Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Guardian Angel

Shawn is usually out-of-state two days a week. On those days, it is up to me to get all four kids out the door at 7:15am to drop Jamie off at school. These mornings are typically somewhat chaotic - the only one who is consistently dressed and breakfast-fed with teeth-brushed is Jamie. The remaining four of us are usually in various stages of pajamas and I have doled out easy-to-grab morning snacks and sippy cups to tide the younger children over until we return home.

This morning was no different. I woke to my alarm and checked out the window to see what the weather looked like. We had been forewarned of a snowstorm, but no snow had come overnight. The driveway and street were clear and, equally clearly, no snow had fallen on our brown grass. I jumped into the shower and then began the wake-up-children-and-out-the-door shuffle. When I arrived at Jamie's school, I pulled up a little past the front door, which is the polite protocol at Jamie's school, so other parents can pull up behind you to drop off as well. We were running later this morning and at the school at 7:39am (they are supposed to be in by 7:40), so I was not surprised I was alone in front of the school. But I pulled up farther anyway in case another car came after me or the school bus was later as well. Jamie scrambled out of the car. I watched him go up the steep steps to the front doors, then lost sight of him as he entered the building. I rounded the corner taking my normal driving route back home.

As I neared the next intersection, though, I had an uneasy feeling. Something just crept into my mind and unsettled my stomach that something was not right. I could not pinpoint what it was, but I just didn't feel right. I have dropped Jamie off at school about twice a week for six months now, and this is the first time I have ever felt like this. As I turned right at the next set of lights to head home, I thought about driving around the block back to the front of school. I argued with myself that I was being neurotic, but I couldn't shake that "not-right" feeling. So despite feeling somewhat idiotic, I looped onto the alley-street right along Jamie's school. This street runs past the rear parking lot of the school. As I drove past, I saw that the parking lot was deserted, which is unusual. I turned in front of Jamie's school again and as I pulled in front of the building, that's when I saw him in the corner of the stairs. Not inside the building as I had thought, but tucked into a corner where I could not see him from my drop-off spot on the street, vainly ringing the school's doorbell over and over. When Jamie looked up and saw me coming out of the van, he ran down the stairs. With tears in his eyes, he said that the school was locked and no one was answering the bell. I frantically tried to figure out what I had missed. Our city was having a State Senate election that day, but I didn't remember the Monday notice saying anything about school being cancelled. Jamie's teacher's father had passed away the previous week and his funeral Mass was being held today, but I doubted the entire school would be closed for that. Another mother pulled up behind me with her two girls, but she didn't know why the school was closed either. Since there was nothing to do but go back home, I called a friend on the way home whose children also attend the school. She explained that it had been on the news that morning that most of the towns in our area had closed schools because of the impending snowstorm.

In the three years my children have been in school, never have the schools closed in case we get snow. There have been many mornings with snow on the ground where not even a delay has been called. So I did not feel silly about assuming there was school when there was no snow overnight and it was not snowing in the morning (and incidentally, it did not really start snowing until close to 2pm anyway today and didn't start to accumulate until closer to 3pm, when school would have been done, but I digress). But I still feel sick to my stomach when I think about what if I had just driven home. At drop-off, I usually see Jamie enter the building (there is always an older student on the inside who has door duty in the winter to open the door). When Jamie disappeared from my view, I assumed he had gone into the school. All I know is that our guardian angels were looking out for us today. I feel sick when I think what would Jamie have done if I truly did just leave him outside a locked building in the city? Where would he have gone? The central fire station and police department are right down the street from his school. Would a 7-year old have the wisdom to walk down there? Would he have waited on the steps in agony - scared that the door was locked and his mom had driven away - until that other mother arrived? It makes me want to throw up. I have thanked God so many times today for giving me that unease, that certainty that something wasn't right, even though I didn't know what it was. That I trusted my gut and not my brain telling me I was being stupid and turned around. That I learned an essential lesson today to be absolutely 100% positive that Jamie has walked into his school and who cares about polite protocol and pulling up to the corner and other parents being ticked off that I was parked right smack in front of the doors. I thank God that He watched over us today and kept us safe. It turned out to be a fabulous day. Not a very good beginning, but it turned out to be one of the best days we've had in a long time.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Penguin Plunge

Thank you to all who generously donated or came to witness Shawn and his dad Mike participate in the Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics. Together, they raised over $2,000! It was a chilly day (25 degrees, and that is NOT counting the wind, which there was plenty of), but no complaints from Shawn and Mike as they ran into the Atlantic Ocean. We are so proud of them and what they were able to accomplish to help thousands of kids, like our Clare. Thank you all! (Shawn is in the black shirt and Mike is wearing the sweatpants with suspenders - don't ask!! There were all kinds of creative costumes that day!)

Friday, February 05, 2010

End of the Week Daybook

Outside my window … oh my goodness, it's so cold. The snow has deceptively melted away, but winter's not done yet.

I am thinking … eventually Simon will figure out that he can get in and out of his new toddler bed by himself. In the meantime, I am enjoying the fact that he doesn't!

I am thankful for … the generous support of family, friends, and strangers who pledged in honor of Clare for the Penguin Plunge, which benefits Special Olympics. Shawn and his dad raised over $2,000 and are looking forward to taking the plunge on Sunday!

I am reading Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, and I am not sure if I like it. It's the story of a mother whose daughter has a rare disorder. The mother is suing her OB in a "wrongful birth" suit, claiming that if she had known ahead of time that her child would be born with this condition, she would have aborted the pregnancy. It is not difficult to read emotionally, I am just so against the premise of the lawsuit. But it is interesting.... we'll see how it turns out.

I am hoping … everyone's noses stop running already!

On my mind … special prayer intentions. I am beginning a Novena today.

We’re learning … how to spell our name. Go, Clare!! (She proudly recites it daily.)

Noticing that … people say the stupidest things. (As in, "I am blessed with three healthy kids, so I don't want to jinx myself with a fourth.")

Pondering these words … "We must hang together, else, we shall most assuredly hang separately." -- Benjamin Franklin

From the kitchen … turkey filets wrapped in bacon, baked sweet potatoes, and green beans. Shawn is coming home tonight from NYC, and I am looking forward to cooking grown-up food.

Around the house … the contractor came a couple weeks ago to look at where we want our addition. Now we are waiting for rough plans and numbers.

One of my least favorite things (a new category I am adding!) ... when my darling children refuse to nap, then act like beasts for the remainder of the day.

One of my favorite things … the smell of baking cupcakes in the house.

A picture I am sharing

Jungle animal cupcakes for Jamie and Violet's joint family birthday party.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Even though the new school year is seven months away, registration is going on now so we are thinking ahead. We have decided to send Simon to 3-year old preschool. He has been watching Jamie and Clare go to school for two years now and asks when his turn is coming. He is one smart, outgoing kid, but in a structured setting, he turns into a statue. He has no problem leaving me (does great in the childcare room at the gym, loves playdates), but does not participate when it's something organized. So I think morning preschool twice a week will be a good start for Simon. I took Simon with me a couple weeks ago to visit the school and register (it's the same school where Jamie attended preschool and kindergarten). Now he asks me daily when he is going to school. At first, I told him when he was 3, but now he thinks he will go on his third birthday. So I have changed my answer to "after the summer." I don't think Simon has a clue what that means, but it satisfies him!

Clare will begin kindergarten next year in our local school. We don't formulate her IEP for next year until June, but kindergarten registration starts next month. I am not sure if we get to decide between morning or afternoon, but I am aiming for morning. I feel like we just finished Clare's transition from Early Intervention into preschool, and now we're going to start transitioning from preschool into kindergarten. And with that comes a whole new list of questions and decisions. Will Clare be included in a regular kindergarten classroom? If so, will she be pulled out for services? What services will she receive? Should we aim for an extended school day? Does she need an aide? If we decide to bus again, will she be on the big school bus (in which case, absolutely not!) or still on the small bus? Is Clare ready for kindergarten? Am I ready for this? So many questions and no answers yet.

Clare has been off her blood pressure medication for two months now. She had one blood pressure reading at the endocrinologist's office which was quite high, but, other than that, her pressures have been pretty good for Clare (and almost comparable to her pressures on the meds). The school nurse takes her blood pressure twice a week for us, and we follow-up with her cardiologist in March for her six-month workup (echo, EKG, etc.). I have to say I am feeling very positive about all this. At first, I hated the idea of taking Clare off her meds. She has been on beta blockers since she was seven months old, so stopping cold turkey was scary. But it seems to be going well, and it's been very freeing (for me) to be down to only three medications a day. I always get anxious right before her cardiology appointments, though, so I know the jitters will return! In the meantime, Clare is doing well.