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.

image

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!

image2013-06-06 15.05.14

 

2013-07-20 20.23.15

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!

2013-07-20 13.47.192013-07-20 13.47.562013-07-20 16.07.272013-07-20 16.07.452013-07-20 18.14.302013-07-20 20.08.162013-07-20 20.12.432013-07-20 20.13.062013-07-20 20.17.092013-07-20 20.27.35

 

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.

3ToqYg6hO4VybqyNnyyHl0cJoYsv0p4r5i0UEAJjJoE2013-06-04 16.42.152013-11-07 08.18.572013-09-23 16.34.48

 

2013-11-09 13.01.402013-11-12 07.08.172013-11-12 07.12.332013-11-12 07.12.382013-12-24 11.50.312013-12-25 17.42.492013-12-03 18.37.552013-12-04 17.28.01320x480-Student2013-12-07 12.57.18ryan2013-12-10 06.27.412013-12-10 09.03.342013-12-15 10.20.152013-12-15 10.20.392013-12-15 17.15.012013-12-15 17.21.202013-12-15 17.22.232013-12-25 18.12.392013-12-25 18.12.492013-12-19 16.59.352013-12-19 19.35.182013-12-20 19.55.232013-12-25 17.42.18

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!

 

 

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!

 

2011-10-09 13.43.21

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.

2011-10-09 13.43.04

Senior year for 3 of us!!

101_1359

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!)

[ad#checks]

Transition to spring —

100_0714100_0712100_0713100_0710100_0711

 

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. 

[ad#Google Adsense]

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

0814101303

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.

 

0808101957

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:

 

07181014190718101445

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. 

colleen and friends

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.

[ad#Emealz]

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!

[ad#Google Adsense]

8 years old – thoughts

chrisbed 552d Photo268

Technorati Tags:

As Ryan (here eating fries when we briefly stopped at the park a few weeks ago) was climbing on my lap today, I started thinking about how soon that may be getting harder for him to do.  He is a tall boy, still skinny, and can still fit upon my lap even though it’s a little poky in places :D.  I have to remember to appreciate that and cherish a little boy on my lap, as the years go so fast.

I remember when Chris (above, left) crawled into our laps and in our bed every night to sleep.  He loved to be held and would just laugh and laugh.  He loved to lay down with his dad and play tickle games and play with his toys. 

Colleen wasn’t so much a lap person but she loved to sit with us, especially her dad, and play her animal games.  She did that a lot at age eight, and had a game called the cows that she played with her dad about imaginary animals and their conversations.

Now Ryan is over eight years old, and where is the time going?  It just seems the childhood ages are going past me – Chris going to be 20, Colleen’s 16th birthday is in 11 days, and they’re growing up before my eyes.

[ad]
[ad#Google Adsense]
[ad#Emealz]

progressing —


DSC00670

Originally uploaded by criscollrj

Wow, June 18th already. AND one month, one day on Weigh Down/Thin Within. I WILL DO THIS.

And we’re almost done with Colleen’s summer school and about to start Chris’s. I’ll be transporting in the morning and Gayle in the afternoon, bless her.

The only time we won’t be transporting children one place or another is the 3rd week of August, I believe.

Finally got our new checking account open – one of those open this and you get $100 free!! accounts – and I’m so relieved! Now everyone can say FINALLY Dorene will stop talking about how we have to get that DANGED CHECKING ACCOUNT open lol!!!!! It’s done. Now I have to get the new direct deposit form faxed in which I’m going to do right now.

And my thanks again to a certain angel to made it possible to do this today, on my husband’s only day available to do it, before the coupon expired for the account 😀

Ryan’s having a good time on his break – making sleep forts like this, playing with his Leapster, running around. His aide has also been taking him outside to play while I’m working.

[ad#checks]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...