Still Life at 80mph

As I write this I am laying in bed in a hotel room in Florham Park, New Jersey. The TV is on and I am unwinding after a long day of travel. On Tuesday we will head south with my brother and his family to spend a few days along the Jersey Shore. Travelling is something that we love to do, as it is a great way to make memories.

Yesterday, we left home, picked up my mother, who lives just a few blocks away from us. We then headed for Strongsville, Ohio. This is approximately halfway between our home in Illinois and my brother’s house in New Jersey. Memories have already been made, and a third-degree misdemeanor was accidently committed.

After hitting the road around 8 a.m. this morning, we made our way across the eastern side of Ohio. We then entered Pennsylvania, which is actually quite a beautiful state through which to travel. Around noon we stopped for lunch at a Dutch Pantry. This appears to be a franchise popular along I-80 in Pennsylvania.

This chain of restaurants could best be described as Pennsylvania’s version of the Cracker Barrel. In other words, the lobby was filled with chachkies no one needs, and the menu was filled with dishes considered, “homestyle.” However, the silverware was really nice, as one of us (not me) decided to walk out with a set. Sadly, this was not the most heinous crime of the day.

My mother, who is in her 70’s, has a smartphone. Today, as we passed particular landmarks, she would snap photos with the camera on her phone. I’m not sure she was very successful. She takes decent photos with her when she is stationary. However, get her in an SUV going down the highway at 80 mph and things are not so pretty, especially through a bug-spattered windshield. By the time a subject was in focus, we were already passed it by a mile or two. When I asked my mom to send me a few of the shots she took she refused. My suspicion is that she got some nice candids of insects entrails and nothing else.

We travelled over 400 miles today, a restaurant is down one set of silverware, I’m exhausted, but I am still curious to see what the rest of this week brings. Tomorrow, we begin with an Independence Day parade. The pictures should be better, as my mom will be standing still.

A Love Letter…

Amanda and I will have been married ten years in August. I feel blessed to call her my wife for so many reasons. She is such a caring person who has taught me a lot about life. Perhaps, the most important thing I have learned is to love those who are broken.

I was born with spina bifida, which has left my body broken. Despite this Amanda loves me unconditionally. Through this I have learned to see beauty in brokeness. Amanda has an ability to see the potential in things that I would just toss aside. This has often led me to dip my toes in waters I would never have dared if left to my own devices. For instance, approximately five years ago we entered the world of foster care.

Amanda and I began our foster care journey by taking classes to become licensed foster parents. At this point I was very apprehensive. Having worked with troubled teens as a school counselor, I was unsure I wanted to open our home to children who were considered “broken” in some way. However, I learned that leaving my comfort zone was not a bad thing at all. I am so fortunate that I did, otherwise, I would have missed a wonderful opportunity.

When we decided to open our home to foster children we were told to not expect a baby. However, the first child that came to us was a three-day-old baby boy. He since has become our world. I never expected to love a foster child as much as I do Baby Boy. Even though he is not our flesh and blood, he is our’s nonetheless. I could not imagine life without him now.

When I was born my parents were not sure how long I’d live, or what quality of life I’d have. They simply brought me home, loved me, and raised me as best as they knew how. They, like Amanda, were willing to see past my brokeness and love me.

Two weeks ago Amanda and I were contacted and asked if we would be willing to take in another foster child. This time it is a six-week-old boy, who was born with Trisomy 18 or Edwards Syndrome. In short, this is a disorder that causes a disruption in the normal pattern of development. These abnormalities are often life-threatening even before the baby is born. Likewise, they severely limit the lifespan of those with this syndrome. We don’t know how long this child will live. However, this is a life that needs love. This “broken” baby needs a home where he will be showered with love. With much thought and prayer we have decided to open our hearts to this new life.

No one knows what will happen. However, we have love to give to this baby. We also have the love and support of family and friends. Whatever happens we have assurance from God that this is His plan for us and for this child. Once again we step outside of our comfort zone. However, we know that love can overcome brokeness.

One thing that God has taught me time and time again is that where He leads His grace provides. God’s grace is always sufficient.

Ruh-Roh Raggy

When I was a young boy I’d get up early on Saturday mornings, grab a pillow and a blanket. Then I would make my way to the living room to turn on the TV. I loved Saturday morning cartoons. Some of my favorites included Scooby Doo, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Richie Rich. This was escapism at its best. Nothing to do and nowhere to go except to help Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne solve another mystery. Those “meddling kids” knew how to entertain. The cartoons of today just don’t have the same substance. In fact, many of them just leave me with more questions than answers.

Having a toddler in the house has led us to new places such as Adventure Bay, where Ryder and his team of pups known as the Paw Patrol live. Adventure Bay seems like a great place to live until you realize their police force consists of a team of dogs led by a little boy. Oh yes, they are all quite capable and are very well equipped. In fact, they are probably the best equipped fighting force in the world, except for the United States military. Which leads me to wonder, who is funding the Paw Patrol?

This team of crime-fighting pups has a plethora of vehicles, tools, and equipment. The people of Adventure Bay must pay some pretty hefty taxes. It is a good thing Ryder and the Paw Patrol are always there to save the day, as this town has a pretty inept mayor. Mayor Goodway and her pet hen, Chickaletta probably should be removed from office. Which begs the question, why haven’t Ryder and the Paw Patrol staged a coup against the mayor? Perhaps, the Scooby-Doo crew could pile into the Mystery Machine and head down to Adventure Bay to solve this puzzling mystery. After this, they could help me answer some further questions, such as why is Baby Shark so popular?

Sure, Baby Shark has a catchy tune, but it has no other redeeming qualities. According Wikipedia, this cartoon originated “as a campfire song,” which went viral after “a South Korean entertainment company, released a version of the song with a YouTube music video” in 2016. It has since morphed into other videos featuring Baby Shark and his friend Pinkfong, who is a pink fox.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the full-length feature “film,” Baby Shark’s Space Adventure. This is the tall tale of Baby Shark and Pinkfong losing their way as they both travel back to their home planets. Along the way they visit other planets, where Baby Shark inexplicably glides through the air. How does Baby Shark survive out of the water? Furthermore, how did a land creature (Pinkfong) and an ocean-dwelling creature (Baby Shark) become such good friends? Moreover, why are they travelling the galaxy together? So many questions, no real answers. Which brings me back to my original point. Today’s cartoons have little to no substance. For instance, they provide no origin stories.

I know how The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gained the ability to practice martial arts, because this was explained in the cartoons and the comic books. Likewise, I know how G.I. Joe became a soldier because, again, we were given a backstory. Today’s cartoons are mostly style over substance, which is in large part a reflection of culture in America. I want to go back to 1984 for a minute, maybe I can catch a ride in the Mystery Machine. Does anyone have Scooby-Doo’s cell phone number?

Oh Deer!

I’m quite certain that our new neighbors think I am insane. What else could they be thinking after this evening? I just came back inside from using a sledgehammer on a deer lawn ornament. This is a “piece” we inherited when we bought our new house.

There were actually two, however, baby deer fit in our trash can and was hauled away this afternoon. Father deer is too big to fit inside the trash can in one piece. So, I thought I’d break him up into little pieces using a sledgehammer. As I was doing this, I could see my neighbor in her kitchen preparing dinner. However, I am certain she was also keeping an eye on me.

When I do things outside I usually roll around in a wheelchair. Furthermore, I dislike wearing coats, even when it is cold. So, I was outside, where it is quite brisk. I was wearing a t-shirt and wielding a sledgehammer from my wheelchair. Yes, someone would come and get this deer if I asked. However, I’m stubborn and I would rather take care of it myself. Plus, it is fun to wonder what the neighbors might be thinking.

Father deer is now headless and sitting in our garage. If anyone tries to break in it might be enough to frighten them away, as it looks like a headless dog laying folded up on the floor. He has met his match. I will be back out tomorrow with my sledgehammer, and possibly a sweatshirt.

When One Door Closes, Another Opens

One door is closing for our little family. However, another one is opening. We will be leaving our much loved two-story house on Saturday. It was nearly nine years ago that we moved into our current home. This house is cozy and it has a lot of character. Unfortunately, it is not very handicap accessible. Likewise, we have begun to outgrow it. So, for the last month we have been loading our lives into boxes. It is amazing how much stuff can accumulate over the course of several years.

This house holds so many good memories. It was the first house that Amanda and I shared as husband and wife. It has kept us warm in the winter. It has sheltered us from the storms of life. This house has been a retreat from the world around us. It is where we welcomed Baby Boy. He will be two years old in December. He took his first steps through these halls. He spoke his first words in these rooms. When we leave on Saturday, we will unpack our boxes and breathe new life into a much bigger house.

Our new house will be a place to create new memories. Likewise, we plan to add on to our family. Our house will become a home just like our existing house. I am excited to see Baby Boy running through the halls while opening each new door. There are lots of closets, so he will have many new nooks and crannies to explore.

Turning over the keys to this house will bring mixed emotions. However, I can’t wait too see what the future will bring. God has blessed us and I know He will continue to do so. Come and see us sometime. We will leave a light on for you.

When One Door Closes, Another Closes

Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens.” This is a rather optimistic viewpoint. I am sure it helped drive this great inventor to keep experimenting, despite repeated failures. Without this drive Bell might have just given up and abandoned his invention of the telephone.

We have our own little experimenter in the Bradshaw house. His viewpoint is just as optimistic, however, I think he operates under the assumption that when one door closes, another closes. You might be asking what I mean by this.

Baby Boy has learned to open and close doors. However, I think he prefers a closed door to an open one. To him he feels a sense of accomplishment when he is able to close a door. I can appreciate this because it means he is learning how things work. If he can’t figure it out he will keep trying until he does.

This sense of exploration reminds me that a closed door is sometimes very useful, as it can spur us to try new ways of doing things. I learn something new every day from this little boy that God has entrusted to us. A closed door is not always a bad thing. It can teach us to keep going despite obstacles.

Building a Career in Business: Tips for People With Disabilities

The following is a very informative article written by guest contributor, Ed Carter. Ed is a retired financial planner, who has his own site full of great information. Be sure to check out his website for more financial tips (ablefutures.)

Choosing a career path is always a bit of a struggle, but when you have a disability, there are several things to consider. Can you find a position that accommodates your disability? Can you access the education or training you need? And, most importantly, which career will bring you the most success and happiness in the long run? Having a disability shouldn’t stop you from thriving in the career of your dreams.

If you’re not quite sure which direction to take your professional life, consider a career in business! Want to learn more? Here are some great tips to help you enjoy success in the business world.

Why Consider a Career in Business?

A business career is an excellent option for people with disabilities. People with business credentials are always in high demand across a range of industries from media to healthcare, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding a business job that aligns with your needs and abilities. If you’re looking for a secure and stable job that will offer the flexibility you need, it doesn’t get much better than a career in business. Plus, you should be able to find work in almost any geographic location, switching between jobs is easy, and you will enjoy incredible opportunities for advancement! 

Pursue an Education

Before you can secure your position in the business world, you will need to earn your credentials. Earning a business degree is an obvious choice, but it’s not your only option! You could also pursue a degree in something similar, like accounting or information technology. It’s easy to earn your degree online and skip the hassle of commuting to college or navigating a classroom with a disability. 

If you want that traditional college experience, take advantage of tools that will make your education as accessible as possible. You will want to spend some time planning solutions for anticipated challenges, especially if you will live on campus. Self.com recommends finding out which support services are available to you through your school’s disability office and learning how to access mental health services on your campus. Self-care is key! 

Choose Your Professional Path

As mentioned earlier, there are many diverse work opportunities for people with degrees in business or IT. You can work in a variety of environments and industries. But how do you choose? The best advice we can give you is to go after a career that falls somewhere between your talents and interests. This could mean pursuing a challenging job with a high earning potential, a computer job you can do from home, a position that lets you hone your interpersonal skills in a social environment, or something else entirely!

The best path for you will depend on your unique needs and wants, so spend some time thinking about your strengths and what makes you feel happiest. For example, if you love working with people, a role in human resources or consulting might be perfect. If you have a creative flair, a job in marketing may suit you better. Have a knack for technology? Working in cybersecurity, IT consulting, data science, web development, network administration, QA services, or computer support might appeal to you. All of these jobs are incredibly accommodating for people with disabilities, and you can find work through online freelance platforms.

Get Your Foot in the Door

So you’ve chosen a career path and an education program. But how do you find your first job? And will your disability hurt your chances of landing that entry-level role or internship? First and foremost, make sure you understand your rights as you hunt for your first job. You are entitled to the same opportunities as people without disabilities and employers cannot discriminate against you for any reason. In fact, your employer is required to make any reasonable accommodations that will help you do your job!

Navigating the job hunt can present a number of hurdles for people with disabilities. Facing mobility issues when interviewing is a common one. If you require special accommodations for the interview, be sure to discuss this with the hiring manager before the big day. Alternatively, you may be able to persuade them to hold the interview over video chat! 

Launch Your Own Business

If finding the perfect job is proving difficult, consider creating a job for yourself by launching your own business. Self-employment is a very popular choice among people with disabilities. By running your own business, you get to work in a role that perfectly fits your interests and personal capabilities — and it offers you full control of your financial future!

Often, the hardest part about starting a business is coming up with a business idea. Keep it simple and stick to your talents! For example, if you enjoy IT or business management, consider becoming a professional consultant and helping other entrepreneurs run their businesses more effectively. If you like marketing, launch a marketing agency or sell your services on a freelance basis. Your options are endless! Don’t be afraid to play around with different business models until you find one that feels right for you.

Your disability should not hold you back from the career of your dreams. If your goal is to work in business, you have countless options and opportunities to consider! You could go after a corporate job, seek a remote role, become a freelancer, or launch your own business. Not sure where to start? Going to school online is a great place to discover your skills and interests so you can better map out your professional goals.

Whether you’re heading to university or you’re ready to start your dream job, make sure you have the accessibility tools you need to thrive.

The “Escape Room”

Have you ever just wanted to disappear for a bit so that no one could find you? I often find myself trying to “escape” for a few minutes of serenity. However, I’ve discovered this is next to impossible with a toddler. For instance, a trip to the bathroom by myself is rare these days.

The bathroom used to be a good place to escape and catch a few minutes of peace. Now, I usually have company. Fortunately, Baby Boy shuts the door behind us. The only problem is, there are sometimes he doesn’t want to open it when our time in the “escape room” has come to an end. It truly becomes a situation where I truly am desperate to escape from the “escape room.”

Maybe next time we go in I’ll teach Baby Boy how to clean. He already knows how to use the TV remote, so why not put a mop in his hands and put him to work. Perhaps, I then can escape to the bedroom while he is not looking. I certainly can find some peace in there. Oh wait, the cats are always in the bedroom!

Toilet Cucumbers

Having a toddler is a learning experience. Baby Boy is always on the go when he is awake. I love his sense of wonder and his willingness to try new things. However, I have learned to be cautious when he is around, especially when he tries to hand me things.

I am now the keeper of half-eaten bananas, empty applesauce pouches, and anything else he decides to hand me. Keeping my mouth closed when Baby Boy is around is a good idea. This is because he likes to share his food with me. I guess he thinks I am a baby bird that needs to be fed. For instance, yesterday, he was eating cucumbers. This is a vegetable of which I am not fond. However, he came running towards me with a slice of cucumber and jammed it into my mouth.

This is where I must tell you that Baby Boy has also recently discovered how much fun it is to play with the toilet seat in the bathroom. He loves to open and shut it. Likewise, if it is up he has been known to drop things in the toilet. It doesn’t matter what it is, he’ll dunk it and then retrieve it. We try to keep the bathroom door shut when he is on the prowl. However, he is now tall enough to open the door.

Yesterday, when he was snacking on cucumbers he made a trip into the bathroom. I was blissfully unaware of this, as I was getting ready to leave the house. As I noted above, he came running towards me with a slice of cucumber and jammed it into my mouth. I had no time to react! It went straight in and I swallowed it after a couple of quick chews. This is when I was informed by Amanda that Baby Boy had just come from the bathroom.

I am trying to avoid thoughts that it had been dipped in the toilet, but I don’t know for sure. All that I know is that I went to bed last night with a bad stomachache. Fortunately, it subsided by this morning. I guess I am immune to just about everything now. Who wouldn’t be after eating a toilet cucumber?

The End of the Road

Yesterday, we started the 1,003 mile journey back home from Florida to Illinois. We left Panama City Beach a little after 7 a.m. and headed west towards Biloxi, Mississippi. Amanda and I had visited there previously and we wanted to visit again before making our way north.

We stopped and had our last taste of seafood at a place called The Reef. We had eaten there before and had enjoyed the food quite a lot. Plus, Biloxi has some beautiful beaches as well as some very lovely homes along the coast. After having a great lunch we travelled up through Mississippi and in to Tennesee. We stopped in Memphis for the night.

Memphis is a city we have been through twice, but have never had time to explore while here. It is on our list of places to visit again once we have an opportunity to more fully sample the tastes, sights, and sounds of this great city.

I love to visit places with rich cultural histories. Memphis is certainly one of those places. From food, music, to the civil rights movement, it has much to taste, hear, and see. It is also a place with some family history for me as well. My paternal grandparents lived in the city for a while. In addition, my great uncle, Aldo Bastari, apparently once worked as a chef at the Peabody Hotel. We definitely could make a week of it in Memphis. However, that will have to wait for another time.

We left Memphis this morning around 9 a.m. and drove north through Arkansas and Missouri. Then we crossed the Mississippi River back into Illinois. I think we are all ready to be back home. It will be nice to sleep in our own beds tonight.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑