Sunday, December 28, 2014

Big Changes

Well, I did get an A in Statistics. If I had it to do over again, I would rather get a B than allow a single course to so thoroughly consume my life for three months. But it's over, and so is my time at college, for now. I'm taking an online course over the winter break, and I expect to have my A.S. degree in hand by the end of January. I took the state Civil Service exam, and scored 88 in one category and 90 in the other, so I'm pretty happy. I hope that after the holidays I'll start getting calls for interviews.

Meanwhile, we traveled out to see the children's dad. It was a far better experience than I had anticipated, and some of my frustration with the distance is mitigated now that I've seen how conducive the environment of this particular facility is to family visitation. It was very clean as prisons go, the entry process was low-key and not particularly invasive, and the visits are done in a large cafeteria, with a playroom for small children and vending machines that serve all sorts of snacks and lunch-type meals. You can't take money in, but you can buy a vending card that gets loaded before entry, and the kids were able to have a relatively normal experience, all things considered. The visiting hours are long, nearly 7 hours on visiting days, and they had board games available for families to play.

We found an Orthodox church only a few miles away, and the hotel we stayed in was much nicer than I expected for the low price. On top of that, there's a fun center in the nearest major town with very reasonable prices, and the area is patchworked with state parks and outdoor activities. When the weather is warmer, we will be able to go camping overnight rather than spending money on a hotel, and that will be very helpful. It will also make the visits more of a family experience, not just focused on the prison, which is exactly what I had wanted. I'm hoping that over the next three years, we can establish a relationship with the small church there and get to know the area well enough that the children feel some sense of community connection aside from the prison visits. The long visiting hours mean that we can plan activities for the morning and then visit in the afternoon, so the Princess doesn't get too worn out, and then still make it home in time for a tolerable bedtime if we leave directly from the prison. As she gets older we'll be able to spend longer chunks of time there. Her limit right now is about two hours.

Christmas was wonderful, more so I think since the boys were able to see their dad first. Little Bear in particular is very tactile, and it seemed to me that he really needed to physically touch and see his dad to believe that he was still in existence. We planned to go away for New Year's, but I changed my mind. We all need a break from deadlines for a little bit. The boys are in aftercare now, and depending on my schedule that may soon include before care, so time at home is going to be at a premium very soon. My parents are very likely moving soon as well, and I'm not sure how that will affect us. So many things depend on so many other things. We shall see what happens over the next several weeks. Hopefully whatever happens won't be too terrible.