Big Bag O' Blogging

Welcome to the blogging equivalent of a giant, mysterious, brown paper grab bag (you know, the kind you used to get at birthday parties or Chuck E Cheese or the dentist) - everything in here but the kitchen sink.  I may even post a picture of my kitchen sink - just so I can set some sort of record for covering literally everything in one post.   So grab a nice big cup of coffee (as long as I can't smell it from here), and get excited.  Awaiting you in this post is: -An update on Madeline's school situation (the sequel to the Talladega post)

-A video of Madeline getting her groove on.

-Much laughter.

-Many tears.

-Many pictures.

-Many links.

-Much merriment.

In fact, lets use that little list as our outline, shall we?

"AN UPDATE ON MADELINE'S SCHOOL SITUATION (THE SEQUEL TO THE TALLADEGA POST)."

(I sincerely hope that as you read that, you heard me saying it all loud and deep and authoritative, like Brian Williams.)

Well, wow.  That Talladega post got more attention than anything else I've posted here, ever.  And the flood of comments/facebook messages/emails was beautiful.  Thanks to everyone for your encouragement, support, advice, prayers, and insight!  Here's the latest.  We have temporarily ruled out Talladega - big bummer, but it is simply too far.  We can't do 5.5 hours in the car every day - unfair to Madeline, to Dan, to baby-on-the-way, and to our budget.  However, we will be working closely with them as we continue to develop Madeline's IEP.  They are gracious and have a burden/calling/passion to help blind children - even children that live far away.  We've already consulted with some folks and I'm sure there's more to come.  Go team.

SO - we are trying to meet Madeline's specific needs by stitching together two programs.  Ideally, Madeline will attend a typical preschool in the mornings - with her sighted peers.  We will adapt the classroom, provide braille, but the main purpose of this time is socialization, learning a classroom setting, and finding friends and play-models.   Then in the afternoon, Madeline will go to the ECSE preschool program at another school (just minutes down the road).  The children in this classroom have varied degrees of special needs - but because this is the case, the teachers are STELLAR.  They have a much lower student/teacher ratio, the teachers know each individuals IEP, and their curriculum is centered around meeting each child's needs and goals.

Dan read a study a few weeks back that concluded that the most influential factor in a child's education is the teacher.  That children do better in an average school with a great teacher than a great school with an average teacher.  Makes sense, huh?  This one measly study certainly wasn't pivotal in our decision-making, but it did give us an extra little umph of confidence and peace - that even though this situation seemed far from ideal in the beginning, that Madeline will be in excellent hands this year- and placing her there is the best thing we can do for her education right now.

The lead teacher in the ECSE classroom has given us more advice, more help, and more encouragement than any other person we've encountered in Alabama - even when it looked like Madeline wouldn't be enrolling in her class.  She walked us through testing, finding curriculum, the IEP.  She is FANTASTIC at her job, and we know that Madeline will receive a very hands-on, multi-sensory education, plus reinforcement of braille in this particular classroom that she wouldn't receive if she went to the other school exclusively (and that we wouldn't be able to give her at home).

The only other major kink to work out is tuition - as the first (typical) school isn't free.  After visiting both schools we know that both are excellent, but just one won't do.  As great as the ECSE program is - we feel very strongly that Madeline NEEDS time in a typical preschool setting, around sighted peers.

So - if any of you know a way that I could get paid for my mad PB&J making skills, the ability to gain weight at a break-neck pace, or writing, let me know, as those are the things I am doing these days.  Also, I secretly deep down in my heart want to be a church secretary, for what it's worth.

"A VIDEO OF MADELINE GETTING HER GROOVE ON"

All these meetings and emails and phone calls and nights of lying awake worrying about IEPs and FOR WHAT!?!?

For her.  And we'd do it a million times over.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSwpBWm2AAE[/youtube]

"No control of my body" - such an appropriate lyric, no?  And don't you love the bed-head?  Won't she be SO GLAD that I've immortalized this moment on video when she's 16?  I think so too.

"MUCH LAUGHTER"

The last three paragraphs made me cry with laughter.  And this week when Dan asked me "what I did today," I yelled, "I'M GOING TO GET THE PEANUT BUTTER FOR YOU."   (Read it here.)

"MANY TEARS"

I vowed to myself that I would under no circumstances watch American Idol this year.  Last night I broke said vow, so I suppose it serves me right that I ended up sobbing uncontrollably.

(You can watch the clip here.  If you don't cry you are dead inside.)

I was sobbing like a pregnant woman with absolutely no control over her hormones or emotions who was foolish enough to be watching emotionally charged television.  I was also eating (crying into) chocolate ice cream, if that helps to complete your mental picture.

"MANY PICTURES"

So I didn't get around to writing any more about our trip to North Carolina, but I think three posts are more than enough - the rest can be told in pictures.

"MANY LINKS"

My cousin, Brooke, started a new personal blog.  It is brimming with creativity and color and inspiration and design wonderfulness.  If you like pretty things, you will like it.  Promise.  (Visit Tiny Anchors!)

Also, I would welcome any of the Valentines day cards/gifts she recommends here and here.

When I achieve my dream of becoming a church secretary (you thought I was kidding?) I will be ordering all manner of sticky notes from these people.  Wit!  Typography! Color! Organization!   (Love them here.)

The bit about Jay Cutlers hat makes me giggle every time.  So sad.  (View the patheticness here.)

"MUCH MERRIMENT"

Just catching you up on a few things:

1. The orchid that I have been nurturing?  It died.

It survived all of my stupidity and neglect and bad water math - what it did not survive was a week without heat in our house.  You know the week we had all that snow?  Yeah, our heater wasn't working during that time.  Like, even a little bit.  A wonderful, sainted man from our church had to come out during day 5 of the snow and install a new unit because ours was totally unsalvagable.  But after 5 days of 20° weather and nights in the single digits, our house felt like a meat locker - which was not to the liking of my little plant.

We survived by space heaters, and I baked all day long.  Dan received more hot meals that week than the whole first year of our marriage; I kept the oven at 400° at all times.  And the dryer - I fluffed a lot of sheets.

Okay - so that's not much merriment.  In fact it's not much of anything.  Because I'm done.

So there you go - a post about everything but the kitchen sink, the purpose of which is to make up for 2 months of blogging stricken by morning sickness.  See you soon!