Archives For Humor

Some day I’ll carve a really intricate design into a pumpkin.

For now, I’ll leave that to the experts.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve never been that into pumpkin carving.  I mean, I’ve done it, but mostly because it’s what you’re supposed to do at Halloween.  Some people get super into it and make pies and roast the seeds, the whole nine yards.  Not me.  I mostly just complain about how nasty the innards are that you have to remove.

Ok, have a ruined it yet?


So excited.

The truth is, though, I do have a favorite part.  The fire part.  I love seeing what the final product looks like all lit up in the dark.  I stick that candle in there, light it, then stand back and ooh and ahh at that hacked-up fruit.  If you wanted to get real philosophical here, a person could say something about how light brings beauty to darkness…but, I’m not going to do that.

Without further ado, I present to you my somewhat instructional video on how to carve a pumpkin with one hand:

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almost made it out of the bowling alley without getting stared at.


Last night Sam and I went bowling and it was great.  Total “Guy’s Night Out” material.  Sam was disappointed in his scores, as was I with mine, but we still had a lot of fun.  Plus, we made these videos:

You couldn’t write it any better. Then I was like, “Stand over here and try it so you can see the pins.” And then this happened:

Continue Reading…

Everybody loves an underdog.


Well, not always.

A young lady emailed me recently and shared a story that broke my heart.  She was born like me, missing her left forearm and hand.  Even so, she never let it stop her from doing anything.  Until recently, that is, when she started college.  She chose to enroll in the respiratory therapy program because, as she said, “I want to save a life.”  Could a person have a more honorable reason for doing anything?  I think not.  Well, her instructor told her she either needs to get a prosthesis or quit the program.

Apparently this instructor is not a fan of underdog stories.

Continue Reading…

I’m really good at keeping an ice cream cone from dripping.

Its one of my favorite skills.

I’m incredibly careful, with wide licks around the entire base of the ice cream first, then I work my way up to the top making the scoop as smooth as possible on-top of the cone.  It’s a very clean and enjoyable experience.

This makes me SO uncomfortable.

My kids, on the other hand…not so much.

They try, but they’re kids, ya know?  They get messy.  And as much as I want to grab their cone from them and “fix it,” I don’t.  I let them enjoy it.  I let them get messy and covered with chocolate.

In that way, eating an ice cream cone is a lot like life.  It can be really messy sometimes, but also really yummy.

Yep, I just made that metaphor.  And said life is yummy.

With that in mind, here’s I scoop an ice cream cone with one hand:

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P.S. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone that helped me get to Story Chicago!  You’re the best!  Look forward to a full review after the conference.

When I was a kid my mom made me floss every night.

My step-brother and step-sister and I would sit in the bathroom, whining for what seemed like an eternity while we flossed our teeth.  We’d stare out the doorway, longing for our freedom.

In reality, it was probably about five minutes.

Sorry about that, mom.

Now I actually love flossing my teeth.  There’s just something about getting those chunks of meat and cilantro out after eating at Chipotle.

This is the kind I like most.

I usually use regular floss, though sometimes those floss picks come in handy (pun intended).  Those floss picks can be painful, though, in my experience.  Especially with your back teeth.  I’ll try to get that little piece of floss between my teeth and then SNAP, it jams up into my gums.  Youch!  So, regular floss is still option one for me.

Here’s how I floss my teeth with one hand:

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What Are The Paralympics?

August 30, 2012 — 7 Comments

I hardly know anything about the Paralympics.

Like, is the word even supposed to be capitalized?

Seriously, all I know at this point comes from commercials.  I am aware of the following events: biking, swimming, sitting volley-ball…I assume there is running, wheel-chair racing and possibly basketball.  Maybe gymnastics?  If it sounds like I’m the most ignorant and uninformed “disabled” person when it comes to the Paralympics, that’s because it’s probably true.

The other day my friend Jen (from BornJustRight) posted a link to an article and asked, “Who is your favorite Paralympic [athlete] who deserves Oscar Pistorius – Paralympic Athlete-level media attention?”  “People have favorite paralympic athletes?” I thought.  And then I felt absolutely horrible for thinking that.

Maybe I could cheer for Crates. “GO CRATES!” Yep.

I don’t remember ever hearing about the Paralympics when I was younger.  I’ve always loved sports, but my heroes have all been of the normal variety.  The professionals.  It was always the NFL, MLB and NBA for me.  Those were the stars.  And it wasn’t as if I dis-liked differently-abled athletes; I literally didn’t know they existed!

Now here I am, turning thirty-five next month, and I’m just learning about the Paralympics.  It’s daunting!  I’ve started following some of them on Twitter.  I’ve gone to the website and read some blogs.  And while it’s still exciting to learn about, I still feel bad a lot of the time.  For instance, I have no idea how one would get on a path to become a paralympian.  Not a clue.  I don’t know the rules that govern qualifying or how difficult it is to make it.  And I feel like I should.  I feel like people expect me to know that for some reason.  I know that’s dumb, but that’s where my mind is at right now.

The fact of the matter is that I know hardly anything about a lot of things.  For instance, one of my friends makes lasers.  Literally.  I don’t know anything about that and I don’t feel bad about it.  I don’t have a connection to it.  Except that lasers are awesome, but that’s besides the point.  The point is, I feel like this is different because I have such an obvious (physical) connection to the Paralympics.  Because of that, I assume everyone thinks I should know about them.  But, do you know how many people have asked me directly about them?  None.

So, instead of feeling bad that I don’t know very much about the Paralympics, I’m going to enjoy learning about them.  I’m going to discover athletes to cheer for.  I’m going to be amazed by their stories.  I’m going to read the stories posted by my friends who know more than I do.  I’m going to allow my perception of “athletes” to be challenged.  I’m going to grow.  I’m going to watch people with bodies and abilities that are different than mine accomplish amazing things.  I’m going to be inspired.

And I’m going to go “Like” the Paralympics Facebook page.



Here are some helpful links about the Paralympics:

Official Website

Official London 2012 Paralympics Page

And here is an amazing commercial for the UK’s Channel 4 coverage:

Channel 4 Paralympics – Meet the Superhumans from IWRF on Vimeo.

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As I waited for my lunch order, he walked in.

Immediately uncomfortable, I looked away, hoping he wouldn’t see me.

Earlier this summer he was the umpire for our work picnic kickball tournament.  My team was getting slaughtered when a dude from the other team kicked a ball that was clearly foul.  Everyone knew it, so we all stopped.  Since he didn’t say it was foul, the kicker kept running.  All the way home.  Everyone thought it was a joke.  A few people questioned what was happening.

And then I freaked out.

I didn’t curse him out, but I’m not proud of how I acted.  Pretty sure I said something like, “Way to live up to the stereotype of umpires being blind,” and I know at one point I said, “Congratulations on making this NOT FUN.”  I went on and on because he kept smiling, which just made me angrier.  And it’s not like it mattered; we were getting killed.  It’s just that the call was so obviously wrong and everyone knew it and I hate when things are unfair.

After I calmed down, I apologized to him on the field.  Later on, I saw him and apologized again.  He said, “Honestly, I wasn’t even looking.  I just had to make a call, so I did.”  WHAT??  You could have said you didn’t see it!  It’s a stinkin’ WORK PICNIC.  Breathe, Ryan…breathe.  Anyway, I truly did feel bad, but you know what else I thought?  I don’t want to be known as “that one-handed hot-head.”  People already have an easy enough time remembering me because of my physical difference; I’d rather they didn’t add “jerk” to the mix.

What’s interesting is that this came up when I got my license plate, too.  “Now I have to be a good, even-tempered driver and I can’t go anywhere I shouldn’t be because my license plate will give me away,” I thought.  I have higher standards.  I’m a pastor with one hand who has a license plate that says “1HANDED.”  Oh, the pressure!

There I am, folding under the pressure.

Let’s be honest, though; it shouldn’t take those things to keep me in line.  Sure, it’s true, I might be easier to recognize and remember than most, but that shouldn’t be my motivation to be a good person.  To reign in my temper.  To not go to places I shouldn’t be.  To be a safe and conscientious driver.  We should all be trying our best to live lives that are honest and good and helpful to others, regardless of our occupation or limb situation, right?  Sometimes I get caught-up in the pressure I put on myself because of my differences and, in my opinion, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Those of us with limb differences know we stick out.  And trust me, we feel the eyes on us.  It can be difficult and seem unfair at times.  The truth of the matter, though, is that most of us put this pressure on ourselves.  We have the desire to exceed expectations, even when those around us might not even have the expectations we think they do.  And that’s not your fault, fully-limbed people.  That’s our bad.

Maybe you do the same thing.  You imagine all of these expectations on you and then, feeling the pressure, you crumble and feel like a failure for not living-up to them.  My advice is this: Expectations, schmexpectations.  Forget ’em.  Stop trying to live-up to what you perceive to be other peoples’ expectations and live according to what you know to be true and right.  Will you fail sometimes?  Sure.  Can you get back up and press forward?  Absolutely.

Go get ’em, tiger.

Oh, and if you ever ref a sporting event I’m involved in, do not miss a call.

I have a ways to go.


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I’m no Gabby Douglas.

Even when I was a much more nimble boy, gymnastics didn’t interest me.  Just never much of a tumbler or a hand-springer, if you will.

That said, I would like to present to you this one-handed cartwheel instructional video.


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I spent last weekend in Ohio.

I know, right?

I was invited to be a “guest of honor” at the 2nd annual Helping Hands Midwest picnic, so all five Haacks hopped in the van and made the nearly nine hour trip to Harrison, OH, for the fun.  And we were not disappointed!

Helping Hands Midwest is “a networking group for families who have someone with a hand difference; to get together to share, inspire and celebrate.”  In 2004 my friend Kim’s son, Gabe, was born missing his left hand and they made several trips to the east coast to meet with doctors and a group there.  She thought it’d be nice to have a group like that in the midwest, so…she started one.  She’s awesome.

We pulled into Harrison Friday evening and immediately participated in my kids’ two favorite activities:  Swimming and eating.  Since we were so much farther south than usual, we had to eat at Waffle House.  “This is the best food EVER!” the kids proclaimed.  Vacations are awesome because everything is the best.

Once we hit the pool, the real fun began.  Leading up to the picnic, I wondered how my kids would react to other kids with limb-differences.  I mean, I’m dad.  They’re used to me.  But, what about a bunch of kids running around with little arms?  Well, Joe and his daughter Julia were in the pool.  Julia is beautiful little girl with a hand difference and she was practicing holding her breath.  And then little Gavin showed-up with his family.  Gavin’s hands are different, but you’d never know it with all the swimming and jumping he did!  So, how did my kids react?  As of this writing, I’m not sure they even noticed.

Later that night I had the privilege of meeting Molly Stapelman (founder of and her family in person.  Finally.  I had gone to get something from our car at midnight and on the way back into the hotel I see a woman (it was Molly) pop out of her car and say, “Hiiiii, Ryan.”  Classic meeting.  Team Stapelman was a tired bunch, so we said our see-you-in-the-mornings and went to bed.

Saturday morning brought breakfast and more swimming and more limb-different kids running all over the hotel.  I really wonder what the employees thought!  We headed over to the picnic around noon…and it was amazing.  There were nearly 200 people there!  We got checked-in and then made our way around to meet some people and my kids went to play games with the other kids.  Everyone seemed so happy to be there.  And it seemed so natural to me.  I wondered how I would react as I’ve never been around a group of limb-different people before (since I was little, at least).  It just seemed right.

My favorite part was meeting the kids.  There were actually kids there that were waiting to meet me.  Me.  What the heck?  I was so excited and honored to meet them!  And meeting the parents and hearing their stories meant the world to me.  It was so encouraging to hear, in person, that what I’m doing is making a difference.  To look into their eyes and shake their hands and give them hugs…seriously, it was the best.

Abdiel and Me

I got to give a talk, too, wherein I shared my story and gave some advice for raising limb-different kids.  It’s funny because I’m a dad, but all my kids have all their limbs.  But, I was the limb-different kid who was raised well, so I think that gives me a pretty unique perspective.  It went well from what I can tell, but next year I’m going to request a wireless mic or a stand.  It’s hard to hold a mic and speak when you’re a hand-waver with only one hand!  We also got to hear from my friends Eric (, Tony Memmel, Elizabeth Stinson and Molly (  Each of them had a unique perspective and powerful words to say.  I’m so proud to be friends with them all.

Saturday night a group of us took over the hotel lobby (shhhh!!!) and had so much fun I think I pulled a muscle from laughing so hard.  I remember looking around and thinking, “These people are amazing.”  Each one of them was funny and kind and compassionate and loving.  There was a comraderie between us all that went witout saying.  And I believe that connection will stay with us for a lifetime.

I’m so grateful for our time in Ohio with everyone involved with Helping Hands Midwest.  It confirmed for me, again, my role in the limb-different community and stoked the fire to push-on toward even bigger and better things.  It confirmed my belief that limb-different kids are some of the most resilient, creative, funny, determined kids on the planet.  It confirmed the fact that the parents of these kids are both down-to-earth and other-worldly.

And it confirmed that carrying two pizzas, a burrito and a two-liter of Sprite into a hotel – with one hand – is a pain in the butt.

Thank you SO much to Kim and everyone that attended the 2012 Helping Hands Midwest Picnic!

See you next year!

Best picture ever. Sam (MySpecialHand), Me, Molly and Ryan (LuckyFinProject), Tony and Lesleigh Memmel

Me and Sam from

Ryan and Ryan, my little buddy (LuckyFinProject)

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A few weeks ago I wrote, “I don’t think I’m very stubborn.”

Yeah…I take that back.

This week I noticed a slow leak in the toilet in my kids’ bathroom.  Upon first glance, it just looked like one of the gaskets had given out.  The whole system was old, so I decided I’d just replace it all this weekend.  Fun Saturday project, right?  Heck, maybe I’ll even make a time-lapse video of the repair for the blog!

I got the parts and tools and set the camera up and away I went.  Everything went smoothly for approximately three minutes.  Then, as I started trying to loosen one of the nuts from the bolt that held the tank to the bowl, I noticed the whole thing kept spinning.  This is a nightmare for a person with one hand.  Two-handers can use one hand to hold the top of the bolt steady with a screwdriver and then work on the nut with their other hand.  I can’t.  So, I just kept spinning it and spinning it, getting more and more frustrated.

At this point, if I was smart, I would have stopped.  Of course I didn’t.  I mean, the video was running and I knew my wife wanted it done and I hate being defeated.  Seriously, ask my wife how I get with these projects. Wait…I take that back.  Don’t ask her.  It got to the point where I had stripped both bolts that I needed to remove, so…ugh, this is so embarrassing…I just grabbed my vice-grips and started torquing them back and forth, hoping to snap them in half.  One of them actually did, but the other one didn’t.  It really didn’t.  In fact, it so didn’t, it busted a hole through the tank.  You can imagine my joyous response.

Well, I was not giving-up.  I went back to the hardware store (we are now two hours into the project) and got a hacksaw (to remove the bolt) and a large rubber washer which would hopefully cover the hole.  I went ahead and put all the new hardware in and hoped for the best.  I turned the water back on and as the tank filled…it also started to leak.  Everywhere.  So, there I stood, sopping wet with sweat, my back and hand killing me, garbage and water everywhere, frustrated beyond belief.  Three hours for nothing.  And I still had to clean all this crap up.  And buy a new tank and do it all over again!

At least a had a cool shirt on.


Being stubborn can be a blessing and a curse, I suppose.  In this case it seems like a curse.  I wasted a good portion of my day, when I could have stopped as soon as I realized it wasn’t going to work and tried again when I had some help.  That’s not really my gig, though.  I think of it as being “singular focused” or determined or competitive.  “THIS TOILET WILL NOT DEFEAT ME!” I said (before cursing it).

I need to be smart about it, though.  I’m sure a lot of you can relate.  I’m sure it’s naturally ingrained in me to prove that I can do things because of my limb-difference, but there are times I need to be less stubborn and more wise.  There are times I need to ask for help, even if it feels like defeat.

And as I write that, perhaps that’s where the lesson lies.  Maybe I didn’t waste three hours of my day breaking my toilet and my back.  Maybe it was to teach me that it’s ok to ask for help when I need it.  In fact, it’s more than ok; it’s necessary sometimes.  And when we put aside our stubbornness and get the help we need, things tend to work a lot better.

And even though my toilet is still broken, that lesson’s worth three hours.

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By the way…here’s the video: