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. 

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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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When you get that text or call…

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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Tomorrow you were due —

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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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

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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Seems fitting to attend a great barbecue the week before school!

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Sometimes it’s challenging to get through the summer easily trying to keep two rambunctious boys happy and safe in the heat.  But all in all I think we all accomplished this this summer.  We have worked as a team – Chris stays at his paternal grandparents’ still (while we await, seek, and research the appropriate placement) and Roger stays over there a lot to watch him.  Chris is very astute and is trying his best to learn the ways of unlocking doors so he can get some freedom outside.  However, their safety (Ryan will escape and run off as well) is our highest concern so we do have some fancy key locks on the doors at both houses.  So it is up to us to get them out as much as we can for their activities and exercise.

 

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So all and all we were pleased with their summer programs – next year I would like to get Ryan to Chris’s camp even more days – we got a grant this year for him to go 6 days but if we can get three grants then next summer he can go 18.  Chris went all summer from June 22 or so until this coming Friday the 20th.  This is where they met for camp – we started taking Ryan there a bit a few days this summer:

 

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It was very nice and also had a wood path.  The boys would walk with their class in the morning on the wood path.  Then by afternoon they’d usually visited another place and ended up swimming in a big pool across the county.  Really nice program.

 

Colleen stayed busy with different friends, often attending anime events and swimming. 

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Rog and I worked, and went out of town for business in June.  We’re going again the first week after school starts.  I also made it through computer class and Algebra 850 – intro to algebra.  I just finished that about 2 week ago and was happy to have passed (it was hard!).  On a break now, working on some transcription but not tons and going to be trying to get the house in shape before work and school again (school starts week of August 30 for me – biology and intermediate Algebra).  0809101226 Speech therapy and certification in autism and deafness is still the goal, Kent State.

 

Working with Congress at this point with several liaisons to try to find away to get Chris into the program at NDA National Deaf Academy.  We sure hope and pray it works. 

 

Watch the video about NDA’s autism/deafness program  I just feel so excited that this could be the right program for Chris.

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birthdays with business as usual.

16th birthday party is all done and in the books.  I think Colleen and her friends had a good time.  I worked on and off the whole time, and we had a busy weekend with also taking Chris to the park with Ryan and Rog too.  Rog is feeling a lot better. 

I actually still need to send the one blog post still on to the Congresspeople about how there really needs to be way more help in Ohio for individuals with disabilities needing medication adjusting.  More posts, prayers, calls, and arrangements are still needed.  But thankfully Chris is doing better at this point and we really enjoyed our time at the park with him this weekend!

 

Photo344 I have been excited to find Windows Live Photo Gallery and with it Live Space, and plan to gradually get all my photos on there.  So going to work on that on and off.  Also, long story about how financial aid was messed up for me this summer deleted but short story is that I should be back in my class by tomorrow and have lots of homework to do!  busy!

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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