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Archive for the ‘Pageant’ Category

End of School Year Organization

We all have them.  Piles of artwork we can’t bear to part with, cute pictures our children have drawn, their first written words, the essay they wrote in 5th grade, the Mother’s Day card they made in Kindergarten, the award they got for being kind to a classmate, the newspaper photo of their baseball team.  These piles of memories can begin to overtake your home if you’re not careful.  There are all kinds of ideas for displaying these precious tidbits, but it’s not long before new ‘stuff’ comes in to replace the old.  It took me awhile to come up with a sytem that works for us, but I finally found one!  It has worked so well for us that I want to share!  With the end of the school year here, there is no better time to tackle this job than now!

For beginners, the decision of what to keep and what to toss can reduce you to tears!  It is hard to realize that you can’t keep everything, but it’s time to be brutal, people!  If you want organization, hard decisions must be made.  I have found it best to do this task on my own.  However, you can use your children’s pride in their work as a guideline on what to keep and what not to.  If they walk into the house and immediately stick their latest assignment on the fridge, it’s a keeper.  If it rolls around in the bottom of their backpack for 3 weeks before you see it, not a keeper.  You get the idea.

The other cardinal rule that we go by in our house is, if there are hand or foot prints involved in creating the artwork, we keep it!  In fact, there is not much artwork that we keep other than the hand/footprint artwork.  This is fun to go back and look at, because it is a ‘personal’ work that is unique to your child.  Any child can throw some paint and glue onto a sheet of paper, draw an elephant, or make a clay pot.  But your child will love to go back and look through their things, find their handprint, and marvel at how small they were and how much they have grown up!

So where do you begin?  I have 3 file boxes, one for each child.  Each file box has a manilla file folder for each year of school, beginning with pre-school.  I label the file folder with the grade level, but also the year.  So for this year, Lulu is in Kindergarten.  Her folder for this year is labeled, Kindergarten – 2011-12.  I have my favorite 8 x 10 photo of each child taped to the front inside of the file box, with all of the labeled file folders behind it.  This way it is easy to identify which box belongs to which child.  The 3 file boxes nest on top of each other, so I keep them stacked in the corner of our office.  On top of the boxes, I keep a small plastic box with a cover (about letter size), where I can store papers until I am ready to file them away.  I chose a rather small box as you can see from the photo so that I am forced to do this on a regular basis.  All of these supplies I found at our local Dollar General Store.  My original investment was under $20.

I begin by separating my big stack into stacks for each child, so now I have 3 piles to sort through.  As I sort through each pile, I find that I can narrow that stack down to about half of what I started with.  This includes keeping report cards, any special papers or awards, newspaper clippings, drama/music programs, and hand/footprint artwork.  This is what you will then end up with!  I have 3 stacks of items, one stack for each child, that will then be filed in their file box in the appropriate year’s file folder.

As a side note, you can always add special file folders.  For Queenie, she has a file folder labeled Pageant, with letters she has sent for sponsors, marketing/publicity cards, tickets stubs from past pageants, pageant programs, etc.

So for 20 minutes of my time on a quarterly basis, my kids will have a lifetime of memories!  When each child moves out, they will get to take their special memory boxes with them, to cherish and share with their children someday!

I have certainly found that organization is hard to keep up with if you don’t have a system in place.  This is one system that works for us.  And now that we can check that off the list for the year, bring on summer!

My New Walking Partner

“Since 1995, Best Buddies High Schools has paired students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships with high school students. In the past, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have not had the opportunity to have friends outside of their own special education classroom. By introducing Best Buddies into public and private high schools, participants are crossing the invisible line that too often separates those with disabilities from those without.”  www.bestbuddieswisconsin.org

On Saturday, May 19th, we participated in the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Delafield at Lapham Peak State Park.  It was a gorgeous day, 80 degrees, sunny, and breezy.  This was our first walk as a family.  Queenie was our Team Captain, raising $150 in pledges towards the event.  We had five members in our team.  We have decided that next year, we are going to try to have the largest team there!  The walk was 2.5 miles, but the pace was easy going and definitely family friendly!

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Lulu Grace was so excited to be walking with us!  She got all jazzy, as you can see from the picture!  She wanted to wear her striped knee highs, and I have learned with Lulu that some things just aren’t worth the fight.  Most days, it’s impossible to get socks on her feet, so I wasn’t going to argue about which socks she wore!  There were a lot of high school aged girls who participated, and they were dressed in capes and crazy outfits.  Lulu fit right in!Image

We ran into a couple of people we have met before.  We saw Brittany, a young woman who attended the pageant last year with her best buddy!  Queenie got her picture taken with the two of them at registration, and it was her facebook profile photo for a long time!  We also ran into a young man named Max who attends our support group meetings.  He is a budding photographer, and was asked to volunteer to take photos for the event!  We were so proud of him.  He did a great job!Image

There was no convincing Bass to come with us.  I was disappointed, especially once we got there.  The people that were there were so accepting, friendly, and open.  It is a community of people that I look forward to being more involved with.  It is rare that you find people who don’t question or look twice, who understand when Lulu didn’t want to talk or was upset when things were a little chaotic.  I listened in on some of the conversations that the ‘buddies’ had along the walk, and I was so touched by the genuine friendships that they have formed.  We were surrounded by t-shirts that said, ‘Be a Buddy, Not A Bully,” and “See the Ability in Disability.”  We were surrounded by people whose children were the target of bullying, whose children struggle with being seen for something other than their disability.  It was refreshing to be able to be in our own skin and be comfortable, because we were surrounded by people who get it!

Lulu Grace and Jon stopped along the walk to look at the butterfly garden.  I crossed the finish line and waited, and waited!  I was starting to think about heading back to find them, when I see Lulu’s shining face, bright red from her efforts.  She saw the finish line and started running!  It was such a cute moment.  She was incredibly proud of herself.  She wore her Best Buddies t-shirt to school yesterday, and was sure to tell everyone about her accomplishment.  I’m so proud of her!  And I think I may have a new walking partner!  🙂

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Puzzle Pieces & Pageantry

While we have discovered that pageantry on a budget is fun and exciting, it is also stressful at times!  So in an effort to ease some of the stress on Queenie, to alleviate some of the worry for Mom, and to allow Dad to leave work for a little while each day, we have been working hard all winter on a new product line for Happy Girl & Co.  The purpose of Happy Girl & Co. is to help Queenie raise the funds she needs to be competitive in this year’s Miss Wisconsin Teen USA pageant in September, to offset the expense of a formal gown, interview outfit, shoes, accessories, make-up and hair, as well as hotel and travel expenses.  All of these expenses add up to a good chunk of change!  In addition to that, Queenie also needs to raise $900 in sponsorship money.

“Why should I care?” you ask.  “What difference does it make to me if Queenie is in this pageant?”

Well, here’s why it matters to me.

Last year, I am proud to say that Queenie placed 6th out of 39 girls in the Teen division in the Finals of the Miss Wisconsin Teen USA pageant.  With that honor, she won a scholarship of $29,000 to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.  Queenie also competed in the Spokesmodel Competition.  The Spokesmodel Competition was a combined category with Miss contestants and Teen contestants competing for the same prize.  Out of almost 80 girls, Queenie won!  Her reward for winning is a $5,000 scholarship to the New York Film Academy.  These scholarships will be the difference for her!  The money she earns through competition will allow her to attend college.  It is a tremendous achievement!

Queenie fundraising at our local farmer’s market

Queenie is also passionate about Autism Awareness!  Through her fundraising, she is able to use her poise and grace to educate others about what autism is and how it affects families.  She feels honored to be able to do that.  Queenie is blessed with beauty.  With that beauty comes responsibility.  As much as Queenie would love to ‘win’ the crown to be able to affect change, she realizes that through the power of her beauty, she is able to affect change every day through her words and actions.  That’s why she’s so beautiful!

One of the products that Happy Girl & Co. has created are Puzzle Piece Magnets.  Why puzzle pieces?  Well, autism is often symbolized with the picture of a puzzle piece.  The symbol was first used by the National Autistic Society to show something about autism:  our children are handicapped by a puzzling condition; this isolates them from normal human contact and therefore they do not ‘fit in.’  It has since become an international symbol of autism.

Our take on the puzzle piece as it represents autism is a little different!  Autism Spectrum Disorders have been described as a disorder made up of 10 separate puzzles all dumped into one box.  Reserachers are in the process of trying to sort through the box to find where each piece belongs, and to which puzzle.

We believe that instead of using the puzzle piece to represent something that is missing or puzzling, it should be used to show the unique and beautiful characteristics of people on the spectrum.  Separately each piece has its own colors, textures, shape, and size.  The same can be said for each person on the spectrum.  They each have their own special gifts, talents, beauty, and individuality!

It is our privilege as family members, friends, teachers, co-workers, and community members to help children and adults on the spectrum uncover their gifts and create ways for them to share and celebrate their uniqueness!  Queenie hopes to use the Happy Girl Autism Awareness Magnets as a tool to educate others in THAT way!  While she lives with some of the daily challenges that autism brings to families, she has also seen first-hand the beauty of autism and the blessings that autism holds.

So, find us at the Lake Mills Farmer’s Market.  Like Happy Girl & Co. on facebook.  Visit Queenie’s website at www.reachingforthecrown.weebly.com.  Whether you are able to support her through a financial contribution or an encouraging word, I hope you can take something away from getting to know a little bit about her.  She’s on her way to fantastic!

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” ~Audrey Hepburn