Class Trips and Good Days

This school year I have a star chart.

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Every time my students get a hundred percent or a perfect lesson they get to put a star up. We have been celebrating every 100th star. My original goal for them was 800. They are now almost at 1000!

(We did a chart last year as well but only for Test and Quizzes. We celebrated every 75th Star and had a goal of 300 which we surpassed. Thanks to Wendell Miller for the idea.)

I’m not sure if I remember every thing we did, but I will share some pictures from a few of the bigger things we did as rewards for the star chart this year.

We had a picnic lunch in Ouray and then visited Box Canyon Falls (Box Cañon).

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We went to Junction and had lunch at Chick-fil-A and went skating at Glacier Ice Arena. (Thanks to Haley for taking these while I was busy skating.)

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One afternoon we went into Delta for coffee.

This is the only picture I have from that.

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We had some smaller things just at school like Game Day and a pizza party to celebrate other star goals. I don’t think I have pictures of those.

The most recent excursion was our biggest for the year. It was to celebrate our original goal of reaching 800.

We went took the whole day off school and went to hiking at Colorado National Monument. We ate a picnic lunch there and then went to Bananas Fun Park in Grand Junction and played Laser Tag.

Here are a few pictures from the hike.

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The boys liked hiking right on the edge while the girls were happy to try safe things like going through a tunnel in the rock.

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I had put off this trip for awhile because I was very busy and also because I was waiting for nice weather. Then I suddenly realized I needed to get it done before Micah was done with his work and out of school. I have to admit I lacked faith that it would all work out at the last minute. But God answered my prayers despite my weak faith and everything came together amazingly well! Thanks, Mariann, for being willing to drive us and help chaperone! I really enjoyed the day and I think the students did too.

It was definitely one of my best days in awhile! And another wonderful part of it was not having checking to do that evening! (I did have typing papers that I checked Saturday.) I was able to spend my evening sewing and finish a dress. (Finally a Sunday dress for Spring!)  And that Saturday I was able to take an hour and go four-wheeling with one of my students and enjoy it without feeling the pressure of school work that needed done. That afternoon I went to school and administered Micah’s diploma-qualifying test. It was good to get that out of the way! I can hardly believe I have a student graduating!

The next week was a bit more hectic as we had only 2.5 days of school and then Easter break and I was trying to get ready to leave for Nevada. But we got everything done that needed done. And although my packing was so hasty I forgot a few things, I had a very good vacation in Nevada. It is amazing what a little rest and relaxation can do for a person! Thanks to Kendra and her family for allowing me to come!

This past week at school went pretty well. I was blessed Thursday by having Heidi help me with checking after school! As I had typing to check that evening and packing to do it was a great boost!

Over the weekend we teachers babysat for one of the families in Delta. I wasn’t sure how it would be, but I got my checking done in decent time Friday evening and was able to enjoy the weekend. And with three babysitters we even had some leisure time!

Now just to make it through the last two weeks of school! Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me! I would ask that you continue to pray that I could just remember to focus on one moment at a time and that I would hand all my burdens over to Christ and not try to bear them on my own.

Well, as is usual, this post took longer and turned out differently than I though it would, but it does catch you up on my life a bit and finally I’ve posted some pictures!

Wishing everyone a wonderful week filled with blessings from the Lord!

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What is normal?

The last two weeks have been pretty good. Some days I almost felt “normal” again. But then I’m not sure if I really know what “normal” feels like. The reason I don’t know is because the change came so gradually. I can’t really look back and pinpoint a time when I stopped having energy or when my mental health started declining. When I start trying I realize some of it goes back pretty far.

Back to eighth grade when I decided to lose weight. I did lost weight. But skipping lunch or eating just a granola bar and yogurt wasn’t probably the best idea.

Back 5 or 6 years when I had a spell of no energy. I started taking B vitamins and that seemed to mostly take care of the problem.

Back to when I worked an office job 4 days a week. Since I was sitting all day, I had to fight against gaining weight. So, what did I eat for lunch? Most days a granola bar and yogurt, which took about ten minutes to eat; then I could go on a walk for the rest of my lunch break. Then at the end of the day I would have a sugar low so I’d have to eat a candy bar to get my sugar back up so I could drive home from work. 

And, I’m sure the list could go on. But I’ll get on with the story.

I hesitate to even write about my health problems because I’m sure everyone will be like “Hey, you need to try this product,” or “This is what you should be doing.” And I don’t tell my story to bring pity to myself. I share it to help bring encouragement to those who may be facing similar struggles.

The other day I was sharing with one of my friends about how the last couple weeks have been. I was telling her how I decided I need to take time each day to walk or work out, even if it is just for ten minutes. I was exclaiming over the fact of actually having the energy to desire to do this. She wondered how I ever made it teaching school when I had no energy.

I said, “I don’t know how I did it.” Mostly by God’s strength. By taking one day at a time, one moment at a time. Looking back now it is kinda a fog. It’s like I knew things were bad, but I didn’t really realize how bad at the time. I knew I wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be. I didn’t feel well most of the time. I had headaches a lot, stomach troubles, back pain, and no energy. Some days I had to admit to my students I didn’t feel well because I just didn’t feel well enough to play at recess.

I’m not sure when it all started. I had headaches some the fall before, but then they mostly went away. I did have stomach struggles last school year. Also I developed a pain in my lower left back. And till I went home to Virginia in the spring I had a pain in my heel. I had no idea why I was having these issues. I really didn’t want to spend the money for the chiropractor last spring so I hoped that once school was out for the summer I would be able to relax and the pain would go away. But it was not to be.

My summer was good but super busy. I felt like I never really had time to recuperate from the previous school year. Till the end of summer the pain in my heel did go away. When I got back to Colorado in the fall I was not really feeling ready for another school year. But there was no choice as I was already signed on for the job. I went to the chiropractor and got several treatments for my back. It seemed to help, but not totally take care of the problem. I soon came to discover that the root cause seemed to be stress. Anytime I was under a lot of stress, the pain in my back would flare up. I decided that is also what had caused my heel problem. And I figure, most of my stomach problems too.

All fall I never really felt on top of my school work. In fact, it felt on top of me. I felt like I had no life. I did school all day till almost 6 in the evening. Then we came home and had supper; and after supper it was back to school work. And since it was late till that got done, I didn’t do any other projects but just went to bed. Any time the other girls wanted to do something, there I would be dragging my schoolbooks along so I could get my checking done. Or else, I would be fretting and couldn’t really enjoy myself because I knew I had work waiting on me. I felt like a workaholic. To get away from it I would stay up at night and watch something on YouTube just to give me a break from reality. But that wasn’t really helpful as it made me lose sleep and then I couldn’t function properly.

I had a student who advised me to relax and enjoy life. But I couldn’t figure out how. How could I when I had all this school work to do? I couldn’t remember how I had managed to functioned before.

In November I realized I was in a terrible pit of despair and made the initial step toward trying to get out. But my schoolwork didn’t vanish and I still had to figure out how to juggle life. Till Christmas break came I was exhausted. I was so tired I couldn’t even keep my words straight when I tried to teach classes. My brain was a jumble and things just wouldn’t connect. As terrible as it sounds, I wasn’t even excited about Christmas or about getting to go see my family. All I wanted was to go to bed and sleep for about a week. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

I did have a good Christmas vacation with my family in VA and was able to take some time to relax.

I still felt very overwhelmed at times over the next several months, but I think it has gradually been getting better. I’ve been trying to step back from my school work a bit and not let it control my life. I feel that my student had some very good advice about relaxing and taking time to enjoy life.

Something I decided a little more recently is to try to start each day with worship and praise of the Almighty God. Through the Bible App on my phone I can access a lot of different devotional plans. The last ten days or so I did one called “10,000 Reasons.” I’m excited to start another one. It definitely seems to help my day flow better to start it with a focus of worship.

Another thing I have realized is that when other people annoy me or say something against me, I need to pray for them. They may be going through a rough time which is causing them to act or react they way they are. As a rather insecure person, I tend to take things very personally and become even more insecure. But asking God to bless the person who has hurt me has helped me in releasing these hurts and becoming more secure in Christ. 

And sometimes the hurt is totally unintentional. Like when someone ask you about some plans for later in the week because they know you “tend to get overwhelmed.” And you know they mean well, but you can tell they totally don’t understand what it is like to be completely and utterly overwhelmed. The way they come across makes you feel like they think it is ridiculous or stupid that you can’t handle life.

Or when someone accuses you of being secretive when the only reason you’ve been quiet is because  you are so overwhelmed by life that your brain is a scramble. I recently saw a quote that I felt fit perfectly: “When she is quiet, there is a reason. She is sorting through all the chaos in her head…”

The last two weeks have given me hope that I am moving forward and progressing.

Thanks to all my friends who pray for me! I know this has been a huge help in my spiritual journey. I am blessed by many amazing friends.

If you made it this far, congratulations! I know this was a lot to get through and it felt a bit scrambled even to my brain. I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head but it is hard for me to get them to come together into something sensible and readable. I feel like there is so much more I could say, but I’m not sure how to fit it all in.

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FEAR

So, some of you may have seen my request for prayer on Facebook the other week. You may have been wondering why I was struggling with fear. Well, here is the story.

The afternoon of February 21 seemed like any normal afternoon as I sat at my desk doing checking. Then, just like that, the electricity went off and everything was dark. There was not a storm, so I was guessing someone hit a pole and messed up the electric line. I thought maybe I would hear sirens, but never did. But there was still enough light coming in through my windows to continue checking. I talked to Connie on the phone as I checked. We got done with our conversation and hung up. The lights still weren’t on, but I kept checking.

Around 5:00 a strange blue-green astro minivan with a dent in the side pulled around behind the school (the side where my classroom is). I didn’t freak out right away as it is not totally unusual for people to stop by the church/school, thinking they will find the pastor or secretary there. But they didn’t park by my door. They pulled up by the dumpster. I thought, They must be going to throw some trash in our dumpster. I wasn’t very impressed by the thought, but it seemed harmless enough.

But, no. This blonde-haired women with brown leggings gets out of the front passenger door and heads toward our storage shed. I watched for a little but she went out of my sight behind the school building. I waited for a little and then thought, It seems a little strange. Maybe I had better go check what is going on. I locked my outside door and then stealthily walked across the gym to the doors looking out the direction she had gone. But, she was nowhere to be seen. Well, at least she’s not trying to steal out of the storage shed. I thought, Maybe she went over to Jen’s classroom. I had better go check with Jen. But, no. Jen had seen the van drive in but nothing more. Not sure what else to do I headed back to my classroom.

When I got back to my classroom. I pulled the curtain over the door window as stealthily as I could, hoping they hadn’t paid attention to whether it was closed or open when they drove in. Then I proceeded to sneakily peer out around my curtain. I thought maybe I would see the women come back to the vehicle or some action of some kind. But I couldn’t see any action. Maybe she had went back to the vehicle while I was walking through the gym. I tried to get back to my checking, but it was rather hard to concentrate.

Every so often I would sneak a peak out the window to see what was happening. I eventually decided someone was sitting in the front passenger seat because I saw just the slightest movement every now and then. I also saw someone, possibly the driver, moving around—possibly from the back to the front. Of course my imagination was going wild. What was he doing back there? Did they have some type of hostage? The van really didn’t look that reputable. But, if they were doing something wrong, why did they park where they could be seen from the road? They could easily have parked behind the building. But where did the woman go?? I wondered if I should call the police. I have a friend whose dad is a police officer, but I had neither her number or her dad’s number.

The electricity came on between 5:10 and 5:15. Good, maybe that will scare them off, I thought. Maybe when they realize someone is actually here, they will leave. No such luck. The whole time I was praying to God asking for protection. I wasn’t really that scared for myself as Jen was there and all the school doors were locked and the people had made no point of trying to come in. But still, it was rather nerve wracking not knowing what in the world they were up to!

Around 5:20 Jen came over to my classroom and was ready to leave. We weren’t sure what to do. Our car was parked out back of my classroom where this strange van was. We didn’t really feel comfortable walking out and exposing ourselves or with leaving and having them know the building was unattended. We decided to call Arlin (our CO dad) and see what his advice was.

Arlin said that no, he didn’t think we should leave. We should either call the police or call Brian, as he lives close. Jen decided we should call Brian. He said he would be right over. By this time it was 5:30. Although it didn’t take Brian but 10 minutes or so to get there, it felt like an eternity. Meanwhile Jen got a phone call.

Brian got there and the van was gone! I guess while Jen was on the phone they must have left and we didn’t hear them. I really wished I would have been watching out the window instead of trying to do checking! It would have been nice to know why they were there, but I was thankful at the same time. Thankful that Brian hadn’t had to confront them and perhaps endanger himself.

So, we left school and headed into Olathe. I watched carefully to see if I saw that van lurking anywhere watching us. But I saw nothing unusual. We stopped at the grocery store and then headed home for supper.

For some reason that night, FEAR gripped me like it never has before. I was fearful of going to sleep for fear of having nightmares. But thankfully, through the prayers of others and myself, God gave me peace and I slept just fine. But I still had to fight some fear the next couple days. I kept my outside classroom door locked and when we drove to and from school I kept my eyes pealed for a blue-green astro minivan with a dent just in front of the right rear wheel.

I kinda wished we would have just called the police. Then maybe I wouldn’t have to wonder what they were doing there.

If it happened again I would handle it a bit differently, but I sure hope it never does happen again!!

Every 15th Photo

I was recently reading my friend Luci’s blog and she did a post of every 15th photo on her phone. As I was reading, I was thinking, This is a kinda cool idea. Then, at the end of her post she challenged each of us to make a post of every 15th photo. So, here I am, up for the challenge. Smile

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#1 Blue fabric

A piece of fabric that I am thinking about trying to sell on Fabric Swappers. I had gotten it for serving at a wedding, but then I ended up moving to Colorado to teach school and didn’t go to that wedding. I do love the color though!

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#2 Super Ninja Throwing Stars

We made these in art class today. Everyone had a lot of fun making them, even those who think art is usually boring. Smile

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#3 Silverton Durango Train.

Some of Jen’s family was here over the weekend and we four-wheeled over the mountain to Silverton and had lunch there.

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#4 Scoring box from Keyboarding LightUnit.

I was trying to figure out how the scoring works and so took a picture to email to CLP to ask how I was to do it. I think I have it figured out now.

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#5 Paper towel curtain.

This is what happens when the teacher hasn’t made curtains yet. The students improvise with a paper towel roll. Winking smile

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#6 Buck crossing lane.

I saw this fellow on our lane one night one my way home from youth.

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#7 Books!

Some books I ordered off Amazon. Books are my weakness.

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#8 S’moratilla.

Our invention when camping this summer. I called it a S’mores Quesadilla, but my cousin Trenton christened it a S’moratilla and the name stuck. Instead of using bread in a mountain pie iron, I used half a tortilla and then filled it with peanut butter, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips. It was delicious!

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# 9 Larita

Darla and I went up to Seney, MI, this summer to help with Vacation Bible School. One day some of us went fishing on Lake Superior. The weather was beautiful and we had a very good day!

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#10 Juicy Hamburger

Whenever we needed a quick supper this summer, I usually made hamburgers. They are quick and easy and always delicious!

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#11 Breakfast

This was a fairly normal breakfast for me this summer. One or two eggs fried over easy mixed with sautéed fajita mix and sausage. Sometimes I added salsa as well. Very delicious and healthy!

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#12 Delicious Salad

I always enjoy a good salad!

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#13 Maid of Honor

My best friend (and cousin) got married this summer and I was privileged to be her maid of honor.

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#14 Colorado Rockies

A picture I took on my flight from Montrose to Denver this spring.

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#15 Man standing on cliff

This spring Jen and I went with Jeremy and Kristina and their family to Moab, UT. This is a pic from some of the four-wheeling we did.

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#16 Utah rock

Another picture from four-wheeling.

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#17 Four Wheelers

And yet another four-wheeling picture.

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#18 Lilacs

These beautiful flowers were brought to me at school this spring.

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#19 Daphnee

I had night school with my students this spring and we had a cereal party after their work was done.

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#20 On The Border

This spring we stopped in Denver on our way to Cheyenne and of course we had to eat at On The Border. Smile

Well, this post took longer than I thought it would even though it didn’t take much thought. Smile Now you have seen a few slices of my life over the summer. Comment on your favorite picture or share a link to your own post of every 15th picture off your phone.

Back to Colorado!

Well, this may be a kinda random post of catching you up on a few of the happenings in my life the last while. Flew to Colorado on August 25. For the most part everything went very smoothly. We did have to wait a bit in Salt Lake for a crew, but only got into Junction a few minutes late. The worst part of the day was sitting beside a child/teen with very bad BO! Sad smile I was never so glad to get off an airplane! At least it was only an hour flight and I was able to sleep for some of it. Brenda kindly picked me up in Junction and brought me home. I came back to new carpet in my room and new furniture. Smile Well, new for me anyway. When they did the carpet they decided the bedroom set was too trashy to put back in my room so I got Arlin’s old set. That is nice since some of the drawer handles were off the other set and some of the drawers didn’t work very well. But, I had to find a new home for things. I was very glad for the organizing I had done last school year, but really need to do some more. Maybe I have too much stuff….

I worked at school everyday from the time I came until the day school started. I had hoped to get done sooner, but had some difficulties with my birthday chart. I had an idea in mind but wasn’t quite sure how to work it out in real life. So I went online and found a picture of a banana leaf, then used an overhead projector and drew it off onto poster board. I did 12 of them. Then I colored them all using oil pastels. Then I cut them out. Everything good so far. Hmm. Might be nice to have them laminated. Oops! Not a good idea. The oil pastels melted off. Sad smile Now what. I had to think of plan B.  So, I went back into town and took the leaves to get color copied. They wouldn’t be ready till the next morning. Ok. So the next morning she called and said they were ready. I took my scissors with me and after picking up the leaves went to Starbucks and got some coffee and sat there for an hour cutting leaves out. When I was about halfway done I called the Laminating place and told them I was bringing in some stuff to get laminated.  She said, “Ok. I start warming up the machine.” But, I got there only to find out she had gotten too busy and wasn’t able to do them right away. Bummer! Sad smile So I had to go back in town that evening to pick them up. Then they had to be cut out yet. Needless to say, that project took way longer than I wanted. But I did get it up before school started. Smile I felt way more ready for school this year than any year yet. I’m glad I allowed as much time as I did to get ready. My theme this year is tree frogs. Here is a picture of my Birthday chart:

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Oh, and the first day I started working at school I was cleaning my walls. When I went to move my bookcase out from the wall it was rather wobbly. I decided I was tired of this pitiful bookcase that the back didn’t stay on and wasn’t very sturdy. I went to town looking for a bookcase. After looking at Salvation Army and ReStore in Montrose and finding nothing suitable, I went to Renovator’s warehouse in Delta where I found a sturdier one that would work. It is veneer, not solid wood, but much better than my last one. The next day I went and picked it up and took it to school. I took all the books and stuff out of my old bookcase. Then I scooted it out from the wall and moved the new bookcase in. Well, when I went to move the old bookcase totally out of the room, the bottom part just collapsed! I was so glad the books were already off of it and I had another bookcase! I can only imagine if that would have happened during class when the bookcase was loaded with books!!

Here is a picture of my class this year:

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Daphnee         Ashley          Haley       Briana        Micah       Shane      Brian

Daphnee and Haley are sisters and Ashley is their cousin.

Briana, Micah, and Shane are also siblings.

Ashley and Shane are in 6th grade. Brian is in 7th.  Briana and Daphnee are in 8th.

Haley in 9th. And Micah in 10th.

Well, I could write much more, but my fingers are going to sleep so it is getting a little hard to type so I guess I will sign off for now.

I would love to hear from y’all! –Rachel

Creative Writing

So, it has been way too long since I have done some creative writing! I have had some thoughts rolling around in my head and decided to give it a go and try. This is what I came up with. It feels like it is lacking…maybe I will polish it later. But there was so much in my heart that just cannot be put into words… but maybe you will be able to see a glimpse into the heart of a teacher.

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Letter to a Student,

Three years ago I didn’t know you; now, whether you want it or not, you have a piece of my heart. Although some days you tried my patience, other days you made me laugh. I could never stay upset with you. You always could make me smile, even when I tried my hardest not to. Though many times you teased and made fun of me, you still stood up for me when I needed it. Although I made mistakes, you forgave me. I have loved watching you grow and am proud of you. I love how you look out for the needs of others, even though sometimes you try to cover it up. I am blessed to be your teacher and friend. You have no idea how much you have influenced my life just by being yourself—strong, funny, charming, caring, teasing. You are the reason I have kept teaching. There is so much I could say, but I will just sum it up by saying I care about you more than you will ever know.

Love always,                                                                                                           Your Teacher

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I know I may be posting at a crazy hour, but just isn’t that what writers do? We have to write when the inspiration comes. I have been thinking about it for awhile and, as I was lying in bed, I decided to just do it now because when else will I find time to do it.  Just tonight I was given an idea for a very interesting project. Maybe I have found a summer project…since I really lack for things to do. LOL. 😉

Christmas gifts

Every year I have a struggle knowing what to get my students for Christmas and birthday gifts. The girls aren’t really that hard for me. It’s the boys that stump me. This year I decided to make the girls skirts. Then I had to come up with something similar for the boys. After much time on Pinterest I did come up with an idea. I was very happy with how it turned out. I will let you see what you think.

First, here are the skirts I made for the girls.

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Now, here are the shirts I did for the boys. I came up with the design and then used bleach to put it on the shirt.

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I was pretty happy with how they turned out. What do y’all think?

Here is the link where I got my idea, if anyone is interested http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2012/12/12/freezer-paper-bleach-t-shirt/#_pg_pin=536574.