Another Post-Pandemic year to contemplate, the Lord has brought us all here through again! Prayers to those of you ill, suffering, or just tired of dealing with all the insanity, and praying for a blessing to touch you now and in the new year.
18 “Forget the former things;do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
No matter how it seems, we have to trust God is doing a new thing!!!
To minimize load time I put all the pictures on a separate page. Please take a look, I wanted to make a snapshot of our whole year! I will put just a few here — then click the “Read More” if it shows up. Blessings!!
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.” (KJV)
Last year’s picture blog — https://www.criscollrj.com/2020-monthly-picture-blog/ 2020 picture blog! (2021 note, I may do this at some point for 21 and more likely for 22. I am vaguely disappointed in ways with both that method and this one used here in 21…. would like to find the PERFECT picture display method…. ha ha.)
A text only version of this newsletter — this one is picture heavy. (WILL BE UNDER CONSTRUCTION, IF NEEDED–let me know)
PRAYERS TO ALL this second very strange year! After God brought us through COVID last December, we are thankful for no lasting problems except some extra fatigue for about 6+ weeks.
So grateful also for our sons’ recovery and my mother’s. Strangely no one else in our families got it! We had two humongous snowstorms in December of 2020 that made life interesting trying to get out of the house for COVID tests and needed grocery pickups. Broke limbs on several of our trees! The snow stayed around until at least February, and as we gained strength we started walking at the parks and seeing the frozen lake.
JANUARY started off the year baking cookies that we gave to family and friends!1-4-21 Roger went back to college, and has several classes finished now towards his Psychology/Human Services Degree from Southern New Hampshire University! Later in January I began substitute teaching again. I also FINALLY got back to some transcription for Free State, and did until April when I once again needed a break due to overscheduling! Looking forward to doing some more this winter to “keep my fingers in the pot.” I also often do some data entry at home, both for courthouses and for a friend’s printing company.
Prayers to you all at the closure of this crazy strange year! Do not believe I’ve sent paper Christmas newsletter since 2014. I did do electronic newsletter in 2019 (published 12-31), and RIGHT after that my criscollrj.com site failed. So whether many of you had an opportunity to read it I’m not sure! I mentioned some dark scary times. Faith in God is so important, and prayer of family and friends is paramount. This post says a lot. Please read if you can. https://www.criscollrj.com/2011/04/11/the-powers-and-exponents-of-faith/, emphasizing Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I read through entire blog this year and reviewed it and edited it in preparation of moving back into my soon to be revamped original blog site. I’m glad I wrote so many of these entries years ago – I’d forgotten many of them.
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!
“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.
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.
Chris 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. 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!
While 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.
I 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!
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!
Things 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!
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.