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!
When I started writing this blog back in January of 2019, I wasn’t sure where it would lead. At first my goal was to focus on issues related to my disability. However, my life really isn’t defined by having spina bifida. Therefore, this blog has expanded to be a place where I can share my thoughts on current events, give insights on what living life with a disability is like, and just share humorus observations of the world around me. I hope you have enjoyed following me on this journey.
This particular post will be the 100th post that I have written. I thought in keeping with that, I’d create a list of 100 lessons that I have learned, observations that I’ve made, or opinions that I have formed. Every day there are new lessons to be learned and new experiences to be had. These are just a few of the things I have picked up along the way. Let me know if I have missed anything. Here is my list in no particular order.
100. Never take a hansom cab ride in New York City.
99. Never be afraid to try something new (except for that hansom cab ride in New York City).
98. Holding a grudge against anyone is pointless.
97. God will indeed give you more than you can handle at times.
96. Don’t ever give up. Things will get better. It might just take time.
95. Life is unfair.
94. Anxiety can make you feel like you need to do everything all at once. You actually don’t need to do this. Just slow down and take things one step at a time.
93. The smell of the air just before it rains is one of the best scents.
92. The smell of a baby’s head just after they have had a bath is THE best scent there is.
91. The love that a dog has for its master is one of the purest forms of love there is.
90. Losing someone that you love is one of the most painful things you can ever experience.
89. Working hard to achieve a goal is one of the greatest feelings that you will have.
88. Sitting outside in the winter in a place where there is very little, if any, light pollution and looking up at the stars on a clear night is something everyone should try at least once.
87. Going on a road trip with someone you love is a lot of fun.
86. Dorothy was right, “there is no place like home.“
85. Take time to pray every day.
84. Dirt tastes like dirt (yes, I have tried dirt before).
83. Beets taste like dirt.
82. Walnuts taste like dirt.
81. The taste of soap is not pleasant. (Yes, I have had my mouth washed out with soap. It was at church no less).
80. Cilantro tastes like soap.
79. Eating a bag of peanuts on a warm, summer day at baseball game is one if the most relaxing experiences there is.
78. Take time to listen to the stories that your grandparents tell. I am fortunate that I did. I will treasure these memories for as long as I live.
77. Learn about the things that have happened in the past. You can learn a lot from history.
76. You can never read enough books.
75. Learning to adapt to change is difficult, but it is well worth the effort.
74. Being a homeowner is both a blessing and a curse.
73. It pays to do things correctly the first time.
72. I’d rather have more time to do the things that I want to do in life than to make more money. Time is far more valuable than money.
71. There are still very kind people in the world. Many of them live in the U.K.
70. Listen to your parents. They know more than you do.
69. Do at least one thing you enjoy doing every day.
68. Never pray for patience. God just might answer your prayers in ways you don’t expect.
67. When working with others it is often best to let them speak first. You just might gain some new perspective.
66. Donuts are little bites of heaven.
65. Mashed potatoes are the best food ever!
64. Chick-fil-A is overrated.
63. Fountain Coke at McDonald’s is the best.
62. Hot McDonald’s french fries are the best.
61. The Blues Brothers is one of the best films ever made.
60. Somedays you just have to listen to the Beatles.
59. You will never get everyone to like you.
58. Pancakes made at home are better than you can get in any restaurant.
57. NASCAR is not a sport.
56. Everyone should make a trip to the ocean at least once.
55. Everyone should travel overseas. You will gain a new perspective on life.
54. There is nothing like a good night’s sleep.
53. Spending time in the mountains is one of the most peaceful things you can do.
52. Disney World is overrated.
51. Bacon tastes best when crispy.
50. Cats can indeed be needy (I live with two who are very needy).
49. Sunny days are the best kind of days.
48. Never have your eyes dilated on a sunny day.
47. You can’t properly eat Oreo cookies without a glass of milk.
46. Getting an unexpected package in the mail is better than gifts on Christmas Day.
45. No one has ever sang the National Anthem better than Whitney Houston.
44. No one’s instrumental version of the National Anthem has been better than Jimi Hendrix’s rendition from the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
43. September is the best month when it comes to weather, at least here in Illinois.
42. Rollercoasters are not fun!
41. There is no ceremony quite as somber as the “changing of the guard” at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
40. Ken Burns knows how to make a documentary film better than anyone else. If baseball doesn’t start soon I might have to dive into his 23-hour epic on the sport.
39. Don’t ever try smoking.
38. Tell the people you love how you feel while you still can.
37. Sometimes you just need to eat a big, greasy, cheeseburger.
36. It is never too cold to eat ice cream.
35. Read to your kids when they are young.
34. Walter Payton is the best football player I ever saw play the game.
33. Hot dogs should never be eaten with ketchup.
32. Thanksgiving is the best holiday.
31. Christmas becomes less fun the older you get. However, I suspect this changes once you start having your own children.
30. One of the best sounds you can hear is a baby’s laugh.
29. Many of the best things in life are free.
28. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
27. A soft answer often turns away wrath.
26. Sometimes it best just to remain silent.
25. Autumn is the best season.
24. Always apologize when you are wrong.
23. Michael Jordan was the best basketball player I have ever seen play the game.
22. Don’t argue about politics on social media.
21. Forgive others when they wrong you.
20. Don’t pour gasoline on a fire.
19. Voting for the lesser of the two evils still brings you evil.
18. Finish your work first then you can enjoy your play all the more.
17. You often get what you give.
16. Cynicism isn’t always a bad thing.
15. Always finish what you start.
14. Let your yes be yes and let your no be no.
13. Family is important.
12. Steak is best when cooked medium. Anything else and you cook the flavor out of it.
11. Help others when and where you can.
10. As long as you are alive there is always hope.
09. Nothing quenches your thirst better than water.
08. Admit your mistakes and learn from them.
07. Always tell the truth.
06. Don’t expect others to respect you if you don’t show respect yourself.
05. Every thing should be done in moderation.
04. Always say “please” and “thank you.”
03. You get what you pay for.
02. Fear can be a good motivator.
01. The love of a good woman is a very special thing.
I hate to admit this, but I actually enjoy vacuuming the house. There are several reasons for this. First, with two cats it is a necessity to vacuum on a regular basis. Plus, it makes the house smell much more fresh. Likewise, it is a job that produces palpable results. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we own six different vacuum cleaners. However, my pride and joy is my new Shark UV560.
This thing came out of the box like a set of Legos. I just snapped them all together and I was ready to hit the floor running. It also comes apart in various ways so that it can be carried around the house with ease. Doing the stairs with this vacuum is a breeze. Perhaps my favorite feature is the canister.
Messing with a vacuum bag is a pain. You have to open the vacuum itself, secure the bag in place before closing the baggage storage compartment. Then after the bag fills up you have to carefully remove it so that its contents don’t start spilling out. There is none of that with a canister vacuum. It sucks up the mess and then you just dump it in the garbage.
I just swept the living room floor and the stairs. I’m thinking the only thing I need now is an attachment that vacuums the cats directly. However, that might cut down on the fun of vacuuming the floors. Plus, I think Cat and Dot might stage a revolt. I would not want to be the victim of one of those “When Cats Attack!” videos you see on YouTube. I already get a piercing shrill in my ear every time I burp the baby. No need for anymore trauma.
Now if I could just have the same zeal when it comes to dusting. I’d rather vacuum a million floors before dusting one shelf. However, there are no attachments, or swiveling heads like there are on a vacuum cleaner. There is simply a can of furniture polish and a rag. Where’s the excitement in that?
My enthusiasm for vacuuming might best be illustrated by a clip from an old Saturday Night Live sketch where Dan Aykroyd is selling a fictional product called the “Bass-O-Matic.” If you’ve never seen this check out the video below. The way he feels about the “Bass-O-Matic” is how I feel about my Shark.
Tomorrow will be two weeks that I have been working from home. In that time I have made some observations. First, my dream of working from home is not as fantastic as I thought it would be. I’ve always been an introvert, so I thought being home alone all day would be great! However, it can be dreadfully boring. I think the only thing that has saved my sanity is the ability to listen to podcasts while I am working.
Another thing I have noticed is that we have some needy cats! Our cat Dot insists on being held at least 4 times a day. It doesn’t matter if I am on the phone, or typing away at the keyboard. When Dot wants to be held, you will hold her, no questions asked!
Our other cat who we have not really ever named anything other than Cat likes to walk around the house meowing. However, she doesn’t like to be held. Although, she does love a good belly rub. She will also just stop on occasion and stare deep into my soul, as you can see below.
Last week as I began to work from home I thought, “yes now I don’t have to shave!” That only lasted through Saturday when I could no longer stand the whiskers itching my face. Now I am down to one shave a week, which helps me feel normal.
As week two of my seclusion ends and I look to begin week three, I might start putting on real pants. Wearing sweatpants all of the time is lulling me into a false sense of security. I feel like I am not gaining any weight, but I am sure if I put some work pants on, I’d be in for a rude awakening. Maybe I’ll be surprised. I’ll keep you posted.
It is strange when work and home life collide. Until now, I have always been able to leave work at work. However, that is no longer possible. I guess it is nice that I have been able to cut my commute time from 8 minutes, to nearly 2 minutes. That allows for a little bit more sleep, which is always a bonus.
I am beginning to wonder when this exile will come to an end. I’m guessing that it will be at least another month. By then I might not want to go back to the office. I’m wondering if the cats will grow tired of me at some point. I guess only time will tell.
Today I went outside for the first time in a few days. It is beginning to feel like spring. Hopefully, with the life that is beginning to awaken outdoors, it will give us all a fresh perspective. To quote a line from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I am glad life has slowed down a bit, it has helped me to see things in new ways. I am greatful for that opportunity.
Yesterday I met the love of my life. Well, it only seems like yesterday. However, it was actually 10 years ago yesterday. Amanda and I met for the first time on February 13, 2010. She was, and still is, a St. Louis girl. We were introduced through my cousin Brad, who was Amanda’s pastor at the time.
Our relationship began through late-night chats on Facebook, and then progressed to nightly phone calls that would last for several hours at a time. About a month after phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages we decided to meet face-to-face.
I decided I would travel to St. Louis from my home in Sterling, Illinois. It is approximately a 4-hour drive, so I had a long time to think about what our first meeting would be like. Would Amanda run and hide when she saw me for the first time? Would I be so nervous I would be unable to speak? These are some of the things that were racing through my mind as the miles began to melt away.
After a few hours I arrived at my cousin Brad’s house. This is where Amanda and I would meet for the first time. After settling in Amanda arrived at the door. Fortunately, she did not run away when she saw me. However, she thought about it as she heard me creak my way across the floor. I’ll never find work as a ninja, as my crutches squeak too much as I walk.
I think it helped that Amanda and I had spoken on the phone quite a bit before meeting for the first time, as it helped to make face-to-face conversation flow more effortlessly. Amanda and I had an easy time getting to know each other as we had lunch. We then went to the art museum, stopped for a cupcake at The Cup, a little shop that makes the best cupcakes ever! We then ended the night with The King’s Speech, a movie that we have since adopted as “our movie.” The next day we spent some time at the zoo. Simply put, it was a perfect weekend.
Amanda and I spent the next several months getting to know each other. I then asked her to marry me. Fortunately, she said yes, and we tied the knot on August 11, 2012. About a week later I started a new job in Northen Illinois and Amanda returned to St. Louis. For the first few months of our marriage Amanda and I only saw each other on the weekends. This was a very difficult situation, However, it only lasted until October when Amanda moved north to join me. In December 2012, we purchased our house and have added two cats to our lives since.
Amanda and I enjoyed being with each other that very first day, and we still enjoy being together. Today is Valentine’s Day, but we did not exchange gifts. However, we were together. That has been enough and will always be enough for each of us.
This morning we took a painting class together. We each painted a portrait of our cats, Dot and Cat. I chose Dot, and Amanda painted Cat. You can see the results below. I think I’ll hold on to my day job, as an artist I will never be.
Learning to live with another person was an adjustment for the both of us. I like organization. Amanda enjoys spreading her things throughout the house. This isn’t always easy for me. However, my stubborness is not something she always enjoys about me either. However, I can still say that Amanda is easy to be with. We laugh and we cry together. However, we are always together.
Being one has helped us adapt to our newest challenge, foster care. Since December 29th, we have been the proud foster parents of a sweet baby boy. He has transformed our lives. Sleep is hard to come by these days, but love is always there, even amongst the frustration of poopy diapers and midnight feedings.
We are now three, plus two cats. Love is never in short supply in our house. We are together and that is enough for all of us. Material things are good to have, and we have been blessed with far more than we deserve. However, time is the most important thing. Time is what allows us to create memories. Ten years of memories has made me a rich man. I am rich because I have a woman who loves me despite my faults.
A common problem for those who were born with spina bifida is infertility. This is an issue that can cause a lot of frustration and heartache. Amanda and I have undergone various tests and procedures in order to try and conceive a baby. However, nothing that we have tried has proven successful. Therefore, after much thought and prayer we have decided to take on the challenge of becoming foster parents. We hope that this will lead to adoption in the future.
We have taken classes in order to become licensed foster parents in the State of Illinois. I can say that these classes have not been very fun, as a lot of the material is fairly dry. Also, a lot of it is common sense, as Amanda and I were both raised in homes where good parenting was modeled. Despite this I think it has been a good experience, for it has given us insight into various things. For instance, we have been exposed to the types of issues children who are placed into foster care have when they come into a new home.
Having worked as a high school guidance counselor for several years, I am aware of the problems that children can have at home. I have spoken to students whose parents are alcoholics or drug addicts. I have also seen kids who have been abused or neglected. Seeing these things firsthand has made me a little apprehensive at times in taking on the challenge of fostering a child. However, I am also excited about the experiences that are in store for Amanda and I.
Do I think it will be easy? No, in fact, I am sure there will be days where I will feel like throwing my hands up in frustration. Will I ride away on my bike to get away from the situation as my mom once did when my brothers and I were fighting? That is a distinct possibility, but I’ll always come back, as I am not a quitter. Oh, and by the way, if you know my mom, you should ask her about the bicycle story. It is one of my favorite memories to look back on and remind her of on occasion.
Anyway, I am sure once we are through the licensing process things will start to move fairly quickly. However, I know that with God’s help we can make it through the challenges that we will face. I am just hoping our cats don’t go into hiding on a permanent basis.