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Monday, February 23, 2015


We had an amazing week last week and finished it up with an amazing weekend.  Carolyn only went to school 2 days last week, due to scheduled days off and then super cold (-6 before windchill!!) one day.  That one day was really great too.  We read a story and did follow-up activities, played a math game, played Sorry (kids' request), and then Carolyn did dreambox while I did James' usual preschool work.  Carolyn read 2-3 books that day as well, loving the freedom to sit lounge in her chair/on the couch/in her bed and read whatever she wanted.  She finished the day with a great effort at gymnastics.  On Saturday Carolyn attended her first chess tournament.  She did fantastic, winning 2 games and agreeing to a draw on a third (in which she was winning, she's too nice).  We were so proud of how she was able to concentrate in a gym filled with other kids.  She enjoyed some coaching from her chess teacher in between games, read a little and did some coloring.  We could tell she was mentally exhausted at the end of the day.  She sang at church that night, attended Sunday school in the morning, and basketball Sunday afternoon.  We hung out the rest of Sunday, reading together as a family and just enjoying being together.

At the end of dinner Sunday night is when heartache started to set in for me.  Jon reminded Carolyn she would need to make her lunch for school.  She went from smiling to a complete sullen look.  Jon suggested she was just tired after a busy weekend, she told me a few minutes later that she is just bored at school.  After preparations were done she played on dreambox for a bit while James was in the shower.  She craves learning at her just right level and soaks in all coaching she receives.

The next round of heartache was this morning.  I received an email from her teacher informing all the volunteers that we are no longer needed.  I knew it was coming, but didn't anticipate it so soon.  There are multiple reasons this email saddened me.  Beyond the fact that it means more time will spent on math and thus more time each day wasted for Carolyn, the response from Carolyn when I told her was the worst part.  I could tell that she was trying hard to not let any tears form.  In an attempt to not cry, she got angry, stating out loud that she doesn't understand why her teacher would do this.  She loves having me at school, she knows it's a portion of her day when the pressure is off and she can just sit and read.  And now that time is being replaced with extra math, one of the worst parts of her day at the moment.  I wasn't even sure what to say to her.  But it was really hard to bundle her up and put her on the bus this morning.

We received a response from the gifted coordinator last Thursday.  She spelled Carolyn's name wrong throughout the entire email.  I wanted to write a short response informing her that the email must have gone to the wrong parent.  How else can a professional explain repeatedly inserting the wrong name?  What's more, she didn't offer any solutions.  She offered several options for after school, clearly most were not well researched.  One option is the NU CTD she is already involved in.  She asked us what we want Carolyn to have access to at school.  Um, is that what she should be doing, letting us know what the options even are?  It's Monday night and we haven't received a response back.  If it takes a week again I'm going to get angry.  More time continues to be wasted, more time where Carolyn's view of school deteriorates,  Today she informed me that science is boring - I couldn't believe my ears.  The little girl who came home from her class on blood and bones this summer beaming?  The one who wants to know everything about the world around her... science is boring?  I talked to her about some activities we can do over spring break.  Now I'm thinking we might do one on Saturday morning if I can gather the materials in time.  I have to save her interest, I can't let school kill it.  Science is SO much more than reading books!

God is in control here, I just wish I could see the plan.  My heart is breaking a little more each day though with how it seems school is impacting Carolyn.  I feel helpless and don't know what else to do.  I know it will all work out, I just wish it would do so faster!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Another new normal

This was one crazy week.  Sunday we had one of the top 5 blizzards ever in Chicago, so my birthday plans were scrambled.  And Sunday night the week took a difficult turn, with news that my Grandfather was likely in his final 24 hours.  I didn't sleep much that night, waiting for the phone to ring with either news about my grandfather or that school was canceled.  At 5am the news about school being canceled came.  So I turned off my alarm and tried to get some sleep.  We had an okay day Monday, the kids enjoyed playing in the snow and we took our first ever trip to a sledding hill.  What else is there to do with powdery snow?  They had a blast and we had to bring them home for dinner before any complaints of being cold even started.

I decided to head for bed early Monday, falling asleep well before 9pm.  Around 9:30 I awoke to what I thought was my cell phone.  Only half awake, I couldn't remember where I had placed it and then it stopped ringing.  But then the house phone rang.  When I saw Dave's number, I knew what news was coming.  He let me know that Grandpa was finally in peace.  I like to envision a party up in heaven as he joined my mom and grandma, as well as his parents and brother-in-law.  Dave and I spoke briefly, both of us being weary from the past 24 hours.  I tried to go back to sleep but my mind raced.  About 10 my sister called to see how I was doing.  We both agreed the feelings were mixed, with a sadness that he's no longer there to talk to, but happy that he's no longer uncomfortable.

Sleep would be elusive for the rest of the week, as we also continue our battle with the school regarding Carolyn.  I will miss my grandfather greatly.  I am so glad we went out to Colorado this summer to give the kids more memories of their great grandfather.  I am so glad we have many items around the house that are memories of him, made by his hands.  These things will forever be treasured.  I have been looking at his picture nightly that sits in our bedroom, a picture of him "young" in my mind, blue work shirt that he seemed to always wear.  I can still picture him working in our garage, whistling as he made new folding tables, footstools, or other wood projects.  I hope we can pass on some of those skills to our children as they grow older.  I made coffee cake in honor of all the times he would stop at the Entemann's store and being us 2-3 boxes yesterday.  I am so glad to have so many memories of such a wonderful man.

We have had many times of a new normal in the past 6 months, and now we enter into another new normal.  This one with a little sadness in our hearts that will heal with time.  And during this time of sadness we'll try to remember all the wonderful memories we made with a wonderful man.  I'll never forget how he seemed to constantly tell us how terrible the world has become, how things were better when he was a kid.  As I get older I wonder if that is what everyone says.  It does seem that a lot of our "improvements" only seem to make life more difficult.  We're all weathering this well though, it's hard to remain sad for too long when someone lives for nearly 97 years.  What an amazing life he lived.  I wish I could have been up in heaven with him to see the party they had in his honor.  He will be missed here and I look forward to seeing him again (although hopefully not for many years).