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The Hills are Alive . . .

In the Summer I hiked the `M’ Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings with Mom. Well, I don’t really hike to the ‘M’ because I only hike to the first bench. At the bench we take a water and photo break. Then we hike down to the tandem bike. At home I take a quick bathroom-water snack break and then I take the Bus to my job at Bean and Boutique. The last Thursday in Summer was different. Work got cancelled and there was a big Surprise on the ‘M’ Trail: Tubas, flutes, french horns, clarinets, drums, trombones.

 

The whole U-M marching band was hiking the ‘M’ trail with instruments. Wow!!

 

My Mom starting going crazy taking photos, talking about seizing the moment and giving thanks that there was no work today!

 

` Do you want to hike all the way up the the `M’ with the musicians and listen to their music, Mathalia?’

 

`Yes! I want hear the music.’

`Okay. You have to hike fast.’

And I did! I made to the ‘M’ before the little concert started. We took lots of pictures and made new friends. Big Sky high School friend, Josh, said” Hi” to me. I did not recognize him but the recognized me! He said he had seen me when we were both high school students.

He said that he plays in the first row of the marching band. I will look for him in the Parade.

Then we hiked down the mountain. The whole event took 4 hours: hiking up, listening to music; taking photos; hiking down! My Mom thought it was a wonderful gift end-of-summer gift.

 

In the Autumn, I have  Adult Coached Swim. I am excited to see my swimming friends and get back in the pool.

 

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!

Christmasy Weekend

My Christmasy Weekend started with the violin recital at the Mall on Friday. I wore Matthan’s red `Santan’ hat and a Christmas dress. Heidi’s and Beth’s students gathered at the clock for tuning. We played lots of Christmas songs:  Silent Night, Away in the Manger, Joy to the World, The First Noel, Jingle Bells, and more.

The Noodle Express for dinner was so cold because the take-out window kept opening and letting in gusts of cold wind into the kitchen. All the employees were wearing hats and gloves if they could. My mom paid for my food this time because I forgot my purse. I was more concerned about remembering my violin and Santa hat than about my money.

Saturday we packed for the Big Sky Fiber Arts Guild meeting and Christmas Party: presents for the game, locker-hooking to work on keep my hands busy, rice and dessert for the potluck. I had so much fun seeing old friends and listening to their conversations that I did not get much locker-hooking done. My mom can listen and knit at the same time. I mostly do one thing at a time. Anyway, lunch was really good because I got to eat cow’s cheese and gluten foods like noodles and cookies. On Thursday Dr. Starbuck poked my finger and dropped my blood onto five little circles. In about two weeks I will find out what I can and cannot eat. In the meantime, I can eat anything I want to eat!

The present game went around the circle until I had the choice between my present (pot holders) and a very big present bag. Duh! That was an easy choice:  a Christmas goat! There was also some very pretty red wool and fun red yarn, labels to put in my handmade headbands and cowls, a book about natural dyeing, and a very nice basket to hold everything. My mom is excited about making me something very cute and very red. And I am excited about the Christmas goat. I named him Kanga!!

I took a short power nap in the car and then after dinner we were off to the Symphony. The Nutcracker music was a little different but I liked it. During intermission I voted for Jingle Bells. I was disappointed because they did not play Jingle because White Christmas won the prize. Still I enjoyed White Christmas.

At church on Sunday we had a mini-Christmas Concert by Dolce Canto and breakfast at the restaurant with Grandma and Grandpa. Another short power-nap and then off to the Writing Center Christmas Party! We played the present game again but this time the presents were not about fiber, wool and yarn, they were about `white elephant’ which means mischievous. I gave a `white rabbit’ and I got a elk call movie. Hah! It was very funny! I liked all the food and I liked seeing my Writing Center friends. I gave everyone a pot holder.

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!

District Music Festival and more FFA Fun

On Thursday my mom picked me up from school and we went to Mrs. Wallace’s house so we could practice my solo, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and duet, Allegro, for District Music Festival. Mrs. Wallace has a cat named Ian which is funny because I have a friend named Ian. After that we went out to talk to Mr. Venier my Ag. Ed. teacher. He said I was doing well in Ag. Ed.  We took pictures together and we showed my mom the greenhouse with my tomato plants and all the pretty flowers we have been growing. As we were saying `goodbye’ we heard the pigs squealing so we went over to see what was happening:  yes!  They were squealing really loud!  It was crazy:  one of the guys would grab a pig and hold him to get a tag put in his ear—squealing; and then some green paint in the other ear with another clip—more squealing. Ohhhhh they were not happy! It was called the hog weigh-in. They were not cute little piglets anymore but hogs and and wow could they squeal! It was loud! It was fun to watch. Then we checked on the goats and the chickens:  Lucas still has my chicks at his house because it has been so cold but the other bigger chickens were doing fine.
At home we quickly changed our clothes and headed to the Dana Gallery for the Aerie International Reading. It was fun! I saw lot of Creative Writing friends. They had some very fancy food—fancy chips with dip, little pastries, little kabobs, and some fancy rice too. Then we listened to friends from Big Sky read some poems and other people read some of their poems. Then we took a break and they served some fancy ice cream and lots of different kinds of cookies. I took a little ice-cream and one chocolate coconut cookie. It was good—a little messy on my mouth; my mom kept motioning for me to wipe my face. It was good and well worth the effort.  I saw lots of friends from Big Sky and I saw Jessica from The Writing Center. We listened to poetry and looked at the nice paintings in the Gallery. I got a three-word poem:  a periwinkle butterfly on a canoe. It was nice. I like poetry. Then we had to leave because tt was early to bed for me because of Festival the next day.
 
Friday morning I got up early and put my pretty dress back on and then we went to Hellgate. David was already there waiting for us. We were on time! I played my solo, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, with Mrs. Wallace accompanying me; then David and I played Allegro with Mrs. Wallace accompanying us; then David and Mrs. Haarvig played Greensleeves together.  t sounded really nice!  Good job!  I gave Mrs. Wallace, David, and the adjudicator a pot holder. Everyone said I did a great job. My violin teacher, Heidi, Mrs. Haarvig, Mrs. Wallace and the adjudicator all said that I sounded a lot stronger and better than last year. It was fun! And then we were off to the next thing:  my mom said that we had no time to celebrate because of FFA but that we would go to the restaurant for supper to celebrate a my wonderful playing at Festival.  So we hurried home, changed into Official Dress for FFA, and met friends at the Ag. Center. We were all going to use the day off from school to fundraise for our banquet. My mom was our taxi and our first stop was Ivy at DejaNu and of course, she supported us and bought an ad. We went to lots of other businesses and had some success. It was fun to hang out with friends and work for FFA. We took a break at Costco and I ate a hotdog. It was delicious.  
 
Then my mom brought me home to change my clothes to work at The Writing Center. I called Gretchen to tell her that I would be a little late. My mom dropped me off so that I would not have to walk so far.  When I arrived, I found Jake on MY computer!  So I said, `excuse me, how long will you be?’  He said, `I have about 5-10 more minutes of work and then you can have the computer, Mathalia.’  So I picked up some WPA Exams to work on while I waited for the computer. My mom said that it is important to work while I am on the job—don’t sit around waiting but get to work; find something useful to do! So I did.
 
After work, we went to the U-C to see our Art Fair friends. I did not sign up for the U-C Spring Art Fair because I am so very busy because this is my Senior Year but I wanted to say `Hi’ to all my friends. They said that they missed me and that some of my regular customers were asking about where I was. My regular spot was empty! 
 
Then my mom and dad took me out to eat at the restaurant to celebrate my fabulous District Festival playing on the violin. It was fun.  I had a salad with curry noodles and a roll with butter. Then my dad and I went to the Library to see the movie Lincoln—-my mom went home to bed because she was tired and a little sick. The movie was so sad. There was war and fighting and at the end Lincoln was dead. It was so sad.
 
On Saturday, there was no swimming so I stayed home all day long.  My mom was very happy about this.  We did laundry; I made pot holders; we worked on inventory on the computer; we wrote a blog post; and we listened to The Iliad.  It was a very nice relaxing stay-at-home kind of a day.
 
On Sunday, after church, I went to the store and made prints of my pictures for Creative Writing class. I wrote a check to pay for the prints. I put them in my Creative Writing folder.  At home I caught up on e-mails, made some more pot holders and worked on my Senior Project. Sunday was a relaxing day too which was nice because the next week was going to be crazy fun with Special Olympics and two special dinners.  In my next blog, I will tell you all about these events. Bye for now.  My Creative Writing Photos:
 

My Music Filled Weekend

On Friday I worked at The Writing Center.  I think my Writing Center co-workers were having a meeting because I got to see lots of friends.  My friend Jake was on the computer but that was okay with me:  I just worked on WPA Exams.  I got on the computer when Jake was all done.  After my work, I walked home quickly because I was excited about the Chinese play we were going to see. I am interested in China because my sister, Morielle, is living in China!  The music and dancing were a little funny but my mom said that was because Chinese music, dancing and language is different.  Morielle is learning all about Chinese language, writing and talking.  I am sure she would have liked to see the play because it was about an old Chinese story.  It was so sad.  The beautiful girl jumped into the fire and the boy and his family were so sad.

On Saturday we did a lot of catch-up paper work for school and my pot holder business.  We took pot holders to Great Harvest Bread and we entered inventory into Excel on my computer. I practiced for my concert while my mom made scones to share with my orchestra friends.  In the afternoon we relaxed:  I finished a locker-hooking project and then took a nap because  I wanted to enjoy the Symphony.  I saw lots of friends at the Symphony:  Church friends, MCT friends, swimming friends, Consumer Advisory Council friends, and neighborhood friends.  I liked the music even though it was very sad. Coach Sarah played and my friend Pete was singing.  Good Job!

On Sunday, we went to the restaurant after church with Grandma and Grandpa.  My mom took a box of food home to eat later.  I did not.  I ate everything on my plate:  2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 pancakes, 2 toast.  `Wow! That’s a lot of food, Mathalia,’ my mom said.  Then we played Muggins.  Grandpa mugginsed me.  `Poor Mathalia,’ he said.  But I didn’t care.  I was having fun.  In  the afternoon, I practiced violin getting ready for AA Orchestra Festival.

Monday morning I had to get up at 4:30!  My mom thought that it might be hard for me to get up so early but it was no problem because I was really excited about AA Orchestra Festival in Whitefish.  We got to Big Sky and waited for the bus.  After packing up all of our stuff:  violins, violas, cellos, basses, and our luggage we settled in for the trip:  we took naps, watched funny cartoons in Russian, and ate oranges and scones.

When we got to the auditorium, we met Mr. Payne and more musician friends from Whitefish High School.  We all worked together on `The King’s Speech’ which is really Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.  It was beautiful and it was fun to play with new friends.  Everyone said that we sounded really good.  And we did.  We also worked on `Halo’ and `The Molly Maguires’ and `Danse Bacchanale’ which was very beautiful.  I hung out with my friends Zoe and Kaitie for lunch.  I had soup and sandwich but I didn’t have time to finish my sandwich so they put it in a box for me and I ate it for my supper.

After rehearsal we went to the hotel.  I went swimming in a very funny pool—it had a tunnel and I swam through the tunnel and then I was outside!  But I wasn’t cold.  It was nice because the water was warm.  I was having fun swimming with my orchestra friends.  Then I took a shower, ate my sandwich and we went to the concert.  My favorite piece was `Tryptich for Strings’ which we had played before.  Mrs. Haarvig said we did a good job and that we sounded very big for a small orchestra.  That made us all feel great and we were very excited about making beautiful music together.  We were so excited that we were hungry again so the bus driver took us to the grocery store so we could buy some more food:  I got some yogurt and some crackers for a snack.  Then I hung out with my roommate Zoe in our room and went to sleep.

Tuesday morning Zoe and I had a nice hotel breakfast together and then we went to rehearsal again.  We were doing so well that Mr. Payne gave us some new music to try playing.  It was fun to try different things with our big orchestra.  For lunch the bus driver took us to Subway and we had lunch and signed a `thank you’ card for Mr. Payne.  He was awesome:  he taught us a lot; and he helped us sound even better.  We had had two really fun days of practice and we wanted him to know that we enjoyed learning and making music with him.

In the afternoon we got to hear other friends from Anaconda and Corvalis play their pieces and then we walked around town looking at the interesting shops and places to eat in Whitefish and then we all met at Mackenzie River Pizza which was fun.  I ate pizza with salad and then I hung out with orchestra friends. We went grocery shopping for snacks to eat on the way home. Then we walked back to the auditorium and changed into our concert clothes.  We listened to our friends play before it we went on stage for our turn.  While we were waiting for Mr. Payne to be introduced, I realized that I couldn’t see my mom in the audience and that she couldn’t see me so I stood up very quickly and moved my chair and my stand so that she could see me from her place. I saw her smile and give me a little wave.  I know she wanted to watch me play because I am a Senior and it was my last AA Festival concert.  I was concentrating on my playing so I don’t know if she was being silly but I know she she liked the concert a lot.  We played our pieces and gave our gift to Mr. Payne.  And then the concert was all done.

I quickly changed my clothes again before we got on the bus.  I was quick because I didn’t want the bus to leave without me!  But no one was waiting:  friends were looking for some misplaced sweaters so I was okay.  Then the bus driver drove us home.  I had a few snacks and watched a bit of the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but mostly I was tired and I took a nap on the bus.  Wow!  The two days went by really fast!  And now AA Orchestra Festival is all done.  I got to play in AA Orchestra three times and six times I got to listen to my brother and sister play music in their AA Orchestra Festivals—-lots of wonderful memories of making music together with friends.  My mom said, let us give thanks for all the music this weekend and throughout the years.  This was certainly My Music Filled Weekend:  Chinese music in the play;  Mozart music at the Symphony; and lots of music with friends at AA Orchestra Festival.