Things got really busy after my sister Pam left town. The next day (April 2), David--pictured in what we call the Purple Haze underground tunnel at the airport in Detroit--and I flew to MinneSOta and returned home Sunday night (April 5). I spent the next two-and-a-half days recovering and doing spring cleaning because Steve's parents hit town Wednesday (April 8) and are staying here with us through Monday (April 13).
I met my friend Renee Thursday night, who kindly whisked David off to St. Cloud, where we lived for two cold, but awesome years. I had a quiet night at a very nice hotel with everything from lavender spray for the linens to guarantee a good-night sleep to a white noise CD and a Select Comfort bed--my sleep number is 35 by the way. I slept so well that I almost believe the advertising!
David spent Friday kicking back with his friend Stuart (Renee's son), while Renee, Lisa (another St. Cloud friend), and I attended the MACHE conference, where I made two Charlotte Mason presentations. How did a gal from Carolina end up in MinneSOta? Well . . .
At last June's Charlotte Mason conference, I met a lovely couple from Minnesota who had asked me to speak at the Mache conference: one topic for general audiences on Charlotte Mason and the other topic for special needs parents. I ended up condensing what I presented at last years' CM Conference into two presentations:
The Transforming Power of Relationships and Ideas – Learn how to individualize teaching for your "individual" child through Charlotte Mason’s ideas on narration, thought-life, changing thoughts, fostering problem solving, warm relationships, and imagination. It will include slice-of-life examples drawn from teaching her own typical and atypical children on subjects such as handwriting, language arts, mathematics, art, and life skills. (Excellent for parents of children who struggle to learn.) Handouts are available, and audio should be already available soon (MACHE 2009 St. Paul). Video clips used are as follows:
Talking about Glue
The First Lord's Prayer
The Second Lord's Prayer
Goofy Girl Narrates
My Child Is a Person, Not a Disability – Learn how to provide the child with special needs with the right amount of support – without smothering him – by adapting to his developmental level, building mutual trust, framing real-life activities around objectives, and tweaking the amount of support. It will expand Charlotte Mason’s ideas from the previous workshop for parents with special kids. Handouts are available, and audio should be already available soon (MACHE 2009 St. Paul). Video clips used are as follows:
The folks at MACHE were kind enough to schedule both of my presentations on Friday, freeing me up to spend Friday night through Sunday morning in St. Cloud. David and I spent the evening with Eileen and her husband Tom. Unfortunately, the greasy lunch I ate at a landmark spot in St. Paul (Mickey's Diner) did not sit well with me! On the drive to St. Cloud, a killer headache and nausea descended upon me. I could hardly tolerate the crackers and juice Eileen offered me as we caught up on our lives. I figured a good night sleep would restore me back to health. DID NOT! Eileen invited me on a quick trip to the brand new Coburns and I thought I would be okay. WAS NOT. I could barely keep up with her when I suddenly felt flush and dizzy and headed to the front of the store in case I needed a fast exit. When we got back to her place, I sat down on the couch and leaned my head back. Suddenly, a tsunami of nausea hit me, and I ran to the bathroom. It was awful and awesome at the same time. As soon as I hurled, I felt like myself again and managed to choke down a piece of dry toast and Advil. All systems were normal for the rest of the day!
David and I met our friends Heidi and Maxim at the brand-spanking new Great River Regional Library. Heidi gave us the grand tour, and we were very impressed with the coffee shop, the book sorting machine, and the used bookstore. The children's section is larger than the library we have in our rural town in Carolina! The elevator and multiple meeting rooms (with jam-packed schedules) are see-through. We recognized some familiar faces from the many days we spent at the old library, which is nothing but a shell, waiting to be demolished during Minnesota's construction season.
Then, we headed over to the deli where Heidi's daughter works and ate a delicious lunch--my first real meal in over twenty-four hours! Another family of friends showed up and David and I basked in the joy of friendship. We got all caught up on the goings on in St. Cloud before we headed off to to take pictures of our favorite haunts for Pamela. The road construction was absolutely AWFUL--especially the bridge that Minnesota shut down after their whirlwind inspection tour after the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis fell in 2007.
David and I headed back to Renee's Saturday night and spent the evening hanging out with her family. Several things surprised me about St. Cloud. I thought I would be colder, which leads me to conclude that surviving a cold winter in a poorly insulated house is not much different from living in Minnesota! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed meandering conversations with people who read books (I came home with a book on Chesterton), feed birds in their yard, walk everywhere, talk about their faith, etc. Everything looked dull and brown, compared to the glorious colors of the dogwoods, azaleas, wisteria, daffodils, irises, and other things blooming where we live right now.
I showed two of my friends recent video of Pamela, and they helped me understand how far she has come in the past four years! One friend told me the thing she remembered most vividly about Pamela was how she got in these perseverative conversations, and my friend had no idea what she was talking about. It was really hard to engage with her. She saw the videos and marveled at how the stim talk is nearly gone and how well Pamela engages with us, especially the referencing and joint attention. My other friend was ticked to death at all of Pamela's newfound facial expressions and gestures. She could not believe how much Pamela has improved in her ability to communicate through nonverbals!
Overall, we had a blast in MinneSOta! If it weren't so cold there, I would move back in a heartbeat!