I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Ps. 37:25

Christmas letter 2013   4 comments

 

"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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About hearing aids…   Leave a comment

I just recently got a second hearing aid, after having one left hearing aid since 2006 and wearing it haphazardly.  My hearing loss is less severe – mostly in my left ear, but some in my right.  Ryan’s is second least severe, with his having more loss in each ear than I.  He has refused to wear his hearing aids since first grade, and his school through audiological evaluation at our local deafness school said that his trying to wear hearing aids at that point was more detrimental, as he was tantrumming and not able to focus on his work because he was so uncomfortably stimulated, than just going to school without them.  He has also actually been passing his school hearing screenings which is surprising.

Christopher is most severely affected, with his being almost totally deaf, and he will wear his hearing aids.  He has had one broken now for over a year and we have been struggling with finding a competent hearing aid provider; we found one that we thought was good and then found out that they had twice made his hearing aid mold wrong, making it to uncomfortable for him to wear.  We are now taking him to another provider next week and hope we have better luck.  Of all three of us, Chris will most benefit from his hearing aids.  He also seems to really enjoy wearing them!  I think because his hearing loss is so severe, he is so delighted about hearing anything that he doesn’t really get bothered by the sensory annoyances of them.  Although he has thrown them out of his ears after 5-6 hours before and we have to then find them in whatever room he was in!  So he has to be closely watched while wearing them…

When wearing my left hearing aid off and on for six years, I did experience some better hearing.  However there are drawbacks.  Every background sound is also louder.  I thought perhaps when I got the right ear hearing aid (which I did a few weeks ago) that I would start to hear things better like music playing in a crowded courthouse, for example.  However, as I sat with Rog at Jefferson Co. PA courthouse the other day, every sound in the courthouse was louder even as the music was louder so I could still not hear it any better.  Roger could still distinguish the songs before I could.  Positively, though, I could hear Roger talking better!  And that is important!  And hearing high-pitched birds in the morning, and crickets at night, is also a plus!

About wearing the hearing aids themselves, and thinking of how Ryan is so sensorily over-stimulated with them, after I put them in I feel, for quite a while, like I am all plugged up.  I eventually forgot about that feeling but occasionally it comes back, especially when I’m trying to eat with them in.  I have the full sensation more in the left ear, which has the inside the ear only type of hearing aid, than the right, which has the type of hearing aid that is around the ear with just a tiny tube leading to inside the ear.  I have actually found this right ear hearing aid to be more comfortable and less obvious to see in my ear when I look in the mirror.  The left inside the ear aid also seems to often feel more blocked than the right, but that could be because of the wax buildup my audiologist told me I am experiencing.  Once I visit the ENT and get that cleaned I’ll have to see if I then feel any difference between the ears.  I also quite frequently have a sense of itching after wearing them for several hours.  This has not happened in my right ear yet but I have only had that hearing aid a few weeks.

If we could find a way to write a social story for Ryan to be able to overcome these feelings I’m sure he has as he wears his hearing aids, maybe we can help him to learn to wear them again.  The benefits of his wearing hearing aids would greatly help him!  In school he mostly has one-on-one help, but that may not continue for his whole life  If he can experience group learning in a more complete way by being able to hear better that would be wonderful.

Chris of course will greatly benefit after he gets his correctly fitted hearing aids!  from what I remember the hearing aids help him to hear some, but not great.  I believe they said they get him to almost a 20 dB level, which they explained should be someone speaking to him in a rather louder voice.  I am hopeful as Chris wears his heading aids longer at school that he will pick up more words again (he talked when he was a toddler and young child) and remember how to pronounce them.  He could also enjoy music again that he used to listen to.  He also used to play the organ beautifully – it would be great if he could create music again!

 

 

Posted November 9, 2013 by Dori in chris, deafness, Ryan

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Transfers and Changes!   1 comment

2013-06-04 16.40.07

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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! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted August 15, 2013 by Dori in autism, chris, colleen, college, health, Ryan, weight, work

When you get that text or call…   Leave a comment

I was getting a hearing exam Thursday (yesterday) and was in the chair with the thick ear pieces in my ear, hearing the series of beeps to say yes or no to.  When I was all done (hearing hasn’t changed – my old hearing aid was cleaned and still good) I checked my phone. 

It was unusual to have about seven missed calls and two texts when I’d only been unavailable for about an hour.  The one that came up first was:

“You need to call Colleen.  She got into an accident and is on her way to the emergency hospital.  We have been calling you over and over again.”  From her fiance.

The visions that pass through your mind suddenly in that situation are horrific.  It is probably not very different from when you have a near accident yourself and your life passes before your eyes.  I immediately called my daughter and heard her voice, a little weak but not faint, and she said that she had broken her nose in a car accident, and that her friend driving had some bumps and bruises but was okay.  The overwhelming joy was such a relief over the prior fear.  How lucky they were.  How strong the relief and how scary the thought of what could have been, what God protected us from.

Thankful for seatbelts and defensive driving maneuvers today!  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy to us all!

By the way, her noise wasn’t broken – at first they thought it was but after CT scan nothing was broken.  A concussion is suspected, so her injuries were treated as head injuries, and she underwent her 24 hours of not being allowed to sleep for more than two hours at a time (which, of course, we did not either).  That is happily over and she is okay, though still sore.

Love you girls!

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Posted June 22, 2013 by Dori in colleen, reflections

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Goodbye for now, Kent State!   Leave a comment

2013-06-17 09.00.59

A few months ago I decided after some researching to apply at Western Governor’s University (more about that here http://www.criscollrj.com/2013/05/17/migraine-aura-lethargyexhaustionrelaxing-blog-time/).  This saves me time and money, as the courses are less expensive and everything is online.  However, before I had made that decision I had applied for scholarships at Kent, and I was awarded the one above AFTER I made the decision to leave!!!  What a beautiful plaque and a nice feeling of accomplishment!  I did try and enroll in a class online so that I could still use the scholarship, but was unable to arrange for the splitting of the financial aid between the two colleges, and this morning was just told by Kent that because I wasn’t full time at Kent I would not be able to use it.  But I still will treasure the plaque – my first plaque of this sort!!  My best wishes to whoever they award it to next Smile

So now in two and a half months I will start an unknown venture of studying online at Western Governor’s University – I am just waiting for hearing what transfers and what I have to take first.

Meanwhile the deep cleaning of bedrooms has begun – I am half done with my bedroom.  Ryan starts summer camp next week and Chris started today.  It is cooler this year, which I like… though the plants may need a little more sun!  We have had a lot of rain so far!!

Posted June 17, 2013 by Dori in college

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Tomorrow you were due —   Leave a comment

19 years ago.

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I can’t believe how long ago it was!  I quit working around May 19 to prepare for your arrival.

Colleen was our second child and we did not find out if we were finding a boy or girl – we didn’t find out with Chris, either.  (We did, with Ryan, for some reason).  I was so happy that we were able to have both boys and girls, though of course all boys or all girls would have been a wonderful blessing as well.  But our older two, you did so much together, and grew up together so much. 

Now going on 19, I don’t know where the years have gone.  Tomorrow came and went and Colleen didn’t arrive, but come the next night I was in labor by late evening!  Colleen was born at 4:30 a.m. on May 29, on a Sunday. 

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Posted May 27, 2013 by Dori in birthdays, colleen

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My story about Tionesta   Leave a comment

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.

Posted May 18, 2013 by Dori in reflections, travel, work

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Migraine aura lethargy/exhaustion=relaxing blog time   1 comment

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

 

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Gallia County Ohio River glory.

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Ryan at Wendy’s before his haircut Smile

Posted May 17, 2013 by Dori in college, organizing, weight

“Not” a plateau—   Leave a comment

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… 😀

 

 

Posted March 12, 2013 by Dori in weight

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Crystalline   Leave a comment

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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. 

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Posted February 26, 2013 by Dori in photos, weight

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