Joy in June

Hi all! Here I am with my monthly update on my 2022 word of the year: JOY. I am joining the Word of the Year linky and Lisa’s One Word linky.

Last year, the month of June was rather tumultuous. This year was no different at first. It started with the manager telling me that temp workers had to be put in place to work in my home more often than usual and this would mean I would get temping staff to work my one-on-one shifts too. I wasn’t amused and this caused me to be rather stubborn and strong-willed at first.

I can’t say that working with temp staff has gotten easier over the month. All I can hope for is that, by summer’s end, enough regular staff will have been hired.

Thankfully, there were a couple of extraordinarily fantastical experiences that helped me find joy this month. One was seeing my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog on the 13th. Of course, when picking my word, I intended to enjoy the ordinary. I do that, too.

That being said, I do need to practise being grateful in my heart with any blessings coming my way. My birthday celebrations this weekend show this: my parents gave me presents they’d gotten at the thrift store and, while I was genuinely happy with one of them, I wasn’t with the rest. Of course, I tried not to show it, but I need to work on cultivating a grateful heart even in this situation.

I remember, when I picked “joy” as my word of the year, being in doubt about possibly choosing a word such as “creative”. That, though, sounded too easy. Indeed, most joy I’ve found over the month of June has been with the creative process. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been genuinely enjoying the polymer clay craft in particular. I have a couple pieces that still need a few coats of glaze, but which then I’m eager to show you all.

With respect to finding daily notes or reminders of my word, in the form of quotes, Bible verses, etc., I haven’t been doing so well. I collected a few but then stopped. I might want to collect reminders of my word whenever I see them rather than focusing on one per day as a requirement.

Overall, the month ended better than it started. This may be because this weekend is my birthday weekend (tomorrow is my actual birthday). Then again, I think I said this in April and May too, so maybe the fact that I’m writing my monthly updates later in the month, makes me remember the joys of the last part of the month better, since they’re more recent.

How was your June?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 22, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge once again. Here are Joyce’s questions for this week.

1. Something you learned from your father?
Well, I shared about this on Sunday already: my father mainly taught me academic skills. He also was the one who taught me the limited personal hygiene skills I did learn as a child. There’s a story he used to tell me about having to teach some personal care to my mother when she moved in with him at age 22. In this sense, I shouldn’t really feel embarrassed at the fact that my husband had to teach me to use shower gel when I was in my mid-twenties.

2. Do you like onions? Raw or cooked? How about onion rings? What’s something you love to eat that calls for onions?
Onions, mmm, love ’em! Raw is nice, cooked even better. I love onion rings too! A recipe I love and used to cook when I still cooked independently which calls for lots of onions (and garlic!), is macaroni with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions of course and I’d use a mushroom soup that you’d need to add water to in order to turn it into a soup as the sauce. Sadly, that brand of soup eventually added ham to its mushroom soup, which I don’t care for. When I cooked for just myself, I’d also add chicken, but when I’d cook with my husband, we’d skip that as he was a vegetarian back then.

3. It’s officially summer (in the Northern hemisphere)…your favorite and least favorite things about the season?
My favorite thing is, of course, my birthday at the end of June (in five days’ time!). Other than that, I love the longer daylight. My least favorite thing are mosquitoes and other summertime bugs such as the oak processionary.

4. When you think about the summers of your childhood what are two or three things that come to mind?
Vacationing at Vlieland, one of the Wadden Islands. For the first several years that we went there, I loved it. I remember building treehouses with my holiday friends one year when I was eight. The next year, we didn’t return. And not for another several years. When we returned to Vlieland again the summer I was twelve, I didn’t like it nearly as much, because I’d by then lost most of my vision. Besides, kids my age no longer wanted to build treehouses.

5. A hot mess, the heat of the moment, beat the heat, if you can’t stand the heat, catch heat, in a dead heat…choose a ‘hot ‘phrase and tell us how it applies to your life right now.
A hot mess… that’s my country at this point!
Today, two protests took place in the Netherlands: one by farmers against the government’s nitrogen crisis-related policies (or plans, really, as no real policies have yet been implemented), which will likely cause some farmers to need to stop business; the other by Extinction Rebellion, a group of climate activists, also against the government but with the opposite aim. The farmers caused huge traffic jams on various highways because they were coming to the protest in their farming vehicles. The climate activists gained unlawful entrance to the Tax Service main office in The Hague. The police claimed to be powerless against the farmers, but arrested 22 climate activists.

Thankfully, neither protest is impacting me personally, but all the bad news does worry me.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I was going to ramble on above about the rapid rise in COVID cases here, but I guess that needs its own heading. Last night I had a slight headache and, since that was how my COVID started last February, I worried that I was going to get it again exactly four months after I’d initially contracted the virus. That in turn would mean canceling my husband’s visit today, my birthday celebrations this weekend and my nurse practitioner’s appt on Monday, which, though Monday is my birthday, I decided to go on with after all. Thankfully, I have absolutely no symptoms indicative of the virus now. Please pray I won’t get sick anytime soon.

Poem: The Book Called “Me”

Endless streaks of time (or so it seems)
lie ahead of me,
as I turn page after page
in this book called “Me”

Until one day (possibly still far from now)
I will have reached
the page I pray concludes
with a happily ever-after

In six days, I will turn 36. I am hopeful that I am still not halfway through my life yet, but then again I recently learned that the life expectancy for someone born in 1960 was 52. I just Googled the life expectancy for my birth year, 1986, which was 74.8 years. If this is true, I am just under eighteen months shy of midlife. I am not the healthiest either, so to be fully honest, I probably can’t expect to live that long.

I didn’t want this poem to be fully about doom and gloom either, because, as a Christian, I do believe in eternal life for those who are saved. This is why I ended this poem on a positive note.

I am writing this poem for this week’s Twiglet, which is “turning page”, as well as the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Challenge, which is to start a poem with the word “endless”.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 11, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again today. Grab a cup of coffee, herbal tea or I could even make you strawberry infused water, since I bought some strawberries at the supermarket yesterday and I still have a water bottle with a fruit infusion thingy that I got for my birthday two years ago and hardly even ever use. I guess I’m going to make some for myself now, so be right back. Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d ask about your weather. Ours has been mixed this past week. Early in the week, it was quite chilly and rainy, but today we’re having sunny weather and daytime temperatures of up to 22°C. It’s a little windy, but still lovely!

If we were having coffee, I would share that the orthopedic shoemaker came by on Tuesday to do the final tweaking to my right semi-orthopedic shoe. It’s now fine or so it seems, but the left one, the one with the ankle-foot orthosis in it, is now giving me issues again. I don’t get blisters, but it does feel as though I’m getting slight pressure where the edge of the AFO touches my foot. To be honest, I am currently undecided as to which shoes I like better: my regular shoes or the semi-orthopedic shoes with the AFO. Neither is giving me the comfort I’d like and I’ve more or less lost my walking mojo altogether.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been experimenting with methods of trying to make the perfect polymer clay earrings all week. I haven’t found the perfect method yet, but today’s would-be earrings are at least better than Thursday’s, which were so curved that I threw them in the trash.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’ve been making plans for my birthday with my parents, husband and mother-in-law. I initially invited my parents to the care facility, but, after talking it over with my husband, decided it’s better to invite them to Lobith. They will be there on the 25th (my birthday is on the 27th). My husband suggested we eat at a Cuban restaurant called “De Revolutie” (“The Revolution”). I love Latin American food, so that’s awesome. Besides, my parents are quite outspoken leftists, so I bet they can appreciate it.

Then the next day we’ll pay a visit to my mother-in-law (my father-in-law will be on vacation then). I haven’t yet decided whether to do anything special on the 27th itself. I actually have a nurse practitioner’s appt on that day and, since my appt this week got canceled too, I really don’t want to cancel. My staff suggested going out for lunch afterwards, so that’s an idea.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 8, 2022)

Hi all! Today I’m once again joining the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. “A daughter’s a daughter all her life, but a son’s a son til he takes a wife.” What say you? Elaborate.
In my personal life, the exact opposite is true, in that my parents were very clear that, once I was an adult (ie. once I’d turned eighteen), I had to fend for myself. My contact with them lessened even more once I got married. My husband, on the other hand, sees his parents almost on a weekly basis. I am honestly much closer with my in-laws now than with my own parents, to the point where I’ve appointed my mother-in-law as my informal representative should I become incapacitated.

2. Something you’ve seen recently that was “cuter than a June bug”?
Hmmm, I’m obviously supposed to say little Wolke, my baby niece, but to be honest I don’t really care for babies all that much. I don’t really like children in general, but I’m going with her older sister anyway. She will be three in September and talks up a storm already.

3. “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s pretty much the same thing.” Agree or disagree? Last time you had a serving of happiness ice cream? Dish-cone-milkshake-sundae…which one do you choose?
Disagree with the saying. Though I do like ice cream on occasion, it’s not at all my favorite treat. I don’t actually really have a sweet tooth since recovering from my overeating. Give me chips instead.

As for my favorite ice cream, it’s probably a cone, although I like sundaes and milkshakes too. I can’t remember when I last had ice cream. A milkshake though, yes, I do remember, but it was far from good. We got it with a paper straw, as plastic straws are banned in the EU, and it was too thick to drink with that but too thin to eat with a spoon.

4. What is one way/area in which you’re currently “swimming against the tide”?
I don’t do social media much at all. I mean, I do still have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account, but I hardly ever use them.

5. Three things you’re looking forward to this summer?
My birthday at the end of this month. Other than that, I don’t really know. My husband and I originally thought of taking a few days out by train, since Lobith is close by the German border and Germany’s public transportation is nearly free during the summer months. However, he found out that trains are already so packed that the police had to come out to remove some of the people. Not my idea of a holiday.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been obsessing over crafty stuff again. I am really looking forward to doing some polymer clay work again, but can’t decide what to make, honestly. Yesterday, I tried my hand at another pair of earrings, but the slab was a true lint magnet and I was too lazy to get alcohol to remove it. I wasn’t too inspired as to what to make out of the slab anyway. Any ideas?

Sunday Ramble: Childhood Memories

Hi everyone. I’m participating in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble again. Today’s topic is childhood memories. Here are the questions.

1. What is your first good memory from your childhood? (If this is a trigger question for you, tell me how your day is and what the best thing is about today.)
My third birthday. My grandma visited and gifted me a doll she’d bought in Berlin, Germany. Either she or my father explained that, in German, the word for doll is “Puppe”, which is pronounced the same as the Dutch word for “poo”. Of course, me being three and my sister being one, we laughed our butts off.

2. Name 3 things that you loved when you were just a youngster?
Playing with PlayMobil®. Swinging on the swings. Making mud pies.

3. What did you dislike, or even hate, when you were growing up?
A lot of things, as my childhood wasn’t the best. However, I’ll keep this non-triggering. I hated it when my sister was singing or humming.

4. If you could go give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
You have absolutely zero obligation to prove your worth to your parents or anyone else.

5. What kind of celebrations did you enjoy when you were little, and do you still like those celebrations now that you are grown?
I had a love/hate relationship with all kinds of celebrations. I loved getting presents and special treats, but hated the social obligations involved. When I was a child and teen, we celebrated St. Nicholas. This involves pretending that St. Nick gave us presents. Once I no longer believed in St. Nicholas, I greatly struggled to play along and this led to some frustration among my sister and parents. Needless to say, now that I’m an adult, we no longer celebrate St. Nicholas. My sister and her family do celebrate it with my parents though.

I felt similarly about my birthday, loving the presents but not liking the social aspects. Same now that I’m an adult and more so with my family of origin, because, well, we don’t have the best relationship. With my husband and in-laws, I do like being together for my birthday.

6. Bonus Question: What commercial did you always wait for to come on television as a child? (If you didn’t like commercials or television, what event did you wait for to come about when you were a kid?)
I didn’t really enjoy commercials, although I liked Loeki the Lion, who came on inbetween commercials on public television. He was recently reintroduced after an absence of over twenty years I believe.

With respect to TV shows in general, as a child I loved a show called Droomshow (Dream Show), in which a pair of girls competed against a pair of boys in all kinds of candy-related games and the winning team had to shoot for prizes while the losing team got the “shitty shower”.

What was your first good childhood memory?

Gifts My Husband Gave Me

Today is Valentine’s day. Of course, my husband and I aren’t together now, as he had to work and I’m at the care facility, but I wanted to honor the occasion anyway by sharing something about my husband I appreciate. I looked to Lisa Shea’s collection of journaling prompts on love and romance. One of the prompts is to share a gift your lover gave or gives you that’s most precious to you. It can be a physical gift or an action or emotion. Instead, I am going to share a list of things my husband gifted me. Some of these things, I didn’t really appreciate in the sense that I liked the gifts themselves, but the gesture at the time was very much appreciated. And the story behind those gifts gives me and my husband a good laugh now.

1. A Planxty CD. This was the first gift my husband gave me when we were officially dating, for my 22nd birthday in 2008. I only listened to it probably once or twice when he came to visit. Then again, that same year, when he had his birthdday on November 12, I thought I’d gifted him a very well-thought-out present: a book of previously-unpublished philosophical texts by British Idealists. British Idealism was my profile research (high school graduation thesis) topic and he was a philosophy major at the time. He never read the book though.

2. Homemade apple pie. One year, I think it was 2010, my husband brought me a home-baked apple pie in the psych hospital. It was delicious!

3. A Tom Lehrer CD. This CD was much more appreciated than the Planxty one. In fact, I put the entire thing on my computer so that I can always listen to it, even now that I don’t have a CD player anymore (or the CD for that matter).

My husband had introduced me to Tom Lehrer’s song I Hold Your Hand in Mine back in 2008 and I loved it. From there on, I learned about most other songs. We still crack jokes about some of these songs.

4. Chocolate. It used to be kind of a tradition that my husband would buy me chocolate on Valentine’s and our wedding anniversary. Not that I’m a big chocolate fan, but I loved them nonetheless. One year, I bought my husband peanut rocks (chocolate filled with peanuts), but I’d bought him the milk chocolate ones when he preferred dark chocolate. Oopsie.

5. A bear soft toy. I can’t remember whether I showed this one on my blog yet, but last year, I got a gorgeous teddy bear holding a heart for Valentine’s day.

6. Winegums. I remember one day, my husband had been shopping at the wholesale store and he’d bought five bags of winegums (gummy candies) for me. He said he’d wanted to buy a prime number of bags and three seemed a little too few to him. You can imagine my delight, but, if you know me, you can also imagine I consumed them within a week.

7. A phone case. In 2020, when I’d bought my current iPhone, I’d asked my husband to set it up as a birthday gift and, if he wanted to give me a material gift anyway, he could give me a case. It turned out I could do the setting up mostly myself with some help from my staff, but I did get a pretty sturdy phone case.

I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something really important my husband gave me. Of course, the most important thing he gave me, and continues to give me, is his love. I hope he feels I give him the same in return.

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with Senior Salon Pit Stop #200.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 30, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m extremely late joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare this week. I already had all my coffee for the weekend, in fact, so the title of my blog post is rather off, but oh well. The linky’s still open for another nine hours, so I’m going to take advantage of it and participate. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start by sharing that the weather is slightly better than it was last week. It’s warmed up a bit, at least. That being said, we’re supposed to get rain all of next week, so I’m probably still not going out much.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that today is my father-in-law’s 65th birthday. Retirement age is now 67 here I believe, so it’s not significant in that sense. At least, my father-in-law is keeping his dentistry practice until he’s 67. My husband did buy him a beer and I sent him a text, but that’s as far as birthday celebrations go, I think.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been creating some quite interesting polymer clay things lately. One is a flower fairy, another a kawaii pig pendant and another a daisy. That daisy didn’t turn out as good as I’d like, but my husband did say he liked the fairy. I haven’t baked any of the things yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d use the rest of my post to whine about how my anxiety is still through the roof. I hardly slept at all Friday night. Then yesterday, I had an okay day until in the evening a fellow client started screeching. I tried to get the staff’s attention but they wouldn’t react until I grabbed the other client by the arm, then only told me that said client, who is non-speaking, couldn’t help her behavior. I’ve been feeling extremely unsettled and unsafe in my current care home ever since. I am all the more triggered because staff keep repeating that I’ll likely feel unsafe in any other place. They probably say it to mean every other place has its drawbacks too, but I take it to mean that my anxiety is my problem and I’m the one who needs to change so I just need to suck it up and stop complaining.

I’ve also been thinking about how I had fewer crises when living with my husband than now that I live in the care facility. Isn’t this telling? I mean, doesn’t this mean that I should get a kick in the butt and go back to living semi-independently? Granted, I had far fewer moments of joy too, but I’m not sure that matters if I was less dependent back then. Isn’t the goal independence, after all? Eek, that scares me, and that in turn should be quite telling, right? I’m probably just one giant mess of a dependent, manipulative, attention-seeking monster.

Okay, if we were having coffee, I’d end on a positive note and say I had a delicious tuna wrap today when going to the Subway drive-through for lunch with my husband. I also had one half of a Bueno candy bar, as my husband had bought it at the supermarket. I originally wanted to refuse as it isn’t on my food plan, but the dietitian had said exceptions are okay.

How have you been?

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?