The Trials of a Busy Mom

Month: September 2012

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.


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.

Snippets of Fall

Could it really be fall?

With Larissa here, we want to be sure to show her some of the beauty that is Utah, so we took off for a Sunday afternoon field trip up Provo Canyon. We stopped at Bridal Veil Falls and did some climbing up the falls. Boy, that water is cold!

We drove up to Deer Creek Reservoir and then up to Sundance to see the beauty of the fall leaves.

(How would you like THAT house? I would like to go to a party there, in case anyone knows who lives there and could get me an invite)

It was a beautiful day. Not too hot, not to cold. We weren’t really dressed for hiking, so we just kind of strolled, but it was a nice invitation to fall.

The next week, we planned a trip up to Snowbird. Or, rather, I planned a trip, and tried to get everyone to accommodate my planning. I had won a two night’s stay in the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird from a radio thing. I figured that with 7 people, we were better off using two rooms and staying one night. So, I asked everyone to keep their schedules clear for Friday and Saturday. Sadly, one child had to work on Saturday at noon, and couldn’t find anyone to trade with her. It didn’t feel right to just leave her at home, so we planned to go as soon as we could on Friday (the day of my big WALK-A-THON event at school, by the way), and we could do some activities there on Friday night, then get home by noon on Saturday.

Can you believe I’ve never been up to Snowbird? Really. I grew up in Cottonwood Heights, a mere 20 minutes (or less) away, and I never had been up there. We always went up Big Cottonwood, and we weren’t skiers in my family, but still. It’s beautiful up there.

We planned to hurry and go do the Alpine Slide and possibly the Zip line before things closed at 6. What? Those things only run on Saturdays? I wish that information had been updated on their website. Erg. The only thing running was the tram up to the top of the mountain. Sign us up!

It was quite a sight! The tram moves quite quickly, and it’s so great to watch the beauty of the mountain as you are rising up above it. We watched some crazy mountain bikers ride up the tram with their bikes and then take off down the mountain. It was a bit colder up there, but not terrible, unless you are the 9 year old who forgot to bring a jacket even though Mom expressly told you so. No worries, Dad let him wear his sweatshirt.

We played around on the ski lifts, and marveled at how high up we were.

I don’t think John liked being up there, he says he’s afraid of heights. We could not get him to climb on a ski lift.

After we came back down, we ate some dinner at a little pizza counter, then got right to the much anticipated…swimming. It’s the highlight of any hotel stay with these kids.

I didn’t swim. Seriously exhausted by my day, and they were outdoor pools and it was getting cool. I did stay out there with the kids and soak my feet in the hot tub for a while, but after about 8 pm, it was just too cold for me. I went back to the room and asked hubby to go out with them for a while. Armed with his sweatshirt, he went out to read by the pool and watch over them.

The next morning, we decided to skip the fancy overpriced breakfast at the lodge, and went down the mountain to eat breakfast at Denny’s.

Even though it was a short getaway, it was nice. Fun to have two rooms and be able to watch project runway, nice family time.

It’s hard to believe that on MONDAY, just two days after we were there, this picture was taken.

Even though that snow probably won’t last long, I’m glad we went when we did!

Enjoy your fall!

(Linking up to Alphabee Thursday at Jenny Matlock’s)


It’s pirate time, me mateys! Not only is tomorrow TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY, but we are having our fundraiser at the school, and it’s Pirate themed. We did a fun assembly a week ago, and I have to say it went well.

Here’s me with the principal, who we are going to make walk the plank, by the way.

The big walk a thon is Friday, and I’m just trying to make sure I have everything taken care of. Even though I did this job last year, there are SO MANY volunteers and SO many details, I just don’t want to forget anything.

We’ve got some bugs here, as well. I seem to have the cold that Megan and Ryan had last week, and John’s got a stomach bug that keeps him running to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes. He’s on his second day home from school, poor kid!

Larissa had fun at homecoming on Saturday.

All those hours of dress shopping paid off, because she was SO happy with her dress. I did her hair up in hot curlers for her so she could have curly hair, and she was super excited. Her date was a polite, nice young man, and he got her home one time.

Sunday we went up Provo Canyon for a drive.

We wanted to see some pretty fall leaves and have some fun before it gets cold. We stopped at Bridal Veil Falls and did some splashing around. It was mighty cold water, I tell you.

It’s too bad Megan and John couldn’t come, but John couldn’t be away from a bathroom that long, so Megan stayed with him and did her homework while we enjoyed the drive.

Superhero Party

Our son turned 9, and that warranted a party.
We decided that a superhero party would be “Super!”.

The boys all dressed as their favorite superhero.
When they first got here, I had them draw their own superhero, as kind of a filler activity before all the kids got here.
Of course, some kids are just super even without a costume, and they are welcome, too.

Since the party started around dinner time, we decided to jump right into the food. Besides, do I want a bunch of superheros around who are hungry? I don’t think so. We had superdrinks,

chips, breadsticks, veggies, and lots and lots of pizza.

I actually over planned on the pizza, but that’s ok, we don’t mind eating leftover pizza.

The super heros gobbled up their fill of food, and were ready for some activity.

We had a few training areas set up, where they were to practice throwing small objects (sponges through a hula hoop), jump over buildings (cardboard boxes) and shoot bad guys.

They also had an obstacle course (around the playground)

They seemed to lose some of their secret identity and stick with their regular clothes as the activities wore on. I mean, who really wants to run and swing in a cape? Once they were all limbered up and trained, we did some races.

I always seem to forget how quickly these kids plow through all the planned activities, but that was no problem. We let them just play. They got out all the scooters, did some balance work, and practiced their flying on the trampoline.

As it was beginning to get dark, I herded them into the house, and we did some present opening, cupcake eating, and watched a little Spider Man.

And more pizza, too. Had to break out the pizza just in case some of our super heros hadn’t eaten enough, or were hungry from their intense workout. And some of them were hungry again. One young hero ate 4 cupcakes, I think.

We then went to the basement for some pinata power. Unfortunately, our pinata couldn’t hold up to the weight of the candy and the hitting, and promptly broke from it’s holder after about two hits. I tried to string it up again, but it met with the same demise. It didn’t break open, just fell down. I ended up just shaking all the candy onto the floor, and the kids went wild.

Those kids don’t really care how the candy is delivered, so it was all good.

Even though they wore me out with all their super-ness, one little boy was very pleased with his party!

Shut Your MOUTH

***Don’t forget to vote in the room makeover contest. Voting for this round goes until Friday**

May I take a moment and expound upon my dental drama. I had this dumb root canal back in February. If you want to read about the root issue (ha, I just made a joke!) you can go here, but suffice it to say I needed to have a root canal on my front tooth. Two appointments of hell and torture and it was done. Then summer happened, and I kind of forgot that I was supposed to make and appointment for a crown. Or maybe I was barely recovering from the traumatic experience and didn’t want to go back. Either way, I had to pull up my big girl panties and make an appointment once school started back up. They told me to make 2 appointments, two weeks apart.


So, the week after school started, I found myself in the dentist’s chair again.
“Would you like the nose gas?” said the cute and perky dental assistant.
“You bet.”

So, after giving me sufficient time breathing the gas so that I didn’t really care what was going on, they stuck the big old needle in my gums right above my front tooth to numb me up.

OUCH! There’s not enough nitrous in the tank to get me to NOT care about that pain, but I made it through, only shedding a few silent tears.

Then they made me bite down on some gross goo to make a mold of my teeth. Whatever, at least it doesn’t hurt.

Am I out of Maroon 5 songs on this Ipod device they gave me? Time for some Rascal Flats, I guess.

Then they came back later with the drill. Drilling and Drilling and Drilling. Shaving away at my precious front tooth. After what seemed like an eternity, they stopped drilling, and started shoving things around in there. What the what?

Eventually they had whittled that front tooth down to a useless stub and shoved a temporary crown on there. THEN, and only then, did they hand me a mirror and let me look at my new tooth. Actually, they had done a pretty good job matching the tooth that was there, but they weren’t happy with the fit and had to do some adjusting and more shoving. No worries, those are just my gums. They SHOVED that crown back on there and cemented it with…something, and then told me I would have to go to the dental lab for a custom shade match on the permanent crown.
“Do I have to do that right now?” I asked. Please don’t make me go now, I doubt I can even think straight, let alone talk to people.
“No, anytime before Thursday,” she said.
“SThurshday. Got it.” What? IS THAT MY VOICE? You’ve given me a lisp!?
She must have noticed my alarm, because she said I would get used to that soon. I felt my numb lip and stumbled out of there.

I made it home, and went immediately up to bed. It was only about 12:30, and I had another hour before the kids came home, and I think I feel instantly asleep (laughing gas makes me very sleepy–does it do that to you?) I would have been happy to sleep the day away, but Cole needed his social security card in order to start his new job, and Megan needed to visit the BYU museum of art, so I told the kids we would make a quick trip to BYU.

As the numbness began to wear off, I began sneezing. Not just regular sneezing, but SNEEZING! I couldn’t stop. My nose was running and the sneezes were coming. I thought maybe the shot of Novocaine had entered my nasal cavity and set something off. I called the dentist to ask what I should do, because I could not stop sneezing. They tried not to laugh, but I could hear it in their voiced. Laughing at my predicament. They said to take a benedryl and call in the morning, if the sneezing hadn’t stopped.

I could barely drive to Provo. Between the constant need for Kleenex and the impending sleepiness from the antihistamine, I was not a happy camper.

That night was a social for all the exchange students and families, and I had to send Ryan and the kids without me.

By the next morning, things didn’t seem so bad. Still a little itchy and allergenic, but I thought I could manage. I’ll just take a zyrtec, I thought. Well, any allergy meds I took (even 1/2 a pill) made me so sleepy, I could barely function. I made it over to the dental lab in a nearby city to have them examine and take many pictures of my mouth. Oh, the joy.

The lisping got a little better and I thought I could just power through the weird allergy stuff. Who is allergic to a tooth, after all?

By the weekend, I was really wishing I had gone into the dentist on Friday. But what could they do? Take off the crown and put it back on? Then we’d be in the same problem. If I was allergic to the cement, they would have to put another cement on.

Wouldn’t you know it, but Monday was a holiday. I sneezed and scratched my way through it, and on Tuesday morning at about 8, I called the dentist’s office. Told them my predicament with my mouth, eyes, throat were itchy and it was driving me CRAZY all week. Then I would take an allergy pill and then I would be OH SO SLEEPY. “I know my appointment isn’t until next Monday, but I can’t stand this temporary crown one minute longer.” They worked me in at 11. When I went at 11, the girls were seriously laughing. “Did you really have a sneezing attack? We don’t mean to laugh, but it was just so funny! We’ve never had that happen before! Are you allergic to Acrylic? Have you even had acrylic nails?” I felt like crying. I told them I hadn’t ever had acrylic nails, so I wouldn’t know. Weird, again, I know. Seems everyone and their dog do acrylic nails, but I haven’t done it. Not because I may be allergic, just because I haven’t wanted to. After a few minutes, they told me, “ok, the permanent crown will hopefully be ready by 3, if you can come back, but if not, then it will be for sure ready in the morning. We’ll call you.”
Then they called at 3:20 and said, come at 3:30. I got there a bit late because I had to take kids to piano lessons, etc. I got in and they started fitting the new crown by about 4:30. The color wasn’t just right (since it’s a front tooth they want it as perfect as it can be), so they sent me to the dental lab (again–I had already gone there the week before to have my tooth custom color matched). They did a little more shaping and fixed the color, and sent me back. I just wanted this ordeal to be over. Please stop!

Meanwhile, I’m driving on fumes, not wanting to stop and get gas with my ugly snaggle tooth. My children are also at home wondering what’s for dinner, husband is out of town.

I got back to the dentist’s office at about 6. They cemented it in, did all that scraping and cleaning, and sent me off by 6:30.

I drove home relieved to be out of the dentist’s office, glad to be rid of the temp crown, trying to get used to the new one.

That was a week ago. I’m still speaking a bit weird, adjusting to the new tooth. But I’m glad to not be sneezing all over the universe.

So, I’ve had enough dental drama to last the rest of my life, don’t you think?

Things to do today

1-Fix my dang tooth so that I won’t scratch my face off. Yes, you did read that right. I got a temporary crown on my tooth last week, and I think I must be allergic to the cement or something, because once the numbness wore off, I broke out in a full blown allergy attack, with sneezing, runny nose and all that. I’ve tried to manage this with allergy meds, because it’s probably just something else, right? Who is allergic to their dental work? But anything I take to manage the allergy makes me so sleepy I just want to sleep for a few days. If I go half a day sans the meds, my mouth feels so itchy, my throat gets scratchy, my eyes are itchy, and I seriously want to scratch my face off. I broke down and made an appointment for today. Crossing my fingers!

2-Plan out my skit for my schoolwide assembly on Thursday. Do I have the skit planned out or even know who is going to help me? No. Do I have pirate stuff? Yes.

3-Find out if my slide show for the same assembly has been done. If not, START SEVERE PANIC.

4-Clean up at least some of the house so it doesn’t look like the bomb squad has been here. Over the weekend, it was John’s birthday, so we had a little family gathering, we broke our couch (again), we fixed our couch, but in the process, had to take the whole thing apart and it was sitting upside down in the living room for a while. Ryan also had to pack and leave town. So, things are a bit of a mess.

5-Go and buy LARGE amounts of cheese. Our new German daughter may even eat more ham and cheese sandwiches than Cole, and that’s saying something. I keep buying cheese, and then it’s gone. MORE CHEESE, GROMMIT!

I could go on, but I think that’s enough for my list right now.

What are YOU going to do today?

Please Makeover my basement, Mandi!

You may remember that I entered a blogging contest last year to have the absolutely talented and amazing Mandi come and do a room makeover. I didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely follow and adore Mandi (she’s MET Nate Berkus, for heaven’s sake) and am amazed at what she can do with a little paint and creativity. And believe me, paint and creativity are two of my favorite things. My other favorite thing? FREE!!! Oh, you know it.

Well, she is doing it again!

And do I have the perfect space for her!

My basement!

Don’t panic, Mandi, you don’t have to do the whole basement, you can CHOOSE YOUR ROOM!

Right now everything looks pretty much the same, but soon we will sheetrock these walls. The beauty of this project is, there’s nothing to take down, paint over, or rip out. We can start fresh!

You can choose to makeover a bedroom,

or a different bedroom,

a kitchenette/family room,

Or we could break those up and do JUST the family room,

or JUST the kitchen.

Don’t let those piles of insulation scare you, those will be up in the ceiling and walls soon enough.

Why do we need Mandi’s help and your votes? Because on our own we will never get this done. Seriously. Two years ago I told the hubby, “let’s not take a vacation, let’s just use those days and work on the basement.” Oh, how I laugh at that statement now. I think that was about the time when hubby started really traveling for work, so that he leaves the country and is gone for weeks at a time. Well, we started on this basement about a year ago. It took us a while to dejunk and clean it out, and then we had it framed back around Christmas time last year. We currently have an exchange student from Germany living with us, and when we the host family coordinator asked if we could host this school year, I think I said, “Oh, we’ll have the basement done by then, so we will actually have room for her!” Not so.

Hubby’s done most of the work so far, and he’s amazing. I don’t know how to do any of the wiring or plumbing to help him. And the poor man doesn’t have a lot of free time, what with a full time job, extra traveling for work, church duties, a garden, and a busy family with 5 make that 6 children.

I love to paint and can’t wait to slap some paint on the walls. I even have dreams of buying new furniture, but I can’t really think about that (or buy anything) until we get those rooms done. I do have one piece I already painted, remember this vanity?

Right now it’s stuffed in my bedroom waiting and wishing for a room of it’s own someday where it won’t just get piled high with laundry to fold. But that’s probably the wish of all my furniture in my bedroom to tell you the truth.

So, as you can see, we have a lot of…..potential (that’s putting it nicely), and need. We NEED Mandi to come and help us out with her decorating pizzaz and her boundless energy. She could whip this place into shape in no time.

All I need from you is your vote. Just click on the box and vote, vote vote.

From Mandi’s website, the timeline is like this:

September 7-September 14: Linky open for voting. Send everyone you know over to vote for your post. Please help me get as MANY votes as I can, so if you could help me by posting a link on your facebook page, or blogging, or asking your friends to vote for me (even if they don’t know me, I’d still LOVE all the votes I can get).

September 15: Top 10 winners will be emailed and required to submit a “Plead Your Case”. The Top 10 will have 36 hours to submit their paragraph. If it is not submitted in time an alternate will be chosen. Top 10 will be determined with a combination of Most Votes on the Linky Party, Random.Org, and Wild Card Favorites.

September 17: Top Ten announced/Plead Your Case Post goes live. At this time voting will be open to the public and will run until September 24th at Midnight MST.

September 25: Winner is announced and has one week to prepare for the lightening fury that is the Epic Room Makeover.

So if you can mark your calendars, set a reminder in your phone, write it on a sticky note to vote between Sept 7 and 14th, I would SO appreciate it!

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