Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Hiking with Kids!

I've been volunteering with the Metroparks again this spring. For alleged fiscal reasons, they fired half a dozen part-time naturalists. These good folks picked up most of the weekend events, so the full-time permanent staff could cover weekday events, like school groups. While I'm totally aghast and ticked about the action, I also fully believe that the importance of getting kids out into the field is more important that the ridiculous political goings-on of the current park administration. And so, I offer up my talents.

Today, I had the chance to take a dozen energetic first graders from Hiawatha Elementary School out for a romp in the Oaks. They were fun and lively and very very well behaved! Great group! They have perfected their chick-a-dee-dee-dee calls! And they were soooo quiet when we were listening for frogs. What a delightful way to spend the morning.

My group with Madison Wolf, Lamar Bear, and Hayden Bison.
Inspecting a salamander. Cool!
School chaperone who was up close and personal with the salamander. Great find!

The Furries with a new friend! A Timberwolf from Hiawatha Elementary!

Hayden, Madison, and Lamar wishing someone would share lunch with them. Or in the case of Lamar, that someone would be lunch!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fingerprints! I Now Have Some!

It only took the fibbies 7 tries to read my fingerprints and it seems they have succeeded. At least I'm cleared to begin work. . . I'll double check to see if they were readable or if I was adjudicated out of hand again. At any rate, I'm cleared for take off!

I've painted the inside of the cargo trailer--for no other reason than it's prettier. Sheesh. It's just nicer to be shoveling junk in there. Even Madison Wolf, Hayden Bison, and Lamar Bear like it better than the unpainted version. I put the carpet back in, am gathering stuff like lawn chairs and some other goodies. Tomorrow after school, I'll have DD start bringing the boxes up from the basement.

I've put the sewing goodies under covers for the summer, which was hard to do after visiting the Sauder Village Quilt Show this morning. Holy cow, there was some drop dead incredible stuff. I might go crazy next year and enter something just to say I've entered something. One of my friends won a ribbon in the challenge division. I'll look into that, too.

DD and I pull up stakes in 11 days. It's crunch time, but the things that are left are the hardest. My office box is always out of control, as it is again this year. Packing my clothes will be easy as will DD's but FTD and DH need at least 3 more weeks of clothes here, but DH wants me to take his summer duds with me. That will be a good trick, since FTD doesn't have enough clothes to make that happen. DH does, but he always over packs clothes no matter what. And we need to decide what camping gear to take. We either take too much and don't use it, or none and wish we did. There's not much middle ground here.

Speaking of the boys, we had FTD's final IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meeting with the Anthony Wayne Schools today. Thank God. It has been a brutal process. I've only heard of one family anywhere who has had smooth sailing through the whole deal. Only one. There's something very wrong with the system still. DD's is next week and that will be much nicer.

FTD will get to walk across the stage for his 'social graduation.' Had AW done their job properly, he'd have enough credits to actually graduate, but they figure kids with special needs don't belong in the AW building, so they don't bother. I've been harsh on the district before and now that we're nearly done with them, I'm not feeling anymore charitable towards them.

But the saddest part of the whole mess is that even after getting job training at the vocation HS for the next 2 years, my kids will probably only be employable in sheltered workshops. The job market totally sucks for able bodied, able minded people--what chance do my kids have?

Did I ever mention that grieving is an on-going part of being a parent of kids with special needs?

The up side is that we're hoping the boys can get seasonal employment in the hospitality industry where ever I work. Cross your fingers. And come on over and help pack the trailer!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Countdown Time!

With fewer than three weeks to go, I can really start counting down. Of course, it may be for naught, since I haven't heard about my fingerprints yet, but we'll hope for the best.

I picked up nearly all the kitchen/bath non-perishables today. Just a couple more things to get yet--like TP which will hopefully go on sale soon. Stocking two kitchens is one of those interesting juggling jobs. Trying to guess how much of this or that to take always taxes my puny grey cells. But from today--3 weeks before we head out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Packing Up, Not Quite Heading Out

It's that time of year! Hooray! I'm counting the days--less than a month until we head back out west. I indulged in some pre-packing this weekend. I did the linens a while back, so I took on the kitchen gear this time.

Packing to go west isn't too bad. There are a few clothing issues (which I could easily solve by just saying "This pile is my out west clothes and this pile is my at home clothes). But I have several favorites that I like for both places. There aren't too many cross-pollinated things, not being a clothes horse, but still more than I like to admit. And I only have one winter coat and I need that in both places. I suppose I could go hit the Good Will to find an out west coat. . . . hmmm.

Linens aren't too much of a problem. This year we're going to try a little foam pad deal that supposedly turns two twins into a king size bed. Three of our four years on the road we hauled out Select Comfort mattress with us and put in on two twins. Worked pretty nicely. It doesn't pack down really small, but smaller than a real king mattress would. One year, we decided to use the double bed that was provided. We barely slept a wink all summer. When you've had a king bed for 25 years, and your girth has significantly expanded in said time, well. . . . This year, since DH will only be out west for about 6 or 7 weeks, we're going to try another route. I'm hoping the beds didn't get moved out of our apartment. We had to do some fancy footwork to get 4 twin bed frames, springs, and mattress last year. We'll see. I'll have plenty of time to round them back up if I need to this year.

The real packing challenge comes with kitchen gear. I've accumulated almost enough stuff for the summer kitchen. DH has a couple of favorite pans, and I have a favorite pot, so I guess I'll take the pot, and he gets to keep the pan until he comes out. We really don't need the pan at home, because I've completed my Calphalon set here (Dang, I'm a savvy shopper--I've never had to pay full price for the stuff! And I think it's still made here in Toledo. Cool.) I'd like to keep it in the kitchen box, but he likes to use it here, so we lug it back and forth. There are a couple of other goodies like that--Pyrex dish in a warming carrier, good apple slicer, margarita cooler. And going out I can pack up all the stuff and still eat. Not the case coming home. Meal planning is an art when it's time to come home, especially since the nearest restaurant is 14 miles away. So I have to plan food we can eat without using real tableware, pots, pans, or microwave. Yea. Cereal it is for the last 2 days in the park.

Here's my packing tip for getting food on the way out. I stock up on all the basics here--flour, sugar, cereal, pasta, etc.. But I also take 2 empty coolers with us. When we get to Livingston or Bozeman, we hit the grocery and stock up on frozen and refrigerated stuff and get as much into the coolers as possible.

When we arrive at the apartment, Job One is put a frozen pumpkin pie in the oven, which means I need to get to a cooking sheet. I use the pizza pan for that. The apartment smells like home again in no time at all. Job Two is get the beds made. That of course means the linens have to be in the back of the cargo trailer, which works out nicely. The next day, the pizza pan is ready to pop pizza in the oven and we're really home.

This is the theory. . . it worked quite well last year, let's see how it plays out in real life!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In My Spare Time

As if I don't have enough to do, I'm re-upping with the Girl Scouts. I loved my 7 years of Scouting as a kid, and my 3 years as a Scout professional. Now I'm playing with the Green Hat Society and getting ready to become a trainer again.

I sort of have some concerns about where Girl Scouting is headed. There is no emphasis on "troop team building" which could be a good thing for some girls, but I think we're missing a huge opportunity for most girls. I've always said that we might accidentally put ourselves out of business by teaching girls that they CAN be doctors, lawyers, rangers, pipe fitters, journalists, and astronauts, among many other things. And now that women are, they don't have time to be Scout leaders. Drat!!

So that begs the question why do Dads have time to be Cub and Boy Scout leaders and Moms don't have time to be Girl Scout Leaders? Studies show that even though women are working the same numbers of hours as men, they are still doing most of the housework. Trust me, it's hard work running a household. And it's work for which we do not get paid, nor can we count it towards our retirement benefits. Did I mention that it's WORK?

So, my gentle men friends, pitch in! Do the dishes without being asked! (By the by, 'doing the dishes' also means clean the kitchen up.) Do the laundry! (My Dad always did the laundry. It reached the point that he wouldn't let my Mom because he didn't like the way she folded stuff. My parents were soooooo cool.) Yeah, yeah, I hear ya whining that you do the mowing and shoveling of snow, but that ain't nuthin' compared to the daily needs of a household. Grab that broom, bro! Come on--the young women of this county need for you to pick up the slack. They need time outside just as much as boys do. They need to learn what it means to be decent, hardworking, giving young ladies. They need the support the Elder Aunties of the Tribe have for them and they need the time it takes to learn the lessons.

The Boy Scouts are celebrating their 100th anniversary even as we speak. The Girl Scouts will celebrate our centennial in 2012. Expect this Scout to be there every fun filled step of the way.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Project: Finished!

We've put the finishing touches on FTD's 'new' room! Hooray! And it looks just grand. Pictures and posters are back up, curtains back up, new lights, the whole works. Man oh man does it feel good to have this one under our belts. DD's room doesn't need much, so unless I get a wild hair next fall, we're done painting for a good long while. (The wild hair might be a new coat of paint in the dining room with it's 17' tall walls. . . . Scary scaffolding would be involved. . . . any takers?)

Here 'tis:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Perfect Weather

Today was the day. Utterly, completely fantastic weather. We don't get them like this very often in Ohio, so we savored it.

Every window in the house is open and it's nearly 10 p.m.. It was the kind of day where curtains fluttered in the windows, and gentle sunshine poured into every nook and cranny of the house. I actually spent most of the day cleaning (still in the process of bleaching every surface I can think of, as FTD is still sick). But even those chores are tolerable when the breeze is warm and gentle, and the sun warm and well, sunny.

It was truly a day to savor.