24 years ago part 2

more on Chris’s birth —

 

So then we knew we were staying.  Roger sacked out on the pull-out couch and napped for the earlier part of my labor, during which I was able to sit in the rocker for a while, recording some things in my baby book, and walk to the nursery and look at the new babies.  This was after being monitored for about 1 1/2 hours on the monitor.  His heart rate stayed between 110 and 170 the whole time, which is normal.  My contraction numbers were about 15-25 no contraction – up from there to about 80 – mild to severe contraction.  They left me off the monitor for a few hours, I believe, during which was when Roger napped the most.  I remember when I was in the rocking chair it was about 5:00 a.m. and I was just starting to have to use my first level of Lamaze breathing, and the contractions were from between 2-4 minutes apart. 

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24 years ago—

A portion of my diary from 11-29-90 —

chrisbaby

 

9 days ago our son Christopher Owen was born. He weighed 7 lbs. 7 ozs. and is 20 1/2 inches long. He now weighs 7 lbs. 15 ozs. as of his 11/27 check-up. He’s beautiful!

Last Monday, my due date, I woke at 9:00 a.m. to the phone ringing. I ran to get it, and wasn’t sure if water was going to break (details omitted!). I went back to bed for 3 hours. When I got back up I called the doctor and they said if it stopped it probably was just incontinence, but to call if it did it again or if any pains started.

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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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About hearing aids…

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!

 

 

18 years ago —

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

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

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

Teaching Enjoyment

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Senior year for 3 of us!!

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RJ is in the 4th grade now and starts Wed. in his autism class, with a new teacher for the 4th and 5th grades.  Hard to believe I have an older elementary school student now!  Will get pictures of all three kids and post soon.

Colleen is a senior!  All the festivities that go along with it we will be discovering – I know we need to get senior pics, and order her senior yearbook, and she’s talking about getting her class ring.  Then of course graduation, and the resultant party, and filling out a FAFSA for her this year, and visiting colleges.  Some sort of graphic arts is her plan as we all expected.

 

Chris is also a senior in a sense – he is going to be 21 this November and is in his last full year of school.  We want to also get senior pics for him, and whatever yearbook they may have.  He is changing schools and is going to be in a workshop program that should lead to an excellent adult workshop for the years after this where he does not have regular school anymore.  This school also has, I believe, a Homecoming and a Prom!  He has never done these things before so we are so excited.  He will also have gym and swimming.  He has not attended this school since 2nd grade so it is a sort of homegoing for him – he has had several different schools through his lifetime, all with different focuses, pros, and cons. 

 

Then me, I am classified as a senior at this point, strangely enough.  it is also listed that I am in “pre” speech therapy, so oddly enough as a senior they still have me pegged into a “pre” associates degree area, where I actually already have an associate degree.  This will change, however, after I maintain a 2.5 or above GPA for a while, and then I will be solidly listed as a speech therapy major.  I did get a 3.4 from the summer classes so I am at a good start – need to get up to 3.7 or 3.8 by 2 years from now so I can get into the Master’s program.  Classes – clinical phonetics, English grammar (online) and hearing science (don’t have the book yet).  I start back next Monday.  To drive to Kent two days a week.  Good thing I love a good country drive – should be fun in the winter (ha!)

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17 years ago – Colleen’s birth

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Yes, another birthday today!  Amazing how fast it all goes.

 

Was just reviewing some entries from my journal from back then – actually 5-12-94:

 

“First things first, I’m 2 cm dilated (as of last Friday) and am working only one more week.  I’m ready to enjoy this summer off with my children.  It will be beautiful.  I know I will be tired and frustrated sometimes, with a new baby, more work, less sleep, Chris’s reaction, Chris’s speech delay, worry over finances.  Financially we are feeling pretty secure right now, but I have only eight more weeks of pay coming.  We must be very careful.  We’ve not charged anything since February/March except for my car repair.

“We are praying earnestly for Chris’s speech.  He still adds another word (some of past, some new) every one to two weeks.  But it’s trying how slow it goes.  He said “baby” at school yesterday, but didn’t say anything today.  I will list in a little while all his words as of now.  Praise God for them!  In January he had none.  Here are his words:

“January – present, 35 words:  Bye-bye, hi, waffle, see ya later, all done, night night, no, juice, come here, Ma Ma, Pa Pa, Mommy, Daddy, Baby, Bear, Big Bird, lay down, sit down, ears, nose, shoes, socks, binky, hot, cold, yogurt, ice cream, truck, up, binky night-night, car seat, thank you, cracker, horn, beep beep,

“Plus, one time he said to mama, “Now, where did they go?”  Now we ache to hear him speak several words daily, and to answer questions, and ask for things by name.  The words now are random and to himself, not as a real conversation with us.  We are grateful for the words, but pray for their increased purposeful use, and frequency.  Sometimes, especially when Chris has been quiet a lot and/or throwing things (today).  I cry for a while, a fear comes over me that he will never speak and communicate normally.  It is a scary feeling. . . . I have to face these fears, cry over them, then put them at Jesus’ feet and leave them there.  If this is what is willed by God (permanent disability) we must face it day by day through prayer anyway, so we will do that through this period of not knowing.

“Chris will be attending preschool for two more weeks, then we’ll be off for two weeks (with me and baby!) then will attend a Friday preschool for six weeks, then a gross motor movement class two days a week  for four weeks mid-July –> August.  This will be good for him – still a “summer break” from going four days a week, but something to keep him learning and occupied one to two days a week for a few hours (and give me a nap period!)

“The Lord really had worked some miracles – he is great and holy and is taking care of us, and we have a beautiful family:  a beautiful loving son Chris and a coming treasure of a baby (boy? girl?) and a wonderful husband (who I wish I could see more).

“I need to get this house organized and check over budget tonight and it’s 7:30!  I also need to make dinner!  I just spent the evening playing with my Chris and writing in here.  Chris and I played color matching, play dough (creepy bugs game!) and snuggled.  After dinner I will get him in bed 8:30 – 9:00 and start straightening.

“I dream of getting this house beautiful and organized!  Will take years.  Yard too!  Gotta make dinner.  The next time I write there will be probably ‘a waah!  a waah!’”

 

So similar, yet so different – 17 years ago!

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Transition to spring —

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The Snowmen (NOT CHRISTMAS, MOM! lol – she put the Christmas bow with them – “that’s not right,” as Ryan would say).  They are ready to go to the attic, all condensed and ready for their box as soon as I get it packed (Monday?)  Still have two lone snowmen decs on the mantle where half of them were before —

Bought these awesome bunny baskets – 3 of them for 3 kids – at Gabriel Bros.  ($2 each!)  Also bought the bunny hanger – loved it!!  The hyacinth (I think that’s right) was from Ryan’s spring concert – think I can finally put it outside if it’s not going to freeze again?  Also want to buy some daffodils and tulips in pots, to plant later in the fall.

Roger had his surgery on Monday, and after a brief struggle with temp and not feeling well from some infection he is finally feeling better today and is eating!!  So hopefully he’ll be home in a few days.  A new beginning to a new part of our lives in many ways – Roger with his body hopefully fully healed now from all the troubles he had from his gall bladder (this was related to that, from last year), and Ryan and Chris both adding new skills to their getting independent and ready to fly to what they will become, and Colleen getting ready to be a senior next year, with college decisions to make – wow.  And then me, on to Kent State in August – to take my first two speech therapy classes, phonetics and hearing science.  Another time of change. 

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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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