Saturday, December 18, 2010

Big K Ranch & Murder Mystery Dinner

Every day on my way to work, I listen to the AM radio news station, because the FM cuts out pretty soon after leaving Roseburg (mountains & stuff).  They do a contest every week called "Know Your News."  If you email in the topic they say everyday, you're entered into a chance to win something on Friday.  Usually it's dinner for two at a local restaurant.  THIS time, however, the Big K Ranch was hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner, and I think if they offer a prize they might get a discount on the advertising.  Anyway, I emailed every day, and Friday before last, while I was home prepping for Open House, the radio station called & I'd won!

I had driven past the sign for the Big K on Hwy 138 on the way to the coast many times.  I kind of knew where it was.  I got home from work a little early since it was the day before the break, and we waited for Connor to get home so we could go to Costco for fittings for new glasses for Connor & Diana.  I have my eye appointment today & I'll get glasses too.  Lee has a voucher for each of us that allows us all to get another pair for free (well, Connor is getting TWO pairs for $4.00).

We wound up leaving for the ranch around 4:45, which meant it was dark by the time we got to where it was.  It has a long, windy packed dirt road to get out there & it was DARK.  2,000 acres of ranch land with no lights till you reach the lodge!  It was an adventure!

Once we got there, it was obvious this is a really nice well-kept family-run place.  The cabins look like log cabins from the outside, but inside they are more like studio apartments.  There was no TV, but we had entertainment at the lodge anyway :)  Normally there's a game room in the lower level of the lodge with pool tables & arcade games, but the cast of the show was using that for their staging area.

I really want to go back.  Especially in the daytime so I can see the 8 miles of riverfront property.  They do boat floats & horseback riding and all kinds of ranchy stuff here.  They also do big brunches for special holidays like Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, etc.  They do package deals with the brunches so you can combine an overnight at the same time (although for us, we are close enough we could just do the brunch).  They also do corporate retreats, weddings, and family reunions.  The cabins are $129 - $179 depending on the season.  They do package deals that include meals.  And the cook was GOOD.  We had called ahead because of the vegetarian thing, and she'd made this wonderful portabello mushroom/spinach Greek thingamabob that was outstanding.

The Murder Mystery would have been $45 each, so we got this little romantic deal worth $230ish for free because I listen to the radio.  Good stuff!!!

The Big K Ranch, Elkton, OR  They have videos & stuff on this website, if you're interested.

Lee got a "role" as the mayor, although he didn't have to do much.   They had a lovely Portabello mushroom layered dish for us for dinner.  It was great!!
The cast of "Dead in the Sled - Ho, ho, ho.... Oh No!  It reminded me of the Birdcage Theater @ Knott's.
The murderess & her latin lover.
The cabin we got had a queen bed & hide-a-bed.  And a huge bathroom.
I think it's easier to photobomb a digital camera, because I really tried to avoid letting him do this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Open House

Donna & Jim, their friends the Sacketts, and Kraig & Nancy.
Diana & her crowd :)
Rocky & Melly by our tree (isn't it pretty?)
Lee's folks - Bill & Rita.  I'm so glad the weather cooperated so they could join us :)

Our Spread:  Spinach dip & sourdough, regular & cranberry salsa & strips, chips & onion dip, sliced apples (thanks Nancy), soft cheese & crackers, Trevor's fudge, Diana's Linzer & Gingerbread cookies, Connor's Juicy Lemon Cake, Rice Krispie Treats, Stollen & chocolate truffles.  There was also hot spiced cider, coffee, tea & hot chocolate.  YUM!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Still lots to do

I wish more readers of my blog could actually attend this little event...  Maybe after we retire?

I have an Open House again tomorrow.  This is our annual 'gift' to our friends & family to come & spend some time & snackies with us.  We invite pretty much everyone we know and can have 20-40 people show up.  The parking is a bit tricky, but people seem to come in waves so usually we don't block the street with cars all at once.

I have a plan I follow to get the house ready.  It's pretty thorough, and at the end, I have a clean house that lasts through Christmas.  All the decorating is done, and I can focus on my family after Open House is done.  I really like that part.

Today I still have an enormous of stuff to do - the living room is the only room that's actually "ready" right now.  But it looks really good :)  I'll be working mostly on the kitchen, my room & prepping food today.

Diana is home from college & Trevor is done with his finals too.  I have to remember to delegate stuff to them :)

I'm off to make their lists of what to do today, as well as mine!  Next blog entry should be photos from Open House :)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Violin Scholarship

Connor gets a little fixated on things, being the kid he is.

A while back, he assigned everyone in the family a color.  He also assigned the Holy Family colors, because, you know, they need to have them too.  He is green, and Trevor is red, by the way.  Trevor doesn't like being red - but that's how it goes :)

Once all the colors were assigned, Connor moved on to musical instruments.  We coached him to let the people who actually play a specific instrument to have that instrument assigned to them.  So I have guitar, and Diana has flute, etc.  Connor chose the violin for himself.

I think Lee & I have both posted in the past about Connor's enjoyment of classical music on YouTube, specifically Brahms, Bach and Beethoven.  Something about the "B's" - I don't know.  In any case, he especially loves pieces with violins.

This last year, he started doing choir at school as well (last year it was art).  He has an assistant with him in choir class who is very impressed with Connor's ability to learn notes & sing.  He did really well at his Fall Concert with the choir - better than I'd hoped.  It was great :)  What impressed the assistant was that Connor would sing the harmony, while the rest of the class sang the melody.  It's not that he knew the songs (we don't go around singing "Shenandoah" around here), he just read the notes and figured it out.  Because we explained this to Connor's teacher & aide, they realized he has a bit of a gift when it comes to music.

There's a local Arts Center here that likes to sponsor students in music, among other things.  Connor's assistant found out about a scholarship available to kids his age, and sent home the application form for Connor.  When I filled it out, I obviously made mention of Connor's autism, and then his love for classical music.  I never know how people will take in that information.  On the one hand, there are some pretty dang cool autistic savants in music.  On the other hand, he may have already gotten what he wanted out of violin, and is ready to move on.  It's really hard to tell.

One thing is for sure, though.  We were not intending to spend a lot of time & effort trying to teach him violin.  Neither Lee or I knows anything about it, and we don't know how well Connor would take to it.  We don't have a budget that includes music lessons or instruments at this time.

After we filled out the paperwork, Connor's choir teacher decided to loan Connor a violin.  Wow.  That's pretty brave :)  I'd been looking on craigslist for something that it wouldn't matter if it got ruined.  He has actually been very good about putting it away carefully.  He has no clue how to play it, but he likes trying to 'serenade' me when I take an afternoon nap (NOT helping!!!).

So today I got a letter from the Umpqua Valley Arts Association.  They have decided to award Connor $250 for lessons and the use of a violin!  It goes through his teacher, not us, so it's going to be set up and all we have to do is get him to & from lessons!  Wow!  I'm so excited for Connor just to see what will happen!

I really hope he can figure out & put together that holding his fingers in a specific position on the strings makes a specific sound with the bow.  Once he's got that part, I am anxious to see how far he can take it.

Too cool!!  Go Connor!

I'll keep you updated :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

The desserts kept in Myrna's bedroom.  Connor made two lemon meringue pies :)
We always called them Stuffing Balls - but Pretzel Dumplings might sound a little better...
Getting ready to say grace.
Myrna's busy kitchen with LOTS of food!
Myrna & Doug hosted Thanksgiving this year.  There were 30 of us in attendance.  Pop brought Mom to join us, and she did really well.  At the end of the evening, she said, "I love you" to Lee, which was unexpected & caught Pop, Lee & Myrna off-guard.  I guess since the Alzheimer's really took hold, she doesn't say that much anymore.

We met Jonathon's girlfriend Erin from Colorado, and Crystal turned 30 (which means Megan is also 30).  Brian also had his girlfriend from California (I can't recall her name at the moment, but she was very nice!).  Tony was there too, and he seems to be doing very well.  Trevor & Diana spent most of their time with Daniel, as usual.

Connor played a lot with Karrie & Shane's oldest & middle son.  They are rather rambunctious, and he had to hide from them now & then :)  He gets so far, and then it's too much :)

Besides the regular visiting & such, I kept tabs on Connor.  He loves the yard at this house, but it's pretty wide open, and I like to know where he is.  The cougar mounted on the wall was killed on the property, after all.  Connor's going to miss the house when it gets sold, but he's been very good about changes lately - including us missing the tree hunt this year.

Lee had to work at 5:00am yesterday (Black Friday) and he's also working today.  In the past we'd spend a couple of nights with someone in Medford and join in on the tree hunt on Saturday.  We are trying to figure out a different time to get our tree now.  There's a U-cut tree farm just outside of town.  They're more expensive than the $5 any-size tree tag to get from the mountains, but that doesn't count the cost of gas, food, etc. when you do that day trip.  And I'm not wanting us to go all alone to get a tree anyway.  Two years ago my co-worker & her husband were doing that, slid off the road & he had to trudge 12 miles to try to find help, while she stayed behind in their truck.  She wound up spending the night alone in the forest and burned the wood flooring and carpet of the truck to stay warm.  Eeek!  That was around the same time the Kim family got lost & Mr. Kim died of exposure trying to find help for his family :(

Anyway - there are plenty of places to get trees around town, even if we don't do the U-cut.  Connor is already more or less resigned to that.  However, we WILL have to take him up to the snow at some point for fun.  Probably some week day during the holiday break we'll go to the "Sno Park" and take him for that.

This coming Saturday I sign him up for Special Olympics Cross-Country Skiing anyway.  :)  I took the kids to see Tangled yesterday & Trevor & Diana will go see Harry Potter either today or tomorrow.  Then we have to get Diana back to Eugene & everyone goes back to school for two weeks (college) or three (Connor & me).

At least it warmed up & driving is safe again :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Prepping for Open House

Yes, I know it isn't even Thanksgiving yet, but I have to parcel out my weekends so I have everything done that I want done.  There was enough of a break in the weather today to allow me to rip out all the dead wild sweet pea stalks in my front planter.  I went out to put bark mulch around my baby hydrangea to hopefully protect its roots from frost.  I think I read that in a book somewhere.  Anyway, I still had some bark mulch and I had to clear the weeds out of the front planter before I could put it down.  I have a bunch of bulbs in there that will be fine poking up through that, but I'd prefer to not have to yank out a bunch of grass when the daffodils are blooming.

In any case, I went ahead and made up my little invites for Open House that I can pass out at work & stuff.  I won't do that until a couple of weeks before - it's on Sunday, December 12th this year, so I still have some time.  I'm also composing the Christmas letter so I don't wind up sending it in January as has happened a couple of times :(  We will take the family photo at Thanksgiving at Myrna's house.  Lee is working on the following Saturday, so we won't be able to do the mountain & tree one this year.  That's okay, I think it's been a few of those in a row again anyway.  I'll order the photo cards & should be able to get those out on time :)

I also worked on the menu for Open House today.  Usually we make everything pretty much, but dang - Costco sure has a lot of great pre-done stuff!  I have to see what the cost difference is.  Like I'd usually make the spinach dip, but the one at Costco looks pretty inexpensive.  After I add up the ingredients, if it's a push - I'm getting it at Costco!  I know the chips are cheaper there too.  I had Lee take a photo of the regular price at the store on the crackers the other night to see how they compare to Costco as well.  I'll be pricing things as I go & get the stuff I need to make my share of the Thanksgiving food - probably tomorrow.

Obviously, some things will be homemade still.  Trevor's fudge, Diana's (she hasn't decided yet), Connor's Rice Krispie treats, my Stollen.  Lee usually preps the veggies & dip, but he will probably be working through some of Open House.  We'll ask to have him be scheduled as early as possible - he never has Sunday off because it's time & a half.

The cleaning part is pretty much on schedule.  I am procrastinating on clearing the dressers in my room right now, but they'll be done by the weekend.  I'm working on some knitting & intend to do some sewing too.  The knitting is easiest, because I can work on it during my lunch break at school.  The sewing shouldn't take too long if it goes the way I hope (you never know).

As for Thanksgiving, at this point Lee has Wed-Thur-Fri off, but we're not sure that's right as Lee  has heard EVERYONE works Black Friday.  We will head down to Myrna's on Thursday, and we don't know yet if we have to drive home the same night, or if we might crash at Pop's and leave in the morning.  I'm not a fan of mountain passes in the dark with winter weather.  As I said, we will have to miss the tree hunt this year though.  I'm going to have to figure out a different time to get Connor up into the snow to play.  He's already looking forward to it.

Elephant Car Wash (my footage)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Video from German TV on the "Elefanten Car Wash"

My cousin, Heiner, contacted me today thru Facebook - he saw us on TV!  So here's the link :)

German TV station RTL Elephant Car Wash

Click the link!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Elephant Car Wash

Life is funny.  I was home on Friday because our school opted to use the day after Veterans Day for conferences.  Around noon or so I get a call from our neighbors who run the comic book shop downtown.  Our local drive-through style zoo is going to be featured on a German TV morning show.  They wanted to have a family do the "elephant car wash" so they can put that in the clip.  Wildlife Safari called the comic book shop, because they figured they'd know families.  Heh.  Comic book shops know kids who buy comics.  They don't know whole families that shop for comics together.  However, the folks running THIS shop are our neighbors, and they knew we'd done TV stuff before, so they called us.  I got the number of the guy in New York who was planning this out, and called him.  At first I looked at the wrong schedule & thought Lee could join us.  He actually had to work.  However, the fact that I can speak German was very exciting to the New York guy anyway.  So this morning, the boys & I drove out to Wildlife Safari for the elephant car wash :)
Dan, the manager at Wildlife Safari, with Silke, the German reporter.  
Alice the elephant flapped out her ears when spraying.
Lots of water in the trunk!!

Silke & Douglas the camera guy, interviewing the elephant handler.

Alice wipes the window with a sponge.  Connor thought this whole experience was great :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Connor's How to Make Juicy Lemon Cake

This was last Sunday :)  Sorry I couldn't figure out how to add music like Diana did.  Enjoy folks!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Bunch of Stuff

I have the day off today.  Connor had Friday off because our town did the inservice day then.  I'm working in a different town, and they chose to have their inservice day AFTER Halloween - which I actually thought was pretty smart :)

Anyway - I'm home today since I had no inservice to attend (yay), and trying to get stuff done that typically escapes me during the week.  My list grew to 18 items.  So far, I've gotten eight done.  I'm currently heating the iron to do Lee's shirts.

Granted, some of these things are fun (like dropping off a travel bug for geocaching), but others are pretty menial, like finishing the laundry.  Others just need time, like sorting out Connor's clothes he's outgrown.  Still others will be moved to tomorrow's list when they don't get accomplished today.

I have been productive - I got a document notarized, talked with Financial Aid about Trevor's account (they are very slow & he still hasn't gotten his award letter), and I did my physical therapy exercises twice of three times so far today.  I only have one laundry load left (but then I need to sort & fold - I may delegate that to Trevor after he reads his assignments).

I still have my Girl Scout Leader meeting tonight, and some sewing I'd like to get done, although I did get some things sewn yesterday afternoon, too.  It's a good day for this sort of thing; overcast & windy.  I'm not missing out on great weather by doing chores & running errands.

Iron's hot now, so off I go.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010 more

This was at school on Thursday - I had made this costume a LONG time ago for Diana at her request.  It was just stuck in a tub under the house for years, so I pulled it out to bring in to school.  I figured if one of the Jr. High kids didn't have a costume, I could give it to them.  Turns out one kiddo thought it was pretty dang cool, so he wore it to school on Friday :)  I was happy to get rid of an oversized pillow, but I kept the wig.  
Saturday  morning we had our TOPS workshop at the library.  Different clubs bring a raffle basket, and this was ours.  Our "trick" to getting lots of tickets sold is to have real money as part of the basket.  This year it was $25 in cash.  Tickets are a dollar each, or 6 for $5.  I had to go bring Connor to Special Olympics, so I don't know yet who won our basket.
This was my treat from Lee.  Costco has these chocolate-covered caramel apples for $4.99 in the bakery dept.  They are massive though, and even cutting it into quarters took three days to eat!  Really tasty tho - I love caramel apples :)

Halloween 2010

Connor drew on the design, and then I did the gutting & carving.
It came out pretty cute, right?  His name is "Jack."

Cute Cowboy Connor.  He had to wear my cowboy boots, since Diana took the pair he'd outgrown.

We have some folks in this town that do a great job with costumes.  This is my favorite this year.  And he was such a nice guy!!  EVERYONE was taking photos with him :)  
After we got home, Connor took off all the costume clothes & wiped off the mascara moustache, and said, "I'm normal again!"  Hee.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mack the Knife

The first Choir concert

Last night Connor had his first choir concert.  Last year he took art class, and brought home some interesting clay pieces - this year the schedule worked to have him try choir.

When I asked the choir teacher at conference time how he thought Connor would do on stage, he didn't have any idea.  Sometimes Connor sings extra loud, and he's managed to teach himself to read music, so while his class sang the melody, he'd sing the harmony (all by himself!).  So, not always following directions.

Last night, however, he was just so excited to be there and on stage.  Lee & I sat up close in front so if there was any issue, we could snag him quick and get him offstage so he wouldn't affect the rest of the performers too much.

No worries - he stood straight & tall, sang the correct part, and kept his voice level appropriate for the stage :)

Great stuff & a great first effort for him.  He let us know later that night that he wants to sing in the choir in High School -  We really enjoyed watching him up there.  The video below is a clip from "Shenandoah" and the one above is Mack the Knife (which I'm uploading right now).


Connor's 1st Choir Concert

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Preparing the eggs

First, you draw faces on the eggs.  They should all be happy.

Use a crayon, because Sharpie goes through the shell.

These eggs are happy eggs.

Until you crack them.  Then they scream (you'll need to make the noise like Connor does).  Then put X's on the eyes, if the shells are still whole enough.  He has an interesting mind, my son :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lack 'O Posts

I know I've been bad about posting lately. One reason is I can't access blogger (or facebook, or anything else interesting) from the computers at school. Everything is "Access Denied!" I used to use my lunch break to post when I was working full time.

Another problem is the things going on right now are on the confidential side. Most of my time & energy with work has been centered on one student, who gets off on hurting others.

Yesterday, the police had to be involved and that student is no longer in my class.

That's pretty much all I can say.

I should be doing happier posts soon again, now that I'm not stressed so much about going to work & wondering if I'll manage to continue catching chairs being thrown my way...

Monday, October 04, 2010

Aw Diana

She had to break up with her boyfriend today. He was apparently clueless as to his lack of boyfriendy behavior.

First off, they "got together" to be BF & GF before they ever went on a date. They had hung out together in group stuff, mostly other kids from church.

Just before heading home for summer, Diana had initiated the 'relationship' by letting him know she liked him. See, that would have been a cue to go on a DATE. But they kind of went straight to 'go steady.' When I pointed this out to my daughter, she said that kids date differently now. Um... yeah.

So they had a big hug (no kiss) and then they both went home for the summer. Sure, they texted & phoned now & then, and he even came over during fair week and spent a couple of nights in the trailer. More hugs. Still no kissing.

Also, when we'd gone to the fair, and we were waiting at the Billy Idol concert, Diana decided she wanted fries. There was a huge line. First, no offer from him to get them, or even go with her - I wound up going & keeping her company. Then later when she wanted a drink, the same thing again - he just sat like a lump. Even with the dark rides & other opportunities, there was no kissing. Hmmm.

So last month she gets back to school. By now, he's not really texting much to her anymore. She's back in her place, and he's in a new place - no call to come check his place out, or stopping by to see her.

On Wednesday, they see each other at church. She asks if they're going to actually go out together any time soon. He says he hasn't been much of a boyfriend (doh) and another hug.

Friday night there's a spaghetti dinner at church. When Diana is ready to leave, she has to find him & there's a quick hug. He knows she has to walk home in the dark through an area that is not the safest - no offer to walk her home or help her find a ride or anything.

That was the final straw. She was pretty upset.

Basically, she was carrying the whole relationship. It even sounded to me like he didn't care about her much anymore, and so it should be pretty painless to him to break up.

I told her to make a list of stuff she had expected out of having a boyfriend (like, oh, say - going on DATES), and see how many things he'd done. Zero.

So - not much of a boyfriend (boyfriend) but he's the only one I got...

He got a clue when she changed her facebook status from "in a relationship" to "it's complicated" and finally called her. She set up a meeting on campus today to talk to him.

He was totally blindsided. He said he thought she was mad at him. Well, in a way he's right. That's probably NOT the best way to handle it though - ignoring your girlfriend. He tried to tell her he had a present coming for her if she was still his girlfriend (wtf?), so she said nope. She did list off the things she had expected from him that never happened. And she let him know that if he wanted to ask her out in the future (like next year) that she might be okay with going out for starters. But she's already decided it was too much work with him.

She grew up with parents that are more partners in life than anything else. She needs a guy who will contribute to the relationship & be a best friend to her. Not a puppy, doing what she tells him to do.

Honestly - for a first break-up, it could have been a LOT harder on her. The pain of this one is already being repaired with the help of girlfriends & ice cream. Go Diana!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Connor's Cooking Show

I can't figure out how to burn a DVD with my system - I am missing something, but dislike downloading programs.  So I'm posting this to my blog so I can access it from anywhere to share with others :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This probably doesn't happen to you...

Yesterday, about 8:30pm I'm at my computer & Connor comes in.  I have a photo of him on my computer desktop holding a line with a fish on the end from his Summer Camp this year.  Connor says, "I have the fish!"  and leaves the room.  No biggie.

He comes back in the room a minute later holding a plastic bag with 6 almost-foot-long fish in it.  I think they're rainbow trout (there's a pinkish line along the side).  Huh, what?

I knew his class did a field trip to the fishing pond, but usually it's just catch & release.  I didn't expect to find fish in his backpack, so I didn't look.

They aren't cleaned or anything - just the whole fishies in a bag.  I stuck the whole thing in the freezer.

I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with them now...

Monday, September 20, 2010


I've been going to the physical therapist regularly for my shoulder, and it is getting better.

Thing is, every time he treats me, he's forcing the shoulder up higher, and out further than it wants to go.  He eases it as much as he can, but there's a definite stopping point where I grimace and say, "Yeah - that's it!"  And he'll say, "Yup, that's not going any higher."  OUCH!!

Still, I'm doing my exercises at home and at work when I can, and I am improving by 3 - 5 degrees each time, which he says is really good.

I'm scheduled through the rest of September, but then I'm going to have to take a break due to change in insurance.  As of October 1, my new insurance will take effect.  I am going with the least expensive (highest deductible) because about a month later, Lee will get a much better rate for the family than I could get at my job.  I will have already been locked in, and can't change my coverage by that time.  We'll be double-covered, but mine won't kick in unless there's a big need (which we hope won't happen!).

If I change to a different job that has less hours, my insurance will be gone anyway (my eventual plan) and we'll just have Lee's regardless.

The nice thing is the physical therapist I have is pretty cool.  I told him I wouldn't be able to come in October, and he said he was fine with having me come in weekly at no charge so he can keep monitoring my progress.  :)  Once Lee's insurance kicks in, I'll get the actual therapy again :)  Or maybe I'll be better by then?  It's supposed to heal faster now that I'm past 90%...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Coping with Connor

The other day, Lee & Connor took a bike ride again to Burger King.  Connor just likes the fries.  While they were there, a woman introduced herself to Lee as a reporter for a local small newspaper here in town.  She wanted to know if she could do a story on our family and how we cope with Connor.

I don't know how Lee responded to her, but afterward, he told me he felt like "what do you mean - coping?"

Now, yes, it's obvious if you watch him for a little bit that there is something different about Connor.  Most people are figuring out the autism thing now, which is good.  More & more attention is being called to the difficulties of autism, and maybe that's why the woman wanted to write the story.

The thing is, we don't see it so much as 'coping' as just doing things a little differently to accommodate our boy.  And yes, while you can label that 'coping'- to me, that word is a more negative connotation than just adapting what we do.

Of course we had to make a lot of changes, especially when he was small.  Before he could talk & express himself, it was very hard.  At times he will still have a crying meltdown and we don't know why, but there's nothing you can do but hold & comfort him for the hour or so until it's gone.  But that's much more rare now that he can communicate effectively.  Thanks to a lot of people with a lot of knowledge, Connor was able to go through the work and do what was necessary to get to that point.  He's still going to need help through his life, probably throughout.  Is that what she meant with coping?  Lee & I won't get to retire & travel the world?  (Newsflash - I'd rather have Connor - better yet, bring him along!).

Lee & I put in time & effort to help Connor as well.  We didn't go out on dates, because there weren't people knowledgeable enough to babysit our boy.  Trevor & Diana could only help so much when they were grade-school age.  As they got older, more of the babysitting fell to them, which happens in any household anyway.  Lee and I adapted our 'date time' to be in the virtual world.  We were off traipsing around the worlds of Dereth & Paragon City, and later Azeroth.  We were off doing our thing, but still at home at our desks.  It was cheaper than going out, actually.  And of course, Connor knew we were home and didn't have the anxiety or other issues.  I guess the reporter would call that coping as well (although we'd probably have done it anyway - that's the kind of thing we like to do).

We did avoid taking Connor places that would be too hard for him - he still only goes to the fair on the Saturday with the daypass for rides, because he'll only do the kiddie rides anyway.  We haven't even talked about going to Disneyland, because he's not in a place to do that yet either.  He LOVES going to Canada for vacation every year anyway, and so does the rest of the family.  I didn't take him tent camping, because I worried about his safety & the fact the tent has four exits.  The tent trailer situation is much better for us - one locking door.  Plus, Lee would have refused to tent camp anyway.  He 'did his time' with the Boy Scouts back when.  He wants a mattress if we're camping together.  Over time, we've been able to take Connor to most places anyway - it just took a little longer to get him to a movie theater (4th grade), to church regularly (2nd grade), to have First Communion (6th grade).  But eventually, he does get to do most of what he wants to do.  I guess taking his time means we have to cope there as well.

Because of Connor & Trevor's autism, I did get much more involved in Girl Scouts than I would have otherwise.  I wanted to make sure Diana had the kind of time with me that might not happen when we were focused on her brothers so much.  Scouting together guaranteed time together every week, and occasional weekends.  She & I have an extremely close relationship now.  I'm the first person she comes to whenever she has any issues or questions about anything - even though she's living in a city an hour away most of the year.  She will send me instant messages at least every evening and let me know how her day went & that she's home safe.  I call that a big bonus - not really coping.

Between the two boys, Trevor would probably be considered more challenging now.  But it's not any worse than any teenager who is disorganized and thinks he knows more than he does.  And eventually, he'll come around - it will just take time (and lots of headaches).  But the reporter didn't know about Trevor.

I did put my plans to further my education aside when we discovered Connor was autistic.  I was going to get a teaching credential after he was able to stay in day care.  That turned out to be a little dangerous when he escaped into the parking lot twice.  I did spend time at home with him because of the safety issue, which was a huge crunch in our finances.  So was putting a fence around the property.  It cost quite a bit for the seminars I attended to learn how to teach him more effectively - I did two weekend conferences in Portland (hugely beneficial).

On the other hand, I was hired to work where I am now because I had special needs kids &  had the patience and tolerance to work with other kids that needed that kind of help.  I am making double what I earned in the regular schools, with my expertise & education - and that probably wouldn't have happened without the autism in my life.

Connor is the most joyful, happy child I have ever known.  He loves to experience life and shares that love with everyone.  Any person who has worked with him or knows him from something else really enjoys him.  People who spent time over summer school, or helped him in Special Olympics or whatever will come up to us out of the blue to tell us how much they love working with Connor.  One of the aides in his classroom told the teacher that her favorite part of the day is when she gets to work with Connor.

Yes, we did work hard to help him understand how to behave in public.  Yes, we continually prompt him and praise him when he gets things right.  Yes, we realize we will have him with us our entire lives, and then once we no longer can care for him, Diana will take up the reins.  That's family.  That's what you do.  I don't see it as 'coping.'  It's parenting.  It's how you live life.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Diana & Trevor at Kumiricon

Some dead bunny thing & Diana as Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist
I'm guessing this is a friend of Sonic the Hedgehog?  or maybe an evolution of Sonic?
Trevor just wore goggles from a Halloween store and my dad's old leather jacket.  NEXT year tho...

So the kids went to Kumiricon on Saturday night, as soon as we got back from Amanda's wedding.  Diana had worked long & hard on her costume.  The hair is a wig she cut & styled, the jacket she sewed herself, the belt she altered & sewed, and the boots were Connor's snowboots last year (they are too small now).  Diana also made the little clasp for her neck with Sculpy and then spraypainted it silver.  She was missing the red coat the character wears, which she'd ordered to be made online.  It wasn't any good, though.  She would have done better making her own.

They got back to Eugene by 6:00 last night, and I got them & brought them home after getting Taco Bell.  Then they slept until 2:00 PM today...

Trevor is thinking he really needs to get a job so he can go again next year.  That's a good thing :)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Amanda's Wedding

The wedding was at Sunset Bay, OR (close to Coos Bay).
Amanda planned the entire event - her colors were orange & green :)
If they know you're taking a picture - they all make a weird face.  CJ, Mary & Anna rode over to the coast with us from Roseburg.
At the reception - Diana finally wearing that dress that didn't make it onto the show.
Most of Troop 371 - we are missing Renee, who was in San Diego.  I'm sure she was with us in spirit :)  

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School

I went back to work today.  I wasn't really supposed to, according to the calendar with the number of days the union contract says that I work.

However, we're in a new room, in a different school, in a different district, and there's a whole room to get ready.  Also, we service grades K-8, so all that information has to be available as well, even though we're starting the year with only four kids.  Two of those should be transitioning out of our room pretty soon, but then we should also have some transition in.

So all week it's unloading, moving, sorting, and setting up in the classroom.  There's also all the meetings to get to know who we're working with, as well as the families, and then all the paperwork meetings.  We are working with the Mental Health dept., and the classroom will run with their staff working in conjunction with us.

There are five to six adults who are supposed to be working with these kids - but that stays constant whether we have 2 kids or 12.  The teacher, other assistant & I are responsible for the education component, while the mental health people are supposed to work on teaching the skills necessary to help the students move back to regular school.  Theoretically, this takes about six weeks...

Hopefully everyone will work together to achieve this goal - that's the plan, anyway...

As to my extra work days that are not contracted, I'll probably have to take comp time later.  Most likely when we're low on kids so I don't need a sub.  Fun & Games.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Lee - Happy 20th Birthday, Diana!

And it's also the birthday of our nephew, Jonathon.  Party Day!!