Gratitude List (January 15, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m feeling a bit tired today, so to give myself a boost, I thought I’d do a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I’m grateful it is not as cold as it used to be. Like I said yesterday, daytime temps rose to about 7°C for most of the week. I am also grateful it’s not been raining.

2. I am grateful I was able to clear the air again with a staff after an incident on Sunday. On Sunday evening, I got angry because there were no bananas, even though the groceries should’ve gotten in the day before. The staff got really cross with me for yelling at her, which triggered an alter who carries a lot of memories from the psych hospital. At one point, the staff even tried to physically move me to my room, which triggered her even more. Rationally, I do understand I shouldn’t have yelled at her, but emotionally, I really couldn’t handle the whole situation. I am grateful I was able to explain this, with the help of my assigned staff.

3. I am grateful my husband’s cold seems to be over. He was supposed to visit last Sunday, like I mentioned, but canceled because he had a cold. All going to plan, he should be here tomorrow.

4. I am grateful for fried potatoes. I had those for dinner on Tuesday. I am grateful that, even though the staff had originally forgotten to remove the plastic foil from the area where the potatoes are in my meal, the potatoes hadn’t become soggy. I almost had a meltdown over that too, but remembered to ask the staff to remove the plastic and put the meal in the oven a little longer.

5. I am grateful the dietitian gave me some good tips for variations on things I can have for breakfast or lunch rather than bread with jam on it. I am also grateful I had an overall good appt with her.

6. I am grateful there’s only 82 calories in a cinnamon star, my favorite Christmas cookie, of which I still have two full packages left. I am also grateful I am allowed mini stroopwafels during the week. The dietitian had originally said a small cookie such as a biscuit, but there’s only 36 calories in a mini stroopwafel. For on weekends, she allows me a large cookie. She mentioned as an example a cookie that has like 200 calories in it, which I consider rather outrageous. Maybe I misunderstood and she meant that I should eat those only sporadically, as we were also discussing the fact that no foods are forbidden altogether. Anyway, with that being the case, I’m so grateful there’s only 82 calories in my favorite cookie, so I allowed myself one on Friday even though I’d originally only said to myself Saturday and Sunday.

7. I am grateful I feel less stressed out about my diet already as well as able to experiment more with varied foods. On Thursday, there was no meal delivery service meal for me, so I decided to get a salad from the supermarket for dinner. It was absolutely delicious!

8. I am grateful my husband got some opportunities for a new job. He works as a truck driver right now. That is, he currently works in the truck wash, but that doesn’t earn him that much money. Come February 1, he’s going back to driving, but he also talked to the recruiter about other options. I’m not sure I’m allowed to disclose too much, so I’m not going to share which jobs he’s going to look into, but he’s hoping to find himself a job with regular working hours and decent pay at some point.

9. I am grateful I was able to do some crafting again over the past week. I created a red and silver present charm on a keychain for my father, who has his 73rd birthday today. I am also grateful my husband was able to order a real present for him. My father wanted a cd that’s really hard to come by in the Netherlands, but my husband ordered it off Amazon.co.uk. It won’t be here till mid-February, but that’s okay.

Polymer Clay Present Keychain

10. I am grateful the chickens are back. Remember a young man from the care home next to mine had chickens near the day center? Well, shortly before New Year’s, his grandpa took them home with him because they were broody. This week, they returned. Apparently the grandpa had found a way to deal with the broodiness.

I am even more grateful the man whose chickens these are allowed me to pick the eggs today. No eggs though, unfortunately, so either the client who feeds the chickens on weekends had already picked the eggs or they hadn’t laid eggs today.

This was quite doable. Sorry for all the food-related gratefuls though.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 14, 2022)

Hi everyone on this Friday afternoon. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had a glass of water and am going to have another one in half an hour or so. Maybe I’m going to ask for a Senseo or treat myself to a Dubbelfrisss, my favorite soft drink. I’m afraid we don’t have the diet variety though. Can I pour you a drink? Let’s have a cup of something and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, first I’d share that it’s not as cold as it was last week, but it’s still too cold for my liking. Daytime temps rose to about 7°C most of this week. I did go on one longer walk yesterday, to the supermarket to buy a card for my father. He’ll celebrate his 73rd birthday tomorrow. We also bought some veggies. Oh, and a croissant, because I felt like treating myself. I had just one for lunch instead of bread though. I just looked up how many calories are in one croissant and that’s about as much as in two slices of bread without toppings. Of course, bread contains less fat and sugar and more fiber, but so what?

If we were having coffee, I would go on to share about my dietitian’s appt this morning. It went pretty well. She didn’t admonish me for not wanting to lose the 13kg I need to lose to be at a healthy BMI. I do want to lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese though. More importantly, I want to eat relatively healthily and hopefully quiet the inner conflict about food.

The dietitian gave me some recommendations for healthy meal choices for breakfast and lunch. For example, she said I can have salad for lunch with croutons and a little chicken, tuna or salmon (that last one I don’t really like) occasionally rather than bread. I do need to make sure the staff take care of portion sizes, of course, because I’m pretty sure they’d otherwise throw the entire can of tuna into my salad. For breakfast, I am still allowed yoghurt with muesli, just not the crunchy kind. And thankfully, the muesli doesn’t need to be plain, it can include nuts or raisins or the like.

I did share my disappointment with her at only having lost 0.5kg over the past week when I stepped on the scale yesterday. The dietitian said that this is a pretty great result though.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I got my benefits payment slip last Monday and am grateful to report I will still get enough money that I can still spend some on fun things like polymer clay supplies or the like. I don’t know whether I shared this in my coffee share posts before, but my long-term care copay will automatically be withheld from my benefits. The copay is income-dependent and, because I’m married, my husband’s income is counted too. Then again, because I’m married, I do get to pay the so-called “low” copay because the government does take into account the responsibility I have for contributing to his household expenses too.

The copay is calculated based on our combined income from two years back, so 2020 for this year. Because my husband earned more money in 2020 than in 2019 and had a lot of tax deductibles in 2019, I was expecting a higher copay by at least €100 a month, but fearing it might be as much as €200 a month. Then again, I was hoping my benefits would also be raised a little. Long story short, my net income was cut by €82 a month. That’s a lot. I realize some people won’t be able to handle this, particularly people on benefits. I am so intensely grateful that I am relatively well off.

How have you been?

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors by Maggie Hartley

Late last month, carol anne of Therapy Bits shared about some audiobooks she’d pre-ordered with the credits she’d gotten for Christmas I believe. One of the books she had ordered was Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir, Behind Closed Doors. I initially misunderstood and thought the book was already out, so I tried to get it on Apple Books, but then found out it wouldn’t be out till January 6. I never pre-order books honestly, so this Thursday, it was time for me to buy it and I started reading it right away. Here’s my review.

Summary

Foster carer Maggie Hartley is finally enjoying a well-earned holiday from fostering, savoring time with her brand new baby granddaughter. One night, though, the peace and quiet is interrupted by an urgent call from Social Services. A man has been stabbed, and Social Services need to find an emergency placement for his little girl.

Maggie is used to children arriving on her doorstep at all times of the day and night, but nothing can prepare her for the sight of eleven-year-old Nancy. The little girl arrives in her pajamas, covered in blood, and mute with shock. With her mother missing and her father in intensive care, the police are desperate for answers.

Who stabbed Nancy’s father? Where is her mother? And what is Nancy hiding about her seemingly perfect family? The longer Maggie spends with her little girl, the clearer it becomes that all is not as it seems. Can Maggie discover the terrible truth of what’s been happening behind closed doors?

My Review

This story was very interesting. I loved learning about Nancy’s life and her apparently perfect family. As with most foster care memoirs I’ve read, the plot was on the predictable side, though it did have afew twists I didn’t see coming. I tend not to mind predictable stories though, but if you’re a fan of fast-paced books with lots of twists, this isn’t the right book (or genre) for you.

The characters, on the other hand, were very well-rounded. I liked how Maggie showed each person’s positive as well as negative sides. I loved how Nancy’s perspective of her family and what a normal, loving marriage is like developed over time.

I did get slightly annoyed at Maggie’s writing style occasionally, which was my reason for initially giving the book a four-star rating on Goodreads. Then I felt pressured by the community and changed it to a five-star rating. I want half stars!

Book Details

Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: Maggie Hartley
Publisher: Seven Dials
Publication Date: January 6, 2022

bookworms monthly linky

Reading Wrap-Up (January 10, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. The year has been off to a good start in the reading department. Like I said when sharing my hopes for 2022, I fully intend on getting back into the reading groove. So far, it all seems to be going magical. Let me share what I’ve been reading recently. As usual, I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

First, somehow, I can’t remember exactly how but I believe it was through Goodreads, I stumbled upon A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. The endings of the two Picoult books I’ve read before, My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care, were horribly disappointing, but I still loved her writing style enough that I want more. A Spark of Light is also a shorter read compared to her other books still on my TBR shelf, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Then, on Thursday, Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir, Behind Closed Doors, came out as an eBook. I immediately bought it on Apple Books and am 81% done with it now. That’s pretty far considering I haven’t been totally engrossed in it.

Finally, yesterday, in response to #JusJoJan, I saw a post talking about a book on unicorns. It immediately inspired me to want to read a children’s book on unicorns too. I chose a book suited for slightly older children than this blogger’s granddaughter’s read, although I may read My Secret Unicorn at some point too. I decided to read the first installment in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine. This book is called Twilight, Say Cheese!. I am not yet done with the book, but am hoping to finish it later tonight.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing. The most recent book I finished was Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor just before Christmas. I finished that book in one sitting, but only because it was such a short read. I enjoyed it and was intrigued by it, but I didn’t think it was as amazing as other people had said it was. I blame that on the fact that I’m not that much of a literary critic.

I still have a number of books I’m currently reading that I started way back in the first half of 2021, like After the Cure by Deirdre Gould. However, I’m quite likely not finishing those.

What I think I’ll Read Next

I am planning on reading some more chapter books on magical creatures. I currently have the first book in the Mermicorn Island series by Jason June, forgot its title, downloaded off Bookshare and am probably going to read that as soon as I finish the Daisy Sunshine chapter book. Either that or the next installment in her series.

I feel a little weird for reading mostly chapter books right now, but I’m trying to counter that with the argument that I’m not a literary critic after all. For this reason, reading doesn’t have to be a chore. Rather, I read for pleasure and that’s what matters.

My One Word for 2022

Ever since 2014 or 2015 I think, I’ve been sharing a word of the year on my blog. I’ve never been paying close attention to them over the rest of the year and, as a result, they never meant much to me. This year, I intend to change that. I’ve signed up to a project organized by Lisa of Lisa Notes called One Word 2022. Lisa has a Facebook group dedicated to discussing our One Word and a monthly linky that goes live each 22nd of the month. I originally intended to wait until then to write this post, but I feel inspired to write it now and Lisa said to write whenever you feel like writing.

The year 2021 was a really creative year, so initially I thought to choose a word such as “Create” for 2022. This year though hasn’t started off on a crafty note. Besides, isn’t the point of a word of the year to challenge yourself?

I came across a post on another blog a few days back (sorry, I can’t remember which blog) reminding the reader about the qualities of a follower of Christ, such as kindness, patience, etc. One of them was joyfulness and there I had my word. My One Word for 2022 is going to be: JOY.

Dictionary.com defines “Joy” as: “The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.”

“Something exceptionally good”, however, is subjective. For this year, I intend to look for joy in the everyday. I am reminded in this respect of a note on the wall in my mental health agency building that says: “Be grateful for the little things; at some point you’ll realize they’re the big things.”

This year, I will aim to focus on cultivating a grateful, positive attitude towards whatever I experience in life. I don’t need more of anything. Life itself is a reason to rejoice.

What’s your word for 2022?

I’m joining #LifeThisWeek.

Sunday Ramble: Books

E.M. Kingston started a prompt called Sunday Ramble a few weeks ago and today’s topic is “books”. The idea of the Sunday Ramble is that she poses five questions on the topic and you’re allowed to ramble as you please. By this she seems to mean that you don’t need to answer the questions in order, but can turn them into an essay too. I am just going to answer her questions though. Here they are.

1. Do you prefer digital, paperback, or hard bound books?
This is a no-brainer: digital! The reason is simple: I am blind and cannot read print. Back in the days before eBooks became accessible with screen readers, when I’d still have to digitalize my own books, I preferred hard bound books because they were easier to place on the scanner. Then again, I never liked the process of scanning my own books.

2. Do you have a library full of books or just your favorite tales?
Library of books! I have a Bookshare membership, which is like a library service for the print disabled which lets you download an almost unlimited number of books for $50 per year. You can also keep them as long as you’re a member of the service as far as I’m aware. I currently have roughly 260 books downloaded off there. That is, I have 263 books in Voice Dream Reader, the app I use to access Bookshare books, but that includes some PDFs I downloaded elsewhere and DAISY books from the Dutch library for the blind too.

In addition to using Bookshare, I occasionally buy Kindle books or eBooks off Apple Books. I also like to use BookBub to get free books on Kindle or Apple Books. So if the question had been about number of books bought rather than number of books I have on my shelves, the answer would be quite different, since most books I get either free through BookBub or via my Bookshare membership.

3. Harry Potter, Narnia, or Twilight? (You can choose all three or pick and choose.)
Uhm, am I going to get laughed at if I say I haven’t read any of these at all? If I have to choose though, I’m going with Narnia because it’s Christian-based.

4. Do you like when books are turned into movies? Why or why not?
I don’t really ever watch movies, so I consider that a no.

5. What is a book that you have read over and over again?
I hardly ever reread books now. As a teen though, in the days of scanning books, I had fewer books to choose from. That is, of course I was a member of the Dutch library for the blind then too, but I didn’t like listening to audiobooks. Anyway, I could read Caja Cazemier’s Dutch young adult novels over and over again. My favorite was probably Iris, about a girl who runs away from her mother and is placed in a youth home.

Crafting Unicorns!

Hi everyone. I came up with today’s prompt for #JusJoJan and it’s “Unicorn”.

I love love love unicorns! I have two unicorn soft toys. One, I got when I left the first day center with my current care agency back in early August of 2018. The other, I got in my Christmas hamper at the next day center that year.

Other than soft toys, I also have a number of unicorns I crafted out of polymer clay. Today, I am going to show you a few of my recent creations.

First up is a white unicorn charm. It is mostly two-dimensional, which I don’t really like, because it means its horn sticks out up rather than forward. It has a rose on top of its head. That one took me about half an hour to craft, because my Fimo Soft polymer clay was just a little too soft for my liking. For the rose, I used the color Cherry Red and I used Tropical Green for the leaves. The horn is done using Metallic Gold Fimo Effect.

The next unicorn I’m going to show you is my favorite so far. It was done using Pastel Lilac Fimo Effect. I did the mane and tail in Metallic Gold and Metallic Silver and used Metallic Gold for its horn. I added some purple glitters to its legs and ears for some extra sparkle.

Then last Thursday, I tried to create the perfect unicorn. I originally wanted to create the same unicorn as above but put it onto a green, flower-shaped slab. Eventually, I ended up choosing a different color, Fimo Soft Lavender, for this unicorn’s body. I did create the mane and tail using Metallic Silver and Metallic Gold again. Again, I added glitters, gold this time, though just to its legs.

Unfortunately, I forgot to blend the unicorn’s horn into the head and/or secure it with liquid clay. Rather, I secured it using wire only. This means the horn is a bit loose, which I’m told isn’t really visible but it does bother me. This is the reason I don’t think this is my best unicorn so far.

What do you think of these? Do you like unicorns?

Gratitude List (January 8, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s Saturday again and I’m trying to get into the habit of writing a gratitude list then. At least today I’m doing one. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. Here are some things I’m thankful for.

1. A productive appointment with my nurse practitioner on Monday. We are going to discuss my crisis signaling plan together. This is used by the staff to help guide them on how to support me depending on how I’m doing. My assigned staff should have E-mailed it to him by now.

2. Sunshine! I am so grateful that the sun’s shining at least some of the time. It’s near freezing cold, but at least from indoors I can look out the window and see the sunlight.

3. Reading. I am so grateful I feel motivated to read again. I’ve picked up several books again. I’m currently reading the latest Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, but have several other books I want to get into soon.

4. The Word of God. I am so grateful I am still going strong with my Bible reading. I am also grateful I discovered an interesting Biblical podcast yesterday. It’s called Spoken Gospel. Yesterday, I listened to the episode on Jonah 1.

5. Weekend treats. Like I mentioned yesterday, I started on a food plan/healthy diet this week. I am grateful I am allowed to have a cinnamon star cookie in my diet today.

6. Getting my money back from the broken Fitbit charging cable I’d returned. I am so grateful about that, since I was fully expecting Bol.com (which is a site similar to Amazon here) objecting. After all, when trying the thing, my staff had removed some plastic thingy that kept the cable rolled together. Thankfully, I got my money back without any fuss.

7. Phone conversations with my husband. I am grateful to have him. I am also grateful he’s coming for a visit tomorrow, since I haven’t seen him since Christmas.

8. My staff, the one who had COVID, being recovered and back on the job.

9. My still getting up at 8AM consistently to do my Morning Pages. I am grateful I still find something to write about each morning even if it isn’t something related to my creative endeavors.

10. My computer. A few days ago, I thought for some reason that it’d broken down, but it’s still working. I also managed to clean its keyboard (it was very necessary) and, since I don’t have the type of alcohol or whatever you need for that, I wasn’t sure I’d do it properly without causing it damage. I am so grateful everything still works as it should!

This week, it was harder to come up with ten things of thankful than last week. I think I might do a daily gratitude list in the diary app Day One, now that I’ve revived it for my Morning Pages anyway, so that I have something to refer back to when I’m doing this list.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 7, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Friday of January, 2022. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’m right between my dinner and my evening coffee, but if you’d like a drink, I’m sure my staff can make you a Senseo or a cup of tea, pour you a glass of juice or offer you a soft drink. Let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start off by saying that the weather is all over the place right now. Sometimes, it’s raining or even snowing, while at other times, the sun is shining. It’s too cold for a walk though, so I’ve stayed indoors all day and most of the week. Last night, despite the heating being on and all windows being closed, I was feeling quite cold. Okay, I can feel cold in the middle of summer sometimes. That’s just me, I guess.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share about my new food plan. Like I shared before, my hope is to get to a healthier, less stress-inducing diet this year. The dietitian got back to my staff on Tuesday with a healthy food plan. It’s a standard basic food plan I’m sure, as for instance it allowed for an artificial sweetener in my coffee even though I’ve been drinking my coffee black for years.

I have been trying to stick to the food plan ever since. On Wednesday, I did have my crunchy muesli for breakfast, because my staff had already prepared it. Oh, I said this was something I wasn’t willing to give up, but I’m trying after all. Yesterday and today, I had two slices of bread with jam on them.

So far, it’s going okay, but I do find that I’m struggling to eat a variety of foods, as out of the healthy food choices, I only like a few things. Today, as an alternative to the bread with jam for lunch, I tried a toasted cheese and bell pepper sandwich. After all, the dietitian said that toasted sandwiches are a healthy choice as long as you don’t load them with more than one slice of cheese, ham or the like. You can, however, add veggies to taste.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, speaking of the food plan, I do look forward to getting chips this evening. I am so happy I am still allowed these on weekends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I haven’t been too inspired on the crafty front lately. On Wednesday though, I did create a polymer clay dolphin charm. I used the Fimo soft color blue ice quartz for the body of the dolphin, white for its belly and black for its eyes.

Polymer Clay Dolphin Charm

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I did do a fair bit of reading lately. I started the latest Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, which came out as an eBook yesterday, right then. I’m now at 54% already. It doesn’t look like I’m going to finish any of the other books still on my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads though, but that’s okay.

How have you been?

My Shed

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts this week is to write about your very first apartment. I am going to cheat a little and write about the first apartment I rented rather than the very first apartment I lived in. The first apartment I rented was my student housing apartment, which I called “my shed”. This sounds affectionate in English. In Dutch, not so. “My cage”, though not as correct a translation, more correctly captures the feeling I had about this apartment.

When I got on the housing list in Nijmegen for the academic year starting 2007, the student counselor made sure I got a letter getting me to a priority place on the list because of my disabilities. This meant I was allowed to provide a preference for which student housing complex I wanted to live in. I had to list my top three. Based on the little information the housing association provided and what my support staff at the independence training home I lived in before moving to Nijmegen knew, my number one choice became the complex “my shed” was part of. My reasons were that its apartments reserved for disabled students were on the ground floor and the neighborhood was supposedly quiet.

Indeed, my apartment was on the ground floor, right beside the main entrance to the building. I didn’t have to enter the complex to get to my apartment.

It was a one-bedroom apartment. When you entered through the door, you were in the long, narrow living room and kitchen. Then you went through to something like a landing, with the bathroom on your right hand. Then, you’d enter another long, narrow room, which was the bedroom. The apartment altogether was 35m².

My apartment had just a few, very dim lights in the living room and one equally dim light in the bedroom. I guess my parents thought that I didn’t need much light since I was blind anyway. I had my desk, the one I currently still use to sit on whilst typing this post, in the living room. Other than that, I just had two kitchen chairs and a folding table to eat at. I did have one recliner that I’d gotten at a thrift store and a few rather tacky pillows. I had never thought of decorating my place at all. In fact, this past holiday season is the first time I’ve ever decorated my room and that’s quite a milestone.

Like I said, my apartment was very narrow and long. Its windows were on the short end of the apartment. Due to this and the lack of lighting, the apartment looked rather dark and gloomy. If I wasn’t depressed already, I’d become depressed from the lack of light in my shed.

The place quickly got rather filthy from my poor cleaning habits. I did try, but due to the combination of my disabilities, I just couldn’t keep the place properly cleaned. Looking back, I am so grateful my now husband didn’t go on a run as fast and as far as he could when I invited him into the shed on our second get-together.

I only actually lived in the shed for three months before landing in the psychiatric hospital. It is by far the worst place, in terms of interior, I’ve ever lived in.

Mama’s Losin’ It