Christmas letter 2013

 

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6.

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A very blessed Christmas season to you all!  I am so sorry I did not get cards out this year – I will try and get them out next year along with a printed newsletter.  We enjoyed our Christmas very much and had a lot of family time.  Colleen and I are enjoying our tradition of baking together.  We also sat and watched movies and went to see Pettiti’s garden center’s Christmas display as well.  Unfortunately a bad virus kept us from attending Kraynak’s in Sharon with the Jevnikars but hopefully we will get there next year. 

2013-11-18 11.48.07Chris is flourishing at his adult workshop after some adjustment hiccups last year, and he has a wonderful Autism Interventionist specialist now working with him this year.  This has made a huge difference for him, and we are so grateful!  He also after a few years’ wait finally has working hearing aids and is starting to wear them all day there at school.  He is also being provided the Autismate program for the IPad soon which is an excellent program for autistic individuals to communicate better.  http://autismate.com/Home/Comprehensive-App-For-Autism-With-Visual-Supports/  Chris continues to say occasional words, the most recent being Juice! 3 times as I took a container of orange juice out of our basement refrigerator!

1277992_10202637956815563_1986459377_oWhile continuing college Colleen continues to take care of a lot of animals, the new one of which is Buddy, a Bearded Dragon!  All of us including her boyfriend Scott have said NO more, but, boy, she sure enjoys what we have!  She continues to draw and won great praise from her art teacher, with her art being shown at the school, also.  Colleen baked delicious cookies this Christmas again, making her decorated sugar cookies and buckeyes,  among other things, and I also made my monster cookies.  We wanted to make a gingerbread house that I bought from World Market, but unfortunately, in the strange way things tend to go, the entire kit went missing, and we have yet to find it.  So I suppose it will be a later winter gingerbread house when it is found…. sigh. 

pets collage

 

2013-11-12 07.06.36I think lately what is striking me is how tall Ryan is, suddenly!  He is growing into a young man before our eyes.  His academic progress is fun to watch, and the fact that he enjoys it all so much is thrilling.  Currently Ryan’s favorite game is Minecraft either on Dad’s IPhone or my Kindle.  He also sometimes plays it on Chris’s IPad (while we hold it!!!) – unfortunately he broke his own IPad last March.  He played Minecraft on his PC for a while but then didn’t want to anymore, for some unknown reason.  Ryan’s high point is outings with daddy every weekend and he loves “the little grocery store” and “Marc’s Store.”  Keeping Ryan by us in a store still can be a challenge as he wants to dash off and get his favorite chocolate milk and chips.  He is getting so independent!  He misses latchkey as he was cut out of it this school year with his school not offering it any longer (he is now in middle school in a different building). 

Graduation from fifth grade was a highlight of Ryan’s year!  It was very emotional to say goodbye to Leroy Elementary School!

image2013-06-06 15.05.14

 

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Getting back to Port Clinton/Marblehead this summer with the Jevnikars was a wonderful outing!  We hadn’t been there with them since 2005.  Ironically Roger then also was assigned Ottawa and Sandusky counties with his work, so he gets to go back there every few months – I went with him back this fall one time.  It was super having an all-day camping day with our friends in July and we enjoyed swimming, walking, eating barbecue, and traveling to the Marblehead Beach!

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IMG_20130627_122352Things continue to the same in our data entry work – God has enabled us to keep up the 3 two-day trips every quarter! Prayers appreciated for some medical issues for Rog that continue.  I also continue to perform home health care with two companies.   Rog has chosen Columbia College online in Missouri to obtain his bachelor’s degree in social work – just awaiting the right session to enroll in.  I have transferred from Kent State over to the online college Western Govern University, where I continue to major in special education.  I really like it a lot – and of course, though, I loved Kent as well, but the scarcity of any classes locally or at a time that was convenient to go was becoming a bigger problem every semester.  WGU’S degree also adds an elementary school license which may be very handy for flexibility in job-hunting!  They go on a six-month semester, and one can start any month.  I started September 1 and go through the middle of February, and then start again in March.  I can take a month or two off in between any semesters as long as I give them notice.  I also still hope to go back for autism certification and ABA after I receive the bachelor’s.  Can’t believe I will be student teaching in just a few years or less!

Anyone who wants to read the list of my complete courses at WGU can click here — http://www.criscollrj.com/2013/08/15/transfers-and-changes/  ha ha!

I started using My Fitness Pal in January 2013 and have kept up with it fairly well to date.  I am not logging each day now though, as I should, but hope to get back to that today!!!  I have lost another 10 pounds or so – it wavers between 20 and 25 pounds total loss since early 2012.  I need to lose more but do feel so much better being down about one size!  In the new year we hope to attend a water fitness class at the Y every Wednesday.  A very bad cold/virus got me away from walking in late November, and I hope to have my strength completely back when Ryan goes back to school January 6 so that I can start walking every morning again.  The entire family was down with this virus between mid November and mid December – it was awful!!  We also have a really nice exercise bike in the basement that we want to start riding now that everyone is starting to feel better.

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Transfers and Changes!

2013-06-04 16.40.07

summer13

 

After a very busy, enjoyable summer, we are headed into a fall of changes yet excitement!

First, Chris had a very nice summer camp, along with Ryan, part of the time, where the boys got to swim, go to the mall, the movies, play at the park, and just generally get a lot of activity and movement in the sun, and rain!  Both boys enjoy it a lot and we hope they get to attend next year!  Then Chris went back to his workshop and is really accelerating his progress now after their acquiring an autism interventionist (which is what I’m striving to be, eventually!) that is working wonders with him.  I am also putting more programs on the IPad including Autismate Lite and a Social Story program that we hope will be helpful to him.  He also has been playing on a spelling matching game with me that he enjoys a lot!

Ryan also greatly enjoyed that summer camp, and went to another as well, which was from his school and was an autism camp at a local school.  That was more academic, and we were so pleased that he was actually promoted to a higher level class when he was there.  He then decided to test that teacher with some behaviors but then calmed down and did his work the rest of the time he was there.  He then had another week at the activities camp, and is now half done with his first week of NO camp.  This has been hard on him and we are just trying to keep him busy and happy.  Today is scheduled with going out to the store and later going for his before school physical.  Then tomorrow I work and Grandma watches him, then the weekend is full of time with his brother and then only one more week!  AND the 20th he has 2 hours at his school for orientation.  Before I know it, Ryan will be in 6th grade – August 26!  New school, new teacher, but most likely mostly the same classmates.

Colleen is preparing for her 2nd year of college and most likely will be working at the same time.  This will be a busy new year for her, and she and Scott continue to plan their future and have fun together.  He is working a lot and they try their best to schedule time together around their schedules.  She continues her love all pets and our telling her NO MORE PETS continues.

As always Rog and I are scheduling our quarterly business trips together and have some much needed alone time as we drive miles around the area to these SE Ohio and Western PA counties.  We most likely are next going on October, with the blazing fall leaves.  It is cool to see the seasons change as we do these trips.

Other than that, I’m still working for my senior ladies – two years now! And we have Chris every weekend and have fun with him and the family. Rog and I are battling our own health issues and trying to get healthier. I lost 13 pounds this year doing MFP and walking – think he has lost some weight too, but not sure how much. I’m looking forward now to fall walking and plan to sign up for hopefully two Y classes and start lifting weights a little. I think that will start my weight loss back up. I actually have lost a total of 25 since 2010 and think I do look better. Double chin is gone!

My driver’s license pic in 2010: license

 

Me now. About 25 pounds down…wgu pic

50 to go!

After waiting since March when I signed up for Western Governor’s to see any progress on my entrance (such as my schedule or what classes I personally need to take) I finally got my orientation page and my schedule page, along with all the courses I need to take, on my main portal today!  They had told me before the magic date would be the 15th of August.  So I get to start my orientation activities, which probably will take me a week or so, along with all my classes to investigate.  This is my cup of tea so I will be overly excited about it for a while… ha ha.

Time to put in a “more” tag and then those of you interested can read all about what classes I’ll be taking! Continue reading

Migraine aura lethargy/exhaustion=relaxing blog time

2013-05-07 08.45.00

Had my post-stress migraine today but luckily not a huge headache with it – just a bit of achy eyes and exhaustion.  So seemed a good time for a well-overdue blog post!  I am too whipped to do anything else.

My last posts were mostly about weight, so my quick update about that is that I am STILL on a plateau and starting to doubt if I will ever lose more than ten pounds.  Well, not really, I have to have SOME hope since I have to lose 50 more pounds.  But either I have to change something or be patient – yep, those are the choices.  HA!  Being that what I have been doing WAS working I will just try a bit longer.  Perhaps I am just still building muscle….  The plateau will be 8 weeks tomorrow.  Still having about 1700-1900 calories and walking fairly regularly, and also count heavy cleaning my once a week as exercise, plus some of the cleaning at home.  Also just started Tai Chi but only once a week.

Big change that I didn’t post about – I found out through researching some online schools this college program:  http://www.wgu.edu/education/teacher_certification_special_education_bachelor_degree, and I decided to apply.  I have since taken their entrance test (yes, an entrance test! I was so nervous! but I passed) and transferred my credits in.  I am aiming for a September start.  I LOVED Kent but the drive was getting more difficult as I was going to have to drive 4 days a week including 1-2 nights in the fall semester.  So I am eagerly awaiting receiving a schedule for fall.

Took a look at my posts from last summer where I saw this one http://www.criscollrj.com/2012/07/23/2012-summersuper-hot-super-busy-flying-by/ where I have a list of what I wanted to accomplish.  Let’s see how it compares to now:

LAST SUMMER:

  • 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.   Did get this done sometime before school started.
  • 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!] I did very poorly on this, and continued to procrastinate throughout fall semester too, finishing most of the courses in the last three weeks of the semester.  I did get an A but only by ignoring the whole world….  This is a bit scary with my new college being totally self-driven – I have to do better on self planning and WILL.
  • 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… I actually have done fairly well with this.  I love syncing of gmail/calendar on phone and computer!! Open-mouthed smile
  • Sort all clothes in the three bedrooms and give away the tons we don’t need. Laughing hysterically.  Nope, not even close.
  • KEEP deleting emails I don’t need – in the last week I have gone from 18000 emails to 2,000 emails, and still deleting. Yes, did do this.  I actually told someone about this yesterday but thought it was 80,000 emails, guess in one year I quadrupled the number in my head!
  • Go through freezers again and plan more meals to use up what we have. I believe I did do this.
  • Complete the deep-cleaning of the kitchen by scrubbing out and sorting all cabinets. Nope.
  • Finish straightening basement, clean out the fridge bins that are down there for the downstairs freezer. Did first thing but not second.
  • Pass out Avon books again. I think so…
  • Finish painting living room? Nope.
  • Work with Colleen on sorting 4 years worth of school documents and organize them into bookcase and filing sorters. We did do about half of this but they’re still in a box.
  • Probably many more ………

THIS SUMMER:

  • 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. Yep, exactly the same amount has built up – plan to do this this coming weekend and next week.
  • Sort all clothes in the three bedrooms and give away the tons we don’t need. Bedrooms are supposed to come the end of May, to mid-June.
  • Clean out email again
  • Complete new paperwork projects – I do have a few right now for the next weeks/month.
  • Clean off Toshiba computer and prepare it for Rog’s back-up computer.  Buy new flash drive to store excess files on for backup.
  • Thoroughly scrub down both refrigerators and hopefully swap one for the other (the basement one is bigger and nicer!)
  • Complete the deep-cleaning of the kitchen by scrubbing out and sorting all cabinets.
  • Clean out basement.
  • Pass out Avon books again.
  • Finish painting living room?
  • Finish work with Colleen on sorting 4 years worth of school documents and organize them into bookcase and filing sorters.
  • Have some fun family outings – more than last year?  Hopefully it won’t be so HOT!

Some pictures from the last few months…

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Lake Erie’s double horizon phenomenon, seeing Canada!

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Picnic a month or so ago across the street – winter was finally over!

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Rog hard at work at Tionesta PA Smile

 

2013-04-30 08.51.45

Gallia County Ohio River glory.

P4040654

Ryan at Wendy’s before his haircut Smile

“Not” a plateau—

After about 38 days on my weight loss plan, I have hit my first what I thought was a plateau.  After reading a bit of the posts on my MFP (My Fitness Pal) community boards, it seems it isn’t really a plateau until you’re on it for weeks or months, but it still doesn’t feel nice!  I know I need to just keep an eye on my measurements, and I am, and they have gone down!  So I am trying to remain focused and stick with it.

Meanwhile, I started blogging a bit of my history on MFP and thought I’d post here 🙂

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/criscollrj/view/introduction-to-my-weight-journey-501402

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/criscollrj/view/continued-introduction-to-my-weight-loss-journey-503083

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Maybe someday I’ll approach this weight, though I probably won’t look 22 again… 😀

 

 

Crystalline

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http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1175/5131084279_760e129f19.jpg

 

I did not take this pic, but I saw a similar effect yesterday driving to Ashtabula Kent Campus.  It was actually even more striking than this if that is possible.  The silver-tipped trees against the blue sky was very similar, but there was also the effect I could see, while driving and unable to stop and use my cell phone camera, of the rays of sun casting a sideways silvery glow across the sky adding to the blue and iced trees. It was magnificent!  I was full speed ahead to take my Math exam, which I was late for, and I wished I could stop on the way back to take the pictures but by then the effect was gone.  But the vision in my mind remains.

One thing I wish I could take the time to do, and the money of course, is to learn to use a better camera and take really  magnificent pictures!  But until then I will enjoy others’ and snap away with my Android phone which doesn’t do too bad —

Some of my favorites I’ve taken:

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God’s beauty in all seasons is amazing!

In other news, on the 30th I’ll be on my MFP (my Fitness Pal) plan for one month and so far I’ve lost 5 pounds!!  I’m the lowest I’ve been since about 2007. 

Calling on you…

2013-02-12 08.25.24Since I dropped two of my courses (was too overwhelmed, they weren’t needed right now, and I’m already taking the two required right now) I have been trying to walk each morning again for 20 minutes.  Today the snow was falling very lightly, not accumulating at all on the ground that currently has no snow, and was just barely coming down on my coat.  It reminded me of many walks I took in high school where I bundled up every day and walked my dog Cocoa in the back woods at our farm.

cocoa 2When I walk it is one time I can really try and pray without much distraction.  It’s a bit different than when I drive to Kent – that is also an important time as I try and listen to 103.3 Moody Radio and really focus on the sermons and conversation.  I don’t always listen to radio – I tend to switch from that to the Fish to just classic rock or mix stations, whatever I am in the mood for.  But listening to the shows on the drive to Kent had become a habit and one I do want to continue even now at home.  But the walking and praying was different, and I had missed it.  I have not consistently done it in a while, just because it had been so hectic to always get out the door to get to school, or get Colleen to school (last year), or whatever I was doing.  I am grateful the time is back.

I am also walking consistently as I am still doing the My Fitness Pal – two weeks tomorrow.  All the exercise gets deducted from the day, giving more calories available, and revving the metabolism!  One pound gone…

This song came into my mind today and I looked it up on YouTube.

Stryper – Calling on You

 

Inside of me there is a lonely place
Sometimes I just don’t know it’s there
But when I’m all alone
That’s when I have to face…
[Bridge]
The part of me that needs someone
To be by my side that’s when I call on…
[Chorus]
You, You make my life complete
You give me all I need
You help me through and through
I’m calling on you
I can’t explain just what You do to me
My love grows stronger everyday
You give me love, You give me company
And when I have to face the rain
You bring sunshine into my life
[Repeat Chorus]
[Solo]
[Repeat Chorus]
More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/stryper/

New classes and new food plan!

Since I like to pile it on all at once I’m tackling just that!

First, the classes.  I love many things about them and also don’t like some things about them.  But all are necessary and I will be challenged and will grow stronger and hopefully wiser with all the information I’m learning!

  • Characteristics of Special Education, Moderate to Intensive.  So far I love this class!  But I don’t like that it’s at night.  At least it’s only once a week.  My husband Roger has been wonderful to pick up Ryan from latchkey these nights.  I did miss last Wednesday due to Concord, Ohio, having its own personal blizzard which caused a pile-up I mentioned in the last blog post.  I was just not up to going down to school after that.  The class is very interesting with reviewing all the ways special education works and is comprised of, and the course has just begun so all kinds of projects are still in store.  I think we have 5 or 6 projects due in the semester.  This course is a requirement for special ed.
  • Basic Math Concepts II.  So far this class has been more challenging than Math Concepts I which I took last semester.  Of course that shouldn’t be a surprise.  I have to start the lessons earlier.  I am planning to actually start tonight, giving me 6 days to work on it before it is due.  Last week started the study of probabilities, which I was completely unfamiliar with, and I didn’t have enough time once I finally really started it to complete it well and understand it.  I only got 80% on the homework before I ran out of time.  I don’t want to repeat that.  This course is a requirement for special ed.

Now, I could have stopped there.  I am not able to get into advanced study for special education yet because I did not yet complete Math Concepts II.  So, since I am on my last semester of Pell grant (I timed out as I had too many semesters) I did not want to only have 7 credit hours in my last semester on the Pell grant, not using the whole thing when it was available.  So I searched for a few classes to get up to full time, ones that would be applicable to my educational goals.  I have wanted to also get a master’s degree in speech pathology, but had put that on hold until I finished the special education degree.  Therefore with this gap I added two courses towards that:

  • Quantitative Methods in Psychology – in other words, Statistics.  I didn’t really realize when I signed up for it that it was Statistics.  I didn’t realize until I looked at the book sample on Amazon and saw – math?  Ugh.  So far, however, it hasn’t been too bad.  The teacher, however, just did send our first homework to us online and it is due in about 10 days, the day before our first exam.  I have not looked at it yet.  I hope I haven’t shot myself in the foot taking two math courses at once – although they say, admittedly, that statistics is not really math – hmmm, don’t know about that!  This course is a requirement for the speech pathology degree I still hope to get later.
  • Language Disorders in Children.  So far this course is amazing,and exactly the information I am wanting to learn in addition to the special education above.  [You can tell I really could do without the math information – ha ha!]  However, the teacher kind of scared me when she told us that her tests were really really hard and were practically the entire grade for the class – that there is really nothing else graded.  The chapters are also longer than average and I am not getting enough of the reading done.  But it sure helps that I’m fascinated with the topic – I should be able to catch up on the reading and do fine.  This course is a requirement for the speech pathology degree I still hope to get later.

So, all and all, an interesting semester!

Then (and I will probably post more on this next week) I decided to start posting on my phone and computer to My Fitness Pal.  A friend of mine’s son lost 25 pounds on it and I decided to check it out.  It has been four days, and so far everything is going well!  I did set the calories rather high at 1700, just to give myself some leeway as last time I believe I had set Sparkpeople (similar app I did last summer) at 1400 and kept going over.  I love seeing exactly where I am with my nutrients and levels.  More next week along with hopefully my first loss post… but it’s a very slow rate – set at 1/2 pound a week to keep it off….

(can I get HERE?)

college kitty

Still reviewing all the old posts —

d8bcIn my spare time, here and there, have been tagging and categorizing my posts back to 2003.  I got to November 2005, then just found a way today to import all the comments from Livejournal!  This is exciting as I just don’t get to Livejournal much anymore so this way all my comments both from WordPress and Livejournal are in one place!  And this pleases my computer geeky self Open-mouthed smile

Any Live Journal readers here that were on my friends list in the mid 2000s – if you want to add this blog that would be great.  It’s fun re-reading your comments now as I re-add them [all the posts were imported in on private and I have to edit and tag each one] – it will take me a while to get them all in but hopefully in a few months all the comments to the posts that I have put on WordPress will be added (not all my Live Journal posts are on WordPress, so some comments will still only by on LJ – – -)

Have had a few things done to the house recently – some unsafe wiring fixed and getting some drains cleaned out.  It will be nice to have all that done for winter!  We had to clear part of the attic so in the process brought the tree down. It’s in my bedroom – we’ll probably put it up sometime this weekend without decorations.

Can’t believe the holidays are around the corner – refuse to change the background yet of my blog – ha ha – but will choose the layout and probably change it right away on Friday!

Took difficult square roots test in Algebra yesterday – hope I did all right.

Taking Ryan to his hearing evaluation today for school – it’s at our deaf school in Mayfield. 

Have lost 10 pounds since September but no more – need to get back on that.

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progressing —


DSC00670

Originally uploaded by criscollrj

Wow, June 18th already. AND one month, one day on Weigh Down/Thin Within. I WILL DO THIS.

And we’re almost done with Colleen’s summer school and about to start Chris’s. I’ll be transporting in the morning and Gayle in the afternoon, bless her.

The only time we won’t be transporting children one place or another is the 3rd week of August, I believe.

Finally got our new checking account open – one of those open this and you get $100 free!! accounts – and I’m so relieved! Now everyone can say FINALLY Dorene will stop talking about how we have to get that DANGED CHECKING ACCOUNT open lol!!!!! It’s done. Now I have to get the new direct deposit form faxed in which I’m going to do right now.

And my thanks again to a certain angel to made it possible to do this today, on my husband’s only day available to do it, before the coupon expired for the account 😀

Ryan’s having a good time on his break – making sleep forts like this, playing with his Leapster, running around. His aide has also been taking him outside to play while I’m working.

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Weighing my options.. literally

A year ago I typed this —

Thin within

but I never did anything seriously about it. I am THROUGH GOD’S help starting again today. I will eat only when really hungry and just eat a small portion, brushing my teeth between meals. If I’m going to have the energy I need to deal with everything in our lives right now, I have to get this weight off. And I need to start exercising more. I am walking every day for 10 minutes (weekdays, after Ryan gets off the bus) but that’s not enough.

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