Thinking of a good title is difficult.  While some of the suggestions were good, I wasn’t in love with any of them and I’m not sure yet how much I love this one.  CAST is an acronym- Christ, Acting, Singing, and Teaching.  I don’t do much of teaching anymore, but I still do once a month or so and am at least a leader for other weekends.  It is conveniently placed last in the acronym while Christ is first.  Not that He really has been first in my life seemingly, but it is a goal.  Christ needs to be before everything, including family (fortunately He places a high value on family, especially children so He usually won’t demand anyone actually give up their family, just put Him first in your family).  So what do you think of this title?  It also has a ring to it as far as the performing words of the acronym.  As in I am currently cast as a singer and actor in Jekyll & Hyde.

The unofficial takeover of the 11:15 service has become official with the couple I mentioned before having been asked to share the role of the “point person,” or head “anchor”.  I am having somewhat of a problem with one of them unfortunately.  I haven’t yet decided if she is just taking the role far more seriously than others in previous years or she is overstepping her authority.  Looking in the guide their role is that of the room leader, but she has taken to threatening to not allow someone to lead a small group for such things as being late or doing something during the teaching time other than sitting with the kids and listening to the message with them.  Productive things I should say, not “I just don’t want to listen” things as kids often do in school.  I believe she is crossing a line here but I have to think on it, maybe ask Lisa- the staff member in charge of 4th/5th grade.  In any event, there is friction here and something needs to happen to remove it.

The show is almost there.  We just had our first rehearsal with the orchestra yesterday, at the actual performance venue.  Okay, the set for the currently running show, Into the Woods, is up meaning we will have to work around it, but aside from one more rehearsal at the retirement home we’ve been at, we are now rehearsing on the actual stage.  It was strange to work with the orchestra two weeks in advance- I am used to the orchestra not being there until a day or two before opening night.  Indeed, we may not see them again until then, but even if so, the one chance was better than none at all.  Less than two weeks until opening- yikes.  But we will be ready. 🙂


Preschool in near-city district at a different school than the other times.  Tho other school had two near-identical classrooms- the teachers are truly a team there- and the students were English-speaking.  You know where I’m going with this one…  I arrived, and the principal was acting as secretary and signed me in.  Headed to the classroom and what is the first thing I see?  Everything in Spanish.  The one school got the English-speaking kids, this one got the Spanish-speaking ones.   Most did know a little English, and unlike another class I was in in another district, let’s just call it one-school district for the number of schools I was usually called to sub in toward the end of last year which is tied to the reason I didn’t re-sign up with them this year, this time I had an assistant working with me who could speak Spanish, so I didn’t have too much of a problem.  The morning and afternoon were similar in schedule to the other school.  I think they run off the same schedule as pre-k is a special progam in the district.  They had some start-of-day work, calendar time, centers (which included a lot of play centers), song time, wrap-up, and take them outside to the playground to wait for buses.  The morning was actually a little different than the afternoon.  The primary students (K-2) were preparing a musical show for Thursday night and the preschoolers were given their own bit for it by doing three songs of their own.  Two were counting songs (the duck with five chicks and one runs away, leaving four, then three, and so on, and a similar one with frogs jumping in the water- glub, glub!) and the third was a weird version of “Singing in the Rain”.  The other two had some movements the kids were given to do, but this song has them in the song ala “Hokey Pokey:”  thumbs up, shoulders back, knees together, butt out, tongue out…  All given one at a time and added on to the rest so by the end it’s a true video-moment seeing the kids doing all of that.  Those of you with kids might know the song I’m talking about.  They also practiced these songs during the song time.  For morning, the rehearsal took the place of the start-of-day work and caused centers to be shortened. even though we only stayed to do our songs and then left.

Right after calendar was read-aloud time.  In Spanish.  With a tape (whew…)- I only had to hold the book up and turn the pages.  Apparently the title was funny- I just wish I knew why, but I forgot to ask the assistant.  I read Spanish about as well as I speak it.  For my center, they worked on making ducks with construction paper.  The outlines of what to cut out were already drawn for them so they just had to cut them out and glue them on in the right spot.  I added a 3-D element by folding the beak, feet, and wings so they stuck out.  As par for course, there were things glued upside down or lopsided, or even in the wrong place.  Most did fine though.

At the end of the day, they went outside to the playground.  This was the easiest part- just watching them to make sure they didn’t get hurt.  After this, I had to strap in a bunch of students in the bus.  They put their seatbelts on, I had to tighten them.  For about ten kids each in the AM and PM.  One also had additional gear to attach him to the seat which fortunately I had seen before in the mentally impaired classrooms I’ve worked in so I knew what to do with this.

Again, thanks to the help of the assistant I survived the day.  Next up, 5th grade then 8th grade social studies.  Tomorrow.  Three posts is enough for one day, for me at least… 🙂

Holy Weekend

Of course we know last weekend was Easter weekend.  For me, that means celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Of course, before a resurrection, there had to be a death.  That is what Good Friday is all about.  Now, some churches celebrate the entire week starting with Palm Sunday, going into Holy Monday – Holy Wednesday, following with Maundy Thursday, and then finally moving to Good Friday and Easter.  My church starts with Good Friday.  In the past, there had been Good Friday dramas of which I had been part.  During two four-year cycles I played one of the disciples, and some years a member of the mob condemning Jesus.  I kind of miss those times.  Last year the church decided to do something different with a walk-through one could start at any time.  I think I blogged about it.  This year they changed again.  It was still dark as the day of Christ’s death was dark.  It was touching to hear video testimonies of a few people, one of whom accepted Christ just last year on Good Friday from the walk-through.  Besides the testimonies there were some songs, and a short message by our pastor.  We left as usual in a somber mood.  That would of course be remedied the following day for Easter Saturday.  What do you mean you’ve never heard of Easter Saturday?  Well, our church has a Saturday service every week, so the Easter service is naturally duplicated for that Saturday service.  We have to change the words a little bit:

Christ the Lord is Risen Today Tomorrow… Ha-a-a-a-a-le-e-lu-u-ja.

Okay, not really.  But it is still a little strange having grown up in a traditional church, sometimes I feel like altering the lyrics.  So Saturday started with rehearsal at 1:45 until 4:25.  Fortunately not all of it was singing so I had some voice left for the real deal at 5:00.  We went through each choir piece at least three times, and the worship set of five songs twice.  It was nice to finally sing with the soloists.  The main soloist has actually been in a Christian band and has been heard on the radio, and it showed (in a nice way).  She sings at our church once or twice a year.  By the end of the rehearsal I needed to sit down after standing for over two hours.  It turned out to be the last time of the night I got to sit in a chair.  More on that in a moment.

A little time out:  Our choir I’d like to think is a little unique.  We have women tricking into the tenor section and a couple of guys in the alto section.  Women in the tenor section?  Probably not entirely odd.  Guys in the alto section?  Well, the clever readers may have noticed that while I used the term “women” for the tenor section, I did not reciprocate for the alto section with the term “men.”  That’s right, the two guys are actually kids.  While the rules for the last couple of years stated choir members had to be at least 14, they had been singing for about a year prior to that rule, so they were allowed to continue.  In any event, they did just turn 14 (they’re identical twins by the way) so this was the first year they met the rules.  Another factoid, but probably not so unique- I think the Alto section was as large as the other three put together.  Simply huge.

Okay, back to the present.  Following rehearsal, we grabbed our robes and had a bit of time to ourselves before having to line up.  Just before lining up, about ten minutes before the service, it was announced to us that the worship center was completely full.  Wow.  There were multiple overflow rooms all in use by the time service started.  All told, there were together 19,000 attendees at all the church’s campuses- a new record I think.  It might have been helped along by knowlwdge of our special guest.  A former teen-idol from the 80’s turned Christian, he now has a talk show on a Christian station and has starred in some Christian movies, the latest out last year.  I had a moment I could cringe when our pastor asked how we all felt about that movie and there was much cheering.  Now you all know me by now with movies- do you think I saw it yet?  That’s right, I did not cheer because I had not seen it- it would have been a dishonest cheer.  Of course our guest turned around just then and looked back toward my section of the choir.  I hope he didn’t see me and mistake my lack of cheering to not liking the film, I just haven’t seen it.  He thinks he might partner with the church in a marriage ministry, so we may see more of him.  Feel free to make your guesses of who he is in the comments section. 🙂

So following choir we returned to the gym which was our “green room.”  No chairs.  They took every one of our chairs for the overflow rooms leaving us with tables to stand around.  😯 . Fortunately I still had kid’s ministry to go to so the lack of chairs wasn’t an issue- or so I thought.  I got to the room and everyone was sitting on the floor.  That’s right, they took 4th and 5th grade chairs too.  I wonder if all of children’s ministry lost their chairs?  What happened was all those overflow rooms needed those chairs for people to sit in.  Well, we made do.  It turned out that while the crowds in the church were huge, it didn’t seem to translate to many more 4th and 5th graders.  My own small group was all regulars.

So Sunday rolled around, and we had to be there at 7:30 to rehearse.  Yuck.  Well, it’s only a few times during the year.  The 9:00 service was not a full service.  However, the pastor was at the other main campus along with our guest, so they may have had a much bigger crowd than normal.  Every week, our pastor switches between the two main campuses on Sunday to preach live.  The other gets a live feed or recorded video from Saturday night.  The 11:00 service was back to overflow capacity, but not quite as bad as the night before, which in my mind was pretty odd.  I would have thought that more people would have come on Sunday because that is actually Easter.  Saturday is Easter Eve, if you will.  So that was it, except for one more factoid: neither the main sermon nor the 4th/5th grade lesson were specifically Easter.  For the former, our pastor just started a new series, and for the latter we continued the series from the book of James.

So, that was my weekend.  If I think of anything I may have missed, I’ll add it to the comments.  Right now I need to start getting ready for bed.

Last performance of the year

Well this weekend was a special one, for more than one reason.  First my friends from Ohio came out and visited.  Thbey came out to see their family and then came over here for the “nightcap” before they headed back.  It took us a bit to decide on where to go for entertainment.  For a very populated area I couldn’t think of much in that line.  There is a lot of outdoor entertainment during the warmer months, but it was cold and wet so that was out.  Indoor water park down the street?  Too expensive.  Laser tag?  Kids not old enough.  So we settled on Chuck E. Cheese.  We got there and it was so packed that people were making their own parking spots at the side of the building.  Fortunately some people were leaving so we got a spot.  Inside, C bought a bunch of tokens which the older girls used for the most part.  A couple of times C would raid the cup of tokens, but the two girls used most of them.  There were a couple of rides, some skill games, a video roller coaster, and video games.  The favorite seemed to be the Nickelodeon race game which basically stole borrowed heavily from Mario Kart.  The younger of the two could not reach the accelerator when she played, so her older sister did that job for her while she steered.  I didn’t get to talk to C and L much at this time, but it was quality time with their two oldest.  Following CEC, we went to a local hot dog joint, down the street from me actually, and had us some good food.  There is where we were able to talk, that is between young C spitting up and some issues that crept up with the girls eating.  From there they dropped me off (we all went in one vehicle), changed the baby, and they were off for home and I was off to part 2 of this post…

…Drama.  This was my cast’s weekend to perform so I had to be at my church at 3:30 for rehearsal.  Between making a DVD for another friend in OH and the visit this mornig I had no time to shower so I dragged my grubby self over to the church.  We found out that the learning center where we perform was in use so we rehearsed in the room next door.  I gave the two giggling kids some candy (4th and 6th grade) and we were slowly able to get through the lines.  We then did it with blocking a few times.  Through all this time the guest author (there is a different “guest author” every week) never showed up.  Steve, the children’s pastor, didn’t know anything about it so I gave the director a call and he was surprised that he hadn’t shown up.  I hung up and a few minutes later Steve got a call from him and it turns out he wouldn’t be coming, so Steve would have to fill in (again…) for the night.  The one who was supposed to be there would be there for the Sunday performances.  Now, because Steve is the kids’ pastor he had many other duties to do so we still didn’t get to rehearse with him.  This may or may not have contributed to what happened next during the performance.  Bear in mind that I am an experienced actor and rehearsal had actually gone fairly well, especially line-wise by the time we got to the performance.  I did my puppet part well, but when I walked out to do my live character, I started off fine but then I forgot my lines!  How…?  Anyway, I at least stayed in character and the others tried to cover until I was able to recover a few lines later.  I almost missed my puppet entrance after that because I was mad at myself.

Today’s performances went fine though I am happy to say.  There was a line flub by the kids in the first performance today, but mothing like my flub last night.  I will miss this drama for the next two months.  We will be off for the holidays.  Next week is the last one until January, but it is a different cast so I am done until that time.  Hey, more time to memorize for the next one, right? 🙂

Busy busy

With a new school year comes not just employment but things going on at my church as well.  Okay, I haven’t been that busy, but compared to just a week ago it seems like it.  Also, I have been catching up on my internet reading since I was down for much of last week.  It still goes down daily, but they tell me I have a perfect connection and it must be the work they’re doing in the area.  I can only hope it goes away after awhile proving them right, otherwise I’ll be stuck since they’ll never find anything with my “perfect” connection.

Monday I took a half-day job, but when I got there I found out the secretary put a teacher’s request in for the wrong day.  They then proceeded to remove the assignment from my job list so I can only hope I’ll get some sort of compensation for it, but if not I least I can have the satisfaction of working only four periods today and getting a full day’s pay for it (the norm for middle school is six periods).  The teacher came in to work and decided he was too ill to work so I picked up the late assignment.  I did not work first period as a result.  Then I found out the teacher only has five periods, helping out in the office a 6th period.  That is not normal and they didn’t have me do it, though I did ask about it.  To top it off, the teacher has a student teacher so he did most of the work.  Cool.

Yesterday was an easy day too, though when I got there I was a little concerned as the teacher didn’t leave any lesson plans.  Fortunately I only had to teach one class.  The rest were either co-teach classes (you know what that means- the other teacher does the teaching an I help as an assistant) or resource/study hall.  As it turned out the one class they were just working out of a packet, so I just taught the next page of the packet and had them start their homework in class.  Of course when I got home I found an email outlining the plans- apparently the system allows for a teacher to upload the plans to the sub-system and have them emailed to the sub.  Having never had this happen before, I never realized it could do this so I never bothered to check my email before heading to work.  Fortunately for me I had pretty much followed the plans without realizing it! Whew…

Besides work I had my usual small group Monday night and tonight I had rehearsals for both children’s drama, which starts up again this weekend, and choir.  Since they overlapped, I had to miss a little bit of each.  I just wish it hadn’t been the first rehearsal as that is one that people shouldn’t miss, even in part.  Well, that’s how it goes I guess.  I have two more choir rehearsals next week and will have to miss small group as a result but they understand about that- it only happens a few times a year.  I’ll just have to make sure they are set on song lyrics as that’s kind of my job- I usually set up a couple of powerpoints and bring my computer in.  That’s one of the nice things about this new computer.  I guess I will just have to print something up and drop them off- I’ll be in the same building after all.  Someone else provides the music by the way in case you’re wondering.  My small group starts off each week with a couple of worship songs.

Well, that’s it for now.  Time to get ready for some sleep.  It’s going to be another early day tomorrow.

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Graduation part 2½ as promised

Okay, now that I’m back I will finish up the rest of yesterday.  I mentioned that they had gone through one time practicing picking up diplomas (at least eight Patels by the way 😛 ).  Once finished, they all had to stand up one last time (“and now presenting the class of 2008”) and then practice filing out and back in again.  By now, we were getting hungry so he finally dismissed us, but not without having a little fun with it.  They had to practice standing and turning in unison as their rows were called at random.  Those that did it well got to go.  Those who didn’t had to sit back down and wait to try again.  About half made it out the first time.  The first row took about four tries to get it right.  As staff, we of course had to wait until the end, but I didn’t mind.  We got a free lunch out of it too, all students and staff.  Not a very nutritious one mind you (pizza or hot dog, chips, ice cream) but still- free is free.  We then had about 45 minutes to eat.  Everyone ate outside, though I did go to the lounge for a short time to supplement my free lunch with something I had brought.

The afternoon started with- drum roll please- awards.  Yep, third time now.  Fortunately it was just 8th grade this time, and fewer categories than the last 7th/8th grade one.  Then a few students performed songs.  I wonder if they did that at the actual ceremony?  Finally, we returned to practicing- filing out and in one last time then going through one by one with the diploma practice.  They were actually handed something this time- a folder that turned out to have some instructions for the night in it.  It went faster this time, but there were still a few name mispronunciations.  They of course promised it would be slower during the actual ceremony, which I am glad I did not have to attend.  Can you imagine the sub note? “Must return at 7:30 to the graduation ceremony- half-day pay provided.”

Well, that was pretty much it.  They were able to go home then for the final time- the 8th grade was done in that building.  Coming up in a few hours (hopefully)- a post about today.  Not too exciting, so I may just skip it.  We’ll see.

Graduation part 2

Well, I was up a little early to find a job for the day, and I find myself with a little time so I will try to write this before I leave.  So why a part two?  Simply put, I subbed for 8th grade yesterday.  Actually, the teacher does both 7th and 8th, but she was part of the 8th grade graduation.  Why, oh why could she not be part of the 7th grade field day instead? 😛  7th grade was either doing field day or a field trip.  But 8th grade had graduation practice.  All day.  Oh the things I get paid for- did I really need to be there, especially since another teacher seemed to be filling in anyway?  Well, it’s their money.  🙂

The morning was simple.  Announcements followed by the students being called to their respective places.  Once in the gym, the principal announced how the day would go, then we went into the rehearsal.  They started with something simple- standing on cue.  “Row one stand up.  Row one sit down.  Row two stand up…”  Then random rows called after all fifteen rows practiced.  Next they added the turn to face the outside to the standing.  “Stand..1..2..Turn.”  Again, practice for all the rows.  Next up was filing in and out.  Or rather, out and in since they were already in their seats.  They had to master the art of the square turn.  Okay, so they were told how to do the square turn, and practiced it leaving, but there wouldn’t be enough time to actually master it.  Once we were out, the need for the teachers became significantly more apparent.  Ever deal with 350 restless eighth graders?  Fortunately there were enough of us to handle things.  Finally, once we entered again they were ready to actually line up and practice taking their diplomas.  One by one, name by name just like Sunday’s real performance.  Only they had to stop for name corrections.  At this time, they also had to practice sitting down on cue as well as listening for their cue to stand up, which was when a particular student’s name was read.

Well, I am out of time for now so I will just post this first part of the day for now.  Part 2½ this afternoon when I return.