Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: school (page 1 of 4)

Spring concert…At least there was no barf

Monday was our chime choir Spring Concert.

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The kids get to perform twice for the school, and then once for the parents in the evening. They had some pretty difficult songs, and I scheduled the concert pretty early (so as to be BEFORE the band concert, as per request of the kids), so they weren’t totally performance ready. But they did ok.

We never have quite enough time as we would like to rehearse that morning, but it went ok.

We went in the afternoon to practice with the teens, and there was a karate group in the gym. Oh, well. We’ll just go up to the stage. I was thinking ahead this time, and brought everything I thought I would need for the evening. I brought T-shirts and a sign that said how much the t-shirts cost, and even listed the sizes of the shirts, I brought tablecloths for the t-shirt table, and the cookie table, I printed programs and brought those, the tables were all set up, the props were there.

For the evening concert, there were all three groups performing. I have an AM choir that meets before school at 7 am, a PM choir that meets before school at 8:00 am, and a TEEN chime choir that meets in the afternoon at the City Arts building. The teen choir is new, and I didn’t have anywhere for them to perform, so I just added them to this concert group. They really haven’t had as much time to prepare, since they rehearse on Mondays and there have been so many Monday holidays off of school. But, since they are a bit older, they pick things up faster.

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We were just about to start, and the kids tell me, “Lily is feeling sick! Should we go tell her to stay in the car?” Without saying too much about this particular child, there is a reason that I do not normally include 2nd or 3rd graders in my choir. They are just not ready for it, and usually don’t have the musical knowledge that is needed. But, if there is a sibling in the choir, I’ll often make an exception. Mistake. Anyway, I told her brother that she really should play. Probably just nerves, right? She looked terrified, and I’m not sure if she played her notes or not. I asked her if she was doing ok, and she said she thought she might throw up. So, I put things in fast gear for that group. Not much talking, cut out the banter. Just get through those 4 songs so that sick girl can be off the stage and away from the chimes. I really cannot imagine what I would have done if she threw up on the chimes (and music and tablecloths). I think we would have had to just call it and be done right then.

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The next group comes up, and we are missing one girl. Seriously? She’s been flakey all semester, missed more than half the practices, but she was there for the school concert, and I thought I had sent enough reminders home that she would come. Nope. Not there. And she’s on the high notes, so if they aren’t played, you really hear it. I called up a cute girl from my other choir and asked her if she would fill in. Sight reading. Seriously! She’s pretty awesome!

Even with her help, though, we had some serious problems. There were entire measures where no one played anything. It’s just me leading and GLARING at them, mouthing the measure numbers, hoping that someone…ANYONE…figures out where we are and GETS with the program. I’m glad the audience could only see my back at those moments. And not just one song. Multiple songs falling apart. Kids couldn’t find their folders, looking under the table trying to find them, missing notes that were borrowed for one song and not put back. Not smooth.

Ryan had told me that I was not allowed to complain about the concert, or we couldn’t go to dinner. So, I held my tongue. I was so exhausted! We did have a nice dinner out with my two chime choir kids, John and Jenna, at Rumbi.

As we were driving home from dinner, the kids were in a super giggly mood. “WANG CHUNG” came on the radio, and Ryan and I sang along. One of the kids asked what that meant, anyway, and Ryan said it was just a made up word. “It can probably mean anything, right? Everybody Wang chung tonight….I hope I don’t wang chung my lunch.” That set off a WHOLE slew of hysterical laughter and we were back on the subject of upchucking (or “Wang chunging”). At least we can laugh.

I’m very glad that we are almost done with chimes for the year. We have a performance in church on Sunday (eek! Why do I do this to myself?) and then a spring music festival next week where we all go to another school and perform and listen to other groups perform. And then we’ll be done. I’m burned out. I need to focus on other things (hello, wedding!) and take a break so I can be excited about teaching again come August.

It will probably take me that long to organize the file the music.

Sigh.

Field Trippin

I was so sick of that last blog template, I just picked one pretty much at random and asked hubby to update it. Maybe someday I’ll have my son design a custom template for me, but for now, this is good enough. What do you think of the new look?

Oh, the things we are doing around here! Busy, busy, busy, it seems.

One of the fun things we were able to do last week was a field trip with John. They had a 6th grade trip to go to the Leonardo Museum and see the Mummies of the World exhibition.

When I got the field trip permission note, it stated that they needed several parent volunteers, but we couldn’t ride the bus with the kids. Sign me up! I don’t enjoy going on the bus with all those yelling, crazy kids. And they never have enough room on the bus and I end up crammed with three people in a row. So, if I could drive up myself, I could maybe stop at Trader Joe’s, take my time, and enjoy the field trip. I ended up not going by myself, though. I asked the other moms if any of them wanted to carpool, and I drove three other moms up there and back. Which was also kind of fun.

I got my 4 four kids, we got a clipboard and tags, and then got started on our experience.

There are no pictures allowed in the mummy exhibit, so I’m including some of the promo pictures. It was so interesting! Although I heard many comments of “Gross!” from these 11 and 12 year olds, I think they realized it was a pretty amazing display they were witnessing. Real people, that were either mummified naturally, or on purpose. Real people who had died centuries ago. Some were dated before Christ. Truly fascinating.

Of course, after we finished with the mummy exhibit, the real fun started.
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The kids had oodles of fun with this green screen. Several images would change behind them, and they could put green fabric on to make themselves “invisible”.

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The kids had a lot of fun exploring inventions, especially in the “Sound” exhibit.

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Even though I only had 4 boys to look after, it was sometimes hard to keep track of them in the chaos. It’s not like they will hold hands or stay in the stroller.

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After two hours, it was hungry time, and the kids were winding down and getting bored.
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Luckily, they had packed lunches.

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We went outside to eat on the grass, and it was beautiful weather. Probably 60 degrees, the sun was shining, and it was the nicest day of the year, so far. Heavenly! The kids needed to eat, and they needed to be able to run around a little bit.

And then the kids got back on the bus and we didn’t have to get on the bus. We walked a couple blocks back to the car and had a nice kid free drive home. That might be my LAST field trip for the elementary school. This year, as John is in 6th grade, I’ve kind of been ticking off the “lasts”. Last Christmas party, last valentine party, last lunch for the teachers for Parent Teacher conference, etc. It’s been 18 years that we have had kids in elementary school, and although I’ll still be teaching my chime choir there for a few more years, at least, it’s a bit sad to know that that stage in my life is coming to an end. Now I’ll have to help out with more things in the Junior High or the High school. That is, if things aren’t too busy.

Early morning music

This is my fourth year of teaching chime choir at Highland Elementary. It’s been a rough road, but we did manage to get a choir together, and each year it seems to grow a little bit.


This is one of my groups at their spring concert last year.

I love handbells and love teaching music. I wish I could do it MORE. I tried this year to get a group going at a local charter school where they have up to 9th grade, but I didn’t do a good enough job of sharing my vision, and I only had one student sign up. Rather than thinking of myself as a failure, I’m going to consider that a tender mercy. Now I don’t have to haul chimes back and forth from one school to the next, and I can really enjoy my work with my elementary school kids. Yes, it would be really nice to teach an older group, but perhaps now, with all my church duties, wasn’t the best time to start that.

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This is how they look when we practice. We set up quilts on the tables, the chimes on top of the quilts. Because kids at this school have two different start times, I have one choir that comes at 7 am, and one that comes at 8. Strangely enough, the 7:00 kids are there early, excited to see if they can set up the chimes before I get there. Really. The 8:00 kids come late, wandering in between 5-10 after 8. And my early group has 14 kids, while the later group is struggling at only 7 (which is really not enough to play all the notes, but we’ll make it work).

I try to make it fun, and today we talked about how playing chimes WAKES UP your brain. How you are using your hands, arms, eyes, ears, fingers, and brain ALL at the same time, and your brain has to WAKE up and get energized and if you wake up your brain by playing music in the morning, you will be SMARTER, and your brain will be more awake all day. No, they did not ask for scientific evidence, which is a good thing, cause I don’t have any.

One little girl, who is new, and who was 20 minutes late today, said, “Can’t we keep playing? There’s 15 minutes until school starts, we could just play more.” I told her she lost those 15 minutes by being late and she should be on time next time (rude, aren’t I?). As she packed up her backpack, she said, “I wish we had chime choir EVERY day.” Ooohhh.

THAT is why I do it. That is my paycheck. That is why I drag myself to the school by 7 twice a week.

Endings and beginnings

It’s the last week of school for folks in these parts. It’s been full of LASTS. Concerts, parties, yearbooks, autographs and school.

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We don’t have anyone graduating this year, but our neighbors do. Can you tell what these balloons spell out?

My sister-in-law, Julene and I went to John’s class at school today to make balloon animals for part of their party.
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His teacher thanked us profusely, but I wonder if the balloon noise just added to the chaos. Oh, well. The kids liked them.

In addition to lasts, we’ve had new beginnings. Cole spend almost all day on Monday playing with (or maybe the better word is configuring) his new phone (my old phone). He’s also been working on his old laptop (the one that Megan’s been using for the past two years). But yesterday, he heard back from his former boss at his BYU job, who asked him to come in today and start working! Woo Hoo! Such a relief to have him have a JOB! Not only does he desperately need money, but he needs something to DO. It sounds like they will allow him to work up to 40 hours a week, which would be wonderful. Crossing my fingers that it will work out that way.

Megan has also been working at Wendy’s since she came back from school. Since she’s available and willing to work, they’ve put her on nights, which means she goes in at 5 and is done at about 1. Last pay period she even picked up someone’s shift so she got overtime. Overtime makes this girl super happy.
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When things get busy and we have more things going on, I hope it’s not too hard for her to trade shifts so that she can have the evening off to do things with us (family pictures coming up, for example).

Natalie has also applied at a couple (and I use that term liberally) places, but today when I nagged her about that it was time to find a job, she complained bitterly. Does she not understand that the nagging with stop when she finds a job? Silly girl. She acts like she’s too good to work fast food. Hmm. I guess she’ll just have to do more jobs around the house for me.

Since we have two more drivers home and no more cars (nobody seems to want to drive the suburban), we’ve been looking for another car. We found one this week and I bought it yesterday.
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If you think that looks somewhat like a police car, you would be correct.
It’s a 2003 Crown Victoria, used by the forest service, not a patrol car, so it’s not quite as beat up as it could have been. It looks ok from the side, but if you look up top you’ll see much more paint damage.
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The kids don’t seem to mind, and the price was in our range, so we bought it. Plus, we know the guy who sold it to us, and I don’t think he would sell us a lemon on purpose. This car has a lot of power and will hopefully run for a long time.

And on a completely unrelated topic, since Natalie was home today, I asked her to use the rhubarb we had picked yesterday to make something. I made rhubarb muffins yesterday, so she decided she wanted to make a pie. Not bad looking for her first pie, right?

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So, happy summer. Enjoy the long days, the kids at home, the messes. I know I will.

Our Weekend

Our Weekend was a lot of fix its and fun.
(The Brazilian boys left on Monday, did I mention that. Sad? Not so much. They did say goodbye, but there were no tender goodbyes. WE did the best we could, and we’re not sad that it’s over.)

Friday I did two shows of Pinkalicious. Fun, yet exhausting. We’ve completed one week. Two more weeks (and 14 more shows) to go.
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My friend Rachael Gibson took these great pictures on Friday. I’m SO glad I have a few good ones from the show!

John’s Valentine’s party for his class was also on the schedule.
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I brought ice cream and soda so we could make root beer floats. Some of the kids really pigged out on the soda. Sorry, Moms!

Megan came home because her laptop was hosed. Hoping talented Dad can fix it back up. She also needed a light installed in her Carolla. Turns out two of her tires were pretty bald, too, so she and Ryan went to the used tire place to get two tires.

He’s also working on a new computer for me. The one I’m using is old and slow and has quite a few hang ups. So for a Christmas/birthday/valentine’s present, he’s got me a new something. But I think I have to clean up my office before I can actually start using it (my stipulation, not his).

The Camry needs more work. It didn’t pass the emissions, and we’re hoping that’s from old gasoline. So, Ryan put some additive in there, and then it smoked up like it was on fire. Now we just have to drive it and gt all the old gas out. So, he drove me to Walmart and picked me up. It takes a LONG time to run out half a tank on an old Camry.

John went on an overnight “Klondike” camp. It was quite warm for a winter camp. He came home SO tired and grumpy I haven’t really heard much about it, but he did eventually take a nap, so let’s hope his attitude improves. Naps are required after camps!

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Since it was Valentine’s day, Ryan made breakfast. Yum. I got heart shaped pizzas for lunch, and gave everyone some chocolate treats.
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Today is Sunday and we all need another sleep in day. Church and then dinner with my parents. And we even get the day off on Monday! Hooray for a needed weekend!

Share the music

I just got back from taking 18 of my 3rd-6th graders on a little performance field trip. We played the National Anthem at American Fork High for a basketball game.

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Why? Why? Why do I bring these things upon myself?

Hmmm.

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There are several reasons, none of them seem all that valid right now, when I’m tired. Tired of the kids and just tired.
1-After we played the National Anthem at Lone Peak’s basketball game in December, the kids were SO excited. They felt like they were the most important ‘musicians’ in the world when they got that huge applause. I want them to have that kind of experiences with music.

2-We had already learned the song, so it wasn’t that much rehearsal to just adjust it for the few kids that are new this semester. I felt like since we had already put so much work into the song, it would be a waste not to play it again.

3-I want to share the love of handbells and handchimes. Most people who go to a basketball game haven’t seen or heard anything like this before, and so we want to share our art.

4-I may be trying to prove to myself or anyone who cares that I can actually do this job of teaching a chime choir. Maybe.

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This time, at least, it was only ONE game. When we played at Lone Peak, they had us play for the girls’ game at 5:30, then play for the boys game at 7:00. This time it was just one game, but we still had too much time. I had everyone meet over at the school too early, and we had too much time to kill. We found music stands, rehearsed our song a few times, but don’t want to overrehearse, so we played a little game, then got ready. I told the kids if they wanted to do more fun stuff like this, they would be ABSOLUTELY silent in the halls. We had to go around the auditorium (where they were just starting the school play) go outside, and around to the gym door. Try keeping the kids quiet through that!

They actually did GREAT. The song sounded nice, and even though they were nervous, they played well.

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Two people stopped me on my way out and said, “That was amazing!” The second one was a cop, who put his hand on my arm. I thought I was in trouble, but he said, “WoW! They did GREAT! I guess that’s why I do it.

Afterward, we traipsed back outside and around to the music rooms, put the chimes back in the boxes, and hauled them to the car. I brought four noisy boys home with me.

And my hubby just brought me a shake, and it tastes yummy and feels great going down my throat.

I can feel proud of a job well done. I can feel good that I got those squirly kids to calm down long enough to learn and perform our national anthem, and hopefully they are learning a thing or two about music along the way.

Things are a bit Fishy (and how I’m excited to reclaim my kitchen counter)

Another of Megan’s projects is done (Whew!) and that means I can reclaim my kitchen counter again, at least for a day or two.

She’s been working on this FISH thing. I don’t know if Ryan suggested this one to her, too, or if it was her idea at first. It’s another project for her AP 3d art class. First she had to paper mache’, then it was cutting up a dozen soda cans, and then the endless gluing, gluing, gluing.
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Can you see the little notes she left that say, “Work in progress”. Warning me to not clean her project away. Um, whose kitchen do you think this is, girl?

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Last night she and I worked on that thing for a couple of hours. She LET me help her. I did a lot of cutting and even helped with the gluing of the scales. When you hot glue on aluminum, the whole thing heats up very quickly, and we had some burned fingers.

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I think she’s been working on this one for two weeks. I lose track of time, but I do know the fish and cans and pieces of cans have been on my counter since Monday.
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Now that it’s done I think it looks REALLY cool. Like she should win some kind of award cool.
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I don’t know if it’s because she’s using the cans of my favorite beverage as an art medium, or what, but it turned out great. Ryan even built that little stand for it to sit on so it won’t get tipped over or whatever. This girl’s got some talent! She has named this one Frankie De Piranha. (It’s a reference to a Monk episode. Do you get it?)

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And now I’m going to go clean off the rest of my counter. It will probably stay that way for all of about five minutes before I haul up the pears and decide what I’m going to do with pears today.

What a difference one year makes

A year ago I had grand dreams. I was going to start a chime choir at the elementary school. Something unique, different, and wonderful. I was sure kids and parents would JUMP at the chance to enroll their children in such a great program, and I was sure that I would be able to get funding in the form of a grant to be able to buy a four octave set of chimes, maybe even a bigger set, for our school. How hard could it be, right?

RIGHT.

I had no idea.
I DID get a chime grant and got to use a loaner set of chimes for the school year, so that was fantastic. But then the beginning of the school year started and the band teacher shot down my plans, and I couldn’t get a grant, and I only had two kids show up, and we had no place to set things up, and I had no idea what to do if kids showed up anyway….that was discouraging. In fact, I just went back and read a bit about what I was going through last fall with this choir, I felt like crying again for that girl last year and all she was going through and trying so hard to get this choir off the ground. But then I read this…

Dreams take time. Yes, it seems like I’ve been working on this project forever, and it feels like it’s never going to get off the ground, but in reality, it’s only been since May that I’ve been trying to get this thing going. I have these chimes for a year, and hopefully by the end of this year, I can get funding to buy another set for next year. And hopefully I can get 20 kids interested enough in joining a chime choir that I can run this program. If I don’t? Well, maybe I can make it work with less kids. I don’t know.

Impatient much, are we?

And you know what? I did it! It was hard. I really didn’t know how hard it was going to be.

I had to do two different groups, one before school, and one after school. Together there were enough kids to play a song. Alone, they could play about 1/2 to 2/3 of a song. But we did it.

And after Christmas, we even took the choir to two different locations to play, and I did my OWN fundraiser to raise the money to purchase a three octave set of chimes, even though more than one person told me it couldn’t be done. And at the end of the year, the principal told me that he appreciated all the work I had put into this, and offered to buy a fourth octave set for the school. He wants me to stay and teach, and not give up just because things are hard.

This year, I have my own 3 Octave set of chimes, the school purchased the 4th Octave for us, and I already have 20 kids signed up! 20 kids was the requirement needed to PAY ME the whole year, so this year I should be able to be paid for all my time, not just half, like last year. I don’t get paid a ton, but it does work out to about $100 a week, which is better than nothing. I don’t know how it works, if there’s money left after they pay me, if I can use that to buy music or things. I hope so. So far any music or supplies I have bought have pretty much come out of that paycheck.

But more importantly, with 10-14 kids in each group, they can play all the notes, so each group can learn and play a song, without being frustrated that it doesn’t sound right, and not knowing how the song is supposed to sound until we get all the kids together for a concert. I’m SO excited about that!!

I’m still inspired by this statement that I read on my friend Tess’s blog. She is a writer and is just in the process of publishing her second book. She’s really quite amazing. She said,

“I am so glad I didn’t give up! For all the times this story was rejected … for all the times my earlier work was rejected … for all the times I wondered if I could really have a book published on a national level — I am so glad I didn’t quit. Dreams take time. But here’s the thing, If you keep trying and learning and believing, they will come true.”

So, a big thank you to my friends who inspire me to keep trying, even when it’s hard. I wish I could take this lesson and apply it to every aspect of my life where things are hard. But silly me, I kind of have to learn the same lesson over and over again.

First day of school 2013

How could school be starting and summer over? Didn’t school JUST BARELY get out?

Neither I nor the kids were quite ready for school to start, but start it did.

To help the kids get ready, I took each of them on date with shopping. Well, John just got the date with Mom and Dad. He went shopping with me another time and got some school clothes then. It was fun to see what they would pick out. Megan, my least fashion conscious, picked out a single t-shirt. When I pressed her, she also got a pair of shoes. I should be happy that I don’t have to spend much on her, but I kind of wish she would branch out a bit.

This morning we had our traditional breakfast at the bus stop.
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The kids have fun goofing around with their friends while the moms commiserate or cheer that it’s back to school time.

I always print up a little sign that says the year so we can look back and remember our first day of school.

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The bus came at a weird time and not to the regular place. One of the more assertive moms talked to him to ask if they could please have the same two stops that we had last time, but that dang bus driver held his ground. “There will only be one stop” he kept saying. This is very frustrating. It’s bad enough that they make the kids get on the bus at 7:18 (School starts at 8:00, so what are they doing for the extra half hour at school? goofing off, or freezing in the winter), but now they have to walk a 1/4 mile down to the bus stop? Argh! But at least they haven’t taken away our elementary bus. The junior high bus was taken away from us several years ago, and I have had a big hassle trying to get our carpool figured out. BUT, I didn’t want this post to be complaining about the bus.

It’s bittersweet when school starts again. On the one hand, I feel like I have SO much time, now that I get up early and get the kids off to school, I always make big goals, like this is when I’m really going to get organized or work out every day and all that. In reality, by the time you clean up the morning dishes, do some laundry, exercise and take a shower, a big chunk of the day is gone. Once you add in volunteer work, planning or carrying out your church calling, writing your missionary and some time online, MORE of the day is gone. Then by the time you get dinner planned and pull a few weeds. it seems it’s 2:30 and they start coming home.

I also teach my chime choir two days a week, and for the past two years I’ve substituted off and on. I haven’t decided if I am going to keep subbing or not. I don’t love doing it, and it is kind of a stressor for me, making me not as patient or kind with my family, plus, with my carpool duties and chime choir and piano lessons after school, there isn’t a single day that I would be available to stay at school until 3:30 when the pm kids get out.

There is a sadness that I’m not the one in charge of my kids all day. I like having the freedom to take them somewhere, or do things with them. Now they are in school and their teachers become the important people. I miss those days when they were little and we had no schedules.

Megan is a senior this year. She’s been working hard on her 3-d AP art projects this summer (there were 12). I can’t believe all the exciting changes that she has ahead of her. And I’m a little scared. She has no idea what she wants to do, where she wants to go to school, and we need to help her decide.

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John is in 4th grade. Fourth Grade! How is that possible?

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Natalie is in 9th grade. I think she’s kind of excited to be the big dog in middle school.

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Jenna is 7th grade, new middle schooler.
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She actually went to school for a half day on Monday, to learn the ropes of middle school and all that.
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Here she is with her friend, Brittan.

When the day was done and they came home from school, at least no one came home in tears, or declaring that they hate school, or have no friends, or got lost, or what have you, so I guess the day was a success.

One down, 179 to go.

Chime choir wrap up

I was contacted today by the people who loaned me the set of chimes I have been using. They say it’s time to give them to the next recipient, and want a wrap up report. I have already written much about my chime choir experience, but I wrote it all together for this letter, before I realized that it said a “one page” letter. Whoops. Time to edit. But I’ll put it all up here first, just in case I want to find it again.

With no money, no budget, no music, and no experience, I set out to start a hand chime choir. Thankfully, the principal was on board, and willing to let me try. When I found out I had gotten the Area 11 chime loan, I knew I could get going for at least one year.
I was all excited to go to back to school night, set out some chimes, and get kids to sign up and come play in my new chime choir! Since our school already has an established band and orchestra program, I thought we could just add to that and everyone would be excited. I quickly discovered that I would have to do some convincing, and enthusiasm alone are not enough to get a program going. The band teacher was downright rude and discouraging when I approached her about a new chime choir. “We already use the stage every single morning, so I don’t see how that would work.” But I persevered, send home a note asking for kids to sign up, and figured out with the principal an alternate location for our rehearsals.
I read the beginning books (provided with the loan of the chimes), and decided upon a lesson plan for our first couple rehearsals, and dragged the two heavy boxes of chimes to school for our first 7 am rehearsal. I had brought my two kids that attend that school, my 6th grader Jenna and 3rd grader John, and they were it. Not one other student. The three of us set up a table and put out the chimes and I showed them how to ring, and what the notes meant while we waited for the others to come. There were no others. At 8:00, my kids went to class, and I waited to see if anyone from the 2nd track would come. Only one other student came. One. I had known that he had signed up, but he was the only one. One real student. I could do even less with him than with Jenna and John, but again, I showed him how the notes go in order, how to ring, how to dampen, and we played a few chords. He seemed happy to ring, even if he was the only one. Maybe he felt special that he was receiving a “private lesson.”
The next day, it was the same story. Jenna and John and I made some little posters advertising our choir, and stuck them up around the school. And in my 8:00 class, I had two students come. I was SO excited that I had two actual students! Still not much I can do when I’ve got two kids in each group, but at least I had four, if you counted my own kids. I went and talked to the principal and asked what he thought I should do. Since the school schedules are staggered, I had to offer the class to both groups. He suggested I try an after school time for the early kids. While at first I wasn’t thrilled about coming in to the school before school AND after school two days a week, I decided to give it a try.
Our numbers SLOWLY grew as more kids signed up. By the end of November, I finally had 12 kids signed up, which is enough to play all the notes. Of course, half of the kids came in the morning before school and half came after school, so they never really could hear how the song was supposed to be played until the last week when we all had to come early in the morning for rehearsal.
Before we knew it, it was time for the Christmas concert.

There was a bit of confusion with the band teacher, and I won’t go into the whole thing, but I really had to assert myself and go to bat for my little choir so that we wouldn’t be totally hidden on the floor during the concert.
There were two performances during the school day, and one at night for the parents. Even though one of my students couldn’t be there for the evening performance, we covered things pretty well. I think they did SO great! I think people were impressed that they could recognize the songs we played, and that it even sounded good. We played Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, Jingle Bells, and Jolly Old St. Nicholas. Little did I know that the band and orchestra would be playing those Christmas songs as well. But since we went first, people weren’t tired of the songs YET. My husband said he was surprised at how well they sounded. (Amazed is more like it.)
I got this message from one of the moms today,
Paige – Thank you so much for teaching M— chimes. I was so impressed tonight at the concert. Talk about a proud Mom moment. I didn’t realize how amazing chimes were, how beautiful they sound, how fun they are to watch and how much they have all learned in such a short time. I was beaming.
Thanks for all your hard work!
Love – M’s Mom
That brought tears to my eyes! This is why I am doing this! To bring the love of music and handbells to kids and parents.
The whole concert went quite well. The band teacher talked about how important music programs are, and plugged her band and orchestra program, telling the parents all about when to sign up and what they would be doing next semester, and she didn’t mention a word about the chime program. But maybe next time I will take the mic and do my own announcing, I thought. I was hopeful that enough kids would have thought it was cool to sign up in January, to have enough kids to ring all the notes in BOTH the am and the pm groups.
Besides finding music and teaching this little group, I worked really hard trying to get a grant. In fact, applied for many grants. Some for $500, and some for $5000. All of them have turned me down. It’s discouraging, especially when two of my handbell friends received grants to buy thier handchime sets from a certain company, and that company turned me down.

When Mary Moffet called to see if my little choir would like to play something for the Spring Ring, I was pretty sure that was out of the question. I didn’t know how many kids I would have winter semester, and had no idea if we could get something performance ready by March. Plus, I would be there with my own choir, and therefore couldn’t drive the kids all the way up to Kaysville. But when I asked the parents of my little group (I had 15 students by then), they were ALL excited about the opportunity, and only one said they couldn’t commit to bringing their child on a Saturday, so I told Mary we would do it, and we started to prepare.

It’s one thing to play in the band and orchestra concert where the only people who come are the parents who think whatever their kid does is great, and another thing entirely to play in front of a whole crowd of BELL PEOPLE. Not only bell people, but my peers. I told LeAnna Wilmore, the Bells on Temple Square director, what would be happening, just to make sure that was ok with her that I would leave our group for a bit to go and direct my little choir, and to ask her if I could borrow some chimes if we needed extras. She was nothing but supportive, telling me I could use whatever I needed, and that it would be no problem at all.
Then she announced it to the group that I would be bringing my little chime choir to this event. My bell choir peeps were SO supportive. I don’t know why I was surprised. We have been together for 8 years, some of us, and we really are like a family. One friend said, “What song are you playing? If you want, we can stand behind and ring just in case they mess up. I was really blown away by their kind comments. It made me feel encouraged. A little bit
We rehearsed the Star Spangled Banner in earnest, and even had some early morning rehearsals so that all of the kids could ring together. Normally half come before school and half come after school, which makes it a little difficult to hear the whole song together. All but one of my kids committed to come, so we didn’t even have to do any switching around.
But I was still nervous. This being our first “on the road” performance of any kind, I had a big mental checklist of things I had to remember. Two boxes of chimes, all the music folders, get covers for the tables, bring the old quilts we use as table pads, bring chocolate for the kids (I had promised them chocolate), as well as the stuff I usually have to schlep with me to an all day ringing event (water bottles, diet coke, slip, shoes and nylons to go with my uniform, snacks, advil, etc. I seriously had a TON of stuff. And since my husband was going to be bringing three of the chime kids up there, I didn’t want to drive another car, so I transferred the whole load into my carpool buddy’s car to take up to Davis High on Saturday.

I was so nervous about the chime thing that I really couldn’t concentrate on the music. So many things could go wrong, and I have trouble getting my brain to not focus on the worst case scenario. What if the kids don’t get there in time? What if some of them don’t come? What if they get nervous and fall apart? It wasn’t helping things when one of the parents texted me at about the time they should be leaving asking for the address of the school, and what time is it that they need to be there.
At around 4:15, the director dismissed us to go and get changed and get ready for the concert at 5:00. I knew that one of my kids was there, and I started to set things up, with a churning of stress and worry in my gut. I soon saw my husband arrive with three of the kids, and then another parent with three more of the kids, and I was so happy to have them there. The kids, however, were more interested in seeing the really big bells and chimes than in rehearsing. I had to get them to focus so we could play the song at least once, and I told them we could all see the big bells AFTER the concert. By 4:40, all of the kids were there.
We quickly ran through our song, then I got them seated in order, and went to go change.
I joined my choir and played two pieces with them, then slunk away when another group did their solo. When it was our turn, I stood up, got my kids up, and got them ready to play. Mary got up to introduce us and explained about the chime loan program, and that we were an elementary choir in our first year of rehearsing, etc. And then it was our turn. I whispered to them, “Don’t play on count TWO” and we started.
Because we were playing the Star Spangled Banner, people stood up. I kind of wish they hadn’t stood up, and my director mentioned that she hoped they would announce that the audience didn’t need to stand up, but they stood up anyway. Oh, well.
The kids did great. They played it just like we had in practice! I forgot to have them bow or anything (I’m new at this), but they got a lot of applause. Because they’re so cute, right?

After the concert, I took the kids to see the really big bells and chimes, and the parents all came up to me while we were putting things away. ‘How much money do we need to buy our OWN set so we can keep this going for next year?’ one parent asked. One of the other parents said maybe we need to do our own fundraiser, because we just HAD to continue this program. I felt SO much love and support, which I realize I may not have received, had we not gone to the Spring Ring so they could see what other bell choirs look and sound like. I was on cloud 9 on the drive home.

Still frustrated by the lack of approval I was getting on my Grants, and with the number of rejection letters climbing into double digits, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I ran a fundraiser through Kickstarter, where people can donate to the cause, and they receive certain rewards. I figured I would just beg my friends and family and the parents to donate, and hopefully we could reach our $2,000 goal to buy our own 3 octave set of chimes. Amazingly, we met our goal, and I purchased the 3 octaves. The principal agreed to buy the 4th octave for us, so we’ll be set for next year!

I have plans for next year. I want to play the National Anthem for a sporting event. I want to have both a morning and an afternoon choir, and I am so excited that I get to work on these things. Thank you for giving me this chance to start a chime choir.

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