Sunday, February 28, 2010

Updated Links I Like

I had a couple of minutes today for maintenance and repairs on the blog. Yikes!!! Glaring error on the link for RareBird! It's fixed now. If you're planning a trip to NW Ohio and birding is on your agenda, check with RareBird first. I've also added several links to other NW Ohio birding stuff. Seriously, this area is one of the "must go birding there" places on the continent.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Too Early to Pack?

Yes, Ranger Anna, mid-February is too early to pack for YNP. I had to stop myself from buying food staples the other day. I did pick up a shelf thingie for the bathroom in the apartment and put it in our cargo trailer for safekeeping.

We sort of have a plan for this summer. Being a seasonal ranger with kids who are still in school is on the unusual side, especially when school and park are 1700 miles apart. If our kids were typically developing, it might maybe be easier. But not by much. In the past, when we went to TR and Acadia, we just pulled the kids from school early and went back late. We figured if the truant officer wanted us, they knew exactly where to find us. Because of the kids' disabilities, they don't attend 'regular' classes per se. Our philosophy is that the kids can learn more tooling around the country than sitting in a boring classroom. Yet dragging kids with autism all over the place runs the risk of messing with their need for routine. Fortunately, very fortunately, for us, this type of disruption to schedules is well tolerated by the boys. I don't know if it's because we resisted tight schedules and rituals, or if they just don't have a propensity for it. School districts, however, want everyone and everything to be on one schedule--theirs. Tough tookies for them.

This year, FTD will 'graduate' from HS. He has more than enough credits to actually graduate, but if he isn't a full-time student, he looses DH's insurance. Medicaid will cover him (as long as he doesn't have more than $1500 in his bank account on the first of every month) and for that we are thankful, but we would still rather he be on our insurance. He'll attend the local vocational HS for hopefully two years. He'll age out then. They have a program for kids with special needs, helping them to acquire skills needed in the world of work.

Since it involves changing schools and learning new routines, we're fairly sure he should be there in the fall. Make that, in the summer. School starts on August 15, which should be criminal for a district that purports not to be a year round school.

DH and FTD will stay in Ohio, while DD and I drive out to work. DD will only miss three, maybe four weeks of school. His teacher sends packets along for him to work on. And I make him take care of the budget, miles traveled, etc.. It looks like he and I will fly back to Ohio a couple of days before graduation.

Then a couple of days after graduation, FTD and I will fly back out. DH will either drive out or fly out with us. We're still working out the issue of one or two cars. We've always taken two before, so the boys could go play while I go to work. I've never had access to a company car to get me to and from the office. At YNP, I can walk to the Madison Station and a car is theoretically available to drive to West. But if we don't get 3 cars for the crew, there might not be one available--maybe. One of the other rangers and his volunteer wife work with only one car, also. Last summer, he usually had dibs. But if DH and FTD need to make a run for something, and two of us rangers need to get to West at different times. . . well, it could get dicey. I'd love to get a scooter instead! We'll see.

But wait there's more! In order for this to work, we have to find someone to stay with DD here in Ohio. He can attend the day program at Bittersweet Farms, a nationally renown community for folks with autism. Best news is that it's just a couple of miles from us. We've got interviews with a couple of fellows, so that's looking promising. The apartment out west is just too small for two boys with such different needs. DD is the center of the universe (just ask him) and having to share a tiny bedroom, which was designed for one person, is tough. He also has issues dealing with both DH and I at the same time. We send subtle and different signals, being, well you know, parents~~ and he has trouble reading reading them. That makes him confused and angry. He takes that frustration out on FTD usually. And as DD would say, that no good.

And he'll go to the vocational HS next year also. Hopefully, he'll be there for four years. Keeping him interested for that long will be a good trick. If he stays home he can start at the new HS with no problems--except for the fact that sometime this summer, I also need to become his legal guardian. I might need to fly home for two trips this summer. I so wish the boys could just both come out and spend the entire time with DH and I. Makes me go back to thinking we either need to look to buy/rent/lease a place in West or just haul them out of school and not worry about full time jobs for them. Or I have to get a real job. Not. I did apply at CUVA, since our YNP jobs weren't posted for so long. I suppose if I got a GS-7 over there, we could make it work. Or a GS-5 or 7 at Perry's Victory. But that is unlikely to happen, since the tower will be closed this summer for repairs. Drat.

All this makes my head hurt. Too much thinking! Way too much worrying. Tomorrow, I'm going back to thinking about silly things.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ups and Downs, au deaux

The past several weeks have had ups and downs. But today, I introduce our newest "UP!"

Draven Gage Veal (yep that's his real name) finally made an appearance. All 10 pounds, 7 ounces of him. He sprang into the doctor's arms using his 22 inches of springy babyness. My niece is just barely my height, so the docs decided a c-section would be safer for both Mama and Baby. I hope the little guy and his family can get settled and squared away quickly. Let's see, this makes Great-kid #17.

And I get to cross some goodies off my UFO list--curtains for all the windows in Draven's house, and a couple more big baby blankets--done.

Back to School
I've been involved with a grad class this semester, offered by BGSU. There are 20 students in the class who hope to be special educators or school psychologists in the near future. And there are 10 of us parents who are 'embedded' in the program. The idea is to be sure these future educators really get what the difficulties are that we families face every day. I got to tell our story last week. The only way I could sort out what we've been through was to turn to my friend PowerPoint for help. DH and I worked and worked to try to remember which school the kids went to in what year. They've been shuffled and shucked around so much and for what? Going down this road again has been tough. And then we get a letter from the State Board of Ed, saying that our district has been selected for a review of the Special Ed program. We were invited to attended a meeting and if we wished, we could make remarks. Now, I give public programs for a living. Doesn't bother me to stand up in front of hundreds of people and talk. But I was shaking so hard when I gave my remarks that I must have sounded like a complete loser. But when my Mama Bear genes kicked in, I was completely overtaken by emotion. And so very sadly, many, many of the same grievances we had 15 years ago are still happening. Can't this school district learn anything from past lessons? So now I have to prepare written remarks to submit, then it's time to re-convene the Parents of Students with Special Needs group that we started way back when. Back to the trenches for me, I guess.

Back to Work
And to end on an UP note, I got my request to re-up at Madison Junction! Hooray! I'll be happy to see my fingerprint cards get here, so we can get that out of the way.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hearts for Haiti by BadAmyKnits

My lovely daughter, Betty Beehive, has donated a really cool bag for "Hearts for Haiti" on Etsy. (

She visited there when she was 19, on a mission trip. An eye opening experience for all of us. So check out her store on Etsy and her blog (via my blog list).

Here on the home front, it's been a day to run the washer full-bore all day. Sheets, blankets, curtains, whatever all needed the proverbial mid-winter deep cleaning. After all this, I decided to treat myself to a beautiful few minutes in our living room. Lots of folks have the feeling of walking into a chapel, and today with the sun streaming through the windows I felt the same. Then the practical Scotswoman in me took hold and decided the windows needed to be washed to fully appreciate the fabulous and unusual sunshine. Alas, only 3 panes were cleaned in and out and 3 just inside, but even that is pretty dang sweet. Now I'm going to go back there and enjoy the thin, simple light of a February sunset.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adding to the UFO stack

Since the basement finishing had been moving along so nicely, I decided I could actually add to my stash--given that I now have a place for stash. I've picked up a few more fat quarters, always in parkie colors, and a few new accouterments that I've never had before. Then DH, so inspired by his work up to this time, decided to continue to forge onward and inward--to his man-cave. In order to use his man-cave he needs electricity and to do that it meant moving everything all over the basement again. So while the crafty corner is still there, there's also sawdust everywhere, wires running willier and nillier than before, and the boys put all their video game stuff down there. That junk alone has enough cable to arm a small fortress in wires and junk. The upshot is, no sewing for me for a while--and all that material crying out to me!

And still no job posting!!!! Yikes!!!! Let me see, at this rate, if my job isn't posted quickly, I won't be able to get my fingerprints rejected in time to start work in mid-May. Holy cow. As soon as I see the notice, I'll call and try to get my print cards sent out. What a hoot.

Speaking of hoots, I'm going to be a volunteer 'program presenter' for the Mparks. Most of the part-time formerly-known-as-naturalists were fired (while no one at the top of the food chain was, which totally sucks), so there's a definite shortage of trained formerly-known-as-naturalists available. And here's the big surprise, after I get my local-hokey background check, I can start right away. I don't have to take the training classes. Amazing. I guess working for the Big Boys does help sometimes. And DH is going to go back on the Volunteer Trail Patrol. He was kicked off the year we were in North Dakota because he didn't get enough hours logged in. And the alleged-person who was running the show then wouldn't count his 400+ hours with NPS. Sheesh. Our conviction that folks should get out and be in the parks is just too strong to let silly little things like that get in the way. A little thing like running the park for 30 years. . . . . and then being kicked out as a volunteer.

In other news, niece #2 hasn't dropped her kid yet. They are guessing the little beast is weighing in at over 8 lbs. already. This is daughter #2 of my sister. My sister's first two kids weighed 9-3, and 10-4. (That kid came out as a toddler. We affectionately called him Porkchop.) They've got a name picked out and since they won't tell us, I'm guessing it's on the weird side of the road.

Maybe I'll be able to get to that wonderful stack 'o stash tomorrow. Bliss.