Gratitude List (September 16, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. Right now I’m very hyper because of some really great news I just received. I’ll get to that at the end of this gratitude list, so you’ll have to be patient (or skip ahead). As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful with this post. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for my improved physical fitness. My cardio fitness level according to my Apple Watch is still low, but it’s slowly creeping up. My heartrate recovery is within the “good” range though. Granted, the watch only measured it after brisk walks, since I can’t run.

2. I am grateful for eggs. The guy from the care home next door to ours who has chickens near the day center, lets me check for eggs during the weekends when he’s home with his family. On Saturday, I found one. Then today, he gave me one just because he wanted to.

3. I am grateful the orthopedic shoemaker finally gave in and is going to get me completely orthopedic shoes rather than the semi-orthopedic ones I had been struggling with for the past two years. The semi-orthopedic shoes kept giving me blisters even after he adjusted them many times. For the fully orthopedic shoes, the shoemaker’s coming to measure my feet and make an imprint or whatever in early October. From that point on, it may still take six months before I get the actual shoes, but oh well.

4. I am grateful the orthopedic shoemaker finished repairing one of my regular walking shoes. For those who don’t know, the fronts keep getting damaged within weeks due to my drop foot. Now the shoes are at the main institution, where normally only a transportation guy picks them up to bring them to Raalte once a week on Thursday. The staff here are trying to send someone out there to pick them up on Monday.

5. I am grateful I decided to buy an extra pair of walking shoes.

6. I am grateful for new clothes. I went shopping for them on Wednesday. I bought two jeans and a blouse.

7. I am grateful for iOS 16 and WatchOS 9. I decided to update on Wednesday after all. Both have a few bugs, but not that many that they cause serious problems. Particularly, I am grateful that, after all sound disappeared from my Apple Watch after the upgrade, a restart (with sighted assistance) solved the issue. I am also grateful not to have encountered the bug so far that causes VoiceOver to stop working after restarting your iPhone.

I am grateful for all the new features with WatchOS 9. I love sleep phases and heartrate recovery like I mentioned. I also love that the Translate app on iOS is now available in Dutch too.

8. I am grateful I am doing pretty well on the fitness challenge I participate in this week. I have consistently maintained a position in the upper mid range, around 25th out of 107 participants.

9. I am grateful for a great weight loss result today. I lost another 0.9kg. Last week, I’d lost the same amount. I’m now 66.5kg, which is pretty awesome considering when I came to the care facility I was almost 10kg heavier and I’ve lost over 5kg since starting my food plan in January. I do realize I need to make sure I’m not overdoing it with exercising or I’ll gain all the weight back once the weather’s not so good anymore and subsequently I’ll lose my motivation to walk.

10. I am grateful for some sunshine today. We had rain too, for which I’m also grateful, but I’m happy I could go for some walks outside in the sun.

11. And now on to the great news… I am grateful the main institution home I’m on the waiting list for has a room for me real soon. I will be orienting on Wednesday and the Monday after and, if then I decide I want to move there, moving date has been set for October 5! Remember it’s up to me and, if I don’t want to move there, no-one is kicking me out of here. This is all causing a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. After all, the only other time I ever requested to move myself, I had to decide within the day of a place having been found and it was the worst decision I ever made. Thankfully, my husband is coming to the second orientation visit with me and my staff will come with me on both visits. Now I’m going to write out some questions I have for the home.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 10, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had my afternoon coffee, but I’m pretty sure there’s still some left for you. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by sharing I had quite an active week again. Today, I went for a 5.8km ride on the side-by-side bike again. We rode it faster than last time: 13.4km/hour. Still slowly judging by what I know is a normal bike riding speed, but then again a side-by-side bike is probably harder to ride.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I also finally gained some of my crafty mojo back. That is, I only did one polymer clay thing, but it worked out okay. I created a cat’s head charm. It still needs to go into the oven, so I can’t show you all yet.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you today is my oldest niece Janneke’s third birthday. I sent her a coloring book, some paint and a kids’ umbrella. I may try to video call my sister later to sing “Happy Birthday” to her too. In fact, I think I’m going to text my sister now to ask when she’s got time.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d complain about the fact that Apple won’t release an iPhone 14 Mini. Then again, this makes the decision about what phone to buy once my current iPhone battery dies rather easy. After all, I wasn’t completely convinced I wanted the 14 Mini even if Apple were going to release it, but now I’m certain I’m going for the SE 2022. Not that that one appeals to me that much, but well, I’ve got to have something and I don’t want a regular 14. Not because of what the so-called experts say (they claim it’s not worth your money but I haven’t read the articles explaining why), but because it’s too large for my liking.

I do really hope iOS 16 is going to be relatively bug-free from the start though, as some of its new features sound cool. Not just that, but I badly want WatchOS 9 and you need iOS 16 for that. I’ll wait for one particular member of the VoiceOver forum to voice his opinion though. He’s claimed each year except the year iOS 12 got released that the new big iOS update was the worst one ever and usually he’s been right at least that updating right away isn’t wise.

How have you been?

My Ideal Ways of Spending My Day

Hi everyone. I have been thinking about ways in which I would like to spend my days if I get to move to the main institution. Like I said yesterday, each client has their own day program, so they aren’t required to go to the day center by default. I also will keep my one-on-one support at least until December of 2023. In today’s post, I want to share my ideal ways of spending my days. These are things I might be able to implement should I remain here, but I’m dreaming big here and thinking of ways the institution could accommodate me too.

First, I would like to start my day in my room like I currently do. I don’t think I can handle eating breakfast in a group as of yet. That might change in the future. I would like to eat all my main meals in my room, but go to the living room for coffee breaks when I want to.

Ways I would like to spend my day, include crafting of course. I would really like to keep on doing my polymer clay work and maybe even sell it in the day center’s shop.

The day activities I am thinking the institution could help me meet my dreams with, are those related to sports and physical activity. I know the institution has a small swimming pool on grounds and I’d really like to use it. I’m not sure whether they might have exercise equipment too, like the type of equipment you’d find in a gym. If they do, I’d love to utilize that too.

The institution is in a rural estate area, so I’d love to go for walks on grounds. I’ll take my iPhone (by then, I might have a new one, who knows?) to take pictures of the beautiful nature.

I’ll hopefully at some point be able to take short walks on grounds on my own too. For that, I’ll need orientation and mobility training from the blindness agency, but I’m sure I can get that.

I may occasionally want to relax in a snoezelen® room. Then again, if I’m correct, I can keep my weighted blanket if I move within this care agency, so I might not even need a snoezelen® room.

I’ll probably also want to go to a day center every once in a while to socialize with other clients. The institution has three day centers I believe, but I’m pretty sure clients from the home I might go to won’t go to all three. That’s okay though, I’ll find out what suits me.

First Week With My Apple Watch

Hi everyone. I’m not sure whether this post is going to be a tech post or a health post or both, as I want to write about my first impressions of using my Apple Watch. I’m putting it under the “Tech” category, but sharing some of my health stats just so it doesn’t get boring. Oh wait, maybe my health stats are boring too. Oh well.

I got my Apple Watch series 7 on Monday last week, but didn’t get to actually use it until Tuesday evening, because then I got its case and screen protector. I know many people don’t use anything to protect their Apple Watches, but I’m happy I got a sturdy case and a glass screen protector, because I’ve bumped my watch against a wall, chair or table too many times to count already.

I familiarized myself with the use of the Apple Watch with VoiceOver first by reading Apple’s own support page on the topic as well as listening to the relevant podcasts on AppleVis. It’s sad that the Apple Watch user guides on there are all podcasts and none are in text format, because I process information better through my Braille display. One thing both the Apple support site and AppleVis say, is that you need to swipe with two fingers rather than one in order to scroll. I have found this to be incorrect. Either that or I’m doing something wrong all along, but swiping with two fingers does something really weird for me.

I prefer to change most of my settings in my iPhone’s Watch app rather than on the Apple Watch itself, because I do find the screen of the Apple Watch a little hard to navigate. I have chosen the “California” clock face, which is really cool.

I also read most of my stats in the iPhone’s Health app rather than on the watch itself. The reason is the fact that, firstly, they are all in one place there and, secondly, the Health app is easier to navigate than the apps on my watch. I might need some getting used to with, for instance, the heartrate app on my watch.

Most people who have an Apple Watch or know about it, are probably familiar with the activity rings. I did know they exist prior to buying my watch, but didn’t know what they represent. Your Movement ring shows your calories burned during movement relative to your goal. My goal is set to 300, which is slightly higher than the Apple Watch suggested for me (based on the activity my iPhone had recorded, I guess) but still low. The Exercise ring shows your minutes doing exercise, which is any movement equivalent to or more intense than a brisk walk. My goal is set to 20 minutes. Your Standing ring shows the hours you’ve been standing upright and in some motion for at least one minute. My goal is set to 12. The Apple Watch can count steps, but does not display them on the screen unless you install a third-party app for that. It does send your step count to the iPhone’s Health app.

Each week, I believe, you get a report on how you did compared to your goal and a suggested new movement goal for the week. Yesterday, my suggested goal was the same as the one I’d set.

On Apple Watch series 7 (and some older models too, I believe), you can measure your cardio fitness level. This is done using an estimate of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can process during movement (VO2Max). This is estimated during each brisk walk or run outdoors. On Friday, I had my first estimated cardio fitness level result and my VO2max was 22.9. This is “low” or so the watch said and it doesn’t get lower than “low”. As it turned out, at 24, I’d cross the border to “below average”. I managed this once.

I do want to add here that I got in nearly three times as many exercise minutes compared to my goal three times this week. I also reached 200% of my movement goal yesterday, burning 600 active calories. I actually burned off over 2200 calories that day and I hadn’t even been on the elliptical. Yay me.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. How are you doing? Want to join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare? I’ve had all my coffee for the day, but I’m soon grabbing a Dubbelfrisss (my favorite soft drink). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by asking how your weather is. Ours has been hot most of the week. Today, the weather institute officially recorded a heatwave, meaning five days in a row of daytime highs of at least 25°C, including three days of at least 30°C. Today, the temperature reached 32°C here. Tomorrow, it may even get a little hotter. The last officially-recorded heatwave was in 2020.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the woman from the care home down the road from mine was very happy with the polymer clay necklace I gifted her for her birthday. I stayed for a while to have coffee and apple pie.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic shoes still aren’t as they should be. I developed two small blisters on my feet after a short walk yesterday evening. Granted, I’d also taken a longer walk in the morning without much trouble, but blisters really shouldn’t happen anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the care facility’s WiFi once again. Oh wait, yesterday, I showed gratitude for it, but today I’m complaining, because three days in a row it’s now gone out in the evening. I am currently redirecting my iPhone’s mobile data to my laptop because I was in the middle of typing this blog post when the stupid thing went down.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I did start on the green polymer clay unicorn I mentioned this afternoon after all. I’ve decided it’s going to make a great present for the student staff who’s leaving at the end of this month. I so far only made the surface it’s going to stand on, which is currently in the oven. It took me 45 minutes to create a slab for it that was relatively free of air bubbles. Not completely, but enough that there hopefully won’t be huge holes in the bottom of the thing. Not that they will be seen, if they are there, when the unicorn stands on its surface, but well.

How have you been?

Technophobia

Today’s topic for Sadje’s Sunday Poser is tech-phobia. Sadje describes having been encouraged to learn Linux for a while and having had a Macbook sitting around for several months now too, but both intimidate her. She asks us, and specifies that her question may be more relevant to those of us who didn’t grow up with modern tech, whether we’re tech-phobic.

I grew up with computers and got an Internet connection when I was fifteen. That’s relatively late for someone my age, but I attribute that to the fact that I’m blind. After all, my parents did have access to the Internet already, but my first private computer, or rather the Braille display that came with it, didn’t support Internet Explorer.

When I was fifteen, I acquainted myself with the Internet quite quickly, but still stuck to old-fashioned methods and platforms far too long. I mean, I had a DiaryLand diary until 2007, when I finally moved to WordPress. Currently, the fact that for this post, I’m still using the classic editor, is probably proof of the same. I think I’m quite old-fashioned when it comes to technology. I am rarely the type to try out new functions when they first come out, or even when they’ve been out for a while.

With respect to Sadje’s question of being overwhelmed by new technologies, such as smartphones, I can only answer in the affirmative. Of course, again, this is complicated by the fact that I’m blind. I mean, a regular touch screen can’t be worked by a blind person, so it was no wonder I felt hugely incompetent when my husband tried to guide me hands-on to send a text message on his phone when I was about 29.

I was nearly 31 when I decided I wanted to learn to use a smartphone after all. Thankfully, a blind person who was also a qualified computer trainer for the visually impaired lived in my town. He came by the psych hospital to introduce me to the iPhone. He allowed me to use his iPhone to practise on during our introductory lessons, because of course if I couldn’t learn to use an iPhone there was no point in me buying one myself. Eventually, I not only was found to have the skills necessary to learn, but I mastered the use of the iPhone in half of the amount of course time he’d originally thought I’d need.

Since starting to use an iPhone, I have overcome some of my technophobia, but not all of it. Like I said, I still dread the WordPress block editor.

I’m also somewhat anxious about possibly making the transition from touchID to faceID on a phone. I know, I don’t have to, as Apple released the third generation iPhone SE last March, but with the fact that I now have a second generation SE, it just doesn’t quite cut it, honestly. For this reason, I’m really looking forward to the models going to be released this fall. Then again, if I can’t get faceID to work for me, this might be a lot of money gone to waste (unless I find out soon enough and can return the thing).

I’ve also been thinking of buying an Apple watch. That’s less of a risky investment than the faceID iPhone, as firstly they’re less expensive and secondly it’s not as essential (yeah, I consider my phone to be essential now). Both of these pieces of technology though induce my technophobia. But they’re both also really cool.

Five Things I’m Glad I Bought #5Things

Today’s topic for #5Things is things you’re happy about having bought. I have bought a lot of things that I later regretted buying, most recently my Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. Thankfully, after a long ordeal with the vendor, I got my money back. Hence, here are five things I’m actually happy about having bought.

1. my iPhone. I’m currently on my second one, having used the previous model for nearly three years. The current one, I’ve had for two years tomorrow I think. It’s an iPhone SE 2020. My previous one was the original SE. I am still debating with myself whether I want to get the SE 2022 or wait if they’re going to release a 14 Mini in the fall. I originally got an iPhone because of its more advanced accessibility features compared to phones running Android. Even though iOS has been causing some more or less serious bugs with each major update since I got my original iPhone except for iOS 12, I still agree iPhone’s the best.

2. My laptop. I got my first laptop when I was eleven and got my current screen reader, JAWS, when I was fifteen. In fact, yesterday marked twenty years online for me. I had to buy my own laptops from age twenty on. I use a Windows laptop and yes, I’ve tried a Mac but no, that one’s not for me. Oh wait, I didn’t actually buy my current laptop, since my mother-in-law paid for it in exchange for my Mac. Never mind.

3. My current headphones. Okay, they’re only three weeks old, so I’m still waiting for them to bite the bullet as my Bose ones did. However, those crashed within just over two weeks, so the current ones have already surpassed those. Besides, the Bose headphones cost €240, while these cost €50. They’re a Chinese brand, which is why I can’t for the life of me remember the brand name, but my husband Googled it and said it’s a good-enough Chinese brand.

4. Lots of polymer clay and crafting supplies. I mean, of course there are a couple of things I don’t really use, but most things I bought myself, I do actually love. Most recently, I bought a hand drill and a huge set of small drill bits, to drill holes into my earring pieces etc. I had some trouble figuring the thing out and for a bit thought I shouldn’t have bought the things, but now that I know how to use the drill, it’s fab.

5. Books. I don’t normally buy books, as I get most of them on Bookshare. That being the case, when I do buy a book, it’s usually one I won’t regret having bought. Most recently, I bought the latest Casey Watson foster care memoir and, while I feared the Apple Books app would have trouble with it, it didn’t.

What is one of your happiest purchases?

Zone: Describing My Creative Space #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to the last day in the #AtoZChallenge. About half of the times I’ve completed the challenge, I’ve chosen “ZZZ” for sleep as my topic for my letter Z post. I originally wanted to do the same now, but I really can’t think of ways in which my sleep relates to my creativity other than the obvious: that I need enough of it to be creative.

Instead, I am going with the word “Zone” and describe my creative space, or where I feel like I can “zone in” to my creative self.

I blog wherever I have access to my phone or computer. I could also probably be crafty in many places. However, the place I feel most comfortable being creative in, is my room in the care facility.

I have a desk, which I’ve had for over fifteen years. This desk, I use to have my computer and iPhone on. I prefer typing on my laptop keyboard, but can also type on my iPhone’s external keyboard. I cannot type anything beyond simple messages, usually consisting only of one word, on my iPhone’s screen directly. Even with the external keyboard, due to WordPress having done away with the classic editor on mobile devices, I much prefer to blog on my laptop. For this reason, when I want to blog and I’ll be away, such as at my and my husband’s house in Lobith, I’ll take my laptop with me.

For crafting, I have a separate table. I do need to clear it out when I am finished for the morning or afternoon, as I eat at that table too. I already showed you all where I keep my craft supplies in my letter K post. I can easily reach those from my table.

Then there is, of course, the shelf above my desk, where I display my finished projects. That’s part of my creative zone too, in that it inspires my creativity.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 2, 2022)

Hi everyone on this cold Saturday evening. I am joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’m afraid I just have water or maybe the staff has put some soft drinks in the fridge by now. My favorite soft drink, Dubbelfrisss, wasn’t cold when I had my evening drink about an hour ago. Anyway, let’s have a chat.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I finally have been crafting again today after a week of just watching crafty videos and doing nothing creative at all. That is, I’ve been blogging, which counts too, of course, but I haven’t touched my polymer clay or jewelry-making supplies or macrame cords or anything.

Today, I finally did a couple of pieces for the mobile for the baby my sister is expecting. I also finished the polymer clay hedgehog I’d started on about a month ago. At first, I was disappointed, because I’d used up all of a particular color for its body and now it was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t do the ears in the same color. Turns out real hedgehogs also have slightly differently colored ears than their bodies. Besides, I never really meant to be doing a fully realistic sculpture anyway (I can’t).

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the rest of the week was quite meh. I’ve been having tons of plans in my head, but no ability to actually put them into action. Today, I also experienced a ton of flashbacks and internal chaos. Seriously, the discrepancy between my intellectual ability and my emotional immaturity is really getting at me. I find that I can intellectually think of a lot of things that emotionally I cannot handle at all. I’m not sure if this makes sense.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I may want to research an autism support method by Colette de Bruin. My assigned home support staff pointed it out to me and said she’s pretty much using the method on me already, but I may benefit from learning about it myself.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I am very happy with the latest iOS update. I finally was able to do some reading again on my iPhone yesterday, since the update fixed a bug that caused my Braille display to become pretty unresponsive. I usually read with just my Braille display, as I don’t like VoiceOver’s synthetic speech for that.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that I have a quiet weekend, because my husband isn’t coming over and I have no other plans. Next week though is going to be busy, especially the weekend. I am going to the nationwide cerebral palsy day with my mother-in-law. I will be attending a workshop on aging with CP in the morning, which I am really looking forward to. In the afternoon, I’ll be attending a yoga class. I may not be able to write a coffee share post then, especially since I’m also supposed to stay up-to-date with the #AtoZChallenge. I’ll be certain to write about it though.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (April 1, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I really want to write another blog post tonight. Specifically, I want to write a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful. Let me share those things I’ve been grateful for in the past week.

1. A good appt with the behavior specialist. Behavior specialists, actually, as the one I used to see was a temp and she was introducing me to the new one. We had a good talk.

2. The best Asian food ever gone even better. Read: spicier. Like I said last week, a staff was leaving, the same staff who got me the best Asian food ever a few weeks ago. As a goodbye present to me, she promised me another serving of the food. This time though, she got a “mildly spicy” version. Well, according to the Indonesian cooks, at least. It was amazing, but I did get a slight stomachache from it afterwards.

3. Inspiration to write again. I’m now on a six-day streak on my blog and have picked up writing in my diary app, Day One, too.

4. Great blog stats and engagement. Okay, I feel as though the majority of the page views I got on the day I got nearly 300 this past week, were probably bots, but oh well. I am also getting lots of engagement, which is awesome.

5. Paracetamol. I have been having some back pain lately, but thankfully, it responds well to paracetamol.

6. The new iOS version. It actually finally solved the major Braille-related bug that had been in existence for literally months.

7. My new headphones. I finally decided to order new noise canceling headphones and decided to go for the Bose QuietComfort 45 ones. At first, I was a little disappointed, because the manual said they could be used with an audio cable while on (so that I can use noise canceling). Apparently not. However, other than that and the fact that its spoken announcements are in English only, it’s quite good.

8. The fact that I’m still overweight rather than obese despite a lot of “cheat” meals and treats over the past week. In fact, I only gained 0.1kg.

9. The fact that it wasn’t raining or snowing when I went to the day center this afternoon (it had been snowing and raining a lot during the rest of the day). Plus the fact that, even though the daytime temperature didn’t get above 4°C today, it didn’t even feel all that cold thanks to my winter coat.

10. The fact that a fellow client made me laugh with his April Fools joke this evening. The staff did check whether I was okay with a little prank and I said I was. In the end, I didn’t really understand the prank, but we both laughed at the verbal joke about April Fools that went along with it.

What are you grateful for?