Living & Loving, Autism & Deafness

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!

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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!

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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

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.

Guilty again!

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Yes, I’m guilty again, of not posting because:

  • I don’t have time.
  • I don’t have anything new to say.
  • What I’m interested in saying really won’t interest anyone.

That is really ridiculous, though, as even if no one else reads this, I read it.  I do go back and look at these from time to time, and to see something that makes us smile, or brings a memory, or even makes us cry a little is worth sharing.  Even for ourselves.

So, what have I been busy with?  Well, school until last Friday (Now on spring break, working out of town with Rog) was very challenging (math!) and kept me busy nonstop.  I was also working some at the same time.  During the week break I am on now from that, as you can see by the pictures, we had a snowstorm, and I went on a trip to gather geographic information on Ireland (the obviously Irish pictures) and now we are on our trip out of town for work, and met our friends for dinner last night. 

So I go back Monday, and need to spend double the time on math, as my grade is not so hot right now.  I still have two months to bring it up.  I will be also sending my computer back to Asus for some repairs before the warranty expires, meaning that I will be using Ryan’s computer for the necessities, but won’t be working during that time as I don’t have Windows on that computer, just Linux giving the availability of Internet for bill paying, etc., and open office if I need it.  So I should get more math studied and completed with the addition of transcription projects not being an option.  I don’t know how long the computer repairs will take, as I have never done this before!

Roger’s surgery is now pending most likely at the end of this month, where after almost a year’s wait he will finally have a cyst and hernia removed (they were hoping it would all shrink on its own with time, but it has not).  Roger is probably about 95 pound lighter than he was in February 2010 when he went into the hospital with his gall bladder and related problems, and looks so nice!  I think he’s passing me up with his weight loss <3.  Prayers for him are appreciated.

Still looking for the proper residency for Chris – this is all taking so long it’s driving me crazy.  He’s going to finish off the school year staying with his “mama” and “papa,” and then we’ll see if he’ll come home to our house as he still awaits his residency or I/O waiver caretaking arrangements, or what we’re going to do.  He’s a sweetie.  He stays at our house every weekend, sometimes sleeps, sometimes doesn’t, and still loves to laugh!

To end, I wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s day, and in memory of that:  http://criscollrj.com/2010/03/17/miracles/.  We will have our corned beef and cabbage dinner this weekend, as we will be out of town.  I can’t wait!  And a big thank you to our parents that are keeping up the ship at home while we are gone.

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Trivial and important often reside together

As a person who has always been not so good at multi-tasking, I have had to learn to become quite good at it!

The important things in my mind always are:

  • Taking care of our children and the family’s basic needs.
  • Roger and I getting our work done.
  • Us getting our schoolwork done when we’re in school (Rog from ‘99 to ‘01 and possibly going back next year, me since January of 10).
  • Colleen getting her homework done, trying to get some entertainment/learning activities for Chris, and supervising Ryan in his education pursuits (He’s rather like me where he’s obsessed with school items and loves his alphabet and learning to spell, so that helps – he creates his own educational hobbies!)
  • And just keeping enough clothes to wear to be clean and dishes washed to be sanitary!

So I would always try and do these things first – still am!

But it’s amazing how many other things pile up when you do this.  Things you feel you never have time for.  More dishes that you just can’t get to.  Filing (started that last week as far as cleaning out the file cabinet!).  Grass that needed cut that Rog had been too ill to do (he’s outside now finishing it, and our friends helped us with it last week (pictures coming). 

Then things arise like 500pp of printing needed printed out for various agencies.  Like in one week (happened to me in April).  That means you run out of ink, and have to buy it.  Then you have massive phone calls on this, that and the other.  Every day is full of interruptions.  Necessary interruptions, unnecessary ones, and sometimes annoying ones!  Sometimes pleasant ones!  Sometimes a spontaneous trip to the park is a tremendous treat (hopefully soon!)!

All in all, I’m trying to learn, that it’s not always the important all the time.  Sure, I’m working on getting out my deadlines of the week for work, and do my homework, and cook dinner.  But I don’t want to be a once a year or once every six month blogger any more.  And I want to be spontaneous.  Enjoy Chris today who’s at the house as he didn’t get to go back to school yet after his hospital stay.  Enjoy the trivial.

 

Blessings!

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Almost August and I haven’t even been swimming yet!


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Originally uploaded by criscollrj

We took this back in June when we did take Colleen & her friend to the beach for a while. We haven’t been back. I didn’t go in that day and neither did Ryan — Ryan has been afraid of the “different” lake water and this is the closest he’s ever been to it! It was the first time he ever played in the sand.

So we’re hoping to possibly go Saturday — it’s supposed to be 83 and sunny so I think it sounds like a good day for a picnic lunch! We’re also taking Ryan to the free screening of Veggie Tales in our area.

After working 4-5 weeks at the office and most of the time blending that with transcription fairly seamlessly, this week got fairly rough! I decided in the future I will either work at one job or the other and not try and combine them. Of course that will involve having plenty of notice for the out-of-the home job — I imagine it will be a few months now before they call me in again. I love working there though — it’s like family (worked there before 88-94 & again 02-03).

I FINALLY got some sleep last night and have one more day of work today– if I have time at work I’ll start some of my transcription due next week but at least it’s thankfully not something due today! I also am working on sorting all the papers that have stacked up the last 6 weeks or so.

Got Chris’s guardianship and trust papers all done and am in the middle of filing them. These are papers we had to do with his becoming an adult. He may be coming home soon — we’ll find out for sure on Tuesday. I am very nervous about this but have to have faith, and know that 99% sure he will now get 24-hour care with his being discharged. Our eventual family goal with Rog’s parents is to have our own small group home for him and some other individuals.

Please stay in prayer for Rog’s dad who has been very ill, and doctors are still doing tests to see what is wrong.

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Being led home…

… and I didn’t even leave 🙂

Typing

Wow, after 3 months, I’ve decided to quit looking for a job. I made this decision on Sunday, after 3 months of no-gos and dead ends, and not really being able to give transcription my all because I’m always looking for jobs or going to interviews (only 2) or talking to people and finding out the job is the wrong hours, etc. etc.

So this morning I found out a trans job I did briefly over the summer, that put me on hold because they got slow, have added me back on! So I’ll have 5 active contracts again.

God is Good! And it’s nice to feel at peace about this….

Now if one of the 100 or 200 jobs I applied for actually CALLS me for an interview, that will be another story but we’ll see …

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Changes

Reminds me of this song, even though mine has nothing to do with a heartbreak – well not the same kind.

My boy is moving!!  Chris is moving to a group home on SATURDAY.  It is an awesome place.  I think he’s really going to be happy there.  It is so close to his school, and they’ll be taking him on a field trip every other day or so after school. 

And I’m looking for a job.  We are stopping home-schooling Colleen – we got her through end of eighth grade with it, but now she’s got to make a clean break and try again with 9th grade in public school.  I’m trying to get a legal secretary job.  I’m still transcribing, and I love it, but it’s just not steady enough.  WE are SO behind on our bills, and want to get out of debt.  I’ve signed with a temp agency and will wait for the right job to come about.  I’m not going to just grab anything as I do have a nice little income from my transcribing where I can be a little picky. 

Then when I get a full-time job (hopefully soon!) I can catch up on the credit cards again.

It’s just funny, what a full circle since I started my blog here at LJ in 2003.  I was still working full time and lost my job a little later after that.  Was then just home, then went back to typing at home, then home again, then typing at home again, and now looking for work again.  5 1/2 years later.

Back then the kids were 1, 8, and 12.  Unbelievable.

Funny how we called them Owen, Renee & RJ.  Eventually I just started using their real names. 

I didn’t realize how hard it was to find archives with this theme background.  I finally had to go in my WordPress blog to get it as a lot o the entries are copied there.  But I may have to get a different background as God help anyone who wanted to go to the beginning of my Livejournal – there’s just no link to do it!!

5 1/2 years ago:

April of 03: 

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Uncategorized, health, sleep, workNo Comments »

owen is having a bit of a tough time again after doing very well for a week or so. He went to day care with his sister first time last week on Thurs and Fri. This is the first EVER he’s been in day care. he did well! This week he goes back to school (tomorrow) but last night he started staying up late again — 4:30 a.m. this morning (dh stayed up with him – I actually got to sleep 9 hours last night PRAISE God! it is 12:00 now and he’s still up. dh has to get up at 4:30 a.m. and I will be up at 6:30 with my little baby, I’m sure.

I had been thinking all weekend trying to make a decision about my work. I work 22 hours a week now but have the opportunity to work up to 30 if I wish. That would mean having the older kids go to the day care every day after school. After thinking about it all weekend we decided to wait until summer and see how they do, and maybe work a little later then if they seem to be able to handle it.

We just have been so broke for so long that it feels good to be able to pay the bills and having more sounds so good. We also need a new house — 5 kids in this tiny house is tough.

dori, in the close family :)


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