos of me taking photos. Good thing my Dad was sleeping: he does not like it when my Mom picks up her `point-n-shoot’ when she is driving.  Breakfast at McDonald’s near Las Vegas in a Casino: Whiskey Pete’s was fun.


All those `hurry ups’ paid off because we got to Matthan’s house in time for a picnic lunch and a quick nap before we walked to campus for the Baccalaureate.  We were early: the doors were not open so we had time to take pictures and be silly.

We found a fountain and started to pose like the girl in the fountain. I made a new friend. I said: `Congratulations!’ And she liked our idea of fountain posing.


Matthan was in time for the Baccalaueate. I told him, `I am an adult.’  He said,

`You beat me, Mathalia! I am NOT an adult. Tomorrow after my Graduation I will be an adult.’  Silly Matthan.

We took a `selfie’ at Chipolte’s. It is easy to go to restaurants with Matthan because he knows gluten-free and dairy-free.  I just add egg-free on to that.


We got to our regular Los Angeles hotel and I was so tired!  But we made it: we were on time for the Baccalaureate at USC!

Early to bed and early to rise: `We need to be on campus at 6:00 a.m. for a good  seat.’


Adult life: Children’s Message

I like to talk to my mom in the car because then she really listens to me instead of telling me to `hurry up’ or do this or do that. Usually I choose the topic that I want to talk about which is why my mom has a notebook in the car: if she doesn’t understand what I say, I have to write it down. She also makes me finish my sentences. I usually introduce a topic by saying one word. She writes it in the notebook with a couple of blanks and then I have to fill in the blanks and finish the sentence. Only then will she  respond to my ideas. Hah! Let us hope that she is always safe when she drives and writes!

Anyway my last few months in high school we were constantly driving back and forth to Big Sky  and the Ag. Center. I was always talking about `Graduation‘. She would wait and wait for me to say more and `finish the thought’ as she likes to say: `I am excited about Graduation.’ Or `Graduation is June 1, 2013.’ Or `2013 is my turn.’ Full sentences like that make her happy.

When we were done talking about Graduation, she would start talking about `Adult Life’ beginning on June 2, 2013. One of her big ideas about Adult Life was the Children’s Message at church:

Mathalia, there is nothing wrong about your going up for the Children’s Message. You can go up there your whole life, if you want to do that. God wants all of us—no matter how old we are—to approach Him as a child.  BUT you might want to think about NOT going up for the Children’s Message to listen with the other children but staying with me in the pew and listening with all the other adults. I don’t want to tell you what to do. I just want you to think about it.

And so I did: I thought about it all during the month of May. I really liked going up for the Children’s Message; I liked listening to the Pastor; I liked listening watching the other children; I liked to hear their answers to the question. Sometimes the Pastor would take us around to look at the windows in the church. It was all very fun!

But on Sunday, June 9, I was excited to stay with my mom in the pew as one of my `Adult Life’ choices.  My mom did not talk about it that Sunday morning at all. She let me decide. I had done my thinking and I loved being an adult while I watched the children walk to the front. I think that my mom was a little sad or maybe we were having one of those `bittersweet’ moments: I was enjoying the `sweet’ part acting like an adult and listening from the pew; and my mom was enjoying the `bitter’ part acting like a `basket case’ during `Great is Thy Faithfulness’ which we sang right after the Children’s Message. Silly Mom.

On the way home in the car my mom explained why. She said:

We sang that song the Sunday after you were born, Mathalia. My mind was rather in a fog those first few weeks but I have the bulletin so I know: it was April 10, 1994. You were two days old. Certainly God has been faithful to you during your childhood for 19 years and 2 months. We sang it again today, the beginning of your Adult Life. He will continue to be faithful and give His `own dear presence to cheer and to guide.’ He will give `strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.’

Which reminds me of the poem I wrote after the Transitions conference in November. I  included it in my Creative Writing Class Poetry Book:


After the rain the sun

After the winter the spring

After the spring the summer

After the summer the harvest

This is the way of life

till the life be done;

After the preschool the kindergarten

After the grammar school the high school

After the high school the adventure

This is the way of life for everyone.

All we need to do abled or disabled,

Give thanks till the life be done

love is the way of life.

After the love, the thanks.

That’s it for now. I have many more `Adult Life’ stories to tell.

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!