Christmas Newsletter 2015

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Well, all we continue to say after last year is that we are so glad Roger is with us this year!!  As I wrote last year, he was in the rehab center all last Christmas and it continued into February.  He was finally able to come out then and recuperated at his parents’ until sometime in March.  We were so happy to finally see some strength return by about April and May, and I continued to do a lot of work with him on data entry.  We truly are a team!

We still go to our Youngstown courthouse every few weeks and enjoy getting a lunch together at a local Chinese restaurant.  We also were blessed to enjoy a family vacation (http://www.criscollrj.com/2015/10/22/october-2015-maryland-vacation/) for the first time in 9 years.  Even though it was a bit colder than expected (with a little snow even!), we all really really enjoyed it and hope to return again soon.

We did completely have our basement renovated last year–as I wrote in the last newsletter that said renovation had begun–and then had our bathroom repaired in May.  With school again from July until just a few days ago, I am yet again ready to start cleaning out corners and cobwebs and ready to finally get Ryan in his own room as we had planned last summer, that didn’t happen.  I am on another term break now until March 1, when I will start yet another semester.  Three more semesters until student teaching!  A bit scary, actually…

We returned to Kraynak’s again a few weeks ago with our friends the Jevnikars, and reunited with my high school friends Annette and her family, and also our mutual friend Becky.  It was very enjoyable, and we especially found delicious the food at a new place, Hickory Grill.  We had unseasonable warmth through much of December except for a few brief snows.  It has been in the 60s this Christmas week. Strange to see daffodils coming up in places — will they come back in the spring?

We were thrilled for Chris to be enrolled in a new workshop in October where the focus is on autism intervention/training for workshop.  He is doing so much better and also has seen a new medical expert that has tried some new medicines for him.  He is sleeping better and is usually in a great temperament!

Colleen found a fantastic job this year and has been working since April at a pet store.  She is a lizard/fish expert and that of course is right up her alley.  She works a lot of hours and is very content with that.

Ryan moved on to the high school this year, in the 8th grade.  He continues to excel in his academics and made honor roll this semester!  He is now taller than all of us except Roger.

With all of the things that have occurred in this past year and before, we continue to trust that God has us all in His Hand and is watching over us.  We have had many challenges and trials, but am so grateful that many things are resolved now, with just a bit more to get through yet.  Some time ago this popped into my head, particularly the part that begins at 2:14

 

I didn’t realize I posted this on Facebook on December 10, 2014.   Guess I should have posted it on last year’s newsletter, but here it comes now for some reason…

From Facebook 12/10/14:  “This is a song I used to sing all the time in high school, and I’d forgotten about it. Starting about 1:03, listen to this song (though the first song is good too!). The part that says “I want to thank you for the gift of your son,” just randomly came in my head when I got home from the hospital today, at 2:13 on the track. Word for word it came out of my mouth, and I hadn’t heard the song in about 33 years. I felt like thanking God for seeing Roger today and that things hopefully are going to look up soon, and I thanked God, and then just started singing this song. Didn’t even know who it was by until I found on YouTube! Just knew I was in high school probably when it came out. I needed to hear the words today… been such a struggle.”

“I want to thank You for the gift of Your Son,
And for the mystery of prayer,
And for the faith to doubt and yet believe
That You’re really there.

The mysteries of Your Word are the questions of my days.
I search them now to understand the wisdom of Your ways.
Jesus walks before me and clearly walks the path
To guide me to the Father and to peace at last”

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  1. Chris visiting Daddy in the hospital, Jan ’14
  2. Rog programming his new IPhone 5c
  3. The place where Rog should be sitting in Youngstown court next to me…

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4.  I am at Youngstown Courthouse

5.  February 2015 – and the snow just keeps coming.

6.  And the cold!

A particular memory is how the heat quit working in my car when I was driving to Youngstown, and the real temperature outside was -17.  Talk about cold toes!!  Later found out it was my radiator, which I had replaced in May of 15.  You’ll see below what happened in June…

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7.  February – the amazing photobombing bird!

8.  A start to one of Colleen’s amazing paintings.

9.  Ryan writes so much like I did..

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10.  The cold just keeps up.

11.  March – painting almost done!

12.  Rog is back at his mom’s, and we finally had Ryan’s and my birthday parties!!

 

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13.  Boys at mama’s and papa’s house.

14. Ryan’s SpecialSports Basketball 🙂

15. March also finally got Rog back in that special chair at Youngstown Courthouse!

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16.  That was an amazing temp after all that cold!

17.  April brought new glasses, after years, that turned to sunglasses!

18.  Colleen’s beautiful sculpture.

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19.  Another one of her gorgeous art show entries.

20.   Rog and I got to Meadville to work May 1 and ate at 5 guys!

21.   Ryan at the football camp in May for Specialsports!

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21.  It was Flag football…

22.  Got our bathroom redone in May!

23.  Colleen turned 21!

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24.  June – Ryan’s really enjoying summer!

25. End of June said goodbye to Old Bess after she caught on fire.  13 years — 195,000 mi.  Yep, a month after replacing radiator.  I was pouring radiator fluid and power steering fluid in it for months…

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26.  A few weeks later this 2014 T & C joined our family.  30,000 miles, and now it’s already up to almost 44,000.

27.  Sophie and I enjoying our  basement, much nicer after the Christmas ’14 repair!

28. July, a little trip we took Chris on where Colleen was doing some fishing.

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29.  Mom and her friend Allen Helm helped us plant a lot of beautiful plants and shrubs my uncle Don gave.

30.  I saw Rainbows on Chris’s wall on 3-4 separate occasions this year, amidst worry and struggle.

31.  Sometime the summer/fall Peach went to live with my mom.  She is flourishing!  She lost her “sister” Pumpkin a few months before that.   

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32.  July – my mom and Chris and I enjoyed attending the Montville bicentennial.

33.  Ryan always enjoys getting his Dairyman’s Chocolate milk,  a daily trip he calls “getting Biggerline Dairymen’s chocolate milk here.”….  and boy what a fit if one of the stores has run out of stock on it…

 

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34.  September – we did get 15-20 tomatoes!

35.  Mantua potato festival 🙂

36.  Getting rid of old couch and fridge.  Lots of newer furniture and a fridge, and lots of boxes and other things, came in when Mama/Papa moved!  I’ll be sorting and arranging all these on the current break I just started.

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37.  Took Chris to the shore one night, Lake Erie.

38.  Our trip in October to Maryland.  More pics on my blog!  Runaway ramps in WVa.

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39.  One of the parks in WVa or Maryland.

40  Fire in our cabin 🙂

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41.  First views of the hills.

42.  I want this mailbox!

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43.  Our cabin.

44.  November after Gayle/Chuck moved, Chris visited before they gave away the keys — Emotional!!

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45.  Breathtaking view of the lake in Auburn on the way to Youngstown.

46.  Happy birthday Chris, mom, Papa, Nancy!

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47.  48.  49.  50.  Kraynak’s trip with Jevnikars, Kromer’s, and Becky Freeman 🙂  Boys are at the chocolate store, and Colleen took this lovely selfie in the car (didn’t take a selfie in the Santa chair that I asked her to 😉  )

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51.  Our one snow event a few weeks ago.  Before and after, unseasonably warm!

52.  Chris at Broadmoor party.

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53.  Pretty house decorations.

My story about Tionesta

A post I have been planning to write for a while…

First the present – we have been travelling together to Jefferson Co., Warren Co., and Forest Co., PA for Rog’s work for about a year now (he has been going longer) and it has often crossed my mind that I wanted to tell the Tionesta story.  I have not taken the time until now when I’m recuperating from a migraine and feel too tired to do anything else except type my data entry files that I need to do for our work– which I’m going to do next!

So I have become familiar once again with Tionesta (in Forest County) along with the neighboring Tidoute.  We see them every three months.  They are beautiful, in the PA Alleghenies.

My first experience of the Alleghenies and Tionesta was with my dad in about 1979 when I was about 14.  He had begun when I was about 11 to take me on a vacation every summer.  In approximate order it was 1977 – New York City, 1978 – Detroit and Ste. St. Marie, Michigan, and 1979 – Alleghenies, PA.  We started off driving 6 and/or 322 and I remember visiting Corry, Warren, Tionesta, and Oil City.

http://pics4.city-data.com/cpicc/cfiles70616.jpg

(we were as a family in 2007 in Oil City when Rog worked there briefly gathering data for work – I have pics somewhere but not findable at the moment, this is from Google)

My dad and I also drove all around the rivers and mountains in the area, visiting Kinzua Dam, especially.

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http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/03/b9/17/e0/kinzua-dam-spillwater.jpg

I wsa so taken with the area, I decided someday I wanted to move there.  I also remember eating at a restaurant in the town of Tionesta that had delicious pie.  I don’t know if this is where we ate — http://www.pierogiemama.com/Pages/default.aspx but I know Rog and I had tried to eat there, but they’re only open for breakfast and lunch so we keep missing it!! 

When I was about 14, I wrote my own book about a girl named Karen, that lived in Tionesta, PA.  I loved that book and really thought it was the best writing I ever did.  I put my heart into it and it reflected a lot of things I was growing up with at the time, being overweight, lonely, learning to achieve my own goals, make friends, growing up.  I finished that story in 9th grade and totally was devastated when I no longer had the story anymore, as it was either lost or thrown away.  But that’s how important Tionesta was to me at that time…

Years later in 1984 when I met Roger and we started dating, we took a drive back there and ate at the same restaurant my dad and I did.  We drove many of the same roads as well.

We drove there in 84, and I think in 86 and 87 too – it’s getting a little blurry now!  We also discovered the Allegheny State Park in New York around that time, which my dad and I did not visit.  Camping there in 89 or so, 90, and 94, to my recollection, followed, with lots more wonderful memories!

Then we have our own NEW memories in Tidoute, which I don’t remember from before.  So we have a neat progression of very old history, with my dad; still old history with my husband going back all the way to our dating years; and then brand new history in a new town in the mountains.

 

Tidoute overlook, PA.

Completely overwhelmed, but still soothed by nature’s glory




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Originally uploaded by criscollrj

I’ve noticed that nature greatly soothes me as well as prayer. And also just being with family and laughing.

But things are crazy, and I just have never any time for blogging, etc. I often think lately that I’d just like to totally quit working so I can catch up on pretty much everything and spend more time just hanging out with my kids and hubby. But I love my work, and right now it’s necessary. So I continue to get up at 3 to type and have toothpicks holding my eyes open most of the day —

  • 97 minutes to get out, proofed, by tonight – I have 6 minutes done – so why am I here? I’ll be quick!
  • Chris is officially discharged from his group home Oct. 1. However, they’re still keeping him while they look for more homes for him. I believe he’ll be home here and G & C along with us will share his care.
  • Chris’s school is going very well and they have him in a new language program that is helping him a lot!
  • We are unable to get Chris’s waiver yet as there’s still a huge huge wait list – like 15 more years maybe.
  • Ryan has a new teacher this year as well as a new autism coordinator in his school. He is doing well but won’t eat lunch or wear his hearing aides – sigh. Sunchips are my friend . . .
  • Colleen is working hard at school and enjoys times with her friends –
  • They’re all growing up so fast.
  • I am seriously seriously considering going back to school in the spring to become a speech therapist, and need to apply for my financial aid. This of course means a little cut in my work but I need to try.
  • We’re going back to the Maryland mountains Tuesday as part of our business trip and I’m going to meet my good friend Pat from a transcription board I’m on!
  • [ad#Google Adsense]

    The Western Maryland Mountains–


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    Originally uploaded by criscollrj

    The new header I made (first one on WordPress.com!) is of the Maryland Mountains we saw on our business trip in early July. I know I “facebooked” about it in the pictures on there, but never typed on here. Then I found out a friend of mine from the transcription board lives RIGHT there at Deep Creek Lake. We’re going to meet the next time we go out there.

    Deep Creek Lake

    Then I saw another friend on Facebook had just seen the Backbone Mountain in Maryland near that area and had beautiful pictures of it as well. It’s so neat that such beautiful mountains are so close to our business trip area (we did travel a few hours East in the evening to get there, but it was so worth it!)

    And check it out, googling for images, and there’s a lot for sale!

    What a beautiful lot! Wish we had the $$![ad#Google Adsense]

    Atwood Lake, ’08

    I wanted to post our pictures of the trip to Atwood Lake with Rick and Nance. Unfortunately Rog had sprained his ankle and was unable to come. Hopefully we can all get together again soon. We were going to bring Chris but needed Rog to come for that. It was strange to go without Chris.

    I’d not driven anywhere that long for a while either – and was proud of myself that I kept up with Nancy the whole way there – the traffic was heavy and I lost her a few times — It was about 2 hours away.

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    Fun menu outing AND video camera!

    Broke in the digital camera, early Christmas present for us.

    Here’s a start:

    Going to Erie from Dori H on Vimeo.

    And by the way when I said “Open the door” I didn’t mean the car– I can see that would possibly be assumed from my statement

    All videos here – and I’m sure this is the site I’ll stick with as they loaded fairly easily (not true at my old photobucket account, not sure why…)

    http://www.vimeo.com/user297764

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    Restaurant menus and broccoli casserole

    edit – WELL, I can’t figure out why the french fry picture had thrown off my whole blog sidebar (I didn’t even notice until today – lol!) but I just put it under the cut.

    I’m also trying to delete that extra “zoo” entry but WordPress won’t let me. Can’t figure that out either. Ahhhh well. No more time to play.

    Hadn’t said hey for while — boy have we been busy. Rog has been collecting restaurant menus in 11 counties for Sunlark, and that has been keeping him extra busy on top of the court research he does for them. We went with him. See above for flickr pics, and more on the trip and a yummy recipe here Continue reading

    Road trip!


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    Originally uploaded by criscollrj.

    our road trip

    Though I was kinda aggravated that our batteries died right at the end when we went to an awesome park North of Oil City!

    Rog started working in PA recently and was near some of the hills we always liked to travel to when we were dating. So we had a nice autumn day today [told that it would be one of the last good ones of the fall] and so we set off for a drive with our family and friend Amber.

    After just planning to visit Meadville and eat there and go home, we ended up traveling to Oil City and north of there to the Oil Creek State Park where we had the kids play on the playground and we hiked a bit down a bike trail. Unfortunately THAT was wear my batteries died, but you still see a lot of great pictures I took out the car windows!

    We want to go back now – it was so beautiful! So hard to leave the mountains behind, but so nice to know they’re only 2 hours southeast of us!

    One thing I’ll never figure out is that to get my photos to show the right way on the slideshow, I need to somehow enter them backwards. Since I’m too lazy to figure that out now – let me just say the first pictures are around the destination, then after that they kind of go to the beginning of the trip, with the earlier ones showing up later on the slideshow. The ones where you see an amusement park is Conneaut Lake Park. We had never seen it, and just wanted to see what it looked like. Little did we know we could drive in that close and take pictures – obviously it was closed! My kids wished it was open though. Apparently they were going to be open tonight from 8-11 for a Haunted House or something, but we weren’t planning on that.

    We didn’t actually get to see this overlook because we didn’t hike that far, but you can see just how big the hills were and the colors were just about like that as well.  Ahhhh.

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    Harrison the Mouse, and our trip story

    and other every day occurrences!  In a life that’s so unique sometimes, it’s kind of liberating to know we have problems like other people’s. 😉

    After our oldest son Chris enjoyed quite a bit of a movie downstairs with us (RV – pretty cute!) we were getting ready to go upstairs (he had wanted a shower a few times during the movie and had gone up for his 2nd or 3rd one).  I was going in the laundry room to check on the towel load (it never dries in one cycle) and Rog drew in a deep breath and I said, “What is it?”  He replied that he saw the mouse (the phantom mouse that we’ll see once or twice and never see again so we think it’s gone).  Colleen had already named it Harrison.  We had half-heartedly bought traps last early winter and set them, but then de-activated them when we’d seen nothing of Harrison(s) for weeks and our lovely Spice escaped down into the basement and in her 8th life did NOT get trapped by one (she later did die in the basement in the sump pump though). 

    Continue reading

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