Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: school (page 2 of 4)

Just another Tuesday night

Tuesday seems to have become the new Friday, or day that we have so many things going on we can’t keep up with it all. Last night was an especially busy one.

Ryan and I both went to work, and the kids went to school. Cole didn’t have work or school, but a list of things he was to accomplish while we were gone. One of those was to renew his driver’s license and get a copy of his driving record.
2:30 Megan, Jenna and John usually arrive home
3:00-4:00 Piano lessons for Jenna and John (when I’m working, Megan gets to take the kids to their lesson.
3:30 Piano for Natalie (different location, Megan also drove her to that one)
3:40-I was finished with the long long day in Kindergarten, and instead of coming home for 10 minutes, decided to just drive to Natalie’s piano lesson to pick her up. I spent a blissful 10 minutes in the car with the window open, listening to her practice her recital piece, Beautiful Savior.
4:05-Natalie’s done. After talking to the teacher for a minute, I went to the other piano teacher to pick up Jenna and John. They had walked part of the way home, and were waiting for me in the shade of a tree at the Stake Center.
4:15-Arrive home.
4:30-Ryan had gone to get his hair cut, and arrives home shortly after.
4:45-Cole’s friend comes over, and I send them both to go and pick up some Little Ceasar’s pizzas for dinner.
4:49-Megan leaves for work
5:15-We eat our VERY nutritious pizza, and John gets ready for baseball
5:40-Ryan, John, Larissa and I get in the car to take John to baseball. We drop Larissa and John off at the field (she was the only person available to go to his games, and he doesn’t have friends on his team this year, so I couldn’t just send him with a teammate.)
6:00-Ryan and I arrive at the Alpine School District Office to attend part of the school board meeting. I had been invited because I was receiving the “Spirit of PTA” award for Alpine
School District’s Region 9 PTA. We got there a few minutes late, but just in time for the start. The Lone Peak Basketball team was honored for their accomplishments this year. Besides winning a state and national championship, did you know they were named teen crush of the week by 17 magazine? Really. And they clean up nice, too.DSCF1909

After I got my “MAJOR AWARD”DSCF1915 (which is not a leg lamp–darn–but a small plaque, and not even a gift card, can you believe it? Whenever Ryan receives an award from work, there seems to always be a gift card or some other prize, but the schools and the PTA–they just give you a round of applause and a $4 plaque),DSCF1943
DSCF1912 we waved to John on the baseball field as we drove past, and came home so that I could help Natalie with her hair for her choir concert.

7:00-Cole drove Jenna to YW, Ryan got started on his big ol’ conference call to India, and I tried to curl Natalie’s hair.
7:30–I took Natalie to her choir concert at the junior high.
7:45–I got a call from Larissa that they were done at the baseball game, so I called Cole to pick them up. He went and got them, dropped John and Larissa off at home, and then came to join us at the junior high choral concert. I was sitting by my parents, and had saved him a seat. He sneaked in after the first group just in time to hear Natalie’s group sing their numbers.
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Lest you think the girls are being sassy in their singing, these pictures were from the Alto’s Lament song, which is so cute.

At 9:30, we all came home. Except Megan, who was working until 11:00.

Oh, the the activities that were missed were Peter Pan rehearsal and Young Women’s.

WheW!

Spring Concert

Wow! What a week that was. With two 7 am practices and two 8 am practices, we were all feeling a bit tired by Friday, but we were there early to set up.

There were a few snafu’s, I cannot lie. The janitor was just sweeping when I arrived at 6:45 to set up. He got kind of grumpy with me when I said I would need two 6 foot and one 8 foot table. He thought I had said I wanted two 8 foot tables. Nope, that’s not gonna work for me, especially since I spent HOURS sewing table covers, and had finished them the night before and lugged in table covers for two 6 foot and one 8 foot table (NOTE–sewing a table cover for an 8 foot table is NOT simple. I felt like I was drowning in fabric!). Thankfully, he found me the tables I needed, and the wooden block things to lift them up off the floor a few feet. Oh, and the band lady wasn’t there exactly ready to go at 7 am EITHER, so she couldn’t get irritated with me that we weren’t quite ready.

I got everything set up, extra borrowed chimes and all, and we were ready to go.

The school does two concerts for the kids during the day, one for K-3, and one for 4-6. In the first assembly, the band teacher was announcing, and while we were all set up to play our song from Hercules, she said, “And now we’ll hear from the orchestra, who will be playing STAR WARS.” The kids all cheered because…well, who doesn’t want to hear Star WArs? Then she realized her mistake, and said, “Oh, wait, the CHIME CHOIR will now play “Go The Distance” from Hercules. (Groan from the kids. Seriously.)

What a hard thing for my kids, to play through some groans of disappointment, to kids who many of them didn’t even recognize the song we were playing. BUT, they played it well, and kept their composure.

Before the second concert, several of the kids said, “Can you tell the band lady not to mess up like that again? That was embarrassing.” Right.

The evening concert went well, too. They played the Star Spangled Banner and Go the Distance. I am SO proud of them. Who would have thought that after only 8 months of playing, they could master a song like that. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Several of the parents thanked me and one set of Grandparents came up and thanked me and shook my hand.

AND, I don’t have chime choir rehearsals any more! Well, we are going to have ONE rehearsal before we play at the Highland City Spring Open house in May, but other than that, we are done. I plan to bring those chimes home, get busy ordering a set for us to use next year (thanks to the pta, the school, and all who donated to my kickstarter fundraiser–thank you!!!!), and get my music and things organized.

Oh, yeah. And my missionary! Cole comes home this Friday or Saturday, and we have MUCHO things to do with him. So, it’s not like I’ll be just sitting around. Plus, my sub schedule is filling up–have to stop that from happening too much, because I want to be getting things done here at HOME, not managing squirly little kids.

I’m SO Happy with how things turned out!

We’ve got some thanking to do.

I’m pretty sure you have heard about my fundraiser on kickstarter by now. But, just in case you haven’t heard, I got tired of getting rejection letters from grant applications and decided to run my own fundraiser to insure that we would have a set of chimes so that I can have a chime choir next year. You can read all about it HERE, and even see my silly video.

I don’t love the video, and Cole and I had actually edited a new one without the cheesy choir at the beginning, but for some reason, kickstarter kept rejecting it. Something about formatting or something.

I am truly so grateful for all the pledges that I have received. I got a $50 pledge from a dear friend of mine in bells who has not one missionary out, but two. A friend from my mission pledged $50, and a few friends from High School have pledged $10 or $20 or $30 to help the cause. My sister pledged $10 dollars this week, and that means SO much to me. I know they don’t have any extra money, having just had to buy a new car and they don’t have steady employment. But it means SO much to me that she believes in me enough to pledge. There have even been a couple of pledges from people I don’t even know, who are just wonderful supporters of the arts, or who thought it sounded like a good proposal. Some of my chime choir parents have pledged $100 each, which is fabulous.

At this time, we have reached the $1000 mark. Now I wish I hadn’t set my goal so high, since it’s an all or nothing project. But I have faith that we can get there!

The fundraiser goes a little bit past the date of the actual concert, which is this Friday.

Since I had hope that some money would be coming in, I splurged on fabric (and by splurged, I mean I went to Hancock fabric and perused the clearance isle until I could find something for $3 a yard that I thought I could make work. Sadly, they don’t have anything for $1 per yard anymore.) to make some table covers for our chime tables. It took me all morning, with lots of measuring and trial and error, but I got this one done.

By the end of the day, I had two of them done. I took them to rehearsal this morning to make sure that they fit on the school’s tables, not just the folding 6 foot table I bought at Costco. Hooray! It fit! Of course, someone had taken our 6 foot tables for the spelling bee, and I only had two 8 foot tables to use for practice. But I asked the janitor if I could have three 6 foot tables for our concert and he said we could. I have enough fabric to make one more, but I think it would be a good plan to go back and get enough for another cover or two. I’ve got one more to sew tonight, and then I hope when I go back to the store they still have that fabric so I can make one–maybe two more, just in case. And hey, If I’m hosting some event in the future and need fancy table coverings for my 6 foot tables, I’ve got these. (or if YOU are hosting some event and think…now WHERE could I get some fabric table covers? Hmmmm…. then I’m your girl.) They aren’t the regular “handbell” table coverings like you would see for sell from the handbell supplier. But one of those would run me $215 for cordoroy and $320 for velvet.
Ahem.
Since we have basically no budget, it’s sew it myself or nothing. I paid about $50 for the fabric for all three of these covers. And my time, which we all know is….priceless, right?

I had to start getting some thank you notes ready, so I had these made and had the kids all sign them this morning.

5×7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

If you would like to get in on this project, receive your very own thank you note and mucho gratitude from yours truly, there is still time. You, too, can be a backer. Just click on the project link up there at the top and pledge to make a donation! Our concert is Friday, so I’m hoping we can survive this week of early morning rehearsals! But I’m SO proud of these kids, and you won’t BELIEVE how well they sound! I’ll have to post a video afterwards. Stay tuned!

And wish me luck!

Spring Ring

A few months ago, I got a call from Mary, one of the directors of the Handbell Guild. They are the nice people who have loaned me the chimes to start my elementary school hand chime choir. She asked if I would like to bring my choir to perform at the annual Spring Ring, where hand bell choirs from all throughout the state come for an all day workshop with a guest clinician. This year’s event would be held at Davis High. I pretty much dismissed that idea, because first of all, I only had 12 students at the time, and second.. Davis High? That’s in Kaysville. Do you know how far that is to drive? I politely thanked her and told her I would think about it.

Well, she called again in February and reminded me that we were invited to come and play at the spring ring if we could. The board thought it would be fun to include an elementary choir, and say a little bit about the chime loan program to encourage other people who might want to get a choir started at their school or church. Well, I told her I would ask the parents and get back to her. I sent out an email to the parents of my choir and told them we had been invited to this bell choir event that was WAY up in Kaysville, and they would have to drive their kids there, and if they didn’t all come it would be fine. I figured I would need 11 kids to make it work. Maybe 10. Within a few days I had 8 kids committed to come. With my two kids, that would be 10, so I decided to go for it.

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I told the kids and the parents that we would go, and accepted the invitation, but not without trepidation. 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.

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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.052

We rehearsed the Star Spangled Banner in earnest, and even had some early morning rehearsals this week 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 Ryan 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.

Set up for this kind of thing is Huge. It’s about 240 bell ringers from many different choirs all set up in the gym. We started set up at 8 am, then starting our workshop at 9:15. We learned 5 songs that day, and it’s really neat to learn from the actual composer, who was our guest conductor for the day. A lot of the high school choirs spend a few rehearsals learning the music beforehand, but we found if we do that, we get too bored during the long day of rehearsing, so we go in cold (but don’t tell the other choirs–we wouldn’t want to sound cocky or anything.)
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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 my friends 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. Are you freaking kidding me? Do you not read ANY of the emails I sent you?

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 Ryan 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.
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We quickly ran through our song, then I got them seated in order, and went to go change. Originally I thought I would wear regular clothes and not my Bells on Temple Square flashy raspberry dress, but I didn’t really have the time to change back and forth. I didn’t do much with my hair, either, so it looks pretty sad.

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?

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Then I had them go back to their seats in the stands, and I went back over to my group to play the last couple of songs and our solo.

After the concert, when I came back to get the chimes put away and show the kids the “REALLY really big bells and chimes” like I had promised, the parents were all gathered around. “What will it take to buy a set of chimes for our school?” one of them said, and “We want to do a fundraiser or something because we want this program to continue”,and “You need to meet this guy, he’s in charge of booking groups to play the National Anthem for the Jazz games.” I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t realized what a good opportunity this was to get the PARENTS together, for them to hear about the chime loan program and to talk to the other parents. I wish I had been more organized and I already had my kickstarter fundraiser program up and running so I could just tell them where they could donate, but I was a little frazzled at the time. But at least I know that they WANT to help, and sound like they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep this choir going next year.

Once I got changed and got everything loaded up in the car, I was elated. That had gone SO WELL! All my stress and worry were not necessary (when are they ever, really?) and it had gone even better than I thought it would. I was so happy with the positive reaction, and the mention of playing with the Jazz (probably won’t happen because they only have 10 more home games, but at least he thought enough of us to bring it up!). Exhausted from the very long day, but so pleased. And I finally feel like what I am doing really matters, and not just to me.

Happy Dance (to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner, because it will take DAYS to get that song out of my head).

Valentine pin up

It seems like there is not a day that goes by that I am not at the elementary school for some reason. This week, for example, I will be at the Book Fair twice, parent teacher conference on Thursday, I’m subbing on Wednesday, and I am always there for chime choir twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was there subbing last Friday, too. So, today, I was kind of excited that I didn’t have any reason to be at the school.

Oh darn. That bulletin board.

I guess I signed up to do the bulletin board again this month, and today was really the only day to do it. Another trip to the school it it.

I did this bulletin board.

Except that I have three LONG rows of hearts, because it’s a pretty wide board. On the back of each heart, there are valentine’s jokes. Extremely corny valentine’s days jokes that third graders should just love. So, when the month is over, or on Valentine’s day, or whenever, she can take down a heart and read a joke. Kind of a bonus because it’s such a simple board.

While I was up there standing on the counter to take down the last stuff and put this stuff up, it was fun to “sit in” on John’s class and listen to his teacher. I wish I had that kind of classroom control, I will tell you that. She was teaching them about division and every student had a handful of cheerios to make groups and divide the numbers, etc. I’m glad I can help out a little bit in the classroom, and I’m glad John has such a great teacher.

And I’m glad that bulletin board is done and that I don’t have to do it next month.

Science Fair! We’re egg-cited!

Oh, we’re doing fun stuff with the science fair project for Jenna.

She is testing shell strength on different colored eggs, using the green and brown eggs from our chickens, and white eggs from the store. I won’t give it away, but some of those eggs can hold a LOT OF books.

Hooray! Our first concert went great!

Friday was our concert with the band and orchestra. We had some early morning practices during the week, and then we got there at about 6:40 on Friday morning to set things up.

We planned to have the tables on the floor for the assemblies during the day, and up on the stage for the performance for the parents at night, but after looking at everything, we realized that would be SUCH a pain to move everything, so the principal and custodian raised our tables about 18 inches and the kids stood on the first step. I think it worked out just fine, and we didn’t ruffle any feathers insisting we move the tables up on stage. Those lovely red table covers are courtesy of my friend Janeen. It helps to have friends who are already teaching chime choirs in schools, because they can give advice, share music, and even let me borrow table covers. Of course, now I want to buy some fabric and make my own, but that can come later.

Here’s my group (minus two of them, who were running around who knows where) posing in front of the tables while the orchestra practices behind.

Here’s a couple of pictures that one of the moms took of the group while we were practicing.

She even got one of my leading them.

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. But hopefully enough kids will have thought it was cool and will sign up in January. I would love to have enough kids to ring all the notes in BOTH the am and the pm groups.

For now, we take a break from the chimes so I can concentrate on ringing bells for the Tabernacle Choir concerts next week. That worked out nicely.

Voting is still going on in the Clorox contest, if you would please vote HERE, that would be helpful. I still don’t know how I will finance a set of chimes for next year, but I’m hopeful it will work out.

Here are some (low-quality — sorry!) videos of the 3 songs that Ryan captured on his phone:

Crisis averted (or not letting the Grinch steal my Christmas)

Our Chime Choir gets to do their first performance this Friday. They will be performing with the band and orchestra in the school Christmas concert during the day at school, and in the evening for the parents. I dreaded today’s early 7 am rehearsal because I knew I had to work some things out about concert order and where we would be setting up. The band teacher has been quite short with me and quickly shot down my ideas of how we could all share the stage and the best way to arrange things.
I talked to her briefly in the hall last week and she said, “We are going to have you guys go in the middle, on the floor.”
Trying to assert myself, I said, “No, I don’t think that will work. We could be in the very front of the stage with the chairs and stands all set up behind us.”
“Well, we’ll work it out next week,” she said, with a dismissive attitude.

When we got there at 7, the band was already up on the lunch room stage rehearsing. What? How did they get set up so quickly? Anyway, I took my students over to the gym stage, where we usually rehearse, and decided we would just practice there. Once we got all set up and had started our first song, a couple timid kids came in and said that the band teacher had asked that we come into the lunchroom. Right. I’m going to move these three 6 foot tables with chimes on them to the lunch room. But, in the spirit of compromise, I told the kids to just bring the chimes they actually play and their music folders, and maybe we could try it without the tables. We went to the lunch room and sat around while another group played. When the band finished and the orchestra started to set up, I went up to talk to Mrs. M, the band teacher. Understandably, she was already pretty stressed. She asked if we could please be on time and ready to start at 7 am tomorrow, as we would go first. I told her I would, even thought that means I really have to be there at about 6:45 to set up the tables and chimes. I told her that we were just rehearsing in the gym, and if she had a minute when she was done, she could come down and see our set up.

So, she followed us to the gym, we got to our tables, and played our three songs.

“Cute,” she said.

Cute? I’m going to try to not take offense and accept that as a complement. Grrrrr.

“That will work with them on the stage like that for the evening performance, but I don’t think we can have those tables up there for the school programs. We just don’t have the time to move them.”

I agreed.

Whew.

A compromise had been reached, and I didn’t have to bully or be bullied in order to reach it.

I think she was jumping to conclusions because she didn’t really understand what we were doing, just that we were some new upstart trying to take away her students and edge into her program. Hopefully I handled myself well enough to show that we are a legitimate musical group, and we deserve the right to perform.

Now I just need to call the parents and make sure that every one of my kids makes it THERE to practice in the morning.

Walk that plank!

Our fundraiser walk-a-thon a the school this year was PIRATE themed, and we had a lot of fun with that. For our opening assembly, we promised to make our principal “walk the plank” if we raised enough money.


Between the walk and the awards assembly, there were many hours spent counting money, tabulating the child and the classes that walked the most laps, as well as who brought in the most money, etc.
I made certificates, attached gift cards, prizes and the like until my entire kitchen table was covered with school STUFF.

Finally I got everything organized and was nearly ready.

Problems with the dunk tank?

Well, the dunk tank did give me a little bit of stress. You see, I met someone at PTA convention who gave me a price list for inflatables, and since they gave churches and schools a 50% discount, the dunk tank was only $65 to rent. But when I called, I only got an answering machine, and the website I had didn’t work. Finally, when someone called me back, he told me that they would be closed up for the season by October, and that they go to Mexico. I must have sounded sad and desperate on the phone (because I WAS) because he said, “Well, maybe my son can get it for you and you can keep it for the weekend and return it). OKAY! Anything I could do to get that dunk tank and not have to spend a whole lot of money would be good. Because of a copying mistake (not mine, but I’ve got serious fears of delegating, now), I was over budget already and feeling bad about it. So, plans were made to pick up the dunk tank on the night before the assembly. “Let me just tell you,” the guy said, “My son has asbergers and he really likes people to be on time.”

So, little did I know that that night would be my book club, masterclass for piano, volleball for the young women, murder mystery set up for one daughter, and another daughter wanted to go to Pleasant Grove High for a volleyball game so she could get extra credit. Add to that my fear that something would go wrong (Last year I went to go pick up the Sumo Suits the night before the assembly and the person WASN’T there and I couldn’t get a hold of her. I ended up having to make another trip to pick them up at 8 in the morning on the day of.) I wanted Ryan to come with me because I didn’t know how heavy or hard this would be, but he wasn’t going to be home until about 5:45. We loaded up John and Megan in the suburban and took off, trying to get there on time. We found the warehouse in time, and the guy was there, already getting things out of the big garage. Hooray, it fit in the suburban. Then we took Megan over to PG high for the volleyball game. People were streaming into the school, but they were all dressed up, like for a choir concert or something. She didn’t want to go find a volleyball game by herself, and I wasn’t going to go with her, so she decided not to go. Then we headed to our elementary school, calling the principal on the way. We met him there to unload the pieces of the dunk tank so he and the custodian could set it up and start filling it with water on Friday morning.

Too late for bookclub, I just got myself organized for the assembly the next day.

I hauled all my certificates and prizes, flag, and props into the school, and managed to get all the certificates distributed by the time the assembly was to start. Dunk tank was filled and we were ready to go.

We ended up dunking 6 teachers and the principal, and it was a LOT of fun.

(unfortunately, I gave my camera to a wiling helper, and all her pictures are from the same angle, and so the light is bad and the pictures aren’t very good.)

The kids LOVED it.

When we were done, it was time to empty out that dunk tank and load it up into my suburban. I got to drive to the back of the school and that felt like I must be breaking all kinds of rules.


I had told the kids we could use the dunk tank on Saturday, but John and his friends could NOT wait that long. They were bugging us on Friday afternoon to get it set up, so set it up we did. They couldn’t even wait until it was filled to play in it, and that water was NOT warm.

They ended up spraying each other with the hose while it was filling, and getting drenched in cold water.

Saturday was a beautiful day, with temps in the 70’s, (which is beautiful for October in Utah). Sunny and warm, we invited friends and neighbors over to dunk or be dunked. John and his friends used it again, dunking each other and laughing. At the end of the day, we had to bribe the girls to get up there, and they all did. So much fun!

Now that dunk tank is still in the back yard, waiting for us to take it down and take it back to the guy, I guess. Just another fun thing to do with our kids for the weekend!

I am SO relieved that this event is over. I have probably spent about 200 hours organizing and putting on this fundraiser, and I’m glad to be able to pack it up and move on. It was a successful year, as we raised over $19,000 for our school. I won’t be in charge of this next year, and I’m relieved. I would really like to focus on getting my chime choir going and not having so much walk-a-thon work to do. I’m sure I’ll be helping a LOT next year, but it won’t all be on my shoulders–Hooray!

Argh!

Chime in–an update

It feels like I’ve been working forever trying to get this chime choir going. Feels like that, even though it’s only been a few months. Sometimes I have a hard time not understanding why other people don’t catch my enthusiasm, and then get discouraged because things turn out to be so hard.

In May, I realized that I wanted to start a hand chime choir in the school. I have a few friends who are directing chime choirs, and they were very encouraging. Two of them even got grants for their schools from the same foundation. “Great!” I thought, “I’ll just write a grant, people will give me money to buy a set of chimes, and we will start a hand chime choir in the school. Jenna and John can be in it, and this will be SO MUCH FUN!” So I wrote and sent in a grant proposal. And another grant, and another grant. In fact, I spent many hours in the summer searching for grants that we would even qualify, and applying. No, we are not a title 1 school, and, no, we don’t have a certain percentage of free or reduced lunches, no, I do not have an established program, no, I am not a full time teacher, no, I’m not looking to update our technology. All I want is $5,000 to buy chimes, folders, music, and maybe one of those cool conducting batons. I am surrounded by wealthy people here in the Highland/Alpine area, why is it that I can’t find someone who would like to donate to my cause?

Soon after I started applying for grants, I started getting rejection letters from grant sites. Letters like,

“Dear Mrs. Erickson,
Thank you for your interest in (insert name).
Unfortunately, it is not possible for (insert company name) to provide support at this time. While we recognize the value of the program for which you are seeking funds, economic circumstances and the numerous requests we receive throughout the year limit the amount of resources we have to support worthwhile causes and organizations. ”

I started asking for smaller amounts of money. $2,000 instead of $5,000, And looking for different companies to request grant money. There were so many hoops to jump through, forms to find, numbers to get right, the process seemed endless.
At our first PTA meeting in August, the PTA president gave me a letter that had come to the school. It was from a certain company that I had sent in a grant request, the one that TWO of my chime choir directing friends had told me was the one where they got money for chimes. I opened the letter with excitement.

Dear Paige,

Thank you for your recent application for a —- grant. This letter is to notify you that we are unable to approve your grant application.
Blah, Blah, Blah.

The bright spot in this quest has been the set of loaner chimes I was able to get from the Guild of English Handbell Ringers. I actually met the ladies in charge of the chime grant back at the bell conference I attended in June, and she gave me hope at that time that I would be receiving the loaner 3 octave set. But then I didn’t hear anything all summer, and had to get really naggy in August and ask if I could indeed borrow the set or not. Well, my nagging paid off, and I was able to pick up the set of chimes from their storage place in Brigham City in August, right before school started.

But then when I dragged those chimes to Back to school night all prepared to set up my choir and get sign ups, the band teacher was kind of snippy with me and the principal said we’d have to work things out and go through the district music program. Sigh. So, I tried to get kids interested, even though I didn’t have the details, and wasn’t sure if I could even DO a choir. Well, eventually I got approval from the District to run the program, but one of the qualifications is that I have 20 kids in choir. I wrote up a letter to go home to all the parents to be sent via email. Sadly, I don’t know how many parents actually read their email, and when the Friday before we were to start, the office lady told me that there were two kids signed up. No worries, I told myself, maybe people will just come and bring their sign up sheet on Tuesday morning.

Since our school has two tracks, and you want the opportunities for extra-curriculars to be offered to everyone, the before school things are early and earlier. So the first session of band/orchestra and my bell choir were set up for 7 am. I got up early and hurried everyone along so we could be there before 7. Jenna and John were excited, and helped me carry in the cases of chimes, and we set up the tables. But no one came. Not a single kid. Trying to hide my disappointment, I told the kids that we might need some signs to point the way to the gym stage, since I hadn’t been clear on the email that went out. They were happy to make signs advertising the chime choir and go and hang those up. We did a bit of ringing with just the two of them, and then I let them go be with their friends before school started.

The 8:00 class looked a bit more promising. I had two kids make their way to the stage, and they were excited. I got their names and their phone numbers from their moms, and we waited a few minutes to see if any more kids were coming. These two kids were so excited; they could not wait to start. I had met them both at back to school night and they both have had music lessons. So, I got started with how to ring, how to dampen the sound, how to ring one and damp the other, some counting, and some chords, and that was about all we could do with only two kids.

After we were done and the chimes were put away (I taught them how to do that, too), I talked to the principal and asked him what he thought. Should I switch the 7:00 class to after school? Should I allow 3rd graders? Any suggestions? He said I should think about changing the earlier class to after school instead, and maybe send home another note. So, with my tail dragging, I went and made copies of my information/sign up sheet, and put them in the boxes of the 4th-6th grade teachers to send home, to try to get more kids interested. Then when I went home (tired, since I had to get up so early), I rewrote my letter to the parents and said I would allow 3rd graders IF their kids had previous piano lessons, and we would change the time to afternoon for the early group.

The next morning, I dragged the kids out of bed to get there by 7:00 AGAIN, with the same result. This time I had them help me put music in the bell folders (special folders that I purchased with my non existent budget) and we tried a few chords and even some scales, if we leap frog past each other. The same two kids came to the 8:00 class, too. We figured out Twinkle, Twinkle, and played as many notes as we could cover in one practice song.

Pitiful.

Since I had said in the email that we would be holding class in the afternoon, I had to actually go back to the school and HOLD class. Although that was just wishful thinking on my part. Again.

Do you see how by now I’m starting to get really Discouraged? No grants, no money, and no students. Why was it that I thought I could do this?

I went to bells rehearsal that night, still discouraged and not really wanting to tell my friends about my failure, because they have been so supportive and so excited for me to start this thing. I had to admit my failure and tell them that I had tried to direct a choir of 2. My friend Janeen, who started her school choir a few years ago, said, “Do you have the ‘Ring and Sing’ books?” Well, no, I don’t really have anything. “Well, every year, I teach my kids how to use the easy ring and sing, and then we walk about to the other classes and play a song for them. It gets kids interested, and it’s more exposure for the chime choir.” She even told me I could borrow her ring and sing books.

The next day, I was reading my friend Tess’s blog, and she wrote something that really hit me. Even though she’s talking about a book, and I’m talking about a choir, the idea is the same. 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.”

I could cry. In fact, I did.

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.

I do know that this week has been difficult, but I haven’t given up. I will get creative, and I will keep on trying. There are more grants to apply for, and more children to reach.

Maybe for Christmas I’ll buy myself half a set of chimes. Maybe I will go door to door to seek donations. Maybe we’ll… well, I’m open to suggestions. But I am not ready to give up. Dreams take time, and I need to be patient.

I can do this.

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