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.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 11, 2022)

Hi everyone on this late Friday evening. It’s too late for coffee for my liking, but I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare regardless. I’m pretty sure there are still some soft drinks in the fridge, so if you’d like a drink, you can have one of those. Or you can just have water. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you about your weather. The weather here has been truly beautiful all week. Yesterday, the temperature rose to about 16°C. Today, it was slightly cooler, but still about 14°C and mostly sunny. Over the weekend, we’re supposed to get slightly cloudier weather and we may get rain on Monday and Tuesday. Oh well, I guess that’s a welcome change for the farmers.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about the new creative projects I’ve been busy with lately. First, early in the week, I finished yet another polymer clay unicorn. This one, for those who can’t see, is teal with purple legs, tail, mane and ears. The purple color is the color I’d been mixing myself a few weeks ago. Its horn is Pacific blue and the unicorn stands on a heart-shaped surface of the same color as its horn.

I’ve also been creating a mobile for my sister’s new baby. The baby isn’t due until May, but I don’t want to put myself under pressure.

Finally, I’ve had a bunch of ideas in my head. I got a lot of rings similar to the one I put my polymer clay owl on. One is for the mobile, but I want to use one for an Easter bunny too and maybe I can think of others too. I also thought of combining a slice of wood from a tree with polymer clay and my staff gave me a slice. I really look forward to crafting with all of this material!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve also been loving experimenting with photography and photo editing. Of course, my staff does most of the work in this case, but I tell them what I want them to do and I suggest ways of improving the pictures based on the tips I get on photography blogs. For example, when I took Wednesday’s flower pic, I didn’t realize it might look burned out due to excess sunlight. Then when I went out to take some more pictures on Thursday, I made sure to take them later in the day and to make shade with my body while my staff took the picture.

At the suggestion of one of my staff, I also downloaded an app that is really cool for collage making and such.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I had a haircut this morning. I had my hair cut in layers, so that my wavy hair comes out even more than it normally does.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that the dietitian came by this morning too. We did an exercise in mindful eating. It was really quite interesting. We got a slice of a tangerine and had to listen to a story and, midway through, we had to look at the slice (my staff at least) and describe it without saying what it was. Then we could feel it, smell it, lay it on our lips and finally take a tiny bite, all the while describing the sensations without mentioning what we were eating. We then chewed onto the tiny bite as long as we could and then, once we’d swallowed it, had to wait until the taste disappeared. The idea is that, if I want a treat, such as a piece of licorice, I can do the same (well, except for taking tiny bites) and not take another one until the taste has truly left my mouth. I have been trying with licorice, but not been successful yet.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (February 27, 2022) #TToT

I’m late posting a gratitude list this week, but better late than never, so here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful.

1. I am grateful my seven fellow clients who had COVID, are all symptom-free now.

2. I am grateful the two others stayed negative.

3. I am grateful that, even though I’m not 100% symptom-free yet, I am not very sick with the virus either.

4. I am grateful for more licorice. A staff brought me some salmiac licorice this afternoon. I wouldn’t normally buy it for myself, but I did enjoy it this time.

5. I am grateful for raspberries. The same staff also brought me some of those. I am also grateful for other fruit, such as grapes and bananas.

6. I am grateful I have been able to indeed allow myself some much-needed rest over the weekend.

7. I am grateful I found an essential oil blend with sweet marjoram in it that I actually like. I’d used it in two other blends that I hated, but in both of those, I’d also used Roman chamomile. I don’t normally mind that – it’s not a favorite scent either, but it’s not disgusting -, but the combination was truly terrible.

8. I am grateful my music pillow still works after I got its cord stuck between the caster wheels of my chair. I was a bit scared I might damage my phone if I plugged the cord with possible invisible damage into it, but then I realized it isn’t connected to a power source.

9. I am grateful I didn’t gain any weight while snacking on lots of treats over the past couple of days. In fact, I lost about 0.5kg.

10. I am grateful for green tea. And for staff willing to bring me hot water early in the morning before my one-on-one comes on so that I can make the green tea. I do realize it costs them more time to put on their protective clothing etc., so I try not to request help outside of my assigned one-on-one support, but when I wake up at 7AM, it’s just too hard to wait till 8:30AM.

11. Bonus thankful: I am so intensely grateful to live in the Netherlands. I am not a political blogger and refuse to discuss world news really. Quite honestly, it scares me. However, I am so thankful that I live in a free and safe country.

What are you thankful for?

Joy in February

Last month, I shared my one word for 2022: JOY. Today, I want to share an update on how I’ve been doing with this one word. I am joining the Word of the Year link-up, which I didn’t join in with last month (because I didn’t see it on time to join in), as well as Lisa’s One Word linky.

Overall, I’ve been doing pretty well remembering my word for the year and seeking joy in the ordinary moments. I didn’t experience any mind-blowingly delightful moments, but I did enjoy the everyday.

In particular, what I’m happy about, is that I found joy in the treats I could have every now and again now that I’m on a healthy food plan and don’t allow myself to indulge in whatever I please. Now that I have COVID, I’ve ditched the diet and am more or less allowing myself to eat what I want, but I’m still not overeating, thankfully. I mean, I have a bag of licorice on my table (under the guise of it helping with sore throat, which I don’t even have right now), which I could’ve eaten all in one sitting had I not been mindful. Instead, I am truly savoring each sweet.

I also enjoyed my creative hobbies quite a bit over the past month. Though in this respect, I still look to improve myself, I can still find joy in the mere act of creating. Earlier this week, I found intense joy in my first polymer clay color mixing experiment.

Because I sometimes struggle to find the energy to start “larger” activities such as polymer clay, I also asked my day activities staff about some easier to get started activities. She brought me a simple game with a board and insertable small pieces in different colors. I have been enjoying doing this activity with my staff or alone.

Lastly, I didn’t see my husband a lot over the past month, but I did enjoy speaking to him on the phone and texting him everyday. I obviously won’t say that seeing him less made me appreciate his visits more, as I wish we could have seen each other each week. However, it definitely was a lesson in enjoying the ordinary and delighting in the extraordinary.

Finally, both my husband and mother-in-law have been very sympathetic now that they know I have COVID. I am truly grateful for both of their thoughtful text messages. I also was positively surprised to get a call from my sister as soon as I posted about my positive COVID test on Facebook early Wednesday morning. You might think that the fact that I was surprised, means I view her negatively, as I assume most people expect their family to sympathize when they have COVID. While I admit this is in part true, I also think I shouldn’t take sympathy for granted.

Thieves!

When I was little, my parents would store their sweets (usually licorice but sometimes other sweets too) on a shelf just within my and my sister’s reach in their pantry. I’m pretty sure they’d tried putting them in higher places but we’d just climb up stairs or other furniture to reach them.

Invariably, on Saturday and Sunday mornings, when my parents slept in, I’d lead my sister to the pantry and we’d steal some sweets. Yes, I am pretty sure I took the lead.

I obviously thought they were unaware. That is, until one day when I was five and had just learned to read. There it was, on the sweets shelf, a paper that read “BOEVEN” in large print. This is Dutch for “crooks” or “thieves”. My parents never actually confronted us about grabbing their candy except on this one playful occasion.

In reality though, I still wasn’t truly aware that my parents knew. In fact, I remember one day when I was about fifteen, my parents had left like eight hamburgers on a plate in the kitchen and I sneaked into it to eat one at a time. My parents never confronted me and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized they must’ve known. That is when the shame at having eaten this many hamburgers caught up with me.


This post was written for Friday Writings, for which the optional prompt this week is food. It is a an autobiographical piece.

Five Favorite Cold Remedies #5Things

Today’s prompt for #5Things is favorite cold remedies. Now I must say I personally don’t believe in preventing or treating a cold with home remedies. There might be measures you can take to prevent infection, but I’m not even sure. Once you’ve got a cold though, whatever you do, you’ll just have to ride it out.

That being said, I do believe in things that can relieve the discomfort from your cold symptoms. I’m not sure these should be called “remedies”. Here they are though.

1. Green tea. Green tea is almost good for everything. I mean, people here at the facility even get it for constipation. I am not sure there are actually antiviral substances in green tea, but a hot cup definitely helps me feel better when I’m having a cold.

2. Chicken broth or soup. I remember my husband at one point telling me that he’d read that chicken soup treats colds because of its antibacterial properties. My husband’s point being, of course, that the common cold is a virus. That being said, similar to green tea, chicken soup or broth definitely helps me feel better when I’m feeling under the weather.

3. Black licorice. I know, I know, black licorice is a pretty risky type of candy, with even small amounts raising your blood pressure significantly. That being said, sucking on some licorice definitely helps me when I’m having a sore throat or cough. Plus, it’s far less yucky than other throat-comforting candies or remedies.

4. Essential oils. I don’t really believe in treating actual diseases with essential oils, but I do believe in relieving discomfort with them. There are a number of so-called immune boosting and seasonal discomfort blends out there. For a cold, I personally prefer blends with peppermint, eucalyptus and/or lemon essential oil in them.

5. Fresh orange juice. I don’t normally care for orange juice, but it does feel comforting when I have a cold. Besides, if its vitamin C won’t boost my immune system, at least it won’t harm it either.

What’s your favorite cold remedy?

A Mixed Monday

Today is a truly mixed bag! I started out feeling relatively well. The flu seems to finally have left me, although I still sound a bit hoarse. Then in the morning I ate just a little too much sugar-free liquorice. This type of sugar-free liquorice has manitol in it, which works as a laxative. If I eat moderate quantities of liquorice, I’m totally fine, but if I eat too much, I get like the worst diarrhea imaginable. I thought I hadn’t eaten too much, but apparently I had. If my husband reads th is, he’s going to say he warned me.

I was still relatively okay during the morning. Went for a short walk. Then in the afternoon I didn’t feel well. This usually affects my mood before I’m even aware I’m physically unwell. I started to get really frustrated with how quickly my iPhone battery level would go down, which honestly isn’t that quickly at all given it’s an older model. Then I started to get annoyed with my fellow clients’ sounds. My fellow clients are all non-speaking, so it really is no wonder they make sounds. Just because I can’t understand them, doesn’t mean they need to shut up. Finally then I got annoyed with my staff having mindless chatter while I was trying to indicate I wanted help finding something to do. I found a simple shape-sorting task eventually, but it didn’t satisfy me. In this sense, it frustrates me that I need the level of support and low-stress environment geared towards people with severe intellectual disabilities, but at the same time need much more stimulation. My range of understimulation and overstimulation even seem to overlap a lot, so that my window of tolerance is very narrow. I try to tell myself I just need to accept boredom if I want to keep my level of support, for if I am judged to be too much of a handful, the result is likely that I get less support. That being said, telling myself not to be a pain in the neck doesn’t mean I actually am not a pain.

Finally, I started talking to my assigned staff. We agreed to try out soap making again someday soon. It’s something I enjoy and is a relatively quick activity even if I need hands-on assistance, that will nonetheless satisfy me for a while. I will ask my husband to bring my soaping supplies when he next visits me.

When I returned to the care home, I browsed my favorite soaping supplies store. I was talking to my assigned day activities staff about also knowing how to make lip balm. That’s an even easier activity that can be made more complex by using individual oils and butters rather than ready-made lip balm base. While browsing the store website, I came across a starter kit to make your own bath bombs. I’ve been wanting to do that forever, but since the goal up till recently has always been full independence, I thought this wouldn’t be a suitable activity. When I get back in the swing of soaping, I may buy myself the starter kit. It has some supplies I already have, such as colorants and fragrance oils, but you can never have enough of those. We have a bathtub at the care facility, so I’ll actually also put them to use.

In the evening, I was so excited I wanted to tell my home staff about the soaping idea and the bath bomb craziness. Then however the staff were talking among themselves for like an hour. They weren’t talking about clients, but still I beat myself up over wanting to interrupt them. That led to more frustration and overload and I eventually ended up banging my head. I feel incredibly annoyed with myself for being an attention-seeker like this, even though I didn’t act out when I thought the staff were looking. They eventually were though. Now I’m not sure whether this will eventually be used against me to kick me out. The staff said no, I won’t be kicked out, but in the end if I don’t change will they not reason life isn’t better in the facility for me? It is better, generally speaking, but I still struggle a lot.

Candy Cake

I want to write more often about the ordinary things I experience in daily life, particularly those I’m grateful for. I considered doing a daily gratitude post or the like, but I guess that would get boring. Today though, I have some really joyous experiences I want to write about.

I may or may not have shared that, when my husband and I got married in 2011, we got a homemade liquorice cake from the staff and patients at the psychiatric unit I resided at. The bottom was made out of a Dutch candy called foam blocks. These are really made entirely of pressed-together powdered sugar and they’re yuck. The top, however, was layered with my favorite sweet liquorice. I loved it!

When my support coordinator and I were in the process of appealing the authority’s decision to deny me long-term care funding, we agreed to make another liquorice cake if we succeeded. And we did! Today, we made the cake.

Candy Cake

As you can probably see, we didn’t choose foam blocks for the bottom layer. Instead, my support coordinator bought waffles, which are not only more tasty but also softer. This meant that my fellow clients at day activities who have swallowing difficulties, could at least eat some of the cake. After all, they can’t eat liquorice.

We then made a layer of marshmallow diamonds. Then we layered the top with an assortment of winegums, sugared candy and liquorice. Finally, my support coordinator sprinkled sugared pop rice over it. In the middle, we stuck a candle in the shape of the number four into one of the marshmallows. This symbolizes the fact that I got my funding approved on June 4.

My support coordinator took the picture above, so that I can show it to my husband and on this blog. Seeing AI, my image recognition software, did recognize the picture as being of a cake.

We ate some of the cake at our mid-afternoon coffee break at day activities. Though the other clients don’t understand the reason I made this cake, they definitely enjoyed it. And so did I!