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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Captain of the love ship

Ella asked me the other day if our town had a mayor. I told her we didn't have a mayor and I was pretty sure we had a town council.  She asked what that was. I explained it was a group of people who are in charge of the town.

"Are you in that group?" she asked.

I was taken aback and asked what would make her think I was in charge of the town.

"Well, you're in charge of the Valentine's dance so it seems like you're in charge of everything."

I like the way that girl thinks.

So last week was a big week for me.  I was sweating bullets about the Valentine's dance that I was fairly certain I was going to frig up and I was making mistakes all over the place.  I lost my gloves, forgot Maya's favorite water bottle at gymnastics, told my babysitter the wrong time to show up so I could go to work and locked myself out of my house because I accidentally gave the school secretary my house key when I was returning the PTO shed key. 

My big fear about the Valentine's dance was that I would totally suck at the decorating- the hanging of the lights and frigging with the extension cords.  I can organize, plan and hand out flyers till the cows come home, but the only agreement I have with electricity is then when I put the switch in the "on" position, the lights oblige.

I was further amped up by the fact that Sandi was going to be in Portland from Monday until Saturday at about the time the dance ended (stupid advanced life support class), and thus unable to offer any sort of engineering assistance, child care or (let's be honest) sanity procurement.

Friday morning before school I set the girls to decorate cupcakes. Yes, you heard me right. I'm telling you, I wasn't working with a full deck.

Then, immediately after school Friday, my group of steadfast volunteers and I began the arduous task of transforming the cafeteria/gym into a love shack, baby.  I stopped at the store on the way there to get a giant coffee and a diet coke. I told the cashier, "I am not leaving my caffeination to chance today." He didn't even crack a smile.
There was a lot of balloon blowing.  My handheld air inflator failed to inflate so there was a lot of hot air going around.
And some general silliness.
Then it was to the cafeteria to hang my nemesis, the disco ball.  Thank goodness one of the dad's offered to help (gave in to my begging) and took on this 2 + hour ordeal of hanging a ball for the sole purpose of  putting spinning dots of light on the dance floor.

Lucky for him he has Jessica as his assistant.  I tell you, that girl is scrappy.
She ended up driving home to get her extra long Christmas extension cords and proceeded to pull it through the suspended ceiling, tile by painful tile.

I made these paper flowers and, because the only 12 foot ladder was in disco ball demand, a lot of brain power went into figuring out how to hang them from something other than the ceiling.  
Good 'ol tulle and fishing line.
We were back the next day for 2 more hours of decorating before the main event.  By now, my breathing was no longer only in my upper register, I was well caffeinated and getting excited.

Kohl's department store has a volunteer program called the A-Team.  Their slogan is "Kohl's cares."  Well let me tell you, they care a lot.  I put in a request for volunteers and we had 4 people come for 3 hours to help before and during the dance.  And as if that wasn't enough, Kohl's gives a $500 grant to the school!  Win win!
Here they are in purple manning the food table:

And this man has been doing this dance for 5 years and clearly knew more than I did it about it.  He fixed the lights for better disco ball effects.

Sandi made it home a couple of hours before the dance, Ella had a major wardrobe crisis that only resolved itself with a drive back home, Maya was a little angel and I didn't lose my mind.

But here are some things I learned from this experience:

-There is no kind of trap like a fishing line trap. It's like being caught in Spider Man's web.

-Whenever you are going anywhere to do anything, you should have a packet of zip ties in your back pocket.

-If you have a need for a 12 foot ladder, you are likely going to need 3.

-The people who volunteer at a school are almost always the same core group of people. They come both days, email you to see if you need any more help, come to the event, congratulate you and help you clean up. All with a smile and without asking you to help with their event next month.

-When people care about something as much as you do, you should keep them very, very close.

-The longer something goes on the less you care. I went from "I would prefer to have this hung this way" to "put it up where ever you want."


San and our godson Reed who is, amazingly going to be going to Kindergarten at this school next year. How did that happen?

Ella with her final outfit and Emerson, looking dashing.

Okay, I admit it. I was terrified at failing at this event. I only helped blow up some ballons last year and didn't help with any of the decorating. I has some information, but so much was up to me and so much was unknown. But the kids were awesome, my volunteers outstanding and in the end we pulled it off. 
I got an email from a mom whose first grader said, "It was probably the best day of my life!"  I got feeback that the music and decorating were great and the only real hitch was that we ran out of cupcakes too soon.  Oh, weren't the girls pleased.
And once the dance started, time took a deep breath and slowed right down. I kept glancing at the clock thinking it must be over and yet that two hours stretched itself out.  I danced with the kids, started a conga line, learned the "Cotton Eyed Joe" and laughed myself silly. 
Me and Susan, Madam President of the PTO.

Six and half hours to set it up.  Thirty five minutes to take it down.  Wonderful and demoralizing. I came home utterly exhausted, brimming with pride and satisfaction and with full-fledged cold.  I woke up the next morning full of relief. That is until I flipped the laundry and found my ipod, which had been in the back pocket of my jeans, in the washer. 

All in days work as a mom.

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