Friday, December 14, 2012


I made Thanksgiving dinner at work then headed home before it was finished cooking to join the Ithaca stragglers for some yummy Thanksgiving potluck.  Thanks everyone for such great food!

This is Javier and Ashley Campanini.  They just accepted a job to California and are moving as I write this.  SUPER SAD!  I'll miss you, Ashley!!!

Alex and Danya Smart brought the DELICIOUS turkey.  SOOOO tasty!

Here's us.

Kelvin and Julie Blaser.  Julie is teaching me piano lessons.

Josh and Melissa LaPray.  They just moved into the branch are are a lot of fun.

Jeremy and Linda Bentley.  I like to borrow their 2 kids at church.  Super cute!

Alaric Hall.  Another new addition to our branch.

Brett and Sydnie Freeman with their daughter, Callie.  Callie is super girly, adorable, and always comes to nursery decked out in necklaces.

Jason and Eliza Cook are in the main picture but left before I got my camera out.  We love them, too! Until, Julie sent me a copy she had!  Yay!  Here are the Cooks.

The post is a bit late but finally done.  Check! 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Adults with Autism

I have found it hard to blog lately. I work with 5 men with developmental disabilities between the ages of 20-30 years old.  I have been with them for almost a year and a half.  It didn't take long before I found myself thinking about them around the clock.  I'd be in a store and think, so and so would LOVE this.  Or out and about and think, I should take so and so here.  I worry about them.  Pray for them.  And just overall love them as if they were my own family.  All I can think about when I sit to blog is writing about these 5 amazing guys in my life.  But, there are laws to protect their rights and privacy that make it so I can't just sit and blog about my day.  Understandably so.  But, I wanted to share a little bit of what I do for a living.

My job has a lot of awesome highlights.  The rare moments of sincere affection from them.  Or outings that go perfectly without any behaviors and really excite them.  Most days are more neutral.  I do my job and help keep the house, cook, pass medications, help them shower and practice good hygiene, shop for food, clothes, or other needed things, help work on their personal goals, and nothing drastic happens.  It's normal daily life.  And then, there are those days where I just want to sit and cry.  They can be violent, mean, self-abusing, and/or prone to fantastic tantrums that often times set one or two of their housemate's into their own tantrums and turn it into an hour to 3 hour to all day cycle of setting each other off on yet another round of tantrums.

There's a lot of resources out there for children with Autism.  RIGHTFULLY SO!  Early intervention does more than any medication, later therapy, or operation can perform at this time.  But, they GROW UP eventually.  I work with those who have grown up and moved out of the umbrella they have until they are 21 years of age.  Minus one resident who is 20 years old whom I am watching go through this process as he graduates this upcoming Spring.  Awareness should continue through life!

I found this video today and wanted to share it.  Not only does it talk a little bit about what I do for a living for the time (they're right... I would never dream of doing this as a career with the current system - but I'm grateful life put me here for however long), it helps people be more aware of members of their community who are going through this themselves.

Be understanding.  Be patient.  Don't judge others.  Don't use the word Retard.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Access to a small camera means more posts

I don't blog as much as I used to.  Does anyone else find that its easier and more fulfilling to blog when one has pictures to add and comment about?  It just doesn't feel the same to blog about an activity or place we went to without showing it.

But then, the opposite is true as well.  I'm more likely to go out and do stuff if I know I can take pictures and blog about it later.

Conclusion: I'll probably post more when Xan and I get around to replacing my camera.  Until then, I'll still be here every now and again.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Change. A Husband will do that to you.

Xan has a knack at changing my mind about things.  It takes me a while to finally give to his way of thinking.  I stubbornly set my heals in and refuse to see reason.  Being a MUCH more patient person than me, he plants seeds of logic slowly and leaves me alone to let them fester in my mind until one day I wake up... and realize I've changed my mind.

Cats for example.  Before Xan and I got married, I did NOT like cats.  I didn't mind them in the same room with me but I certainly didn't want to hold one.  Truth be known, I was scared of them biting or scratching my toes.  But now?  He got a good laugh while we were in Israel because I seemed to have this need to pet every stray cat within my reach.  I now LOVE cats.

The latest change is choice of cars.  Up until yesterday, the idea of driving manual was horrid.  I wanted to learn but it just seemed too difficult.  When our Jimmy died last week, I was forced to buckle down and learn to drive - the Stepp parent's car we are watching while they're abroad which is - a manual transmission.  TERRIFYING!  I resisted a lot and prayed we would find a replacement ASAP.  Xan kept talking about our next car being a manual and let me tell you!  My feet were dug in the dirt so deep I wouldn't even let him finish a sentence in favor of getting a manual before I shut him down with, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"

Well, today I was continuing my search for used cars to buy and I found a car that has me on edge wanting to get.  And what would you know?  It's a manual.  And I was shocked to find myself smiling when I read that.  Granted the transmission is not the selling point point for me*, just a feature, but somewhere during this last week of stress, stalling the car, attempting to shift gears blindly at night, and making it through a small snow storm, I've been sucked into the world of how fun manual cars can be.

True, stop and go traffic isn't great.  I stall the car here and there, though MUCH less frequently now.  I am still digging my heals about driving anywhere really hilly where I would have to start and stop... let alone park!  But Xan's blasted logical seeds are already growing and I know that it is only a matter of time before I ask him to come driving with me to parallel park on an incline.  Probably not this month... I'm still a newbie... and definitely not where ANY other cars are in sight to bump into, but I'm pretty sure it is inevitable that given a few months, I will be a manual transmission convert.

As for this car I can't get out of my mind**.... we'll see.  Buying a car is obnoxious.  There's all the financing, deciding on which bank to get a loan from, figuring out what we can afford, weighing the cost benefits and risks, ect.  Who knows if that dream car will belong to me (being at the top of our budget... but still inside the bracket!)  or if I see it in person and realize its not meant to be... but one thing is for sure:

Manuals are FUN to drive.

*Selling points for me (in general):
The must haves: 4 door, front wheel drive, below 100,000k, hatchback/SUV, child lock, not tan or puke green, decent mpg
The wants: 5+ CD changer, mp3 plug in, red, deep blue, forest green, tinted windows, remote key, non-leather seats, phenomenal mpg

**Any opinions on this car?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jerusalem Trip 3

And for our final trip in Israel... DRUM ROLL PLEASE...
We went back to Jerusalem to try to see the last few things we really wanted to see.  Truth be known, one could spend over a week in Jerusalem and STILL have so much left they could visit.  It was drizzling and pretty chilly so we weren't enthusiastic picture takers but I've borrowed in places where we lacked for your entertainment.  :)

Our first stop was at the Israel Museum.  We skipped all the art galleries, which were many since Israel seems to really be into Modern art and we... are not so much.  The Shrine of the Book held the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Ironically, they are doing a Dead Sea Scroll exhibit in NYC right now, so there were a few plaques in place of the real things.  We still got to see everything we had wanted to see, such as parts of the Isaiah scroll.  

They had a huge model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.

I decided that I'd like to have a house like this one someday, with a fountain in my courtyard and servants to clean it for me.  :)

Big, right?

There were random statues and art displays all over the museum.

Then we went to see all the old stuff.  :)  I didn't realize there was a no photography rule.  I figured it was simply no flash.  I got two pictures before someone kindly asked me to put my camera away.  Oops!

And there ends all pictures I took myself.  After the museum, we went back to the Old City, entered through the Jaffa Gate, walked through the Armenian Quarter, out the Zions Gate and saw David's Tomb.

The Room of the Last Supper was just a flight of stairs away from David's Tomb.

Next was the Church of Dormition, or the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey.

We walked a bit down hill for a while to get to the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu.  Go to this site for a complete list of pictures and explanations.

Then we walked back to the Armenian Quarter to see St. James Cathedral.  

Cold, wet, and tired, we called it a day.  We were planning on driving down again Tuesday (the next day), but we both woke up with headaches and decided it wasn't going to be worth it.

Hope you've enjoyed the posts!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


This last weekend of January, Xan and I headed down to Eilat with one of his parent's co-workers who dives.  Her name was Tali and she was a gem!  The drive was 4 hours long.  We had to wake up at 3 am and start driving by 4 in the morning.   We were TIRED!

While Xan and Tali went scuba diving, I hung out on the beach and relaxed - what a vacation is all about, right?

This is the Red Sea and on the other side is Aqaba, Jordan.

I had planned to snorkel but it was too cold.  I opted to stay warm in a jacket on the shore.

The Red Sea is supposed to be one of the BEST places to dive in the world.  The lower sections of the Sea in Egypt are supposed to be better than here but we didn't have Egypt Visas so we stuck here.

They were able to do 4 dives our first day there, including a night dive.  They did 2 more dives the next day and then Xan and I went to the Oceanarium so that I could see stuff, too.  Tali said she'd meet back up with us later.

There was quite a bit to see.  I happen to be a sucker for turtles so we watched them for a good half hour.  Some of them were HUGE!  At least 3 feet in diameter!

I think this sign should be warning the turtles, too, and not just us!

Ninja Turtle fights in training!

Yay for cheesy pictures!

I'm really excited to use photo shop for these shots.  Until then, please keep in mind that these shots were taken through glass.  THICK glass in a lot of cases.  

We got to the shark pool in time for the feeding.

Here's where they dumped the food in during a 10 minute commentary.

On our way out, we saw the baby turtles.

Then we ran to make it to the Amazon exhibit to watch them feed those tanks.  Here's a pretty fish that was there.

They fed a salmon fillet to the piranhas.

These alligators were rescued and given to the Oceanarium until they can find a permanent home.

More fish tanks!

A jellyfish.  I love this shot..

Then we went to the observatory where we got to see an aerial view from the top and an underwater view from the bottom. 

Those hazy mountains in the distant are Egypt.  Xan was pretty sure the border crossing was less than 2-3 miles away.

Here's the coastline showing Eilat on the left and Aqaba on the right.

An example of the corals Tali and Xan explored.

And the following were taken below in the observatory.

This guy was swimming so fast and I was having a hard time capturing him.  I had to get him in two shots.  Here's a full view.

And the composition isn't as good in this photo but the detail is better.

Then we went back to the park and made sure we didn't miss any exhibits.  We almost missed these guys!

Then we met up with Tali back at the dive shop, got some dinner, and drove the 4 hours back home.  Long trip but definitely worth it.