Calamus Swamp and Photo Dump

I honestly thought swamps were only in the southern United States like Florida. However, a friend posted about a local swamp they went to and all the frogs they saw/heard and I was super excited. Within a week Iris, Lucas, Sammy, and I were at the swamp frog watching and hiking the trail. Then a couple of days later I went back with Robin. It was glorious. The frog songs lifted my spirits. The startled splashes as they hid from us were endless fun. We did see a few. And I got some photos. I also took photos of the flowers, greenery, and the swamp in general. I’m going to go ahead and dump them here. There are… a lot. I’d apologize but I wouldn’t mean it.

I’ve decided that once or twice a month, from now until forever, we’re going to explore Ohio. The fact that there was a swamp with frogs only 27 miles away and I didn’t know about it, is tragic. So I’m dedicating myself to exploring trails, reserves, and parks in Ohio that are outside my usual stomping ground.

Later this month we’re going to Clifton Gorge. It’s about an hour away, just to the east of Dayton. In August we’re going to take a day trip up to Lake Erie. Then in September and October, we’re going to explore a couple of caves at Hocking Hills. Next spring we’ll visit the waterfalls there.

I want to see Ohio. I love nature. I love hiking. I love bonding with my family. I can’t afford to pay admission for all of us to do things like Cedar Point. But the parks? Parks are free and amazing!

Iris Part 2

Iris is all settled in now. It’s been a month since they got here and that time was well spent.

We’re working on the tricky aspects like getting Iris set up with local doctors so there is no lapse in the prescribed medication they take. Luckily I was able to get Iris in with a therapist (who specializes in trans patients, but also prepared to deal with Iris’s trauma) pretty much right away. It helps that I was making calls before we even reached home. The rest will fall into place over the next couple of months. We are very fortunate that Iris’s mom has decided not to cut them off the insurance. We weren’t expecting to be that lucky.

As far as family dynamics go, Iris fits right in. We’ve all just adopted Iris as a member of the family. I now tell people I have 4 kids. That’s just how we roll.

I’m not sure how much more I can say without grossly invading Iris’s right to privacy.

Just know that Iris is love and I’m doing my best to do right by them. It’s a learning experience, all around, and we are learning as we go. But we’ll make it work.

Long term the goal is to get Iris back to college and then eventually out on their own. But I have some parenting to do in the meantime. There were some serious gaps left in Iris’s life education and they are not prepared to adult. But that’s fine. Together Iris will make an amazing adult and a loving member of society.

Anyway, I’m going to end this for now and take the spotlight off them. I’m sure they will come up in posts, just like any of my kids do, but now that’s they are just a daily part of the household, I’m going to let them fade back and just be.


A lot has happened over the course of the past few months and while a better me would aim to discuss it in chronological order, ADHD me knows time isn’t linear and fake, to begin with. So I’ll start with Iris.

On January 6, 2020, I piled into my mother’s car, which would survive the trip better than my own, with my mother, who could function to actually drive the distance, and we started the trip to Iris’s house. That Monday night we stopped at my uncle’s house and started rebuilding a relationship there, all while avoiding the cost of a motel room. The next morning we started out on the second leg of the trip down and made it to our destination by about 8 pm.

Wednesday was the day we went to Iris’s house to pack them up. The original plan involved doing this while their moms were at work. In reality, their biological mom was home, sick and stepmom was quickly called in. Luckily we had advance warning and informed the sheriff’s department beforehand what was going on and had their presence while we got Iris out. All said and done, from the time we pulled up to the time we pulled away, we were there about 35 minutes.

Iris’s moms did not take it well. There was a lot of crying and disbelief that Iris would just up and leave without warning. I’m very proud of Iris though. They showed strength and nerve, despite their anxiety, and had a letter ready to explain why they were leaving (years or abuse).

We traveled a good 30 minutes out of town to a close-by city after getting Iris out. We sort of settled into our motel rooms and rested that afternoon. Then for dinner, we went for some traditional southern food. While I will not share where we would, as a bit to make Iris harder to track down, I will say it was the DEEP south and I refused to leave before sampling the food. No regrets. And I left for a need to have fried pickles make a regular appearance in my life.

Thursday we piled into the car and started the drive back. We spent that night at my uncle’s again. Then Friday we made it home.

It was a lot of time spent crammed in a car, all said and done in 5 days. I’m kind of amazed I survived.

I will say I could have not done this 5 years ago. My pain is much better managed now and mom was willing to stop as often as needed. Plus I know some tricks like the pillow behind the back and the existence of Tiger Balm.

Anyway, there is more to share about Iris. But I’ll continue next week as this week’s post is getting fairly long.