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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.

 

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!

`The end of a thing is better than its beginning.’

Today is the first day of school in Missoula AND it is the first day that I will not be going to school. I am not sad. I am happy. My Mom calls it `bittersweet’ which is fine for her to say but really I am not sad; I am happy. Since I don’t have school, I am catching up on my blog posts and I thought that today would be a good day to publish this post about finishing high school and starting adult life.

I graduated from Big Sky High School on June 1, 2013. So my last day of school was Thursday, May 30. We Seniors did not do much school work that day:  we checked out with all of our teachers; we had the last assembly, a Senior Award Assembly and we had a last school lunch which turned out to be a picnic in the gym because it was raining. I did not get an award but my teachers WyAnn and Matt gave us each a graduation card with a U-Swirl gift card inside. My mom took lots of pictures getting on the bus in the morning and when the bus came to drop me off in the afternoon. At home I unpacked my school backpack for the last time.

Friday, May 31, was no school for me so I made pot holders while Uncle Jonathan and Grandpa were banging on the roof and carrying shingles and tools up to the attic. My mom was so thankful to get the roof fixed. At 1:00 we left for graduation practice at the Adam’s Center:  `Be safe and be wise this weekend; we don’t want any shadow cast over 2013 Graduation; and you all know what I mean,’ said Mr. Paulson. Then we practiced walking together in and out of the auditorium.

After that I had my Senior Violin Recital. I played `Go Tell Aunt Rhody’ with my teacher, Heidi, accompanying me. My mom was being silly `giving thanks’  and she was taking lots of pictures. After that we met everyone at Five Guys for supper:  Uncle Jonathan, Aunt Laura, Schyler, Olivia, Bremen, and Uncle Jeff all came to Missoula for my graduation! Later at Grandma’s house we played games and Grandma asked Olivia to play the piano. She played `It is Well with My Soul’ which was more for my Mom than for Grandma, I think. She cried and gave thanks for the reminder:

. . . when sorrows like sea billows roll . . . or when uncertainties like sea billows roll;

Thou has taught me to say, `It is well with my soul.

Just enough time for that song and then we had to go home and get to bed early because Uncle Jeff wanted to go out to the Ag Center early in the morning before Graduation.

After Graduation, I took a little nap before the Senior All Night Party but Sunday, June 2nd I was still pretty tired from the party and all the excitement. I slept in a little and I was a little slow with my morning routines but I still wanted to go to church. My mom said that it would be okay to skip church and rest: NO WAY! When I said that, she suggested that I leave my oatmeal and finish it after church so that we could be on time for the Worship Service. NO WAY!! I was not going to leave my breakfast uneaten!! Of course, I wanted to  be `on-time’ for church but I also had to finish my breakfast so she just waited for me in the car. And we were late—somehow I guess I thought I could finish my breakfast AND be `on time’ for church. My mom said this was a very cool `adult’ thing to learn. So I started writing in my adult life `Trust in the Lord’ notebook:

• sometimes the clock tells me to just `leave it’ for later so that I can be on time.

That’s it for today but I have lots of `adult life’ stories that I want to write about when I have time.

Art Contest

Hi Friends! So far my adult life is very full and exciting. I have lot of things that I want to write about in on my blog but they will have to wait until July. Anyway, one very exciting thing I did was to apply for an Art Contest: In/finite Earth asked emerging artist to showcase work that illuminated innovative viewpoints at the intersection of environmentalism, creativity, and disability.  It asked the artists `to present their artistic perspectives regarding the natural world, sustainability, and our collective future.’  Fifteen artists will be selected and their work exhibited in Washington D.C. from September to December 2013.

I worked on my pieces at school and my teacher Mr. DeGrandpre and my para-educator, Mark, helped me. At home my mom and my friend Rebecca helped me with the ideas about environmentalism and sustainability and my mom’s friend, Michele helped her with the artistic side of the project. I submitted images of 4 pieces—-you can see them at the end of this post—-and I submitted the following essay. We were so busy with graduation festivities that we had to rush rush rush to put it all together before the June 9 at midnight deadline but we made it. I thought you would like to see my work and read my essay. Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions that I could think about if I ever apply to another art contest.

My name is Mathalia; I was born with a disability named Down Syndrome which has certainly affected me as a person and my creativity BUT it has not stopped me or even slowed me down from engaging in many different forms of art. I will begin the story of my creative journey story with the story of my satisfying and profitable business.

When I was four years old, my mom wanted to give my preschool teachers a Christmas present to express our gratitude to them for their work with young children with and without disabilities. She certainly had in mind that we live in a finite earth with limited resources, when she was digging around in our attic for ideas. She did not want to go out and buy something; she wanted it to be from me; she wanted to use supplies on hand in our `finite’ home. She found the pot holder looms my brother and sister hand long since abandoned AND she found lots of unused loopers! So she sat me down, put my hands on her hands and we began to make pot holders. Little did we know at the time that presents for teachers would lead a friend to offer her store as a retail outlet, that the demand never slowed down, and soon more local shops were added. Now they can be found in seven shops around Missoula and I am frequently a guest vendor at our local summer markets. Often people tell me how much they like my pot holders—I love to meet satisfied customers and I love to make a product that people find useful and beautiful.

My mom and grandma help me behind the scenes with my business but I make the pot holders all by myself on a beautiful handmade maple loom. Sometimes my grandpa has to repair it but I take pride in the fact that I am still using those original looms and that my product is available in small local shops as well as the local art and craft markets. The loopers are 100% cotton and they come from a manufacturing company. In this way I am using material that has already been used to make another useful product: socks.

My tandem bicycle was my first major purchase; I can’t ride a bike on my own in traffic and some distances take too long for us to walk so my mom encouraged me to buy the tandem: we exercise together AND we don’t need to take the car to many favorite destinations around town: library, pool, business deliveries, etc. We also enjoy taking a ride out of the city to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding us in Missoula, Montana.

My public school education gave me many artistic experiences but it was a specific assignment in color values that caught my mom’s attention that this was something very important to me as a person. The teacher had us choose two colors: I chose red and blue; and we had to choose one subject: I chose my violin because I love to play the violin. My mom loved this painting; she framed it; she printed it to send to friends at Christmas. AND she encouraged me to take Introduction to Art as an elective my freshman year in high school. She showed the picture to the art teachers just in case they might have trouble seeing my potential behind the disability or the label, Down Syndrome. My two teachers encouraged me and the artwork which I am submitting for this contest was done under their instruction: my electives always included art: sculpture, painting, watercolor, drawing. My pieces demonstrate my life and interests: landscapes, animals, earthiness.

My Senior Year I took Ag Ed which included plant and animal science. As a freshman someone had suggested that I shouldn’t take it because I am often reluctant to touch new

textures like dirt, plants, or moving, unpredictable animals but when my mom asked me before my Senior year, I said `Yes’! I suppose that my disability affected how I engaged in the whole experience: I was cautious and a little afraid of the animals when I learned about livestock judging; and my mom had to help me use the sharp knife when we were preparing beef jerky from the elk that my classmate had bagged on his hunting trip. But after a little hand-over-hand work—just as I learned to make pot holders—I embraced these experiences. In August I will show my lamb or my goat at the fair. I hope to take my chickens home in order to try my hand at urban farming as I begin to create my adult life. I have learned to walk my animals on a halter and guide them along even when they get jumpy. My mom likes to tell the story of when I got frightened in the chicken coop, knocked the heat lamp into the wood shavings, and almost burned it down . . . that was at the beginning. Now I love going into the chicken coop, holding the chickens, offering my arm as a roosting place, even tolerating a chicken walking around on my head!

My paintings demonstrate my interest in animals and in all sorts of creatures. My bowl says so very many things about my life and my personality: it shows that I could rise above tactile resistance to clay; and cat feet as my subject shows that I could rise above my skittishness with cats and other animals. The assignment was to make a bowl and so I did. Right now it sits prominently on our living room coffee table, mostly it remains empty. My mom likes to keep it empty because it shows openness to the world around us, mostly openness to my future in the face of the uncertainty of my adult life as a person living with a developmental disability.

I graduated from high school on June 1, 2013 and began my life as an adult on June 2. I do not know what the future will bring for me but I plan to continue managing my pot holder business in Missoula and perhaps beyond. I may expand my business to selling new products. For my Senior Project I explored fiber arts: I learned to weave on a four- harness floor loom using another leftover upholstery material; I learned to spin wool fleece into yarn; I learned to make rugs and trivets using Australian locker-hooking techniques. My mom’s `fiber’ friends have given us leftover supplies for me to try working with. I don’t know if I will continue my work with clay, watercolor, acrylic or oil but I do know that I will continue to draw. My art teacher mentioned to my mom that whenever there was free time in class, I always pulled out my sketchbook and colored pencils. I know that when I finish one sketchbook, she will take me shopping for another. And I always make my own cards: I write my message on the inside and draw a picture of something that I have been thinking about: lately chickens, sheep, goats and graduation from high school have been on my mind.

Disclaimer: Mathalia has a developmental disability which means that she is cognitively delayed. Her mom helped her write this essay. The life, the interests, and the work is all Mathalia’s. Her mom sought to find words to express Mathalia’s delight in the world that God made. Her artwork is less a philosophical statement about the earth and its limits than it is a visceral response to what she knows, sees and experiences in that world. Her love of the earth engenders a care for that world and its creatures and her art is her way of helping people see the world as she see it full of delight and wonder.

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:

Prom Weekend!

On Friday we had all team practice at the Grizzly Pool. We played games in the water and then we had silly dress-up with Missoula Aquatic Club t-shirts and anything green. I wore a green necklace. It was fun! Then we had the banquet with lots of pizza and salads. I ate one piece of pizza and then Coach Dave started talking about the team. He came to the part about recognizing the Seniors on the team—this year that was me and only me! So I got to show the slide show that I made with my mom and my friend Rachel. Everyone liked to see my baby pictures and my silly sibling pictures. I will try to put it on my blog so that you can see it too! Then Coach Ellen talked about me and said very nice things and she told funny stories about me:  when I was little I used to `forget’ to say `Hi’ to Ellen after she said `Hi’ to me.  I was just teasing her. I also used to tease Coach Jake by switching lanes in the pool: he did not know that it was me who was messing with his counting! I also used get disqualified in my breaststroke races when I would wave to my friends who were cheering for me at the side of the pool; this would mess with my mom a little who was an official.  Anyway, she said lots of nice things about me and then the captains said lots of nice things about me and they gave me a really cool team picture that everyone had signed:  Congratulations, Mathalia!  Good Luck, Mathalia!  I will miss you, Mathalia!  Keep swimming, Mathalia!
Saturday morning was very normal with swim practice and paperwork and laundry after that. Then we made a quick trip out to the FFA Farm to see my chickens and baby lamb (the subject of my next post). Well, it was not as quick as it should have been—I think my mom was having too much fun that she lost track of the time because when we got back home, I had to rush rush rush to get ready for Prom:  take a bath, blow dry my hair, curl my hair, put on a little make-up, put on my dress and necklace, prepare my purse. Whew! We were only a few minutes late meeting friends. Ashley, Dustin and I sat at one table and our moms sat at the other table. I ate pork teriyaki and we had wontons for an appetizer. At the end of our meal we shared our fortune from our cookies and then we gave each other our flowers.  We had plenty of time to take pictures down by the river, the fish sculpture and the bike sculpture. It was fun to see friends in their pretty dresses and get ready for The Grand March.
Prom was really fun:  we took silly pictures in a booth with friends; we wore silly Zoo hats; and we danced the night away.  At first I was a little shy but after that I never wanted to stop dancing. Lots of people left early but we stayed until the very last song!
Sunday morning I got up at 8:00 just as my mom was leaving for church!  Yikes!  I said, `I want church.’  `Well, you slept in,’ said my mom, `because you were so tired from a late Prom night; it would be okay to skip church this morning.’ `No, I want church!’  Then my mom smiled and grabbed a piece of paper and was excited about `the opportunity to learn’ to make an adult decision:  I had to decide what I wanted to do:  do I skip breakfast and get dressed really fast?  Well, I don’t like to skip breakfast but I don’t like to skip church either. We were able to figure it out: get dressed really fast and eat a little something in the car on the way to church.  My mom was so nice to help me pack up a little food while I got dressed. We were only a little late which is a lot better than skipping church!
Next week, I won’t be so tired and I will get up on time and have breakfast as usual before we go to church. After church we went to grandma and grandpa’s house for taco salad and strawberries.Yum! Then we played Muggins.  I got `mugginsed’ a lot because I wasn’t paying attention and because it had been a long time since we had played together.  Then my mom and I went out to see the animals–see my next blog for more details.  At home I worked on my calendar and got ready for my school week:  6 more Gold Days and 6 more Blue Days and then Graduation!

Inspiring Student and Special Olympics

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

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

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

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

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

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:
 

Spring Break, Part 4

`It’s wonderful to be home so early in the week, Mathalia; now we have time to get some work done.’  Work?!  Well, okay BUT we are also going to relax and so we did!

On Wednesday we were unpacking our stuff and Morielle called from China!  So we stopped unpacking and talked to her and told her all about our trip.  Then grandma called and said that Chester and Rona were visiting so we let everything go and visited Chester and Rona.  I am very excited about going to their farm in Ekalaka this summer to live and work.  Rona said that I can take care of her chickens:  give them food and water and collect their eggs.  Oh No!  Chickens again!  Rona showed me her chicken catalog and we talked about chicken coops and different kinds of chickens and eggs.  She also asked about my Prom Dress because she had read about it on the blog and wants to see a picture of it.

Thursday morning we went lap swimming at the Grizzly Pool and then we went to Joseph’s Coat to spin wool with the Thursday Spinners.  It was really fun to see old friends and spin some yarn.  Sharon was there and gave my mom some more ideas for my locker-hooking projects.   I guess my Senior Project will never end . . . always something new to learn.  My spinning friends were showing different hats that they had made and I got to model them all.  It was fun!

In the afternoon we went to the library to get books and movies.  My mom checked out some books on  . . .  chickens in the city!  😉

Friday morning we worked really hard on my Senior Project.  It seemed like we were at the computer all morning:  typing a lot and then printing and then we would find mistakes so I would type some more and then print again and then check again.  The plan was to eat lunch at 12:00 then my mom pushed it to 12:30 and then at 12:30 she said—just one more section, Mathalia—section 5 and then we will stop.  Well, okay but this is the last time to delay lunch!  In the end I am glad that we pushed ourselves: we made a lot of progress on my Portfolio.  It is almost done. It feels good.  Then Friday afternoon we took the whole afternoon off:  no work for me!  I think my mom was finally unpacking and putting away our trip stuff in the basement and in the attic but I was relaxing:  I listened to Voyage of the Dawn Treader and I did some locker-hooking which I find very relaxing.

Saturday morning it was back to work again–this time it was my Senior Project Presentation.  We worked on the PowerPoint, the text, and the photos and I practiced speaking loudly and clearly into the microphone.  We had to stop at 12:30  because we had to get ready to volunteer at MCT.  They needed my mom to be House Manager and me to usher.  So I got to see Alice in Wonderland twice on Saturday afternoon—that was very fun and relaxing.

On Sunday after church, I wanted to usher for Alice in Wonderland again AND I wanted to finish listening to Voyage of the Dawn Treader and I wanted to bake a cake to share with friends at school. My mom said I could not do it all so I skipped ushering.  It was hard.  I was thinking about the Sunday cast and their performance all afternoon.  I am sure that they had fun!  I got to finish listening to my book and I baked my cake to share with friends on Monday because Monday, April 8 is my 19th Birthday!  I am excited!  I will celebrate a little with my parents but we will have a bigger celebration with grandma and grandpa and Uncle Jeff later in the week—I told you he can show up at anytime and anyplace just as long as there is an airport nearby.  Fun! Fun!

So that is what we did after we got home from our trip.  Well . . . that’s not all because I practiced my violin every day getting ready for my District Solo and Duet April 19th AND I made sure that we wrote a blog post every day, well almost every day—even when my mom was very tired,  I said we gotta write on the Blog, because I kept a journal of our trip and you promised.  So we did.  This is the last installment of my Spring Break adventures.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the countdown:  it’s my Birthday AND graduation is June 1st:  18 more Gold Days and 18 more Blue Days and then Big Sky High School will be all done for me.  My mom said that things are going to be really really CRAZY and she said that she is glad that we got so much done on my Senior Project during Spring Break because the next few weeks are going to be very fun with lots of end-of-year activities:  Senior Project work, Prom, Special Olympics, FFA with a goat and maybe chickens.  YIKES!   And she said that it is important that we enjoy it all, the craziness, the stress, everything because . . .   `the end of the matter is better than its beginning’  Hah!  I wonder where she got that quotation  :-)!  She said that it is important for us at all times and in all places—crazy times, fun times, stressful times, all times—to give thanks, most especially  not to forget, not even for a moment . . . to give thanks.  I suppose this means that we will be going through lots of kleenex boxes . . .

This one is for Rona!

This one is for Rona!