The Wednesday HodgePodge (February 1, 2023)

Hi all. After a month on hiatus, the Wednesday HodgePodge is back and I’m joining in. Here are Joyce’s questions.

1. Tell us anything you want about your January.
It was such a looong month. Oh, that’s a cliche, but who cares? I shared my monthly reflections yesterday.

2. Lake Superior State University posts a list each year of words they think should be banished from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse, and/or general uselessness. The 2023 list includes GOAT, inflection point, quiet quitting, gaslighting, moving forward, amazing, Does that make sense?, irregardless, absolutely, and it is what it is.
Which of these words/phrases do you use regularly? Which of these words would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word/phrase not on the list you’d like to add?
I use “absolutely” and “amazing” a lot. I also have a lot of other words I use way too frequently. It’s probably because my written English isn’t as good as I’d like it to be. As for a word or phrase I’d like to see banished most out of this list, it’d be “it is what it is”. That’s just such a useless statement. By the way, I have an inkling “GOAT” when spelled in all-caps means something other than the animal, but I have absolutely (see, here I go again) no idea what it means.

I don’t know which words or phrases I’d add to the list in general, but I’d erase “obviously” and “definitely” from my own personal vocabulary if I could (and replace them with a dozen synonyms). Oh wait, I could do that, but I’m too lazy to use my thesaurus.

3. February 2nd is Groundhog Day. What’s something that feels repeated in your life right now?
Wow, this HodgePodge is a true English lesson! After all, I had no idea what groundhogs even were or what they had to do with repetition. That being said, my days at this point in my life are one giant string of repetition, truthfully. In a way, they’re very unpredictable, but since there is no rhyme or reason to my weeks, the days all roll into each other.

4. What’s a food you love that’s named after a place?
I really don’t know all that many foods named after places. I was going to say “mexicano”, which is a type of rectangular mince snack, but that would be named after the ethnic group. Besides, the mexicano has nothing whatsoever to do with Mexico or Mexican food.

5. What’s the best season of the year to visit your part of the country? Tell us why.
Spring or summer. I live in a part of the Netherlands where the summers can get hotter than, say, in the coastal provinces. However, there’s a lake quite near where I live now, which is good for swimming (we used to go there when my family still lived in Apeldoorn). Spring would also be a good time to take walks around here, I guess, but I haven’t tried that yet as I moved here in the fall.

I wouldn’t recommend visiting the Netherlands during winter at all, as we hardly get snow and, even if we do, we don’t have mountains so it’s no use for skiing.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
My care home’s kitchen renovations are done! They were actually finished nearly a week early. I’m so happy about it, as it means I can finally cure my polymer clay creations in the oven. It also means the living room furniture will be moved back to the actual living room soon rather than all of my fellow clients gathering in the hallway right across from my room. That’s been quite disastrous. Honestly though, I still do want to leave this care home, as the real problems aren’t temporary.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 28, 2023)

Hi everyone on this last Saturday of January. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. It’s 9PM here, so I already had my last cup of coffee for the day about two hours ago. I also tasted a new drink I think I like: vitamin water. I am not under the impression that there’s all that many vitamins in it, but who cares? Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by asking about your weather. Ours has been cold, with daytime temperatures barely above freezing point. It’s not been raining or snowing though and today in fact it was quite sunny.

If we were having coffee, I would ask how you all are doing. I’m still struggling in my care home. Last week (or the week before, I can’t remember), I hit another low point and my mother-in-law sent an E-mail to the behavior specialist telling her I basically don’t want to stay here. The behavior specialist was going to try to schedule a meeting between me, my mother-in-law, her, my assigned staff and the support coordinator, but I haven’t heard anything so far.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve finally been working with polymer clay again. It’s been a while. On Wednesday, I created a bull’s eye cane. That was too frustrating for me and I nearly gave up on polymer clay altogether because of it. Thankfully, in the Dutch polymer clay group as well as an unrelated FB support group, people encouraged me to continue with what I can do well, which is sculpting. This helped me to get moving and create yet another unicorn. Oh well, it’s the same style as all my other unicorns, but I intend to decorate it with Hotfix rhinestones.

I originally intended to go to a store for Hotfix products near here with my mother-in-law on Tuesday. Then someone from the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group offered to send me some samples to try. That’s so kind of her!

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I haven’t had a healthy dinner all week. The reason is the fact that the care home’s kitchen is being renovated and so we can’t use it at all. The only day I had the option of a healthy dinner was today, but I can’t stand soup and certainly not pea soup. For clarity’s sake, there is a kitchen the staff can use at the day center, but all week except today they for whatever reason chose easy-to-whip-up but unhealthy alternatives such as pizza delivery, microwave pancakes or bread with Russian salad.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (January 21, 2023) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m once again (or still) struggling a lot. Each time I think I see a glimmer of hope, it gets crushed one way or another and the bottom line is that I’m probably stuck in this dark pit for a while still. For this reason, I thought I’d do a gratitude post once again in order to remind myself there are still positives out there. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am grateful for Apfelstrüdel. This is, or so I believe, a German type of baked goods with apple and cinnamon. Last Sunday, my husband and I went to have lunch at La Place, a type of restaurant, and their Apfelstrüdel was on sale. Even though it’s sweet, I decided to have it as my main part of the meal.

2. I am grateful for a trip to Action, a discount store, with my husband on Sunday. I bought cleaning wipes, toothpaste and crocheting supplies.

3. I am grateful my assigned staff is back at work after being on vacation for a couple of weeks.

4. I am grateful for another visit from my mother-in-law on Tuesday. It was good.

5. I am grateful for apples, bananas and blueberries. We didn’t have fruit during most of the week, so on Sunday, I bought apples and bananas when at Aldi with my husband. Then on Tuesday, I bought blueberries. I am grateful that, on Tuesday, my mother-in-law reminded me to buy my own peeling knife. You see, the care home’s kitchen is being reconstructed, so all kitchen supplies are in boxes. Had I not bought the peeling knife, my staff wouldn’t have been able to peel and cut my apples.

6. I am grateful for sleep. Over the past week, most days, I got at least reasonably good sleep.

7. I am grateful my cold, which I’ve had all week, seems to be getting a little better. At least I’m not sneezing like crazy anymore.

8. I am grateful my husband ordered new walking shoes for me, to be delivered to my in-laws today. He isn’t coming by for a visit tomorrow because of my cold symptoms, but will bring them along next week.

9. I am grateful a staff helped me manage the chain stitch of crocheting today. I already had some practice with it before, but it was always hit and miss. I am hoping to learn some more stitches someday once I get confident working with this one.

10. I am grateful for a long walk this afternoon. I am also grateful that, despite having limited energy this morning, I was able to have a relatively good time for most of the day.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (January 7, 2023) #TToT

Hi everyone. I have been struggling a lot lately. I am not the only one in my home – last night, everyone was irritable at least. This among other things caused me a lot of anxiety. To counter these feelings, I’m doing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I am grateful I haven’t caught a cold or the flu (or COVID!) so far. Everyone around me seems to have come down with something. Though cases of coronavirus are on the rise generally too, it seems to be mostly the common cold or flu around here, thankfully.

2. I am grateful I am currently on track with the Bible-in-a-year plan I’m following. Okay, it’s been only a week so far and, though I hope I’ll continue to follow through with it for the entire year, I am not too confident in myself about staying on track. At least I don’t plan on quitting.

3. I am grateful for a visit from my mother-in-law last Tuesday. She initially didn’t plan on visiting this week but thankfully changed her mind because I was already struggling a bit.

4. I am grateful for licorice. I bought some when at the supermarket with my mother-in-law and thankfully put it in my basket in the storage room so that I cannot reach it by myself. For this reason, I still have some left.

5. I am grateful for French fries yesterday. A fellow resident had his birthday, so the staff went out to get us fries and a snack.

6. I am grateful my UTI has gone. Not that I notice any difference in my body’s signals – I wasn’t picking up that I had it and, when I thought I had figured out what its symptoms were, I figured it still wasn’t over. However, I’m glad it’s cleared.

7. I am grateful I was able to teach several staff how to play the card game mau-mau. It was fun.

8. I am grateful for relatively mild weather.

9. I am grateful that, when everyone was irritable and several of my fellow clients were in crisis at night yesterday, the support coordinator stayed in the home for the night. I am grateful that I slept okay’ish in spite of several clients being out of control in the middle of the night.

10. I am grateful a nice staff was my one-on-one staff this evening. I am also grateful another nice staff popped in to say hi every now and again. Lastly, I am grateful that, this evening, my day schedule wasn’t disrupted.

What are you grateful for?

Happy Homemaker Monday (December 26, 2022)

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining Happy Homemaker Monday. Okay, regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not a homemaker. However, my staff, particularly one of the student staff, are trying to get us clients at the care home more involved in the homemaking process. For example, coming in the new year, we may be able to actually help prepare our own meals once a week. (For those not aware, we do get home-cooked meals everyday here and I actually have reasonably good meal prep skills when supervised, but up till this point the staff always cook our meals because it’s quicker.) We will also get our own vegetable garden this spring.

Because we’re required to title our post “Happy Homemaker Monday” and Sandra never got back to me when I asked whether we’re actually required to be homemakers to participate, but the questions do speak to me, I’m not sure whether I’m actually allowed to link up. However, I’m just going to give it a try and if I get kicked off, so be it.

The weather: rainy most of the time and cloudy all of the time. I don’t like it, but am not sure which I find worse: this rainy but relatively mild winter weather or daytime temperatures below 0°C. Let’s just say I can’t wait for spring.

As I look outside my window: well, I have my curtains drawn as it’s evening here and I’m blind so can’t look out my window really. Oh well, I do have an outdoors light outside of my bedroom window which I can see when I have my curtains open and it’s dark outside, which it currently is. It’s probably not interesting enough for sighted people that you guys would want a picture though. Besides, no clue what setting I’d need to set my simple cellphone camera to in order to do this.

Right now I am: typing this blog post. I’m sitting at my desk in my living room. This is really the only place I can comfortably type.

Thinking and pondering: still worrying about my support coordinator doing away with everything agreed upon in the meeting we had on Friday about my care. I received the summary of what was discussed in my inbox on Saturday and it was indeed good. This means I wasn’t dreaming that everyone in the meeting at least said they were on my side. Still, my support coordinator is still on vacation and, even though several staff have been saying she can’t tear apart my day schedule, I’m still kind of worried. Planning to ask the other support coordinator for reassurance later this evening.

How I’m feeling: worried but grateful. Cautiously optimistic too.

On the breakfast plate: four slices of bread with chocolate spread. I normally eat two slices when I do eat bread, but I was in Lobith (at my and my husband’s house) and wasn’t sure I’d be back at the care home for lunch.

On the lunch plate: I had a currant bun and a regular, plain bun. I also had water and I really need to stay more hydrated.

On the dinner plate: I have absolutely no idea how to translate what we had for dinner into English. First, we had a “rundervink”, a kind of beef mince wrapped in bacon. We also had potato tarts. And the kind of salad we had, well, I’m clueless as to what it even was supposed to be. Truthfully, Christmassy (we celebrate Boxing Day as an additional Christmas day here) as it may have been, I didn’t like it. One of the positives about us clients being allowed to help meal prep, is that we finally get a real say in what we’re going to cook.

Listening to: the Healing Harps playlist on Spotify. Not currently – right now, like most of the time, I’m just hearing my text-to-speech software speak and the heating or something buzz -, but it’s the most recent interesting thing I listened to. I love it when trying to sleep or rest.

Watching: polymer clay tutorials on YouTube.

Reading: a Dutch collection of columns by a businesswoman turned special ed teacher. I just finished a book of stories by a Dutch ER doctor. I’m wanting to read more English-language collections of real-life stories too, but not sure where to start.

Around the house: did I even ever share here that my apartment at my current care home has a separate living room and bedroom? I also have a pretty large bathroom and a walk-in storage closet, as well as an enormous terrace. Now that it looks like I’m not going to look for another care home after all (at least not within the near future), I may want to look towards actually making my apartment into a home-like place. I really hope to learn to take better care of it in the new year, which includes keeping it relatively clean and organized but also nicely decorated.

To-do list: I don’t really do those and didn’t make any plans for the next day or even next hour until very recently due to the nature of my support here. Now, thanks to my improved care, I can start actually having a bit of a to-do list. On it currently is finishing the polymer clay unicorn I started crafting with my assigned staff on Friday.

What I’m creating: just cured some polymer clay bear-shaped pieces that I’ll turn into earrings later, as well as a number of beads (well, I’ll still need to drill the holes). This evening, I crafted a turtle out of polymer clay, which is still waiting to go in the oven until I can cure it together with the aforementioned unicorn.

I still have a lot of finished polymer clay creations I didn’t show you all too. My most recent one is the below snowman.

Bible Verse/Devotional/Prayer/Quote: I am struggling with my faith quite a bit lately, so here’s a space for me to pray. God, help me see Your presence. I’m struggling to feel Your nearness lately. Please help me realize that You are there for me even as I go through these hard times, or especially then, or… well, oh wait, that You are always there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (December 14, 2022)

Hi everyone. It’s Wednesday again, so I’m participating in the Wednesday HodgePodge. Not that I do so each Wednesday or that Joyce even hosts them every single week. For example, next week there won’t be one. This week’s HodgePodge is mostly Christmas-themed. Here goes.

1. What does Christmas mean to you?
The birth of Jesus Christ, of course. I am a progressive Jesus follower. That being said, I don’t follow the faith nearly as deeply as I should. Each year around Christmas time, I usually experience a deepened connection with God, but I’m not feeling it this year yet, for which I’m sad.

2. What’s your favorite cozy holiday activity?
Eating cinnamon stars near the Christmas tree. Cinnamon stars, a type of cookies, are my absolute favorite Christmas treats. Last year, I got four packets of them from my day activities staff and used up the last of them in early March.

3. Is all your shopping-wrapping-baking done? Tell us about your holiday plans.
Yes or no, depending on your perspective. After all, we don’t really do Christmas presents in my husband’s family and I don’t see my own family for the holidays at all. I don’t usually send out Christmas cards either, although my husband does on my behalf too.

For Christmas, my husband is going to pick me up at the institution and take me to my in-laws’ house near dinnertime. That way, I hopefully won’t have to endure too much of the Christmassy buzz but my husband’s family will be able to enjoy my company. My sisters-in-law will likely be joining us for dinner too. Then, I’ll spend the night at my husband’s.

4. If you were Santa what treat would you like to have left for you (it doesn’t have to be milk and cookies!) What sweet or savory treat do you most look forward to indulging in around the holidays?
Leave me with some hot wings please, yum! As for my most looked forward to holiday treat, other than the aforementioned cinnamon stars, I love oliebollen at New Year’s. Do those count? By the way, for my American/English-speaking readers, oliebollen may look like what’s left over when making holes in donuts, but they taste very differently.

5. Next Wednesday is the first official day of winter (in the northern hemisphere). How does that make you feel? Tell us what you love most about winter?
I don’t like winter, the cold, shorter days or snow for that matter, so the official start of winter to me signifies the shortest day of the year and hence the fact that days are getting longer from then on. The one thing I do love about winter are its associated holidays, such as St. Nicholas, Christmas and New Year’s and the opportunity to indulge in special holiday treats these occasions provide.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I got a lovely Christmas hamper full of sweets, cookies and chips from the care agency this evening. There was no room in my bin in the locked storage room for it, so I have everything with me now. Let’s hope this doesn’t end in a massive binge.

Joy in October and November

Hi everyone. I didn’t post an update on my word of the year last month, so I’m doing one now. My word is “JOY”. As usual, I’m linking up with the #WOTY Linky as well as Lisa’s One Word Linky. Here goes.

I honestly can’t remember the joy I was looking forward to experiencing next month at the end of September. I just had a look at the post I wrote then and I said then that I was hoping to enjoy real food, as the staff at my new care home cook. I wasn’t as high with anticipation as I now looking back thought I was, realistically saying I’d have a lot to get used to so was just hoping to enjoy some everyday pleasures. I didn’t specify what these included.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I indeed did and still do have a lot of getting used to do. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever truly adjust to the chaos that is the new care home. As a result, I didn’t experience much everyday joy over the past few months. I did for the most part enjoy the real food, but not as much as I’d have liked, as I wasn’t involved at all. I’m hoping to be able to contribute to thinking up the menu soon, but the staff usually receive ideas from the clients while they are in the communal room and the staff are in the adjacent office. Since I hardly ever join the other clients in the communal room and there’s no set time for the staff to think up the week’s menu so that I could then, it may be hard for me to participate, but I at least voiced my wish to do so once again.

Over the month of November, I did finally try my hand at crafting semi-regularly again. During October, I tried to as well, but there hardly was any time for the staff to help me so I struggled to find the opportunity. I managed to finish two polymer clay pieces during November, the latter of which unfortunately didn’t cure properly so it broke.

I also enjoyed two hour-long walks during October. During November, my mobility wasn’t as great, so I struggled even with 30-minute walks. I did eventually manage to take a couple of pictures during my walks though.

I also looked forward to enjoying visits from family in October. Indeed, my sister did visit me. So did my husband and mother-in-law, both regularly during the past two months. These visits are a welcome excuse to leave the care home.

Honestly, I am not sure whether, at the end of September, I somehow knew that the new care home wasn’t going to be what it was cracked up to be and that was the reason I didn’t specify the everyday pleasures I hoped to enjoy. Even if I knew then, the adjustment honestly is far more intense than I expected it to be. In truth, I’ve been pushed far beyond my limits and the experience has been mostly a nightmare.

Now, at the end of November, I am noticing some tiny glimmers of hope on the horizon that might mean the new care home could actually become less than nightmarish for me eventually. I am not sure these will mean anything in the coming month yet, so I will continue to focus on small joys. For example, I am hoping to enjoy crafting even if I can’t enjoy it nearly at the level I used to. I am also hoping to enjoy some walking, weather permitting, as well as continued regular visits from my husband and mother-in-law.

Gratitude List (October 22, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m feeling very overloaded today, but it’s too early for me to go to bed or I might wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. Instead, I’m writing a gratitude post. As always, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful I was able to let go of the issue with the staff from two weeks ago.

2. I am grateful for delicious home-cooked couscous, which a staff member who is originally from Morocco shared with me and a few others at the care home on Sunday.

3. I am grateful I beat this same staff member 4-0 in the card game mau-mau again today, but also grateful he beat me on Thursday. I think I told you all last week that he’s learning the game from me, so I love it when he wins (but I love it just a bit more when I win!).

4. I am grateful I was able to try out polymer clay a few times this week. So far, all of my projects failed before I even attempted to bake them, but that’s okay.

5. I am grateful for white chocolate. I consumed quite a bit of it over this week.

6. I am grateful my medication got sorted. It was quite the ordeal last Saturday and I actually called the out-of-hours GP surgery, not knowing that, if my staff said I could cope without meds for a day or possibly two, that meant a doctor had actually said so already. In the end, I got my Saturday morning meds at around 9PM and am now thankfully fully in the electronic medication system.

7. I am grateful for quetiapine. I just took one about half an hour ago and thankfully, it’s calming me.

8. I am grateful for fish. Doubly grateful, in fact. Last Saturday, my staff took me to the marketplace for fish and, this afternoon, the staff ordered fish for everyone at a fish shop in the next town.

9. I am grateful for warm weather. The daytime temperature hardly got below 15°C this past week and, for the past several days, it’s been 18°C.

10. I am grateful for a nice, long walk across institution grounds and through the nearby forest with a fellow resident ant two staff. I regret not having taken my phone with me so that I could have taken pictures.

What are you grateful for?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (October 19, 2022)

Hi all. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. This week’s questions are truly random or at least I cannot see a common theme to them. I don’t mind though. Here goes.

1. What’s something you wish you’d figured out sooner?
That I am the beloved of God and that it really doesn’t matter what my family or anyone else thinks of me in the end, God will ultimately judge my heart.

2. Something from childhood you still enjoy today?
Swimming, playground equipment (when it’s strong enough to carry adult me, such as here at the institution), children’s books.

3. Are you a fidgeter? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word fidget?
I am a definite fidgeter! The first thing that comes to mind is hair twirling. I’ve done it since adolescence. When I was 21, my autism diagnosing psychologist in fact told me I really had to unlearn it because it was a “serious social handicap”. Thankfully, the only people who agreed were my immediate family, who had more or less abandoned me by this time anyway.

4. Your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like it prepared?
Broccoli! In fact, about a month ago, I was discussing with a former staff what vegetable I’d choose if I could eat only one for the rest of my life and I picked broccoli. It is such a versatile vegetable. I love it cooked plain or with a creamy sauce, stir-fried or even raw in a salad. Next up are carrots. I eat them raw as a side to my lunch almost everyday.

5. What’s something you find mildly annoying, but not annoying enough to actually do anything about? Might you now?
My headphones (the cheap Chinese brand ones I bought six months ago as a replacement for the Bose QuietComfort 45 ones that broke within three weeks of me having bought them) being basically useless as wireless headphones due to the battery draining very quickly. I have been intending to replace them for a few weeks, but can’t decide for sure on a new model. For now, I’m using my AirPods with my iPhone, but this is indeed slightly annoying.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve been in the main institution care home for two weeks today and it’s going pretty well. We had some issues early on, among other things with my medication, but all has been sorted now.

Five Things That Bring Me Joy on Bad Days #5Things

Hi everyone. I have been feeling notoriously uninspired lately and still don’t really feel like I know what to write about. However, I saw this week’s topic for the #5Things challenge: things that bring you joy when you feel “joyless”. In other words, we’re challenged to list five things that bring a smile on our face when we have a bad day and nothing else can seem to cheer us up. Here goes.

1. Food. Good food can definitely brighten even my darkest days. I am a lover of hot and spicy food, but also enjoy candy and savory snacks.

2. A phone call from my husband. Whenever I feel down in the dumps, my husband can usually cheer me up. Sometimes it takes him some firm setting my mind straight before I am open to cheerful talk.

3. Music. I love upbeat music, including Dance, contemporary Christian and occasionally rock. At other times, calming music is just what I need.

4. Physical activity. When I can motivate myself for it, a walk or some other form of exercise truly helps me clear my mind of all its negative energy.

5. Retail therapy. I can be a bit of an impulse spender when I’m feeling bad. Thankfully though, even online window shopping helps me feel better at times.

What helps you feel better when you’re feeling down?