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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Goodbye for now, Kent State!

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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!!

New classes and new food plan!

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

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

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

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

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

So, all and all, an interesting semester!

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

(can I get HERE?)

college kitty

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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21

Wow, somehow I did it.  Due to my just plowing into things at times, I got myself into a situation where I was doing schoolwork every waking hour almost.  Taking seven credit hours (2 5-week classes, 1 8-week class) sounded like a great idea in the spring.  Only seven credit hours, should be easy!  I didn’t think about the fact that I was taking them in a third of the time as usual so, duh, they would be accelerated!

 

So I just finished the equivalent basically of 21 credit hours (7 times 3).  I took about 21 also in fall of 84 – that was the last time I took so many.  I remember thinking at that time that I’d never do that again – that was quarters so must have been 10 weeks, and I was working too – ha!  I remember thinking I’d go nuts. 

 

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I am proud of myself though.  As far as I know I got at least 2 B’s – hoping maybe one was an A but not sure.  Still working on the third class – have a B now I think but am pretty sure I can bring up to an A now that it’s my only class.

 

Happy to be able to breathe again and catch up on time with the family AND the housework!  And if I ever did get to the point I would go full time again, maybe I could make the Dean’s list again (only did it twice in my life).

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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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Syllabi and phones —

(http://www.pcworld.com/article/173033/evolution_of_the_cell_phone.html

First I must confess I did have to look up if the plural of syllabus was syllabi – and certainly it is. I wonder where I came about that certain bit of information in my head – I’m certainly not sure – but slightly pleased to know that was right. LOL.

Since 1999 I have had a cell phone – a bit late on that front, but there it is. At first I shared with my mom a cell phone plan where I had a phone similar to the one in the photo. A little bigger perhaps, it was still an amazing thing to us! We progressed to having our own plan by 2004, where at first Roger had Alltel and I had T-Mobile – our workplaces and the connectivity thereto was of upmost importance, and Roger even had to have something of a direct connect right after with Nextel. I also toyed with Sprint before we both ended up getting Verizon in approximately 2006, and even with a brief period with AT&T we are now back with Verizon, as for us now they have the best connectivity of the bunch.

As everyone knows, cell phones are everywhere, and everyone seems addicted to them. They are precious possessions, connections with the world, comfort for parents that children can instantly check in, and entertainment for some, and internet connectivity for the lucky! Yet they are accident causers, confusion creating (remember the first time you saw someone talking on a Bluetooth?) and sometimes patience prodding (person in line on line not paying attention – with embarrassment I admit I was that person in line the day after Christmas, talking with my daughter about some urgent question she had about a ride to an activity, where I didn’t hear the clerk say, “Please move your cart, ma’am, the stockboy needs to get through!”

After being in college now for a year, I am now in my first semester of taking three classes on college grounds. I have taken two other college classes on campus, one my first session (Spring 2010) and one in the Fall of 2010. The other 3 classes were online. I don’t recall what those syllabi said about cell phone use. What struck me this semester, is all three of the documents pretty much forbid even looking at the cell phone. I liked the humor in one of the paragraphs:

“Turn off and put away all electronic devices. This includes cell phones, pagers, Palm Pilots,
Blackberries, MP3 players, tape recorders, cameras, laptops, electronic notebooks, and all other
devices already in circulation or yet to be invented. For those who must be reachable, leave the
telephone number of Campus Police (440-525-7241) and your class schedule. Campus police
will be happy to dispatch an officer to your classroom. The person who needs to reach you will
be able to call Campus Police even if they lose the phone number. Lakeland is listed in the
phone book, and our police have access to your schedule.”

She does have a point. I actually am going to follow her directions and if anyone has an emergency they can call the campus police. Hopefully that policy won’t have be used, but it’s comforting to know it’s there! [ad#Google Adsense]

Music appreciation

scan choir 9thMe in choir in 9th grade in high school.  My love of music started way before that, though, when I learned the fundamentals of music from my Uncle Don when he taught me the accordion at Age 7 Smile  I picked up the guitar at 10 and never looked back.  I couldn’t wait to get into choir, and finally in high school was able to join for three years.  (Hard to forget the devastation in 12th grade when I had to drop choir for geometry).

Starting this class tomorrow:

MUSC 1200 – Music Appreciation

“This survey course provides an introduction to aesthetic and historic issues relating to musical works of major composers. The course emphasizes the art of listening to music. Topics include instruments of the orchestra as well as works and influences of composers. Students will study both instrumental and vocal works. This course requires no musical background or skills. (3 contact hours).”

Back to music after many years away – at least educationally.  With a change of classes proposed by Kent when I went there for my advisory meeting last week, I had to drop children’s literature (which was a choice for a humanities credit at Lakeland but not at Kent) and Health (which was needed at Lakeland but not at Kent for the degree I chose), I chose Music Appreciation out of the list of humanities choices that Kent gave me as the final humanities I needed for their degree.  So tomorrow I’m off to Music Appreciation, a course which I remember Roger being in when I first met him in 1983 Smile.  I took a course with this professor before, “Popular Music,” in approximately 1984.  He is a good teacher.  It will be strange to see him again with us both being 26 years older, probably in the same room where I took the course before.

That room brings back many memories.  At Lakeland, when you enter the building where the music rooms are, at first you go by the large art gallery. 

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These were some of the pictures that were in the Lakeland gallery last time I was there a few weeks ago.  They change the series of pictures every few months.  Back in the 80s I often did homework there in the gallery, ate snacks, and usually ended up meeting one or more friends that hung out with me, or me and Rog together, and it was the spot where we would often play guitar and sing together.  So the gallery is definitely a part of the whole music experience for me.  Since I went back this decade, I have probably sat in there 4 times doing algebra.  The ghosts of past times still are there, merging with the current scenes.

In the music room, in the main section, I had Lakeland Singers (a choir group that also had some dancing, which I was not so used to and made my awkward debut in Winter quarter, 1984), and I was in that class until the end of spring quarter, 1986.  This room served as practice room for the band and choral groups, and I also took my popular music class in that room.  Roger, who I met in a band practice in December 1983, was a student in that room as well for music appreciation and music theory (2 years of that!) and we often met there as I would find him after my secretarial classes, as well.  He also had a piano class in an adjacent room.  Then later in approximately summer of 85 or 86 I took piano and voice lessons and that was in the piano/organ practice rooms that are adjacent on the other side of the large teaching room.

Wish I had pictures of the Lakeland music room in the 80’s, but I’ll make up for it by taking some this week!  The picture above of me in high school was taken by my mom.  She is a bigger photo buff than me!  And I think my Uncle Don took the one below, another great amateur photographer!

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Still reviewing all the old posts —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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