My last Christmas newsletter I typed in January/February of 2017, and finally posted on February 4, 2017, not knowing it would be the last Christmas newsletter I’ll do for 3 years. I have missed it and hope that I can begin sharing them again every year. Things were rather dark and scary for a while, with a lot of issues, and we just held on for the ride, trying to just trust in the Lord and in each other.
But hoping it will all end up good. Some of the prayer requests lately were about this as we didn’t know where it was all going! Being in the dark, or going around a curve not knowing where you are going, is so scary. But it seems God is working things out!
After 6 years at his waiver house Chris is moving to a new house! This was years in the making and finally happened suddenly when we heard of an availability too good to pass up. (Everything had been too expensive!!) We needed to cut his rent in half and have just about done so. It is a cute place and I hope he adjusts well. Prayers appreciated! He also should be able to eventually have a roommate. We never successfully were able to get one where he was because the rent was just too high. “But the legend of the rent, was way past due.” Or about to be. (School of rock reference, haha)
Chris is doing very well right now, as he was when he moved 6 years ago, so hopefully with all our support and love and good staff he will do very well. He is still thriving at the workshop he started in September of 17.
On top of this change (4 days earlier!!) Ryan is moving to a new school. This came as a shock but is all part of planning for his transition years to vocational. This will have more music and art opportunities for Ryan as well. They even brought a guitar to class for him to play. They had an opening and thought it was a good time to transition since Ryan will be 17 soon. They have opportunities to work on job skills even making some money ahead of his post-high school years. We weren’t expecting to do this so soon but felt the opportunity was great for him. So he had orientation today and will be starting Thursday.
Please pray for him in this transition as well, and that our move for Chris is smooth as there is SO much to do and so much furniture and items to juggle! May our boys be blessed in this new season….
And in the middle of that our daughter’s store closed and she got transferred to a new one. THIS just happened a week ago. We are praying for her as well, so far it is going fine.
After working with Chris every weekend for SIX YEARS I did not proceed to get a position with his new provider in this house. it will be very strange but Roger and I are missing each other over the weekend, and this way we can all visit Chris together without me being gone 48 hours a weekend. As soon as we adjust to Chris’s move and Ryan’s new school I’m going to be on the hunt for a new job in my educational bachelor’s degree field. Not a regular teacher, as I don’t yet have license, but I have seen a lot of cool opportunities on the job boards!! I also signed up for a few freelance jobs that look good that also use the bachelor’s degree — one for tutoring and one as a web reviewer of some sort. I haven’t started either one, plan to look at that in November as well as start doing more data entry with roger.
As always, busy busy! God’s blessings and happy autumn!
Around October of 2009 I was still planning to go and get my AAERT certificate for transcription, and start my own transcription company. There was a time around then that I found out with all the years I’d already been transcribing, that I probably wouldn’t have much of a pay raise by making this change. I was also already happy with the transcription company I was working for, and I didn’t really want to change. Additionally, we were concerned with Chris’s placement then, and had a dream of eventually owning a group home and having it be for our boys eventually plus other clients.
Of course I never did a Christmas newsletter with finishing my semester on December 31 on the deadline and then jumping right into emergencies after that! So I do wish a happy 2018 to all reading!
We are grateful for many things right now and just wanted to offer that in writing – thanking the Lord, all the people that have been “rocks” to us in the challenges and changes we had the last few years, and everyone that had been praying. All your prayers are still appreciated!
Also, this Christmas, we received a very special gift from an anonymous “Santa.” If you are on Facebook and/or on my blog, just know that we forever will appreciate it!!!! Thank you!!!! You gave us an immense blessing.
After about two years of extreme struggles and challenges, Chris finally is in a very stable situation with both workshop and home staff and situations. This is a blessing from God and everyone can see the better place he is now in. It has been many years since he has done this well.
Colleen moved out with friends in November of 2017 and is doing very well. She can finally enjoy all her animals in her own apartment. She still is working at the pet store and I believe she is in a peaceful contented place. Prayers are appreciated of course as she sets out on her own journey and discovering who she is.
Ryan turns 16 today (and I turn 53!) in a few hours and he is doing very well at school as always, and he still will be coming with us on our work trips a few times a year. It will be neat to see what he will do vocationally in the next few years, another road map unknown.
I graduate FINALLY sometime this summer – as fast as I can write a major research paper with accompanying tasks and do a 60 hour observation course with accompanying tasks. I see being done probably by July. I’d love us to go to Washington DC for that commencement ceremony but will see…. And Roger is still looking to go back. We still do our data entry and just recently got a nice typing job for a printing company through a friend.
So out of this habit it’s ridiculous. So guess I’ll just start with a small post. I never finished the Christmas newsletter picture section – but will just start over with that next Christmas season!
I’m still working many many hours for our sweet Chris, and we have discovered new parks to walk in, which I try and eventually introduce to the rest of the family eventually. This one is the Perry Bluffs and is so beautiful! The endeavor for an easier way for Christopher to communicate continues, and we try to get more and better ideas all the time. When we get a day all together as a family we treasure it. Funny how when something normal like that is discontinued for a time it is so treasured when it happens!
My three month semester break was ending May 31, and I knew I was not going to make that deadline. So I wrote and asked for another month, not thinking I’d get it, but they granted it until June 30! So I won’t have to return to my courses until July 1. Hopefully by then things will be more stable for us with my work schedule and everything else. I have one more semester of lesson plans, then another semester to write a large research paper.
The BAES degree is more described here BAES Degree– I have decided to get it and believe I will be satisfied with it. I will have a solid background in both special education and regular education and the ability to make lesson plans, and also I have the year or so of speech pathology and related prerequisites from Kent. when I do finish and get a job at some point I may seek something managerial in perhaps even the special needs/disabilities arena for adults, or something similar. I am most familiar with that! We’ll see what happens. If everything goes right I should graduate by June of 18 or a little before. I will also have the opportunity if I wish to to reenroll later and get my teaching degree by completing student teaching and observation.
I TYPED THIS January 1, with the expectation of having it done in a few days. I never finished it. I have not finished most of the things I am doing right now! So I figured, what the heck, I will post this, and will probably give it a nick name of the Unfinished Post! I truly wish you all a blessed 2017, here in early February, and pray you all will have all you need and love. God’s blessings to you all! I didn’t want to wait any longer to post – so understand all the pictures are not even on this newsletter – going with the theme of this being unfinished! But what I didn’t want to do is break my approximately 25 year record of doing a newsletter every year!! I don’t seem to get them mailed anymore, but getting them on this blog (before it was my web site) happens every year (since about 1998??). Lastly, those of you that sent us Christmas cards, THANK YOU — I truly appreciate it and enjoy them so much.
January 1, 2017
First wanted to share this from a friend’s facebook wall…of course changing her items to mine…
I’ve seen LOTS of memes and lots of posts decrying how horrible 2016 was. There were some strange things, some bad things, the deaths of a lot of cultural icons, but the year itself was no worse than any other year. There were also a lot of good things! I think that social media likes to focus on the negative, so I want to change that here! I’m going to focus on the positive! here are some GOOD THINGS That happened in my life:
with all the changes that happened with Christopher’s housing and staffing, we have ended up with a new fantastic company and staff for his care.
with further changes in our self employment situation, we were able to put a very part time job from the back burner to the front burner, giving us more full-time work that disappeared from our former major company.
roger had a full year of better health, and even though learning about his diabetes was a new challenge, we had an early warning to attack it head on with better eating plan, more exercise, and time to turn things around and lead to even more weight loss!
Our Christmas season was not as hectic as last few years – even though it was still hectic! We had time to watch our beautiful tree and take the kids to see lights.
We were able to meet friends and family for a few dinners and gatherings, even though we didn’t go to Kraynak’s or Christmas world. there are plenty of great light shows to see right here in our neighborhood!
Colleen made her wonderful buckeyes after a few years of not getting to make them 🙂
I’m now just months away from my bachelor’s degree. (February 4 note – this has changed a bit — I will soon do an update on this, but I actually now believe my main teaching degree is done in October, then I will have a semester of research writing (instead of doing student teaching) that will take me probably Jan – June. So probably graduating June of 18, but without the license. (One step away from that license then, if I do it then… I may wait a bit, so much going on!)
There are lots of other good things too! These are just the highlights! As we go into the new year, let’s focus on the blessings! PLEASE COMMENT AND SHARE SOMETHING GOOD THAT HAS HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE THIS YEAR!! Or share on your wall!
To risk being repetitive, two years later we are all still so grateful for Roger’s health. We continue to approach new wellness approaches, trying to follow a Mediterranean more healthier carbs eating style, and Roger has lost some weight. I have a bit of a struggle as I can’t seem to stop the sugar, but will try and cut back more and more this new year. I luckily have not gained any weight back that I lost the past few years, and am grateful for that. We continue to visit a few courthouses together, and have added some online courthouses as our focus of work has switched from one company to a different one. We also had a new experience begin this year, as Ryan has become older and more calm and able to focus pretty happily on his photo programs on a tablet or phone, we began to travel with him along to courthouses. We were able to have 4 trips with him this year along with us, where he enjoys Pizza Hut or Wendy’s after work day. It’s been wonderful to see our towns in the hills again!
Had a solid year of college this time — as I was planning to start student teaching in either Sept. of 17 or Jan of 18 any more term breaks would have messed up my schedule to get into those programs. However about 3 months ago I made a new tentative plan, and am still in the midst of making a decision. An option that I most likely am going to do is to obtain a degree plan called a BAES (Bachelor’s of Educational Studies). Then I can obtain a waiver to receive a master’s (I am looking at either educational technology or instructional design (writing lesson plans) where I can do my student teaching afterwards, in a few years. with everything going on right now I do not feel ready to commit to 4-6 months of full time student teaching!!
I am planning a term break then most likely in March or possibly March and April, to hopefully finish cleaning out our basement, also recovering from a brief plumbing problem we have had, and completing the move of Ryan to his new room (no that did not happen yet!!). One huge accomplishment I had a few months ago was I was able able to clean out ALL my file folders in five file drawers, plus a large file bin. I burned or shredded many boxes of papers!! I just have to file what I have saved – that does take up a large bin and I’ll have to get going on that filing stack soon!
2016 was a rather difficult year with Chris’s care team, with many changes and challenges. A long story short, however, we ended up with a team starting in August that we have been very pleased with, with loyal workers at this time that we feel are a good fit for Chris and very hard working. Please continue to pray for Chris’s communication to improve as we face struggles as well with his day-to-day comfort and peace as he continues to try and learn to communicate more. We are praying for more answers for his medication and other needs as we progress in this continuous journey.
Colleen is still working at the pet store and has a lot of hours and responsibilities. She continues to love her animals and has been pet sitting (temporarily!) some ferrets. She was able to go on vacation with her best friend in March and visited Virginia Beach and also took a side trip back to Cooper’s Rock, our favorite park in West Virginia. I was glad she was able to go on such a nice trip.
Ryan’s halfway through 9th grade and does well in his autism class in the high school. He also has been attending basketball, football, and soccer with a local special needs organization and also takes special swim lessons, where he is swimming in the deep water now! Basketball starts in February, football in May, soccer in July. They all last about 1 month each. (www.specialsportsinc.com!)
Getting Christmas decorations out early was a nice accomplishment this year, as I haven’t done that in about 3 years. We enjoyed looking at our lights and others’ lights on their houses as well, as I took a lot of rides especially with Chris looking at all the neighborhood lights. Even though with a lot of working hours we didn’t have a lot of hours together, I was glad to be with Chris a lot sharing the Christmas season with him. It was also wonderful enjoying Thanksgiving and Christmas at Chris’s house. We also enjoyed time with the rest of the family, visiting at Gayle and Chuck’s new home and at my mom’s home, and visiting my uncles. A large snowfall in early December gave us about 32″ of snow to wade through, then most of it melted by Christmas, giving us a white AND green Christmas!
January 2016February 2016 March 2016 – giving away old possessions! and the Aquarium visit!
April 2016 Ryan swim, Chris walking at park
May, 2016 the rainbows that appear on Chris’s walls from the window cut on the front door — but I take them as signs that God and the angels are with us! May started a whole lot of new struggles, but God is always with us! Ryan’s football camp.
February 4, 2017
And there, the pics end, as I never finished entering the pictures for June-December, which I had planned to do before posting this, but as I’m trying to finish my semester by February 15 I’m slammed… God Bless…
In 2010 we tried to get Chris into a medical placement to help adjust his meds, to no avail. I posted about it https://criscollrj.com/2010/05/23/the-brick-wall/ . After that in 2011 we did manage to get a waiver and group home placement (in 2012), and I’m so grateful. I also can work for Chris there which is a blessing, as I can still spend time with him and see how he’s doing. But we never were afforded at that time a medical adjustment placement, to see if we have the best mix of medicines possible for him. Soon he is seeing a sleep expert, and I hope we get some answers there. His sleep and behaviors are all over the place.
I will add that prior to that, in 2004, we did receive a med adjustment, with the urging of his psychiatrist. He was just 13 then and had a 10-11 day stay. He had good results after that that lasted two years. But as an adult he did not get a med adjustment placement.
However, posting this for a friend of mine (below) who is having similar trouble placing her son, but he is only 9!! You would think it would be easier to get help for a child than an adult! Sharing to bring awareness and hopefully more ideas for help for her, and changes to the system….
I have a bit of a long story that people need to know about. I live in Duncan, OK. I need someone to listen and bring light to this devastating situation. My family is being failed by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and lack of services available for children with Autism in this state. I hope that by getting the word out, some change will come and my son will be given the help he desperately needs. Some background:
My son is 8 years old. He has severe Autism and is nonverbal. He is globally developmentally delayed. He is also very aggressive. Sometimes his triggers are apparent and sometimes he just snaps. He is nearly 5 feet tall and weighs 90+ pounds. He has been aggressive since he was 2 years old. He has been getting more and more destructive the last 6 months or so. On July 14th, my fiance and I took him to Shadow Mountain in Tulsa in hopes that he would be admitted to their inpatient program because his aggressive tendencies were becoming increasingly worse. After driving all the way to Tulsa, we were told that even though they could see that he needs help, they couldn’t help him because he was “too delayed” and with him being nonverbal, he wouldn’t be able to participate in therapy. We were heartbroken but used to being told that there was no help. Services in Oklahoma are TERRIBLE for Autism, especially severe Autism.
On July 16th, my fiancé’s mother was sitting with our children when my son completely lost it. He attacked his Nana and his baby sister. They were both left with bleeding wounds from bites all over their bodies. He had also bitten a portion of his 3 year old sister’s ear completely off. Police and EMS were called. Both of my kids along with their Nana were taken to the hospital. DHS became involved. We were told that night that our kids had to be separated. They were not allowed to be under the same roof. By the time we got to the hospital, DHS had already had my daughter released to go home with her Nana. They made sure that she was gone before we could get there. Duncan Regional refused to keep my son because “he wasn’t their responsibility.” DHS made it very clear that my daughter couldn’t be in the same house as my son. The worker told my kids’ Nana that if she found out that we had been allowed to see our daughter and our son was present, she’d have our little girl taken away.Continue reading →
Well, all we continue to say after last year is that we are so glad Roger is with us this year!! As I wrote last year, he was in the rehab center all last Christmas and it continued into February. He was finally able to come out then and recuperated at his parents’ until sometime in March. We were so happy to finally see some strength return by about April and May, and I continued to do a lot of work with him on data entry. We truly are a team!
We still go to our Youngstown courthouse every few weeks and enjoy getting a lunch together at a local Chinese restaurant. We also were blessed to enjoy a family vacation (https://criscollrj.com/2015/10/22/october-2015-maryland-vacation/) for the first time in 9 years. Even though it was a bit colder than expected (with a little snow even!), we all really really enjoyed it and hope to return again soon.
We did completely have our basement renovated last year–as I wrote in the last newsletter that said renovation had begun–and then had our bathroom repaired in May. With school again from July until just a few days ago, I am yet again ready to start cleaning out corners and cobwebs and ready to finally get Ryan in his own room as we had planned last summer, that didn’t happen. I am on another term break now until March 1, when I will start yet another semester. Three more semesters until student teaching! A bit scary, actually…
We returned to Kraynak’s again a few weeks ago with our friends the Jevnikars, and reunited with my high school friends Annette and her family, and also our mutual friend Becky. It was very enjoyable, and we especially found delicious the food at a new place, Hickory Grill. We had unseasonable warmth through much of December except for a few brief snows. It has been in the 60s this Christmas week. Strange to see daffodils coming up in places — will they come back in the spring?
We were thrilled for Chris to be enrolled in a new workshop in October where the focus is on autism intervention/training for workshop. He is doing so much better and also has seen a new medical expert that has tried some new medicines for him. He is sleeping better and is usually in a great temperament!
Colleen found a fantastic job this year and has been working since April at a pet store. She is a lizard/fish expert and that of course is right up her alley. She works a lot of hours and is very content with that.
Ryan moved on to the high school this year, in the 8th grade. He continues to excel in his academics and made honor roll this semester! He is now taller than all of us except Roger.
With all of the things that have occurred in this past year and before, we continue to trust that God has us all in His Hand and is watching over us. We have had many challenges and trials, but am so grateful that many things are resolved now, with just a bit more to get through yet. Some time ago this popped into my head, particularly the part that begins at 2:14
I didn’t realize I posted this on Facebook on December 10, 2014. Guess I should have posted it on last year’s newsletter, but here it comes now for some reason…
From Facebook 12/10/14: “This is a song I used to sing all the time in high school, and I’d forgotten about it. Starting about 1:03, listen to this song (though the first song is good too!). The part that says “I want to thank you for the gift of your son,” just randomly came in my head when I got home from the hospital today, at 2:13 on the track. Word for word it came out of my mouth, and I hadn’t heard the song in about 33 years. I felt like thanking God for seeing Roger today and that things hopefully are going to look up soon, and I thanked God, and then just started singing this song. Didn’t even know who it was by until I found on YouTube! Just knew I was in high school probably when it came out. I needed to hear the words today… been such a struggle.”
“I want to thank You for the gift of Your Son,
And for the mystery of prayer,
And for the faith to doubt and yet believe
That You’re really there.
The mysteries of Your Word are the questions of my days.
I search them now to understand the wisdom of Your ways.
Jesus walks before me and clearly walks the path
To guide me to the Father and to peace at last”
Chris visiting Daddy in the hospital, Jan ’14
Rog programming his new IPhone 5c
The place where Rog should be sitting in Youngstown court next to me…
4. I am at Youngstown Courthouse
5. February 2015 – and the snow just keeps coming.
6. And the cold!
A particular memory is how the heat quit working in my car when I was driving to Youngstown, and the real temperature outside was -17. Talk about cold toes!! Later found out it was my radiator, which I had replaced in May of 15. You’ll see below what happened in June…
7. February – the amazing photobombing bird!
8. A start to one of Colleen’s amazing paintings.
9. Ryan writes so much like I did..
10. The cold just keeps up.
11. March – painting almost done!
12. Rog is back at his mom’s, and we finally had Ryan’s and my birthday parties!!
13. Boys at mama’s and papa’s house.
14. Ryan’s SpecialSports Basketball 🙂
15. March also finally got Rog back in that special chair at Youngstown Courthouse!
16. That was an amazing temp after all that cold!
17. April brought new glasses, after years, that turned to sunglasses!
18. Colleen’s beautiful sculpture.
19. Another one of her gorgeous art show entries.
20. Rog and I got to Meadville to work May 1 and ate at 5 guys!
21. Ryan at the football camp in May for Specialsports!
21. It was Flag football…
22. Got our bathroom redone in May!
23. Colleen turned 21!
24. June – Ryan’s really enjoying summer!
25. End of June said goodbye to Old Bess after she caught on fire. 13 years — 195,000 mi. Yep, a month after replacing radiator. I was pouring radiator fluid and power steering fluid in it for months…
26. A few weeks later this 2014 T & C joined our family. 30,000 miles, and now it’s already up to almost 44,000.
27. Sophie and I enjoying our basement, much nicer after the Christmas ’14 repair!
28. July, a little trip we took Chris on where Colleen was doing some fishing.
29. Mom and her friend Allen Helm helped us plant a lot of beautiful plants and shrubs my uncle Don gave.
30. I saw Rainbows on Chris’s wall on 3-4 separate occasions this year, amidst worry and struggle.
31. Sometime the summer/fall Peach went to live with my mom. She is flourishing! She lost her “sister” Pumpkin a few months before that.
32. July – my mom and Chris and I enjoyed attending the Montville bicentennial.
33. Ryan always enjoys getting his Dairyman’s Chocolate milk, a daily trip he calls “getting Biggerline Dairymen’s chocolate milk here.”…. and boy what a fit if one of the stores has run out of stock on it…
34. September – we did get 15-20 tomatoes!
35. Mantua potato festival 🙂
36. Getting rid of old couch and fridge. Lots of newer furniture and a fridge, and lots of boxes and other things, came in when Mama/Papa moved! I’ll be sorting and arranging all these on the current break I just started.
37. Took Chris to the shore one night, Lake Erie.
38. Our trip in October to Maryland. More pics on my blog! Runaway ramps in WVa.
39. One of the parks in WVa or Maryland.
40 Fire in our cabin 🙂
41. First views of the hills.
42. I want this mailbox!
43. Our cabin.
44. November after Gayle/Chuck moved, Chris visited before they gave away the keys — Emotional!!
45. Breathtaking view of the lake in Auburn on the way to Youngstown.
46. Happy birthday Chris, mom, Papa, Nancy!
47. 48. 49. 50. Kraynak’s trip with Jevnikars, Kromer’s, and Becky Freeman 🙂 Boys are at the chocolate store, and Colleen took this lovely selfie in the car (didn’t take a selfie in the Santa chair that I asked her to 😉 )
51. Our one snow event a few weeks ago. Before and after, unseasonably warm!
A year of changes! God continues to lead! Roger had a necessary but elective hernia surgery and is in rehab recuperating from unexpected after-surgery complications. We miss him very much; luckily he is located close to us. We are personally experiencing Christmas being all about family and letting go of small stuff that doesn’t matter!…
In our year of changes I also discontinued overnight travelling with Roger. That was difficult after 5 years, but my mom’s availability changed with other family responsibilities. Going to Youngstown to work with Rog has become a great time of sharing for us, with our often going out for lunch. I go there myself now weekly.
I attended Western Governor’s from September 2013 straight through August of 2014, and then took a break of 2 months. I had a lot of room renovating to do, and we accomplished much sorting and purging! I did return to school in November, and now am recovering from a pre-renovation basement purging project. We will have newly clean and painted walls and floors! I can’t wait until it’s done and we can enjoy our basement again! My next break from school I’m planning for May
One tradition kept, we DID do was go to Kraynak’s Christmas store and display in Sharon with the Jevnikars, a tradition we do try almost yearly! It was a fantastic day with friends – we even met with my high school friend Annette and her family, as they live near there. We also enjoyed just today with the Jevnikars a Christmas party with pizza outing, bowling, and visit with Rog in the large party room at his rehab center.
Chris’s Autism Interventionist specialist still worked with him most of this year, aside from a leave she took. We are still utilizing IPad and pecs on communication. He enjoys weekend outings with us!
Colleen continues in college, and this year began creating beautiful small animal artwork to sell, made into necklaces, earrings, and other items, and sewn hammocks for reptiles. I enjoyed knitting/crocheting an outfit for her bearded dragon Buddy.
My mom has been spending more time with Ryan lately, with Rog in rehab after surgery, and Gayle often gets him off the bus too. He continues to learn more and more at school and is spelling very hard words!
A very blessed season to all!
January 2014 – Poinsetta suddenly turned red! Snow started in earnest
February, 2015 – snow just kept coming! My first phone in a while to really successfully last more than a few months without having something wrong with it!
March, 2014 – Colleen’s artwork keeps getting better and better – she made it into shows that spring semester! My last trip with Rog to steubenville/Greene co. PA.
April, 2014 – Winter finally over – first grilling. Easter day.
May, 2014 – Ryan’s haircut! Colleen’s birthday at Olive Garden.
June, 2014 – Girls’ day out! My haircut – finally.
July, 2014 – Baseball, soccer and swimming!
August, 2014 – the Fest, and Ryan discovered Pacman!
September, 2014 – Potato festival, and quite a haul at the fruit market!!
October, 2014 – Atwood Lake festival, and DOUBLE rainbow!
November, 2014 – Chris’s birthday, and last day before Rog’s surgery – super day out with friends to Sharon PA
December, 2014 – Tree alight, and first of the new painting in the basement.