#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 24, 2022)

Hi everyone on this rainy Saturday. How are you doing? Take a seat and have a drink, as I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by sharing that last Monday was my and my husband’s eleventh wedding anniversary. We drove to Steenwijk, a town in the far north of my province, where we had lunch and went for a short walk. Then we drove to Blokzijl, a small town not far from there, where we had another walk around town and my husband took a photo of me with a large cannon.

Then we drove to Ikea in Zwolle, where my husband bought a few things, I looked for a new desk chair, and we had dinner. Unfortunately, they only serve the vegetarian version of the Swedish meatballs now, so I had chicken.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I got a new pasta machine from one of the staff – the staff who always gives us clients everything she finds at thrift stores. This one works electronically or so she told me. I didn’t tell the staff that any pasta machine is hand-operated by default and a motor is optional. This one does have a motor. I did E-mail another staff to ask her to bring her tool kit one more time to remove the fenders for me.

If we were having coffee, I would share that the dietitian showed up unexpectedly for an appointment yesterday. The reason was the fact that I’d lost quite a bit of weight and had been compulsively exercising a lot over the past few weeks. Although the compulsive exercising seems to have reduced this week, I did need a bit of a reverse kick in the behind. You see, I have a history of disordered eating, bordering on bulimia, and although my main means of compensating used to be purging, this could definitely become a thing with over-exercise too. I do need to monitor this closely.

If we were having coffee, I would use the rest of this post to update you about the prospective new care home. I didn’t write a coffee share post last week, so those visiting from there might not know this, but the client in whose place I could come at the home at the main institution, moved out this Thursday. I had my first orientation visit with the prospective new home last Wednesday, am getting another on Monday and, if then I want to move, moving date has been set for October 5.

My first orientation visit went quite well. The clients are quite verbally capable, although of course they do “live in their own world”, as the support coordinator phrased it. The apartment – separate living room, bedroom and private bathroom – is quite large, although I couldn’t fully grasp its size because the client who was moving out had a lot of furniture. My husband did ask whether I would have to clean the apartment myself, but I assume not. I asked though just to be sure.

I love the fact that there are a lot of sports and recreational facilities on grounds, although the staff aren’t yet able to say how we could fit those into my day activities.

A great positive of the possible new home is that they cook their own meals everyday. Yay for no more meal delivery service junk!

My husband is coming to have a look around the home on Monday too, so he may be able to ask his questions too. I am quite excited but still a bit nervous.

How have you been?

The Tuesday Four (September 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. Just after I discovered the Wednesday HodgePodge, one of its participants alerted me to another weekly meme called the Tuesday 4. Today, because I’m bored and yet want to write, I’ll join in. This week’s questions are rather simple, yet they allow for much discussion if one so decides.

1. Are you happy with the way your life is going?
Well, it’s complicated. Right now, I’d say yes, but I’ve had to travel quite the bumpy road to get here and there’s still a lot of room for improvement. For example, I would hopefully be even happier with the way my life is going once I’m in a more suitable care home. Besides, the fact that I answer “Yes” to this question, is also dependent upon the fact that I’m in a pretty good mood.

2. Are you planning any trips in the future?
Not trips as in longer travels, but my husband and I just decided to go for a day trip to Zwolle on Sunday in honor of our eleventh wedding anniversary on Monday. Zwolle is the nearest city to where I live in the care facility. We decided to go on Sunday rather than Monday because most restaurants are closed on Mondays.

3. Are you reading anything at the moment or do you plan on reading something interesting?
I am currently reading A Family Torn Apart by Cathy Glass, a foster care memoir. I love fostering and other inspirational memoirs and have read quite a few of Cathy Glass’s other books.

4. What’s for supper tonight at your house?
I live in a care facility, as regular readers know, and we get our meals delivered to be warmed in an oven or microwave. I had potatoes, mixed veggies and a chicken sausage. I rarely choose potatoes from the meal delivery company, but apparently all other choices from the menu were even worse.

As of September 1, the company has decided to provide whole-grain pasta and brown rice instead of regular pasta or rice, something I mostly consider a good thing. The brown rice takes a little getting used to. They also upped the amount of veg in their meals from 150 to 200 grams. I hardly notice it in the pasta or rice dishes and I wonder whether they skipped those. I mean, originally they weren’t providing the whole-grain pasta or brown rice on the so-called “pasta menu”, which I usually pick from, so only the twice a month or so that the regular menu serves pasta or rice as an option was that the healthy alternative. Thankfully, enough people were complaining that the healthier food was not really happening so that they did change it across the board. I wonder whether they did the same with the increased amount of veg though. In any case, I had enough veg in my meal today.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 17, 2022)

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

1. August is National Back To School Month…how does that make you feel? Share a back-to-school memory.
I don’t really feel much regarding back-to-school time, as I’m not in school anymore (it’s been 17 years since I graduated high school) and my nieces are too young to be in school. I’m so glad to be out of school though.

A back-to-school memory? My first day at the school for the blind I spent fourth till sixth grade at. We went to church to mark the beginning of the school year, as it was a Christian school. I found it all very strange, having never been to a church before, since my parents are atheists. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep during the service though.

2. Something you’ve learned in “the school of life”?
People who get paid to have any sort of relationship with you, won’t stick around for you, so you have no reason to stay for them either. Yes, I’m referring to my wish to transfer to another care facility here.

3. Three words to describe your current mood.
Unquiet, determined, sad.

4. A summer food you’ve eaten too much of/are tired of? A summer food you haven’t had enough of?
There isn’t any summer food I’m really tired of, though today I turned down another ice cream cone because I’d had three in the past week already. A summer food I haven’t had enough of? Summer fruit!

5. What small stuff do you sweat that you know you shouldn’t?
I tend to get very easily frustrated, so quite a lot, but lately I’ve also tried to solve small problems more rather than just not caring. An example are air bubbles in my clay. The reason that I do try to solve the problem now, is that I know how to (to an extent) rather than just having to wait for my pieces to be cured and then deciding whether they go in the trash or are just about good enough to be displayed. It’s a tricky balancing act of trying not to sweat the small stuff but also trying not to be careless.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Yesterday, we had daytime temperatures of 30°C. It isn’t expected to get this hot again anytime this year. My husband, not surprisingly, started the Christmas prep WhatsApp group with his family. He always does in mid-August. I, too, before we got to discuss this, started reading a winter-themed chapter book.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (July 6, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’ve been struggling quite a bit over the past couple of days, which is why I haven’t been blogging. Today, I thought I’d write again, but I want to keep it relatively light-hearted, so am going with a contribution to the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. July 6th is National Fried Chicken Day…are you a fan? Do you make your own or have a favorite place to buy from? Do you own chickens? If not chicken what’s your favorite fried food?
Ah, this question immediately brightens my mood! I love love love fried chicken. My favorite fast food place to get it is a local one called Kipzaak (which translates to “Chicken booth”). My favorite restaurant to get “real” non-fast food fried chicken is about a 30-minute drive from Raalte in Rouveen. You can eat as much fried chicken as you want there for a special price.

I don’t own chickens myself, but a client in the care home next to mine does. They have their cage next to the day center.

2. What’s something you’re too chicken to try?
Rollercoaster rides. And basically any theme park activities beyond the merry-go-round.

3. When did you last find yourself running around like a “chicken with its head cut off”?
I’m not 100% sure what this saying means. If it means being chaotic in one’s daily life, this usually happens to me when I’m deciding to craft something in an impulse, but I can’t come up with an example right now. If it refers to general disorganization, probably yesterday. I was very much in a daze at the time.

4. Something you’ve done recently that makes you think “I’m no spring chicken”?
Oh wait, I’m not? 🤣 I’m 36, but often I forgot that this isn’t all that young anymore. I guess mostly my physical fitness reminds me.

5. “Winner winner chicken dinner”…tell us about something good that’s happened in your life lately.
Oh, this is going to be really hard, as I just had the toughest few days in a long while. This situation though led to quite an intense heart-to-heart between my husband and me, and this was the good thing. I really hope that my marriage is going to be stronger than ever.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Just to clarify, no, there was no relationship crisis that preceded the above. The situation that’s caused me to have one of the tougher weeks I’ve had in a while, has to do with my staff: my assigned home staff is leaving at the end of next week. I had quite a strong attachment to her, maybe unhealthily so. I am really hoping I can feel secure enough to share my most vulnerable side with my husband from now on, since I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to show it to any of the other staff. After all, for all of them I’m also merely work.

My 2022 Birthday Celebrations

In one of her Writer’s Workshop writing prompts for this week, Mama Kat asks us to share about something we celebrated recently. Of course, it was my birthday last Monday and I haven’t yet told you all everything about it, so here goes.

The celebrations started on Saturday with me arriving in Lobith by taxi at around noon. My husband gave me my first present after we’d had lunch. According to him, I’d been nagging him about the Cernit matt polymer clay varnish being sold out everywhere. Indeed, I had mentioned this to him (not exactly nagging, in my opinion), to which he’d replied with a challenge for me to find where it’d been allegedly sold out. I found out that a Bol.com (a Dutch site much like Amazon but more expensive) partner still had some in stock. He then asked me whether I wanted it for my birthday. I said yes. So that’s what I got. I got two 30ml pots of it, because according to my husband a Danish vendor had it in stock at half the Bol.com price including shipping.

At around 2:30PM, my parents arrived. They gave me strawberries that they’d bought from a street vendor across the German border. They also gave me German tea, which I ended up giving to my husband, since it was black tea and I only drink green tea and the occasional herbal tea. My main birthday gift was a huge box full of plastic cookie cutters to use with my polymer clay. There are 75 cutters in the box, ranging from animals to vehicles and from a few Christmas-themed and sports-themed ones to dinosaurs. The box also included cutters for all letters and numbers except for I (the box recommended cutting off a piece of the L for that). I also got a huge jar filled with beads that my parents bought at a thrift store. Lastly, I got a kit for making magnetic bracelets.

After we’d had coffee and apple pie, we chatted some. Then, it was time to leave for the restaurant my husband and I had picked out. The restaurant was called “De Revolutie” (“The Revolution”) and we’d somehow gotten the impression it was a Cuban-style restaurant. That had appealed to my husband and me, because my parents are leftists.

When we arrived, we soon figured out it was indeed hard to comprehend which revolution the restaurant was referring to. We’d hoped for pictures of Che Guevara, but there were none. I had already discovered that, what the restaurant had on the menu, definitely wasn’t Cuban cuisine, as most of its meals include beef and that’s hardly consumed in Cuba (or so Google tells me). I didn’t care though.

I chose shrimp in garlic oil as my appetizer, which was really good. My husband chose nachos and was given a huge bowl of them. I ate some of his. Then I went for a burger for my main course, while my husband chose a stew. His was a relatively small serving, while mine was quite large. I liked my burger, but had hoped for a spicier version.

After we’d finished our meal, my parents left and my husband and I drove back to our house in Lobith. The next day, we drove to my in-laws’ house, where only my mother-in-law was at the time. My mother-in-law gave me a clay extruder as a present, which I love but only figured out how to work today.

On Monday, my actual birthday, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I treated myself to a sausage roll for lunch, but that was it. I also tried to find ready-made cookie dough to make cookies from to give as a treat to my fellow residents. It turned out the supermarket was no longer selling this, so I went back on Tuesday to get ice cream after all.

I had decided this year that I don’t want a present from my staff, since technically you (or your family) pay for it yourself anyway. However, yesterday the new student staff brought me some plunger fondant cutters to use with my polymer clay. They weren’t even really intended as presents, but I appreciate them very much.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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.

Five of My Favorite “Cheat” Foods #5Things

Hi everyone. Today I’m participating in the #5Things challenge, for which the topic today is “cheat day” foods. Now I don’t really do cheat days. I do usually have more high-calorie foods on weekends than week days, just because it’s easier to keep track that way, but there’s not a single day when I completely indulge in whatever I want. I have a history of disordered eating, including binges, but I am determined I never want to return to those days.

I also don’t believe in “good” or “bad” foods. Rather, I believe in healthy and less healthful habits. I had it written on my food plan, for this reason, that no food is completely forbidden. Else, less familiar with me staff might say that a food isn’t on my food plan so I can’t have it.

Anyway, today I’m listing five of my favorite foods to have on a day when I’m less conscious of my diet.

1. Pizza. Every once in a while, when I go to my husband’s and my house in Lobith, my husband will drive by Domino’s on our way from picking me up at the care facility. I love their pizzas. I also love the pizzas from my neighborhood Italian restaurant. Both are a definite nine out of ten on the deliciousness scale. (For those visiting from #5Things, my dietitian a few weeks ago explained that, if I don’t give a “cheat” food an eight out of ten or above on how much I love it, I may consider not eating it at all.)

2. Pringles. These are by far my favorite chips and they too score at least a nine out of ten. My care home recently ordered like a whole box full of Pringles cans at the supermarket because they were on sale. Yum!

3. Cheese twists. These are sticks made of puff pastry with cheese flavor. My husband buys them at the supermarket almost every time I go to Lobith.

4. Licorice. When I still suffered with disordered eating, I would often buy a bag of licorice multiple times a week and consume the whole thing within ten to twenty minutes. Now, I usually have a bag of licorice in my locked kitchen cupboard. The staff aren’t allowed to actually prohibit me from eating the candies, but the fact that they’re locked away does keep me from being tempted too quickly. I usually have three or four candies a day at most.

5. French fries. I don’t have these often anymore, as when we do get takeout food here at the care facility, it’s usually Chinese or Italian because it’s easier to blend for those who have difficulty eating solids. However, I truly love love love good fries! There’s a snack corner here in town who put “special” orange spices over their fries and they’re delicious. (I bet it’s just paprika, but they refuse to disclose their “secret recipe”, even though it’s public knowledge that they don’t mix their own spices.) I also love some spicy snacks to go with my fries. Here in the Netherlands, there’s one called a mexicano, which I think is particularly tasty.

What are your favorite “cheat” foods?

Five Healthy Foods I Actually Love #5Things

Hi everyone. I’m late to the party, as DrTanya posts her #5Things challenge on Tuesday. However, better late than never, right? This week’s topic is favorite healthy foods. Here are mine.

1. Fruits. Almost any fruit is guaranteed to be a favorite of mine, but I especially love blueberries, strawberries, green apples and bananas. And guess what? For a sugary fruit, bananas are actually quite nutritious.

2. Bell peppers. They are one of my favorite veggies to snack on, but I also love them in stirfry meals.

3. Broccoli. And its cousin cauliflower. I love love love both.

4. Garlic. I really love this. Of course, it isn’t a food that one would eat on its own, but in a dish, it’s totally delicious!

5. Kidney beans. They are among the healthiest beans and among my favorites too.

And I could go on. Really, when I looked up lists of the healthiest foods in the world, it turned out I really love most. And just so you know, I did also try out some of the more hyped-up health foods, such as chia seeds, and I actually like those too.

What are your favorite healthy foods?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (May 18, 2022)

Hi everyone. Joyce has prepared some fun questions for the Wednesday HodgePodge this week, so I’m joining in again. Here goes.

1. What’s something that makes you feel stressed? How do you cope?
Uhm, me, stressed? 😉 Seriously though, there are a lot of things that make me stressed. The most likely stressors for me are when my routine gets disrupted and when I get frustrated during a craft project or other activity that’s important to me.

As for how I cope, well, usually, uhm, I don’t. I do try to calm down by reminding myself that whatever’s going on isn’t the end of the world. However, most of the time I need someone else to sort out the problem I’m facing for me before I can calm down.

2. What’s a food you eat that evokes a memory? Explain.
I honestly don’t know, since I don’t eat most foods from my childhood anymore (or at least not in the form my parents used to cook them). I also don’t have many memories attached to foods I do currently eat. I mean, I clearly remember the licorice “pie” my staff and fellow patients at the psych hospital made for my wedding, but I haven’t eaten that brand of licorice in years.

3. This week’s Hodgepodge lands on National Visit Your Relatives Day. Will you celebrate by visiting a relative? If so is travel involved? Geographically, who is your nearest relative (not counting those living in your own house)?
I had no idea this holiday even existed, so no, I won’t be celebrating and no, I didn’t happen to visit a relative today anyway.

I am not sure whether in-laws count as relatives. If they don’t, my parents are my closest relatives geographically. They live a little over an hour’s drive and about 100km away. If in-laws count too, my sisters-in-law are probably my nearest relatives geographically. They are about an hour’s drive but only about 60km away. Both live in the same town but not in the same house.

4. What’s your most frequently used emoji? Do you make more phone calls, send more emails, or mainly text to communicate with friends and family?
My most frequently used emoji is the slightly smiling emoji followed by either the purple heart or the laughing emoji.

I mainly text to communicate with my husband, although we do talk on the phone nearly everyday too. With other family, well, I call or text them every once in a while but I wouldn’t say either is frequent. E-mail is used for discussion lists and contact with my staff mostly.

5. Tell us the story behind a favorite piece of furniture.
Okay, I’m going with the desk I have my computer and phone on right now. This one, my father bought for me on a marketplace site in like 2006. I think the person selling it was located in Fryslân in the north of the country, about a two-hour drive from my family home. The desk isn’t too large, but it cannot be taken apart. My father drove an older Nissan Micra, so a small car. The desk just about exactly fit inside the back of the car. Or actually, just about exactly didn’t fit. As a result, my father had to drive while the back of his car was open. This was quite an interesting ride. That being said, I’ll still have to ask my father how he got my tandem bike from their home to the psych hospital in Nijmegen, either in or on that same Nissan Micra or on a train.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
All this talk of relatives and family makes me want to talk to my sister. She’s expecting a baby. That is, unless she’s left me out of the loop, the baby’s still inside of her even though she’s past her due date. She said she’d probably let loose what she’ll be calling the child already. I’ve heard two names so far, one of which I like and one of which I, well, dislike quite a bit. I’m just hoping mother and baby will be well and that my sister can have a home birth, as that’s what she’s wished for all along. With her other daughter (she’s expecting a girl again), she did give birth at home but the child had to be taken to hospital a few hours later anyway.

All this is making me feel all sorts of feelings. In a sense, I wish I were closer to my family of origin, but I know they don’t agree with the choices I needed to make (ie. going into long-term care). My sister also lives about two hours and 180km away from me. It’s all rather sad really.

Gratitude List (May 13, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone! What a week, what a day it’s been. I really feel like writing, but my head is buzzing, so I thought for a bit of cheer and calm, I’d do a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I am grateful my staff were able to get the staffing schedule figured out and actually without temp workers needing to step in. The reality was, the temping agency didn’t have anyone available, so the regular staff ended up overworking, but this was a huge positive for me as it meant no unfamiliar faces.

2. I am grateful that a new staff was finally hired to work here. She did come from another home that’s part of my care facility, so they might now have a staffing shortage, but oh well, that’s not my problem. Until this staff came here, a lot of potential staff were given a look around my home but decided eventually not to want to work here.

3. I am grateful for delicious home-cooked chicken and rice yesterday. I actually cooked it with my day activities staff.

4. I am grateful for the smile on one of my fellow clients’ faces when I offered him a serving of the chicken and rice too. He is the only one in my care home who can eat rice without choking, so the staff, when cooking, never cook rice. I’m so happy he was pleased.

5. I am grateful for Sadje’s comment on my last blog post. I thought WordPress was acting up, since I wasn’t getting any comments. It might still be, but at least someone is able and willing to comment.

6. I am grateful for a visit from my mother-in-law on Tuesday. I am grateful we had a good talk with my assigned home staff. After that, we went to Rijssen, a town about a 30-minute drive from Raalte, to go for a walk and have coffee.

7. I am grateful I was able to mostly stick to my healthier eating plan over the past week. The only exception was the sausage roll I ordered in Rijssen. It not only was unhealthy, but came out of the microwave or so it seemed, so it definitely didn’t score an eight out of ten on how much I wanted to eat it. That’s the rule my dietitian gave me for treats: if they don’t score an eight or above on how eager I am to eat them, I might consider skipping them.

8. I am grateful that I did lose 0.4kg when I stepped onto the scale today as compared to last week.

9. I am grateful my semi-orthopedic shoes arrived back from the orthopedic shoemaker. The last time I sent them back, I had a blister on my right heel after only ten minutes of walking on them. Now I haven’t walked longer than that at a time on the shoes, but so far, so good.

10. I am grateful I got an E-mail from the store I bought the headphones that stopped working after two weeks at, saying they’ll give me my money back. I don’t have it in my bank account yet, but they said it could take up to five business days.

11. I did order new headphones and am grateful they work so far. They are a fifth of the price of the non-working ones, but still I am hoping they keep working.

12. I am grateful for paracetamol. I had to take it several times this past week for toothache or headache, but thankfully it worked.

What are you grateful for?