Christmas Letter 2012

clip_image001clip_image003

 

clip_image005clip_image007 clip_image009clip_image011clip_image013clip_image015clip_image017clip_image019

clip_image021Chris we love to see smiling as he enjoys things in his life, visiting with family, as we all share his care along with his aids that he has, and we are grateful for all who love him! He is in adult workshop now, and we are glad the transition was smooth without a long waiting period. Chris’s graduation was a high point of the year with a lot of events and good food to eat! Chris also got to go on fun trips to Atwood Lake Fall Festival and our trip to Kraynak’s in Sharon for Christmas. We are also soon choosing new applications for his IPad for his communication needs.

clip_image023Colleen continues to have a very busy life with college, her boyfriend Scott, and all her animals. She is seeking another job that is year-round and right now is enjoying her Christmas break. I recently heard her sing, and I must say she has a beautiful voice, and she sings well with her boyfriend who also has a great voice! She had an awesome graduation party with Chris – can’t believe our oldest are both done with high school! Her current menagerie consists of two cats, two geckos, two guinea pigs, two betas, six goldfish, about six frogs and two crabs.

clip_image025Ryan is unbelievably in his last year of elementary school – 5th grade. Academically he continues to excel, and he is putting more and more complicated puzzles together in only minutes. He still loves the Incredibles movie and also greatly enjoys the cameras on his IPad, computers, and the TV. Latchkey kept Ryan busy two afternoons a week last year through the spring, and he will be starting back at that three afternoons a week in January for my spring semester. (I didn’t have any afternoon classes this fall semester.)

clip_image027We are still carrying out 3 two-day trips every quarter, totaling 24 days away a year! We are busy all day with data entry then have some time to ourselves in the evening – the last one was December 19, and we did much of our Christmas shopping in Steubenville at a cute mall in the hills. I am in my last semester of “pre” advanced study special education courses at Kent, and hope to find classes next year for advanced study that are NOT at night – as at first glance at the catalog for THIS semester most are at night! That would make the next two years such a struggle with child care. I graduate now officially in spring of 15! I also am still working as a home health aide. Rog is hoping to return to school soon to major in human services.

clip_image029clip_image031clip_image033clip_image035

2012 Summer–super hot, super busy, flying by!

2012-04-30 13.53.20

I began the summer break on approximately May 1, 2012, with the completion of 4 classes – the most I’ve ever taken – centered on teaching itself (prerequisites done!).  I took Democracy and Education, Special Education, Motor Development, and Speech and Language courses, and with the heavy focus on writing in general in these courses I managed to get a 4.0!!!  I was so excited as I never did that before.  Next semester math comes to challenge me again (Math for Teachers) and I will have to take two courses in it, so my expectations of 4.0 for next year are extremely slim – but it was nice to do it once in my college career!

2012-05-02 17.12.27

 

May 1 we went on the first leg of our summer business trip – the three southern Ohio counties we do the first day – Monroe, Guernsey, Morgan – this huge coal shovel is down in Noble County, at http://www.noblecountyohio.com/muskie.html – we see it every time we go down the winding Route 78.  We stopped on the way home this time, which we usually don’t get a chance to do.  Another view from it – so pretty!  2012-05-02 17.13.15

 

June 25, 26 we had our first part of our summer business trip, and went to Jefferson County, OH; Jefferson County, PA; Forest and Warren Counties, PA. With this being our anniversary we also went over to Salamanca, NY and ate at Napoli’s pizza and visited our old camping favorite area at Allegheny State Park. July 3 we went on the second part OF the first part of our trip – ha ha – with the addition of 3 counties we had to have an additional one-day trip, where we went to Greene County, PA, and ate dinner with our friends Pat and Tim in Uniontown – we called this our SECOND 25th anniversary dinner Smile

2012-06-26 11.24.392012-06-27 19.47.482012-06-27 19.55.242012-06-27 19.59.132012-07-02 20.47.28

 

Mid June brought the beginning of summer camp as well as the full-fledged prep for our graduation parties!

2012-06-18 09.01.262012-07-08 21.06.28DSC057132012-07-07 15.49.06

We also had two attempts to see fireworks, (poor Ashleigh had three attempts), all of which were canceled due to weather – storms or wind.  Meanwhile the state has been in a drought otherwise.  So we’re going to give in one more chance August 5 when we attend the Fest — http://www.thefest.us/

We attended 2 graduation parties and had our own, and it was really fun but very very busy – and so so hot!!!  So far this summer we have had 19 days above 90 degrees.  We are hoping for another day of swimming soon as we only so far have gone on June 10.  I am sure we will go again…

After all that excitement the past few weeks I have been attempting to do a lot of paper sorting, and also cleaned the kitchen, and am going to make some plans for the next paperwork projects and what other cleaning projects I can complete before school starts.  I have gotten nowhere near done what I expected to, but have enjoyed many moments with the family and out in the community, and have met all the paperwork deadlines I had for the kids and college, of which there were many, and many more immediately forthcoming!!  My Better Homes and Gardens goal, however, has again been put off…. early this summer I had the full expectation of having the entire house cleaned and organized by now…

What I’d like to do before August 27, when I start school?

 

  • Finish all the filing in the office (it’s already sorted by drawer now – yay me! – and all recycling is ready to go across the street).  Clean out files if possible.
  • Almost forgot this one – a big one – try and get 1/4 to 1/2 done with course on educational psych for fall that is already on line – that will put me so much ahead for fall where I’m also taking math for teachers, educational technology, and american sign language [only class on campus, rest online!]
  • Prioritize all paperwork and put on the calendar and make sure it’s done on time.  For Chris, Colleen, Ryan, my college, Rog/Colleen’s college, and anything else I need to do…
  • Sort all clothes in the three bedrooms and give away the tons we don’t need.
  • KEEP deleting emails I don’t need – in the last week I have gone from 18000 emails to 2,000 emails, and still deleting.
  • Go through freezers again and plan more meals to use up what we have.
  • Complete the deep-cleaning of the kitchen by scrubbing out and sorting all cabinets.
  • Finish straightening basement, clean out the fridge bins that are down there for the downstairs freezer
  • Pass out Avon books again.
  • Finish painting living room?
  • Work with Colleen on sorting 4 years worth of school documents and organize them into bookcase and filing sorters.
  • Probably many more ………

As always the summer is flying by.  I go back to school August 27, Colleen starts August 25 (Mon/Wed. 10-4:45 (big break in the middle so far where I’d like to help her schedule a voice class at Fine Arts!), and Thurs. 9-12:50), Roger will start the same week but I’m not sure yet what classes he’s taking – majoring in human services at Lakeland then most likely finishing at Cleveland State.  He already has his arts degree (so he’s farther ahead than I was) so hopefully will finish before me maybe – we hope to finish up by 2015 anyhow!!  Then I’ll be a teacher and he’ll be a special needs social worker.  Colleen is starting her graphic design degree.

Chris is doing well and all kinds of plans are in the works with his I/O Waiver and workers, and he starts workshop in the fall!  He is doing well, praise God! 

 

2012-05-18 18.00.112012-05-19 17.27.31prom2012grad2012-06-05 22.53.332012-06-03 16.09.15

18 years ago —

With Colleen’s birthday coming up on Tuesday I felt like posting some publishable parts of my old diary, from 5-12-94. Hard to believe it’s been 18 years.

Work told me I’m definitely getting my three-week vacation pay, three-week sick leave, and they want me to do tapes at home. I also may be able to go in and work some mornings and my mom may be able to watch kids on Fridays if I need to work.

First things first, I’m 2 cm. dilated (as of last Friday) and am working only one more week. I’m ready to enjoy this summer off with my children. It will be beautiful. I know I will be tired and frustrated sometimes, with a new baby, more work, less sleep, Chris’s reaction, Chris’s speech delay, worry over finances. Financially we are pretty secure right now but I only have eight more weeks of pay coming. Continue reading

5 more drives —

100_1933(Lilacs at Kent)  Smile   Hard to believe I only go down to Kent 5 more times, to the Main branch, before summer break.  I have enjoyed my year at main, but saving on the gas will be good.  In Fall so far I have 3 online classes, and my only class I have to drive to is ASL and it’s either at Ashtabula or Twinsburg.  So that will save a little gas and even more time!  My other classes will be math for teachers (Sad smile fear), Educational psychology, and educational technology.  I will be getting math tutoring at whatever branch my ASL is.

I am taking a bit of a break from Facebook at this point – as I’m heavily into finishing all my papers, etc. for my present classes, and have a ton of reading to do.  So just a little catch-up here before I have my last sprint to the end of my year, and then summer break!

Colleen and Chris are both graduating this year, so we will be planning a graduation party this summer – unbelievable!  My two oldest, such memories, so many years — 26b6They looked like twins back then.  Not anymore!  We love them both so much and am so proud of them – may their lives get better and better —

We’re still in the process of finding Chris’s own home that he can have 24 hour care in – the search continues – there are several possibilities – prayers appreciated!

An outside tragedy strikes our busy lives here in NE Ohio–spring is still around the corner

The urgencies of life all keep going on these months, almost 3 months since I posted last, my Christmas newsletter.  School is in full swing for me and the kids, and we are doing fine.  The usual chaos of trying to get the house cleaned (or not) and cooking, studying, playing, having outings, and planning the quarterly work trip with Rog keeps us all busy.  Progressing one step at a time.

When a young boy decided to take a gun to school in nearby Chardon, Ohio, it was a moment of reflection, horror, questioning, sadness, shock, and many other emotions.  Three boys died, the last of which was buried 10 minutes away in northern Chardon yesterday.  The barrage of beautiful black and red ribbons has been everywhere, and I’ve even worn a red headband for a week now myself.  What a tragedy, and I pray and have prayed for the victims families, friends,and the boy who shot them, and his family. 

Of course something like this makes you hug your own children and say, thank God it wasn’t us, it wasn’t our children.  You hug them many more times a day than usual, and yell at them less than usual.  And you wonder what the purpose was.  We have seen a tremendous outpouring of love, support, and offers of prayers to our immediate neighbors to the south of us, and perhaps it was that love after tragedy that was supposed to be a kind of lesson.  I’m not sure.  As we all continue to heal, spring is at our doorstep, with tulips and daffodils beginning to poke their heads out here and in other places.  Everything becomes normal again, though of course it really doesn’t for the families touched.

In the education and democracy class I’m taking, we have had some discussion about how these events could somehow be addressed at school.  I don’t know, really, what else they can do.  Bullying prevention starts in elementary school.  But yet it continues.  And then we don’t even know for sure, was this boy bullied?  That has never been confirmed.

Nothing else to say, really.  My prayers continue.

 

022812145312

Christmas Newsletter, 2011

A blessed Christmas!
www.criscollrj.com (new)
– for online Christmas letter with pictures. We can’t believe that it has been 3 years since we sent a Christmas letter. Quite a few of the old links to our 1990’s web sites are updated on there but not all. Describing more in depth all the changes you might have missed are the 2010/2009 Christmas letters. God has been in the works for our family as always, and we keep trusting as we go, never know what we will see next in this journey.

CHRIS was in his group home for 14 months (Sept. 08 – Nov. 09), and it didn’t quite work out so he has been living with his Mama and Papa since November ’09 (Roger’s parents). Those of you that I have kept notified via blog and Facebook know this, of course, but just reiterating how they have worked wonderfully with him and how much we appreciate their care. Now 21, he also went back to his school of his early childhood, the DD program of our county. He also recently has become eligible for some wonderful aides through our state, two gentlemen and two ladies so /far, and they may have a new residency for him, whenever it seems to be the right time. He also has another company working with him that provides more summer recreation and after school groups. Preparing for graduation this year, and for his adult workshop next fall are other new tasks before us. Learning a new communications program at school this year is keeping him very busy and focused! Additionally, he and Ryan were both recipients of IPad grants (their Christmas gifts!) on which he will receive more therapeutic programs that individuals with autism are using all over the world. He still also has his aide of many years, Vicky, though she is actually leaving soon and will be missed very much!

COLLEEN is a senior in high school this year, so we will be having a dual graduation party! We are busy with paperwork in regard to college and ACT testing this year, and we are excited for the new opportunities she will have, most likely obtaining her Assoc. Degree at in Graphic Arts/Design and then choosing where she will continue. A new chapter. She also worked at a haunted house with her friends this fall and had a good time with that. Last year she sprained her ankle twice but so far this year has not had any mishaps. All these years she has still been involved with her anime group (expanding to individuals all over the NE Ohio area as well as a few from Columbus!), and her love of animals continues. Currently we have still our beloved cat Sophie; plus two betas, Luna and Amethyst; 5 goldfish; 3 tadpoles; and a leopard gecko named Spike.



RYAN is excelling in the fourth grade in his autism class. Continue reading

Jesus commands us to go, and to come

As I listened to Dr. David Jeremiah today, http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio_archives.aspx, as he was preaching about stress and our lives, I was drawn to this parallel.  He was describing how when we are so stressed out in life that we have a rest in our Savior and God and that not only is it a slight offer to come to Jesus, but is a command, the way the Greek “I” is written in the text.  “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30. 

So as we go about our daily duties, which He does entreat us to do:  “From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.” (Proverbs 12:14), we still need to go to Him for rest and rejuvenation, and for me, be more like Mary and less like Martha from the New Testament stories.

Building a case for us to know that we do need to work, and not be lazy or slothful, are these verses contained in this blog post that I found.  http://strengthenedbygrace.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/proverbs-on-work/  So by no means is God telling us to be lazy and sit around in Matthew 11:28-30.  Perhaps it is a message to rest in Him as we work, to pray through the day, and to meditate on Him always.  It is a lesson to me to try and take more time to read the Word and try to hide it in my heart to think more on as I go through my day.  And just listening more to teaching radio, such as this show by Dr. David Jeremiah, has been a good practice as I drive hours a week now with work and school, to establish better habits to grow in my Christian walk.

And in the words of Keith Green —

 

Jesus commands us to go,
But we go the other way.
So he carries the burden alone,
While his children are busy at play,
Feeling so called to stay.
Oh, how God grieves and believes that the world can’t be saved,
Unless the ones he’s appointed obeys,
His command and his stand for the world,
That he loved more than life.
Oh he died, and he cries out tonight.
Jesus commands us to go,
It should be the exception if we stay.
It’s no wonder we’re moving so slow,
When his church refuses to obey,
Feeling so called to stay.
Oh how God comes, as he starts the great judgment of fire,
So he can gain, his greatest desire.
Cause he knows that the souls of the lost,
They can only be reached, through us,
We’re his hands and his feet.
Jesus commands us to go,
It should be the exception if we stay.
It’s no wonder we’re moving so slow,
When god’s children refuse to obey,
Feeling so called to stay.

 

[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/k/keith_green/jesus_commands_us_to_go.html ]

 

 

Perhaps directly meant as a call to the mission field, but I think it could also be a call to work with all our might what is at our hand, depending on Jesus, in His name, each day.

More than we can bear? God bears it with us.

Woke up early this morning and was reading an older journal – and found these older posts from November 1994 and January 1995. 

 

November 19, 1994

Tomorrow is Christopher’s birthday.  4 years old!  He’s got a double ear infection but is now getting better.  He’s been sleeping in the daytime and stays up until 12 or 1 a.m. or gets up at 6:30!  I have laryngitis and can’t speak at all!  Hopefully we’ll feel better by Thanksgiving – in five days.  That’s when we’re celebrating Chris’s birthday.

Dr. X wants to have Chris evaluated for autism.  Hopefully it will be ruled out.  He’s really a sweet little boy.  We’re praying for him daily.  I know God can perform a miracle. 

November 20, 1994

It really hurts sometimes when we worry that something if really wrong, that our son can’t speak.  Also that he’s often seeming not to understand us, although when it’s something he really wants to do he understands perfectly (bath).  I’m worried we’re focusing on things that may just be nervous habits – grimacing, playing with his fingers (itzy bitsy spider?), looking at bowls and pop bottles. 

He snuggles, smiles, figures things out (like loading dishwasher), being affectionate to baby Colleen.  We do have the promise that God will not give us more than we can bear.1  It seems we’ve had enough trials this past 18 months to last a lifetime.  But there have been blessings among the trials.

February 6, 1995

I’m so happy being home with my children.  These years will go too fast.  Chris is 4 1/4, almost.  He’s stretched out so tall and now seems to be getting a little chubby to make up for it.  his sandy brown hair forms bangs to his light eyebrows, and in straight thickness just reaches his collar.  his chocolate brown eyes are framed with long eyelashes.  He snuggles with us a lot.  Especially while I’m nursing Colleen, Chris climbs up on my lap, on the other side of Colleen, and cuddles up to my shoulder.  At these times I thank the Lord for this time.

Christopher is mildly autistic.  He was tested January 24, and the doctor confirmed our suspicions.  Continue reading

Teaching Enjoyment

Ahh, so many ways to look at that. I thought of that title the other day while trying to help Chris with some things. And as my mind will play with words I realized there were two ways to look at that.

The first way is how when trying to plan events with Chris, I just wish he would show clearly that he enjoys them. I wish there was a way to look at Chris and say, wow, he really loves this activity!! We took him and Ryan to a Fall Festival, which was wonderful!

 

2011-10-09 13.43.21

And as we were attending the event, which was a pumpkin patch, food, guitar playing, animals and a corn maze, we could not get Chris to stop and look at anything. He did stop and eat a hot dog. He seemed happy, and he really did seem to like the corn maze. I just wish we could learn how to get him to stop and look at things, the way Ryan does at this point. We will keep striving.

And is there a way to teach enjoyment of things to Chris and other children/adults with autism? Why for example do we have trouble with this with Chris, but not with Ryan, when they both have autism? Ryan, however, is much worse with hitting randomly, throwing things, and running off. A different problem, but still a problem. Autism spectrum is a mystery to me still . . .

So then of course the other side of the coin is teaching enjoyment as in the enjoyment of teaching. I was thinking about that as well as I was trying to think of how to teach our Chris and Ryan. I do enjoy teaching, though I never wanted to do it in the traditional sense of a regular school teacher. I now surprisingly find myself going in the teaching field as a special education teacher, which I never expected. I do feel God has led me into this journey to get my teaching license, perhaps to help me learn to enjoy teaching more? To help me become skilled at it? I thank Him for the opportunity which has come unexpectedly, and can’t wait to see what He has in store for me through it, both with the boys and with the world and my career.

2011-10-09 13.43.04

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...