Chanukkah, Christmas and Chilly weather!

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We kicked off our great holiday break this year with Hanukkah festivities (a menorah, dreidel and coins!) as well as a Friday night trip to see A Christmas Carol live on stage (with one of our own staff performing!) Speaking of stages, we also got to see Ballet West’s production of the Nutcracker.

We attempted to drive through the Thanksgiving Point lights, but were rained out!! (In Salt Lake City in December?! Go figure!) We were, however, successful and got to drive through Christmas in Color, a miles-long Christmas light display, as well as “Christmas Street” in Taylorsville.

We moved our bodies with many trips to the Rec. Center, but also some more festive activities – ice skating at Gallivan Center, bowling at Fat Cats and sledding at Murray Park.  We aren’t afraid of the cold! (Even if it does mean rain.)

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Some of the biggest highlights of the week were our many service projects.  La Europa students made a large variety of goodies (cookies, cupcakes and bars, oh my!) and packaged them along with handmade cards and delivered them to our local Police and Firemen working on Christmas Eve.  They also took some treats and their most festive singing voices to our nearest care center and spent Christmas Eve caroling and visiting with the residents there.  Another awesome project was when we got to go make ans serve a meal for those staying at the Ronald McDonald House in SLC.  And finally, speaking of children in hospitals, we tied fleece blankets to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital.  We absolutely LOVE helping others around these parts!

We did have some group therapy and expressive therapy groups, as well as yoga and Euro Store interspersed with our fun activities, but that’s still not all!  Our students got to go have hot dogs at a Jazz Game (they won!), get prizes for Walmart Bingo, walk their way around the Natural History Museum of Utah, relax with a smattering of Christmas movies, and that’s right – even go see the new Star Wars movie on Christmas Day!

Around New Year’s time, we also had lunch aboard the Heber Creeper, along a scenic route for a fun train ride and that night, a murder mystery dinner, “Killing for the Crown” right at home, with a lovely dinner served in courses by our amazing chef!  The morning of New Year’s Eve saw us having a blast at Boondocks Fun Center with a sweet buffet lunch.  We were able to have noise makers and watch the ball drop in New York, a regular tradition for many.  It was a lovely, relaxing and fun-filled time for all of us!

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November Notables

While our amazing teachers attended a training, we had a random Wednesday off of school in the beginning of November.  What better way to spend it than with sack lunches at the Zoo?  Even in November, the weather was warm enough and we love seeing those animals!

Then of course, were the days of Thanksgiving break.  On Thursday, we were able to start the day with brunch and family phone calls, which also meant some relaxing Wii and movie time, followed by a gratitude photo scavenger hunt created by our amazing Rec. Therapy Intern, Codi.  Then, with a few homey dishes made in house, and some other food catered, staff and students sat down to share a lovely Thanksgiving meal, complete with a round of things for which we are grateful.  It was a warm and sweet time around the table.  The evening ended with a trip to see The Peanuts Movie, and of course, PIE!

The next day, we were able to make and prepare a meal for those staying at Ronald McDonald House and then browse the exhibits at The Leonardo museum.  We crowned our time off of school with the decorating of our tall, majestic Christmas tree!  Happy holidays all!

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Happy Halloween 2015!

Even though they still had to complete some deep clean chores, our kiddos had a fun-filled Halloween Saturday this year!  They were able to eat a warm breakfast with hot cider outside around the fire.

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After the cleanup and the getting ready, the festivities really began.  Students got to trick or treat from room to room, scoring some loot from our willing staff.  After that, the group did a costume catwalk and photo shoot, then a nice relaxing evening of making caramel apples, popcorn with “scary” movies, cider and costumes.

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Arts Immersion Week

October was the time for one of our “Intensives,” this one themed Arts Week.  For Monday through Wednesday, students attended regular school in the morning, but then were able to choose each day from numerous blocks of classes teaching a myriad of artistic skills – quilting, ballet, comic art with water colors, polynesian dance, music masterclass, juggling, percussion techniques, improv and even a mural painted on the wall in our garden!

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Evenings gave more time to work on projects begun in classes, as well as altered books (read a bit about them here.) Our residents really liked this project!

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Thursday and Friday all day were devoted to the pursuit of art.  La Europeans got to learn about the art of making chocolate, tour the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, participate in a modern/contemporary dance workshop, Open Studio or Jam for their own creative expression.  We were also treated to a Staff and Student Showcase – where our own very talented staff sang, danced, performed, showed paintings and photography, and some of our willing students performed as well.  We are surrounded by amazing artists! The week was topped off by two unique opportunities. The first was a block where students could choose their own Expressive Therapy modality – Music, Writing, Sand Tray or Yoga.  And the final activity of the week got us all dressed up and headed down town to the Capitol Theater to see Tosca, an opera performed by Utah Opera Company. What an amazing and creative week of experiences!

Fabulous Fall

For a full week off of school in August, we were able to get out and enjoy some great activities – both invigorating and relaxing. We kicked off the week with yoga and some prep time for our upcoming Fine Arts Festival, enjoying a movie on the projector outside, with s’mores over the fire pit. Tuesday saw a trip to beautiful Park City, where we visited the Olympic Park Complex, seeing a lot of history, completing an amazing hike and zip lining down the mountain!

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Wednesday began with a trip to the lovely Red Butte Gardens, followed by our favorite furry friend spot, the Humane Society, and finally some Extreme Karaoke at the house – this ain’t yo mama’s karaoke!  We thought a random Thursday could only rightly begin with some laser tag, so that’s what we did! Then swimming and free time were proceeded by “Grease’d”, a parody show at Desert Star Theater.  Hilarious!  Our final day was filled with much of the usual – zumba, Euro Store, craft time and Open Studio (free art projects,) Open Gym (free use of sports equipment,) or Open Jam (free reign of music room and designated jam time.)

Labor Day was our chance to visit the Hill Aerospace Museum – a fantastic collection of aircraft and history.  We also got to see Tomorrowland in the theater and don’t forget the homemade ice cream!

And finally, we can’t leave out a surprise day off of school  in November while our teachers were taking advantage of a training opportunity.  Most of our students didn’t mind, as it gave them a day to spend at our very own Hogle Zoo.  There were many spectacular new exhibits (including Rocky Shores and Asian Highlands) as well as a carousel ride and popcorn – Wednesday at it’s finest!

The Patriotic Holidays!

For us, Memorial Day began with a trip to downtown Salt Lake City for an Urban Adventure Quest.  This is a fun online scavenger hunt of sorts, which takes you around the city solving clues and visiting landmarks.  You can do them all over the U.S.! It made for an active morning with sack lunches and a more in-depth tour of SLC. In the afternoon, we got to enjoy some rare Monday free time and a fire in the pit with s’mores option. After dinner, the group got to head to a Bee’s Game – our local baseball team – for a decidedly American Memorial Day Celebration!

For us, the fun Independence Day activities spanned July 2nd, 3rd and 4th!  We started it off low-key, with a rehearsal for the Fine Arts Festival in the morning, groups and then in the evening attended a concert by The Harp Twins at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.  Friday the 3rd brought us another morning rehearsal, then a whole afternoon and evening swimming and sliding at Cowabunga Bay, a local water park.  Upon returning home, the residents were treated to a fireworks show by one of our staff who’s dad owns a fireworks stand. Thanks, Mike! Finally, on the birth of our great country, we still had to complete a few deep clean chores and some free time/study hall, but then we got to gather food and supplies and celebrate up the canyon.  We had a fire for dinner and s’mores, and generally got to enjoy our beautiful nearby nature and each other’s company.  What a blast!

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Then there was the 24th!  What, you’ve never heard of the 24th of July?  That may be because it is a state holiday here in Utah. It is Pioneer day – the day Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley – and Utahns celebrate it much the same way as the 4th – parades, fireworks, summer BBQ’s.  Even though none of our students are official Utahns, they all got to reap the benefits and enjoy a few days off of school.  The morning of the 23rd actually saw the sendoff of one of our long-time residents before our annual La Europa Carnival!  Staff and students alike are invited to come play games, earn tickets for popcorn and the dunk tank, get faces painted, water slide… not to mention some amazing balloon art!  This year, we saw a sloth, snail and full size Darth Vader mask.  We love the time out in the sun and a moment to be kids again.

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Pioneer Day began with some more water fun while we had the slide, and then a full day off campus after lunch.  We visited the Tray Aviary before having dinner night out.  After dinner night, we had tickets to see a production of the musical 1776.  It kept us out late, but it was a fun way to celebrate both our nation and our (temporary) state!

Third Annual Europies Film Festival

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For the third year in a row now, we at LEA held a La Europa Film Festival, also known as The Europies.  It’s not quite Sundance, but we always thoroughly enjoy the products of our students’ imaginations.  Students are placed into 3 groups and given a week to bond, storyboard, write, film, edit and finalize a short film.  We focus group therapies that week around communication, conflict resolution, team building, etc. There are a few breaks for exercise, for watching a Sundance film (“The Music Never Stopped”) and for making treats, but it is generally a pretty intensive week!

Friday morning, students got dressed up in their interpretation of Red Carpet Glam and were driven downtown to the Broadway Theater, where they had to get past tough security and walk the red carpet for the paparazzi.

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With a few snacks, there was a showcase of the films and then our esteemed judges awarded some prizes for best film and best actor/actress among others. After the festival, we appreciated some time to just relax, choose yoga or Zumba for some exercise and cap off the week Friday night with an outdoor concert, Broadway Live! featuring one of our own residential advisors and voice coach.  We love this effort by our students and are already looking forward to next year!