Choir Tour!

When I was young, traveling meant driving in the family’s large, four-door brown Oldsmobile. We had assigned seats to prevent fighting among us four kids. My spot was behind Dad, the driver. My baby sister sat next to me, and my older little sister sat behind Mom. My baby brother sat in the middle up front, between Dad and Mom, where he couldn’t get into any trouble.

When I was older, traveling meant riding in a coach bus with a group of peers.

During two of my university’s spring breaks in early March, I traveled with the Concert Choir on tour. Mornings were taken up with driving, playing Euchre to pass the time, and trying to avoid the bathroom at the back of the bus. Afternoons were spent rehearsing, and when evening came, we performed our concerts. It seemed to me that the temperature of the churches during the afternoon rehearsals was usually chilly; I suppose the heat was set low to save on heating costs.

Before our concerts, we would don our choir robes. Girls were required to wear dresses, black ballet slippers and pantyhose under those robes. We filed out into the chancel of the church, took our places on the risers, and kept our eyes on our baton wielding, white-goateed conductor. The wide, open space of the church would have warmed up for the evening, and at times was a little too warm. We were all in fear of fainting on those narrow risers, and consciously kept our knees unlocked. The joy of singing filled us all as our voices filled the sanctuary with warm tones and interweaving harmonies.

After the concerts, it was time to meet our hosts for the night. We would pair up with our roommates and our hosts would drive us to their homes for a place to sleep. The good hosts would stay up and talk with us, feed us, and show us to our room. Sometimes (and we grumbled about this) we weren’t given anything to eat before we were shown to our beds. Sometimes we received a little something as a memento of our visit. For the most part, our hosts were generous and kind.

On the days that our next destination was close by and we didn’t need to drive much, we were able to sight see. We were given strict orders to return to the bus by a certain time, and then we were set free. I remember wandering around downtown Boston with a few of my friends. We shopped in historical Quincy Market, but being poor college students didn’t allow us to buy much. We began to search for a place to eat lunch. Somehow we stumbled upon a small doorway which opened to a narrow staircase. At the top of the stairs was a very small Italian restaurant with tables covered in white tablecloths. We seemed to be the only customers, and weren’t sure that the place was even open. But then out from the kitchen came a bustling large woman with an Italian accent. She showed us to a table, took our orders, and went back into the kitchen to prepare our meals. When my plate arrived, it was filled to the brim with piles of thick, homemade fettuccine smothered with the creamiest, most wonderful alfredo sauce I have ever eaten. For years afterward, at every Italian restaurant I ordered the fettuccine alfredo, hoping to find some as delicious as that homemade entree I was served that day in Boston. Nothing has come close!

During my two tours with the choir, I was able to see Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington, D.C., Colonial Williamsburg, and Monticello. I had so much fun traveling with friends and seeing new places; however, even traveling gets old.

On the last tour I went on, at the last church we sang at, I was in for a surprise. When I saw my host for the night, I burst into tears of exhaustion and joy…my aunt and cousin had come to take me to their house! For some reason (my poor sense of geography) I didn’t realize our last stop on the tour was close to my aunt and uncle’s house. After spending so much time on the road, what a relief it was to stay in a familiar house with my beloved family!

After ten days of traveling, rehearsing, and singing, I was ready to go home, but being a part of those two choir tours was a wonderful experience. It could very well be the reason that I feel eager to travel when I hear my husband announce, “Road Trip!”

I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the third post out of six.  

Cousins and Friends: College Years

I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the post I wrote about Friends and Fellowship. Please visit Mommy’s Piggy Tales to link up your own story of Your Young Adult Years!

A flashback of college life

Last Saturday, I attended an early childhood education conference at a local community college. After a continental breakfast, we needed to attend a variety of workshops. As I wandered through the maze of hallways, looking at my yellow sheet with room numbers listed on it, I felt like it was the first day of classes again. I have a reoccurring dream where I’m late for a class but I can’t find the room. I felt like my dream was coming to life! (You’d think a conference involving teachers would have included a map of the building in our materials!) I finally found the room I was supposed to be in. I followed my habit from years of taking classes…I found a desk in the back. It was a small desk, with a teeny tiny desk top that flipped up and down. I thought about this project – My Young Adult Years. All week, I was working on this post about college, and here I was, back on a college campus again!

Friends were everything

Freshman year, my roommate and I started out as strangers. She was so homesick that she would quietly cry every night. I didn’t think I was homesick, but the first time I called home I bawled my eyes out. Even though Peggy and I started as strangers, we soon became fast friends. We soon met other girls in our dorm, and we formed friendships that would last all four years of college. Together we vowed we would remain GDIs (Gosh Darned Independents, to put it nicely). We scorned rush week, sororities, and all that being Greek entailed. Sophomore year, some of our friends changed their minds and joined a sorority, but they still remained very active in our group. We felt so grown up as we threw birthday parties for each other, studied through the night together, and of course, went to church together on Sunday mornings. I’m a pastor’s kid, and as a result, I wasn’t always accepted by my classmates in junior high and high school. At Valparaiso University, I met many other pastor’s kids. It was a perfect fit.

This small, Midwestern university was also where various aunts, cousins, and even my mom had gone. At one time, five of us cousins were attending the university at the same time. So even as I was fighting homesickness, I still had family members close by.

My major was what, again?

Remember what my major was? I was an elementary education major, but from the activities I was involved in, you might have guessed I was a music major. As I mentioned last week, I sang in Concert Choir. I also joined a group named “Perfect Harmony.” We were a support group for the music fraternity on campus. We would attend concerts and musicals that the fraternity members were involved in. We would attend parties at their frat house. Okay, so the parties weren’t really for support, but more for fun!

YIKES! I never liked this picture of me, but it shows off our Perfect Harmony sweatshirts.
That’s my cousin on the right. She was taking a medication where wearing contacts wasn’t possible. She suffered through the year having to wear glasses.

Senior year I was unable to be part of Concert Choir due to my student teaching, and I joined a small choir named “Dayspring.” We sang contemporary music at the small, Wednesday night church services. Once, my student teaching carpool partner and I sang a duet together – Amy Grant’s “El Shaddai.” El Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai, Age to age You`re still the same, By the power of the name. El Shaddai, El Shaddai, Erkahmka na Adonai, We will praise and lift You high, El Shaddai.

Graduation came, and we all scattered to various locations around the country due to employment, to marriage, or to the pursuit of a higher degree. I rarely travel back to that wonderful place, and I have lost touch with many of my old friends. Remembering those college friends and the great times we had always brings a smile to my face.

Three cousins graduated from VU in 1991.
Here is our family celebration!

I’ve recently reconnected with some college friends on Facebook, and I’ve enjoyed seeing what my old friends are up to! There are still some friends I would love to reconnect with some day.

Becoming a Teacher

I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the post I wrote about My Dreams and Aspirations. Please visit Mommy’s Piggy Tales to link up your own story of Your Young Adult Years!

My dream begins early

I don’t remember the moment when I decided to become a teacher. I always loved working with children. When I was in junior high school, I took a babysitting clinic at our public library. I started to babysit a lot. When I babysat, I didn’t page through a magazine or do homework, like some of the babysitters I had as a kid. I played with the kids I babysat. We would run around outside or build towers with Legos. I remember having a dance competition when I babysat a little girl; it was the days when the movie Flashdance was all the rage. She’s a maniac, maniac, on the floor…and she’s dancing like she’s never danced before!

As I got older, I continued babysitting, but I was also asked to tutor a little girl in reading. Since I enjoyed that experience so much, I seriously began to think I should become a teacher.

What’s your major?

I went to a small, private university in Indiana, and I declared my major as soon as I started. I couldn’t wait to get all the general requirements and electives out of the way so that I could start working towards my main objective: Elementary Education. One of those requirements was a basic biology class. The professor liked me, and he offered me a lab assistant job. My job was to prep for labs and assist the students during labs. I was a lab aide for three years, and during that time I became intimate with the innards of a fetal pig, learned the secrets of photosynthesis, and set up hands-on quizzes for biology students. When it was time to watch the movie of a child being born, I had to check on the students who were looking as if they might faint. While I never earned much more than pocket money, this job reinforced my dream of becoming a teacher.

My roommate catches me in the act of writing a paper.
Notice the deep thinking I am doing!

A sacrifice is made

As I began to take education classes, I decided I wanted to study more than just elementary education. I also wanted to become knowledgeable in teaching children with special needs. I began to work toward an endorsement in learning disabilities. As part of my endorsement, I would have to take special education classes and then student teach in both a regular classroom and a special education classroom. Taking those extra classes would push my student teaching to the second semester of my senior year.

However, I had a conflict. Since I would be student teaching during the second semester, I would have to teach during the university’s spring break. Throughout my years in college, I sang with the Concert Choir, which, as the name says, gave concerts. During spring break, Concert Choir would travel and tour different areas of the country to perform. If I student taught second semester, I would be unable to tour. And if I was unable to tour, I couldn’t be in Concert Choir. I had to make a choice.

While singing was very important to me, I felt like my chosen career was more important. I had to give up Concert Choir. I was very unhappy that I had to give up choir that year.

Challenges arise

I did not have a car. Somehow, I had to find my way to schools for observations and student teaching. While not having a car made me very nervous, the education department did a great job of matching students without cars with students who did have cars. I met one of my best friends while carpooling to school for student teaching. After graduation, I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, and many years later, she brought her husband and their twins to my wedding.

When I was student teaching, I had three roommates who were not education majors. This caused some stress for me during my last semester. One of my roommates would constantly snack on my lunch supplies. I told her over and over again, “This is for my lunch at school! I can’t run out and buy a lunch!” (There was a field of white, woolly sheep next to the school I taught in. They weren’t about to share their clover.)

College students keep late hours, but I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to get to school on time. After a full day of teaching, I wanted to be in bed by 10:00 p.m., but my roommates had a hard time understanding why I needed to go to bed so early. One of my roommates spent the night talking on the phone to her boyfriend. She would sequester herself in our bedroom so she could have privacy, and then get mad when I wanted to go to bed. There were no cell phones and no cordless phones. She would sit out in the hallway, the door cracked to let the phone cord out, and I would lie in bed trying to get to sleep.

I reach my goal

Despite it all, I loved student teaching. I loved getting to know the third grade students I taught. When I started teaching in a learning disabilities resource room for sixth grade, I loved the small groups I led. Student teaching was over way too soon for me; I wanted to stay in those classrooms until the end of the year to send those students on to the next grade.

However, it was also my turn to go on to the next step. I was on my way to becoming a real teacher. I graduated in 1991 with a degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Learning Disabilities. The true challenges were still ahead of me, and I had much to learn.

Write Your Stories Down!

Last June, Janna of Mommy’s Piggy Tales began a project to share our youth with our children. Every Thursday, I told a story about my childhood as if I were sharing it with my children. I’m happy to say that I finished the project, and now I have a collection of stories about my childhood for my children to keep, and hopefully treasure.

But my stories aren’t finished yet. The telling of Mommy’s Piggy Tales ended with the topic “After High School.” Many of the participants of Mommy’s Piggy Tales wrote in that last post that they couldn’t possible tell all that happened after high school in just one post!

So I was thrilled when Janna asked me to continue the storytelling! Every Monday, I will be guest hosting “My Young Adult Years” on Mommy’s Piggy Tales. Today, I wrote a preview about what’s to come with that project. Please click over to read more about “My Young Adult Years,” and join me in writing your stories down! You can also email me at lemondroppie(at)gmail(dot)com to sign up.

If you didn’t participate in Mommy’s Piggy Tales over the summer, now is your chance to join! Janna will begin a new session this Thursday, October 7. If you would like to record the stories of your childhood, read Getting Started for more information and to sign up.

I can’t wait to read your stories!

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