Monday, December 15, 2014

A day in my job the day before the concert

Today was stressful.  I just needed to type through it to remind myself when everything goes great tomorrow night that it was all worth it.

7:40 a.m. arrive to school and immediately take mic stands to the stage for today's rehearsals.  Look for mics, NO MICS!

7:45 Talk to Librarian to ask for help getting powerpoint to screen for concert

8:00 a.m. Hurry up and sing the birthday songs for birthday kids at weekly Monday assembly so I can get out of Dodge and find those mics.  Took them to the intermediate school last year for the end of the year concert.  They have to be there!

8:10 a.m. Can't track down janitor to check mic situation.  Finally track him down.  Nope, no mics.  Janitor goes through band teacher's stuff, still no mics.  Great!  Did I somehow loose those mics last year?  Feeling pretty crappy thinking I lost them.

8:30  Must email other music teachers to try to borrow extra mics.

8:45  Get extra decorations taped to stage.  Crap I am running out of time!  My first class is coming during my plan period because otherwise they wouldn't get music today since my big rehearsal with my other students is during their normal music time.  Also, teachers don't take kindly to their classes missing music since that is their plan time.  So I kindly give up my plan period for them.  A shotty deal since out of all days I need a plan, the day before my concert is really not a good day to give it up, but gotta keep everyone happy.  Sigh!

9:00 Here comes my first class.

9:30 Librarian comes into class.  One mic has been found.  Is that a choir of angels I hear?  Apparently someone borrowed it and forgot to return it.

10:00 Get a call from band teacher offering to bring mics over but for some reason I can hear him and he can't hear me on the phone.

10:10 Another class comes in.  Squirrely as ever.  They're excited for the concert, and parties are coming, and Christmas is coming, and, and, and.

11:00  Here comes another class.  I've got this one.  At least I don't have to sing those bug songs again.  Teaching normal lessons and not rehearsing for a concert is a nice break.

11:30 Library comes to class again with second mic.  Yes!  I am not going nuts.  I did return those mics last year.  It is not my fault.  I feel a lot better.

11:40 One of my main characters not acting right, informs me he puked all weekend and wants to go to the nurse.  Ends up going home.  Another student same class informs me the same thing and goes home too, (I think.)  Great!

11:50  Must eat lunch.  Hope I can find enough time to get those cords taped down and mics hooked up.  Snarf down lunch.

12:10 Hook up mics, but wait!  Why isn't this mic jack working.  What!!!!! I don't need this right now.  Must send email to librarian.  She's good at saving the day.

12:20 Here comes another class.  Here we go with bug songs again.  I'll be so glad when this concert is over.  Librarian informs me all is well with mics.  I told you she would save the day.

1:10 Here comes another class.  Why does this class have to end at the exact time I need to be in the gym getting ready for our all group rehearsal.  Take it easy Darci.  Just relax and enjoy the ride.

2:00 I can hear the 1st graders lining up in the hallway.  Thank goodness my class's teacher showed up on time.

2:05  Kids are lining up, excited and confused, even though we practiced this a thousand times.  What?  the music player isn't working.  Must find librarian.  She is paged, but she is teaching.   Oh forget it, we have no time.  Plug in the boombox and we will have to mic it.

2:10  Now one of the mics isn't working.  Ok kids you'll have to share a mic.

2:15 on - Why is that character out with these characters in costume?  She isn't supposed to come out for another two scenes.  This speaker, and this speaker, and this speaker are sick?  What?  Please practice your lines queen bee, you have to have this down by tomorrow!  Don't forget to pass the mic back to the boombox teacher so she can mic the song and then pass it back to the kids when it's time for their lines.  Everyone, look at the director not at the actors.  Special needs student is freaking out on the top riser, thankful for paras to take care of this but very distracting for me and others.  Pay attention kiddos.  No talking between songs.  Guys why are you in the wrong order, we've practiced this a thousand times, today should be no different than any others.  What, I forgot to put student names in the scripts the teachers were using back stage, small oversight.  Sorry, I'll get that done asap.

3:00  Apparently, teachers got confused about dress attire for concert and parents have gotten mixed messages even though I sent home a flyer about it.  It may be interesting to see what kids show up in.  Note to self, send ANOTHER flyer home right before concert next year and make sure teachers are crystal clear on dress attire.

3:05 Here's the librarian back to save the day.  A sight for sore eyes.  Microphone cord replaced and now it is working again.  Apparently music player won't read music that has been recorded onto blank CDs.  Must track down original.  Will have to use separate CD player for one song that has to be on recordable CD because I bought it off of itunes.  Rest of music can be played from big sound system, not ideal, but we can make it work.

3:20 Bus duty

3:25 Deliver scripts back to teachers with names of speakers written in like they requested.  Reassured by a teacher it will be all be ok tomorrow

3:30  Shut it everything down and pray tomorrow when it's for real goes much better.  What are rehearsals for right?  Text husband that wine may not cut it.  I may actually need some hard liquor and need an advance on it instead of waiting to drink it in celebration of a concert done.

Sigh!  LOL.  It was a most stressful day, and yet I know when push comes to shove, it's going to be great, bugs and all.  No pun intended.  There is quite a high you get when it all comes together at the end, but let me say, it is not all peaches and cream getting there.  Trying to organize 150 little bodies, songs, speaking parts, costumes, etc. is quite an undertaking. I just hope those teachers can understand that and don't think less of me when I act like a chicken with my head cut off during those rehearsals.  I figure the only way to go after today is up.  I mean really, could it get much worse? Wait, don't answer that.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chore chart love and pairing down.

At the beginning of the year I had tried to do a chore schedule that basically had us all doing a little each day.  It was marvelous and worked really well for several months.  Then, the holiday season hit, and parent teacher conferences, and after school professional development, and, and, and.  Needless to say, it got to be impossible to keep up with the schedule.  I knew it was time to retire the idea that we could do something everyday.

One day I happened to run across this blog of a woman who is a professional organizer.  She had several suggestions to help get control of your home.  One of the biggest problems she sees families have is they have too many clothes for their children.  This was true of us.  The funny thing is, most of it wasn't bought by us.  We are blessed that we are given a lot of hand me downs from good friends of ours.  So much of it is very nice, that it just felt wrong to get rid of any of it.  However,  I knew that this lady was totally right.  Too often, B would come ripping out of her room saying things like, "I have nothing to wear!"  This always baffled me because when I'd pull out her under bed storage her drawer was OVERFLOWING with clothing.  What she really should have said was, "There is so much here, I have not idea how to go about putting together an outfit."

So....I accepted the challenge of pairing down the girls' clothes no matter how painful it was to say goodbye to some outfits.  I did compromise a little.  Nine outfits seemed a little skimpy to me.  After all, if I get behind on laundry we need to have a few more than two back up outfits.  AND....if someone stains or rips clothing, having a few extras isn't a bad idea.  So, we put together enough outfits to fill one underbed storage bin.  This amounted to 12 outfits.  I also allowed them to keep 5 dresses.  This was a huge cut back for us.  By the time we are said and done we had filled one HUGE trashbag and one small trashbag of clothing.  The kids no longer whine about not having any outfits because they are all organized and easy to find and put together.

The second thing I found on this lady's website was a chore chart.  At first glance it seemed a little too detailed and like an insane amount of chores, but after some thought I realized this lady was on to something.  I had been stressing over some things lately and this felt like the perfect solution.  B had forgotten her backpack 2 days in a row.  K forgot her waterbottle.  The kids kept leaving their stuff in the van and I kept forgetting to remind them to take it out.  I was constantly having to remind them to pick up after themselves in the hallway.  Sometimes we would forget which night was bath night.  I'd forget to have them empty their school bags of important info. The list went on and on.  If this was all written down, it couldn't be forgotten.

So, I downloaded the chore chart and tweaked it to fit our family and printed it off. (I added pictures for B since she is a beginning reader).  Since I have done this nothing has been forgotten.  I no longer have to remind the kids they just check their chart.  They know supper won't be served to kids who aren't done with their chores, so there is no nagging.  And, we discovered K is a list checker kind of person.  You know the type, they get some sort of high getting to make those little check marks. Who am I kidding? I'm one of those people too.  So, for now, it is working for us.

Oh, and we did go back to doing our big chores on the weekend, BUT I try to do it all on one day if possible so I still get at least one weekend day to do what I want (which usually turns into a day to have to take care of business of some kind, sigh....).

If you're interested in a chore chart like what we are using.  Here's a link to the one I used from Mary Organizes.  She really has a lot of great ideas.

Ch, ch, ch, changes

In my last post I commented on how our crazy schedule was making us grow weary.  We are going to change it up when the new year starts.  After reflecting and discussing we all know that we need to slow things down a bit.  We are keeping our church commitments.  They are local and they are important.  However, K is giving up girl scouts, and B's soccer season is over.  She doesn't intend on doing it ever again at this point.  I still want the girls to have something extracurricular.  After pondering it for awhile we decided piano lessons would be a good way to go.

At first I learned of a teacher two houses up the street from us that teaches piano.  I had tried to teach Kadyn awhile back, but it didn't go very far.  I wasn't very motivated or committed to it and neither was Kadyn.  Plus, I didn't feel 100% confident in my own abilities as a pianist.  I can play simple accompaniments and pieces, but I am by no means an accomplished pianist.  Talking to my mother one morning she questioned me why I would pay someone else to do something I could do.  At first I made excuses, but then the more I thought about it the more I thought....I could do this.  I had wanted to teach violin lessons in Branson, but quickly found there was no market for it because there is no orchestra in the schools.  Piano, well, there is always a market for piano teachers.  I know I will be teaching in the schools for a long time and have no plans of leaving, but in the back of my mind have have wondered just how long my career as a public school teacher will last.  Will music be kicked out of the schools for budget reasons?  Will I get burnt out before I am done with my working years as an adult?  These things have crossed my mind.

And so, my mind got to whirling with the what ifs.  What if I go gang busters and teach my own children how to play piano?  What if teaching my girls helps me become more accomplished as a pianist?  What if my improved skills and practice teaching the girls makes me competent enough to open up my own piano studio in my home?  What if I could use that as a platform to get some people interested in learning violin and do both kinds of lessons in my home?  What if this becomes my after career work?  What if....what if....?

So, I am embracing the challenge and have decided to move forward with teaching the girls piano lessons myself.  This time it will be different.  We will be putting lessons on our calendar and treating it like the real deal.  Lessons will be done at the same time each week and practicing will be put onto their chore charts.   I have been researching the best ways to do it, getting tips and resources from all sorts of websites, pinterest, and piano teaching blogs.  I have been typing up lesson plans, creating games, teaching resources, AND I have been practicing a lot.  My first focus is to be able to play all the accompaniments in the level one of the method books with my kiddos.  The music they will be learning is well below my skill level so I should have no problem helping them learn the first several method books.  I figure if I keep practicing I should stay well ahead of them to keep them moving forward.  Every time I practice it gets easier.  
See, I told you I was taking it seriously this time.  I have made everyone a binder to store learning resources.  Even me.  Harry, loves being part of the action and plays the keys sometimes.  My favorite was when he accidentally pushed the demo button.  I heard beautiful music coming from the piano, glanced in the room to see him standing on the keys looking at me then  saying, "Meow?"  It was hilarious!

Both of the girls are starting in method book one, but they will be using two different series of method books. I didn't want them to feel competitive in any way.  There is no way they will learn at the same rates since they are different ages.  This will also let me explore what method books I prefer to teach from for future use.  Harry approves!

The best part is that these lessons are filling many different needs.  It gives us one on one time together.  It gives them an extracurricular activity that is much more schedule and family friendly.  It is improving skill set I have and can possibly open up doors for more opportunity for me to do what I love.

So we are all looking forward to the change around here.  It will be interesting to see if we really do make a go of it and keep up with it.  Time will tell.  One thing is for sure, it's better than the rat race we are running now.  I can't wait to start!