Explaining Disability: The Girl With the Extra Accessories…

Having a disability my entire life, I’ve experienced my share of discrimination. Of people making snap judgements of my intellectual ability based on my appearance. But today I wanted to share a story that I hope encourages you to think differently if you have a disability and have experienced discrimination.

When I was in high school, I spent a week with my grandparents one summer. My youngest cousin lived close by so she’d come over to our grandparents house and hang out. One day we went to a movie and to Walmart. While at Walmart, we stopped into the bathroom. For some reason I didn’t take my manual wheelchair into the stall with me, so I parked it right outside the door.

As I was in the stall, I saw my little cousin get into my chair and roll it back and forth. I could see her little pink and white tennis shoes floating back and forth under the door. My grandma filled me in later on what happened next:

“When you were in the bathroom stall, a woman came out the stall next door and looked at Kristina in your chair. She then washed her hands and left. Kristina looked up at me and proudly exclaimed, “I think she thought I was handicapped!!”

Let me restate that. In the eyes of a young child, being labeled “handicapped” is a sign of pride and honor!

Dear employers, job recruiters and society; we are not a group to be pitied, avoided or fixed. We need respect and a chance to show you what we can do.  After all, being disabled basically just means that we come into the world with a few more accessories than the average person. 😉


Conquering A Sleeping Bear…..

This morning I woke up to sore muscles. See, last night I decided to finally take the plunge and walk on our treadmill. I know you are probably thinking, “Oh wow! She probably stayed on for like, 20 minutes.” But you would be wrong-o. 😛

2:00. I stayed on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Total. I stopped once.

I was pretty upset with myself for getting this far off the fitness track. Although I think, fingers crossed, part of the issue last night was the belt on our treadmill appears to be a skosh off center, so it was running a bit slower. Maybe.

But my ever encouraging husband still made sure I saw the obvious: “I’m proud of you babe. At least you tried. You did it!” And thinking about it the next day, it’s true. I need to feel proud of myself for getting on the treadmill and doing what I could. Even if I didn’t go for 20 minutes like I had wanted, at least I tried.

It reminds me of something I did this summer. I went with my family to Michigan. One day we took a trip to Sleeping Bear Dune. It’s one of the biggest dunes I’ve ever seen. For those of you unfamiliar, a dune is a GIANT mountain of sand that, in most cases, can be climbed by people. This particular dune, from top to bottom, is 450 ft. That’s roughly the equivalent of a 40-story building.

We went there for two reasons, Chad had wanted to see it for a couple years, and my 6-year old nephew was with us, and we thought it’d be a fun activity for him (read: climbing a 450 ft dune is a good way to burn off the natural energy of a 6-year old. It worked nicely as he slept the entire drive back to our cabin).

When we arrived at Sleeping Bear Dune, this is what lay before us:

Sleeping Bear Dune 1

What you are looking at is the ground level up to the first plateau. When you reach the top of the first plateau, it flattens out again, then inclines to a grove of trees at the very top. Those that reach the very top are treated to a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

My nephew asked me to come with him and climb the dune. I swear I will do anything that kid asks, so we brought my wheelchair and crutches along to give me options. After plenty of sunscreen was applied and I chugged some water, our climb began.

I started out on crutches. After parking my chair at the base of the dune. But the heavy sand made it challenging, especially with the heat, so I gave up the crutches and continued the climb on all fours.

Sleeping Bear Dune 2

Sleeping Bear Dune 3

Now, admittedly this is not my most attractive photo, but I was getting it done, not worrying about what I looked like. The first thing I noticed when I switched to all fours was, “Holy Hannah Montana the sand is HOT!” I didn’t think to bring gloves, but that may have helped.

Now, before I started climbing I was a bit nervous. With a history of anxiety, one thing I’ve learned is that if I exert myself too much, I can be thrown into a panic attack (I know, it’s a lovely symptom 😛 ). I didn’t want to have one in front of my nephew, but I wanted to see how far up the dune I could go. Chad and I took it slow. My goal was to reach the top.

Little Eden Sleeping Bear Dune

After what seemed like hours, and many breaks, we stopped for a photo. It’s kinda hard to tell here, but we were 5 stories up, all at an angle. See that red circle around that black object? That is my wheelchair at the edge of the sand.

At this point I listened to my body and it told me I was done. To head back. I gotta say I was disappointed. I wanted to get to the very top.

But you know what? I freakin’ climbed a 5 story mountain on my own! I moved my body more that day then I had in a LONG time!

Dear friend, if you’ve made a goal and only have gotten so far, don’t despair. We are only 18 days into the New Year. You didn’t get as far as you wanted today? Try again tomorrow.

And be happy that at least you tried.

I’m proud of you!




LAFF: A Letter to Pizza Hut…….

Dear Pizza Hut:

At this point in our marriage, you are one of our constants. Date night is not the same without pizza and you have been our go-to for months now. In fact, if we skip a week, the next week you’ll ask if we are OK.

We appreciate the concern.

And we wanted to write to you and say we are really glad that you’ve stepped up your pizza game recently. I don’t know of any other chain that uses whole Peruvian cherry peppers on their pizzas. And the crust flavors you offer are amazing.

But you now know, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, that a gripe is coming. Here it is:

You need to up your pizza layering game.

Now, I understand, you’ve made a lot of changes to your menu, so your focus has been a bit frenzied lately. Like you just came home from work to discover that your spouse has invited their new boss and their entire department to your house for dinner, and so you are having to make a 15-course gourmet meal from scratch. In 30 minutes.

Being under that amount of pressure, of course there are gonna be some things that are gonna be less than stellar. The flan may be soupy, the homemade croutons may be burned, and the noodles may not be exactly al denta (you checked by throwing them against the wall and because they weren’t all the way denta they slid off. Now you have another mess to clean up).

When I open my pizza box, I expect to see a bubbly layer of melted cheese on top. What I don’t expect is seeing leafy greens. The main problem with putting spinach on top of the pizza, and not under the cheese, is that the leaves are loose. Seriously, if you were to tip the pizza even 20 degrees, the spinach would come sliding off the top. While I do appreciate a two in one meal, if I had wanted a salad, I would have skipped the delivery and made it at home. Probably. Although first I’d need to go out and buy the stuff for salad. Eh, who am I kidding? Being healthy is hard 😛

Maybe I am missing something in regards to the science of pizza layering. Maybe it’s not possible to put the spinach under the cheese. Perhaps when you put the spinach under the cheese, the heat from the cheese makes the spinach shrivel up and all but disappear. There’s $1 you’ll never get back.

Maybe next week I’ll cut out the middle man and order a salad. With shredded cheese and pepperoni.

Bon Appetit, ya’ll!

PS: Our oldest cat is also wondering if you’d consider “catnip” for your next flavor adventure. Also throwing in a free cat toy would be just swell.




When Questioning Your Path: Trust and Obey

 It happened a few days ago when Chad and I visited friends who had a new baby. The baby, who we’ll refer to as our niece, is one of those babies. You know which ones I’m talking about; the tiny and cute ones. She even exuded more cuteness when she sneezed. I’m pretty sure glitter fell out of her nose.

Then I got to hold her. And it happened.

I don’t know what God did during the baby makin’ process to make them give off that aroma. You know the one I’m talkin’ about. That smell found at the top of their peach fuzzy heads that can make most women’s uteruses (uteri? ) leap around like a Jane Fonda workout session.

I swear, that smell messes with your head, even if you are adamant about remaining childless. I turned to Chad and said, “I need you to tell me something to snap me out of it.”

Chad took the “sleeplessness” angle. Well played, husband.

Here’s the thing, I tend to need more sleep then Chad. But he also needs a certain amount. He works with heavy machinery and if he got any less than what he’s currently getting, things could get dangerous fast. “Oh, well,” You say, “he needs to start drinking coffee!” I’m here to tell you that the amount of coffee this man drinks could be a whole separate blog post. Actually I think I’ll do one at a later date. 😉

When I asked Chad to “talk me out of it,” it was because I was having a twinge of doubt that we were on the right path. I had seen what our friends had and thought maybe the path that they were on was one that we could follow.

That is a dangerous thing to do. Especially when you know that God told you to take a specific path. Remember Jonah? God told him to go to Nineveh to talk to the people there. But Jonah thought he knew better and disobeyed. That’s how he ended up in the belly of a whale. Had he gone to Nineveh as he was supposed to, he would have never ended up smelling like fish guts when the whale finally barfed him up on dry land. (Sidenote: anyone else naturally assume that the whale was male? Food for thought… 😀 )

So that’s a bit of an extreme example. But as Christians, we are taught to do two things; trust and obey. Even if it’s a scary proposition.

I remember when I was still living in a big city in the south, after Chad and I became engaged, the question of where we’d live came to the surface (we had been long distance up until that point). I was adamant that I wanted to stay in the big city. I had a supportive church community, friends, and I was able to travel back and forth on my own via public transit. I thought it was the perfect scenario. Except for one thing. Jobs in Chad’s field were hard to come by if he were to relocate, and the current position he was in was full time with benefits. On the other hand, I only had a part time job with zero benefits (unless you want to count unlimited free soda at the sandwich place located next door to my office 😉 )

So there we were, Mr. Full-Time-Job-with-Benefits and Ms. There’s-No-Way-In-Ha-Ha-That-I’m-Moving-to-His-Small-Town.

Then one day we were having a conversation with a family friend. We were discussing who was going to move and our friend asked us both one question. Who had a full time job with benefits? The answer was Chad. Right at that moment it became crystal clear; I would move to Chad’s town. And honestly I was finally OK with that path.

Can you guess what happened 3 weeks after I moved to Chad’s town? Yep. He was let go from his full time job with benefits.

My reaction was modeled after the years of adult maturity I had under my belt; I internally threw a fit of Biblical proportions, just like Jonah. How dare God allow this to happen! At that moment I wanted to move back to my city. Back to my comfort zone (yes, I would be taking Chad with me).

But then a still small voice said, “Trust Me.”

Chad quickly found a new job that he loved and, as an added bonus, we were able to spend more time together. We were able to go to church and have a rich social life. A life that continues to flourish today.

Had I continued to look at the wonderful things others had in the midst of our crappy situation, I would not have experienced the blessings of God’s grace, love and mercy.

So back to my brand new niece. I can’t explain how much I love her. Each time a new niece or nephew is born, my heart grows. And I now understand my purpose and path; to show her how much God loves her through my actions and to be there when she needs someone to talk to. To encourage her parents to stay on the same path when things get tough.

Because the end result is more than worth it. All we need to do is trust and obey.




Lulabelle Reviews: Catty Stacks Cat Houses….

I’ve written numerous times before about our oldest cat and her history of aggressiveness. After years of frustration, it appears we may have turned the corner. And it’s all thanks to a cardboard box. No really, it’s true.

During a shopping outing to PetSmart, we found a product called Catty Stacks in the clearance aisle. According to the end cap, Catty Stacks are a series of boxes that can be hooked together to make a play space for your cat.

We took them home and assembled them immediately. One package contains four flat boxes. It should be noted that it took me a good two hours to get them assembled, but I think that was due to being distracted and my well documented knack for misinterpreting instructions :-D.

The coolest thing about Catty Stacks is that they can be rearranged easily any time and moved to anywhere. They hook together with a series of clips that resemble those which hold large reams of paper. They also have holes in each side where the cat can walk freely back and forth through the boxes.

Here is a picture of how we had them set up yesterday. I’ve gone ahead and changed the arrangement of them to prevent boredom. Disregard the pissed off look on her face. That’s just the way God made her face. It’s possible she’s related to Grumpy Cat.

cathycat on cattystacks

You can also purchased Catty Stacks online at www.cattystacks.com. According to the website, Catty Stacks are available in a few different colors and patterns.

Catty Stacks are also beneficial for shy cats that like to hide from the world. Simply put a blanket or towel over a section of the boxes and they can hang out in a stress-free environment. Put a few toys in the box for added comfort.

Catty Stacks retail in store for about $12 per unit (each unit contains 4 boxes). Online they are about the same, but you have to buy two units at a time. Eventually we’d like to buy more units in order to make a larger series of boxes for them to explore and climb.

The materials used for Catty Stacks are thick and durable enough to withstand feline claws and teeth. The clips are strong enough to hold the boxes together, but not interesting enough for our cats to try and pry them apart.

We give this product an enthusiastic two paws up!

FTC Disclaimer: Catty Stacks was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

*A Day In The Life….It’s Only Monday…..

Today’s intended blog post has been unceremoniously postponed due to the blogger’s cats. First the oldest insisted on playing with her new ribbon toy for several hours, forcing the blogger to swing said ribbon toy back and forth whilst the cat leapt into the air.

Then her royal feline-ness decided she needed a full-body shiatsu. Being the only person in the house,  I was tasked with the job. After a quick google search, I shiatsued the cat and sat down for a cup of tea.

My break was short-lived as the oldest then decided to recreate a scene from Wild Kingdom with the only other 4-legged specimen in the house (I knew we shouldn’t have let her stay up late watching WK reruns). The youngest held her own though, and managed to plant a sizable knot on the top of the oldest’s head.

The youngest then demanded my attention. She wanted me to watch her latest dance routine, a high energy act set to MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. She even used one of her tiny cat-nip mice as a prop; throwing it into the air and catching it in her teeth repeatedly as she pranced around the room like a ninja.

Yep, it’s been one of those days around here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish my tea and get something to eat while I have the chance. Both cats are currently asleep. And snoring.


*The accuracy and truthiness of today’s blog may have been stretched slightly for dramatic effect. 😉


Dear Skittles….Regarding the Green Skittle…

Dear Skittles,

I received a huge bag of your product in my stocking this year. I really love Skittles. My favorites are a three-way tie between strawberry, grape and orange. I’ve even been known to save those till last.

Then it happened. A few years ago, without warning, you made the decision to change the green lime Skittle to green apple. At first we all thought it was some sort of limited edition thing. But lime never made a comeback.

I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

Even though Skittles are a favorite, I don’t have them very often. So I was excited to receive such a large bag. But I gotta tell you, I miss the refreshing zing of lime. I think the green apple is a bit too overpowering. Like that kid in Jr. High choir that is just a smidge too excited about his solo, puts too much into it,  and passes out cold, taking out a few unsuspecting tenors on the way down (probably the last time the choir director keeps a soloist in the middle of the choir).

I’m also wondering what your process was in picking green apple over another flavor like, I don’t know, kiwi. How about watermelon? Those would seem to be a more subtle choice. I suppose kiwi was vetoed since it shares a similar flavor to strawberry, and if you’da made it kiwi, you’da had to re-flavor the red Skittle.

Now if you really wanna mess with people, why don’t you re-flavor the Skittles for April Fools Day, but just don’t tell anyone. I have a suggestion for each color. Alternatively, you could roll these out as part of an Agricultural Appreciation Celebration of Farmers or something called, “Viva La Vegetables!”:

Red: Tomato
Orange: Carrot
Green: Lima Bean
Purple: Eggplant

Ok, maybe that wouldn’t go over so well. Sales would probably plummet and protests would break out across the country. Inevitably someone would create an online petition to bring back the original flavors. The CEO might even step down, bowing to public pressure.

All because someone thought it’d be a good idea to change the flavor of the green Skittle. And change the rest of the flavors to vegetables.

Maybe you should have thought about all this before you made that seemingly small flavor tweak.

Dear Skittles, think of the children. Children who will grow up in a world where the green Skittle is apple. What kind of a world is that? When you need a refreshing zing of lime, but have to settle for the overpowering bite of bitter green apple.

Do us all a favor and bring back the lime. Haven’t we suffered enough??


Maury Povich dropping truth appears courtesy of: http://www.livememe.com