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

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 11, 2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 8, 2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Gratitude List (April 29, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I am feeling a bit meh today. I don’t really feel like writing a gratitude list, but I do feel like writing something and I can’t think of anything else to write. For both of these reasons – to have something to write and to cheer myself up -, I am going to try to write a thankful list anyway. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for pizza today. Yes, again. Another staff is leaving and she wanted to give us pizza or pasta from the local Italian restaurant as a goodbye present.

2. I am grateful I was able to give the staff who’s leaving her present. I didn’t end up making something for her myself and initially wanted to stay in my room while the other staff gave the presents to this staff, but I am grateful I decided to go and give her one of the gifts the other staff had bought on behalf of us clients.

3. I am grateful for quiet time to write. It’s now nearly 9PM and between 6PM and 7PM, a guy from the home next door was blasting his music on top volume. Even with noise canceling headphones (unfortunately still the ones I have on loan) on, I still could hear the music clearly. I’m so glad it’s quieted down now.

4. I am grateful for a good phone talk with my mother-in-law on Wednesday. I was able to tell her I’m going to discuss entering the process of finding another care home. To my surprise and gratitude, she fully supports me.

5. I am grateful for a nice phone call with my mother on her birthday yesterday. I obviously didn’t tell her I’ll be looking for another care home. We made some smalltalk and it was okay.

6. I am grateful for sleep. Despite feeling quite on edge lately due to a lot of issues, I am sleeping relatively well.

7. I am grateful to have been able to go to the day center for a considerable time twice this week.

8. I am grateful for funny stories to listen to on YouTube. There is a Dutch children’s book author called Jacques Vriens who read his own stories aloud on YouTube. There are also English-language YouTube channels for children’s stories, which I also love, but Jacques Vriens is a childhood favorite of mine.

9. I am grateful I was able to go onto the large trampoline on Wednesday. It was great fun!

10. I am grateful to be relatively financially secure. I won’t go into detail here, but I am just happy my husband and I can handle a little financial setback.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 10, 2022)

Hi everyone! I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had a soft drink and a glass of water, but if you’d like a cup of coffee or tea, I’m pretty sure my staff can make you one too. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that a fellow client passed away on Wednesday. He had had COVID back in February, like most of us, but he didn’t fully recover. This client had been hospitalized several times during December and January because of seizures, but these finally seemed to be well under control. Unfortunately, COVID was the last straw. He had been on a feeding pump ever since he’d had COVID, but because he became increasingly uncomfortable and unresponsive, the doctor and staff decided to discontinue his feedings on Monday. I last saw him alive Monday evening. He actually lifted up his body, smiled and squealed with delight upon hearing my voice. I made the conscious decision, having already been informed that he’d be dying soon, to keep this memory as my last memory of him while alive.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally managed to craft another butterfly with the silicone mold I’d gotten for Christmas last December. I badly wanted to create a butterfly to go with the fellow client’s coffin, but wasn’t sure whether I could use the mold. However, other tutorials seemed even more complicated, so I eventually decided to give it a try. I did the wings in Fimo Effect color blue ice quartz. The body is pacific blue and the antennae are black.

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I have finally given in to the polymer clay color mixing thing and bought a precision kitchen scale. That plus a collection of 60 Fimo soft color recipes. Of course, I haven’t tried Fimo professional yet, but if I have to believe my staff, the colors I’ve mixed so far turn out gorgeous despite not being done with the true primary colors.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the nationwide cerebral palsy day I went to yesterday. Of course, because the ParaTransit taxi had arrived at 8AM and we didn’t have to pick up any other passengers along the way, I was in Apeldoorn, where the day would be held, by 9AM. Thankfully, I had called my mother-in-law when I entered the taxi and she’d made sure to be there on time too.

The day started with a live-streamed lecture by Erik Scherder, a neuroscientist from Amsterdam. The message was quite similar to the one he’d conveyed in 2018 when I’d attended the cerebral palsy day too: that exerting yourself physically is needed to stimulate your overall neurological wellbeing. In 2018, the lecture had mostly been geared towards (young) adults, while yesterday it was more focused on children and their parents.

I attended two workshops during the day. One was on aging with cerebral palsy, mostly geared towards those age 40+, so I was a little outside of the scope, but I could relate (sad as it may be) to some of the increasing discomfort that older adults with CP face. The other was a yoga class.

As regular readers of my blog might know, I am not 100% sure I even have cerebral palsy, in that my parents never told me and, by the time I was an adult, things got so overshadowed with other diagnoses it’s unclear. For this reason, I felt validated knowing that I appeared not to be the most mildly affected person, strange as this may seem. In fact, during the yoga class, we had to loosen up our muscles and my mother-in-law told me to loosen up. Someone else half-joked: “That’s about the hardest thing to tell a spastic.” That made me feel good.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (March 23, 2022)

It’s Wednesday and I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. In honor of daylight saving time, I think, the questions this week revolve around the topic of “time”. Here goes.

1. What’s something you never seem to have enough time for?
Blogging. I usually write my blog posts at the end of the day, because I need enough alone time to be able to compose a blog post and I don’t have long chunks of alone time during the day. That being said, the issue probably isn’t that I don’t have enough time, but that I don’t allow myself enough time to start on a blog post if I don’t have time to finish it within that chunk of alone time. Right now, I changed that by starting my blog post in the staff’s lunch break and now I’m finishing it between day activities and my evening one-on-one coming on.

2. If you could turn back time and relive just one day in your life, which day would you choose and why?
This is such an interesting question. Like Joyce, I believe there already is a perfect timekeeper of the universe, ie. God, and to interrupt His timekeeping would not just be impossible, but if it were possible, would lead to disastrous results. That being said, in the hypothetical event that turning back time and reliving one day of my life would not alter the rest of it, I would choose the day of my wedding in 2011.

3. Something you enjoy making that takes a long time to prepare/cook?
I’m assuming we’re talking just food here, since there’s a reference to cooking. For me, cooking even relatively “simple” meals takes up a lot of time. When I still cooked independently, it used to take me at least 90 minutes to prepare and cook a standard macaroni, for example. After all, I needed to do a lot of organizing before I could even get started and I’m a slow cook too. For this reason, I don’t think there’s anything I really enjoy making that would take other people a lot of time to prepare or cook. In fact, now that I get help on the rare occasion that I do cook, I still prefer to make relatively simple meals. The pilaf I cooked last week was really the most time-consuming dish I’ve cooked so far since moving into the care facility.

4. A time recently where you needed/gave yourself a ‘time out’? How do you do that?
I don’t like resting during the day, even though I need to at times. When I had COVID last month, I really had to force myself to lie in bed. Taking time-outs usually involves resting in bed with my weighted blanket over me and my stuffed animals near me, listening to soothing instrumental music through my music pillow and with an essential oil blend in my diffuser.

5. Something you’ve done recently that you’d describe as a ‘good time’?
Yesterday, my mother-in-law came by for a visit. We went for a walk and a coffee and pie in a nearby town. The pies were too sweet for our liking, but the coffee was okay and at least we had a good time enjoying each other’s company.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
This coming Saturday, if I don’t get a cold from one of the several staff who have been working here with cold symptoms (they tested negative for COVID, of course), I’ll be taking a ParaTransit taxi to my and my husband’s house in Lobith. If I do get a cold, I will most likely stay at the care facility and will certainly not take the taxi. Though all mandatory COVID-related restrictions and requirements were lifted today, I still don’t want to infect anyone. Let’s just hope I won’t get a cold, as I’m really looking forward to spending time in Lobith again.

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.

Gratitude List (January 22, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s time for another gratitude post. I’m struggling a little, but, as I’ve said many times before, this makes them all the more important. As usual, I’m joining in wiht Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful to have seen my husband on Sunday. We went to the Subway drive-through to get a sandwich. I chose a turkey one, to which my husband asked whether I took it because of my diet or because I was in the mood for turkey. “Both,” I replied.

2. I am grateful my mother-in-law visited me on Wednesday. We went for a drive around the nearby countryside and for a short walk in a nearby village.

3. I am grateful for muesli for breakfast. I am also grateful the dietitian allows me muesli with some nuts or raisins in it and it doesn’t have to be plain grain.

4. I am grateful for blueberries. When in the nearby village with my mother-in-law, we decided to get some groceries for her. I decided to get blueberries too.

5. I am grateful my dental chek-up last Wednesday was uneventful and, other than the fact that I have inflamed gums, everything was fine.

6. I am grateful for a good laugh with one of my staff on Thursday. I originally was anxious about her being my one-on-one that day, because a few weeks prior she’d triggered me with what she thought was encouragement of my independence. I thankfully talked it over with her and we then laughed our butts off at some silly jokes we were cracking.

7. I am grateful I am inspired to write on my blog. I still struggle to find the motivation to go on walks or to craft, but at least I’m writing almost everyday, sometimes twice a day.

8. I am grateful my nurse practitioner keeps trying to help me and takes me seriously despite how complicated I might be. I have been experiencing increased flashbacks to the time I spent in the psych hospital lately, but I try to remind myself my staff and my treatment team at mental health are different.

9. I am grateful it looks like the essential oils I ordered on Thursday, are on their way. I ordered with a company that doesn’t use the bank’s payment processing system, so I had to make my payment manually, then panicked worrying that I’d made a typeo somehow. Apparently not. Let’s hope the company isn’t altogether lying and will actually have shipped my essential oils.

10. I am grateful I’ve found the courage to experiment with essential oil blends that are slightly different from the ones I find online. For example, earlier I used tangerine rather than orange in a blend that otherwise contained cardamom and cinnamon. It smelled delicious!

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 31, 2021)

Hi all on this rainy Saturday. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again, although yet again it’s a bit late for coffee at 8:30PM. It’s odd in this respect that I start my coffee share paragraphs with “If we were having coffee…” even though I rarely offer you coffee. Oh well. Let’s have a drink anyway and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee (or any other drink, but it feels off to have to repeat that every paragraph), I’d share that I haven’t been doing as well in the walking department this week as I did last week. I reached my goal of 10K steps only once this week and on a few other days, struggled to get beyond 5K steps. My foot hasn’t been cooperating and neither has the weather. It’s been quite rainy most days, although I managed to get a walk in between showers almost everyday.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I have the kindest yet weirdest mother-in-law. Earlier in the week, I asked her to be on the lookout for fine sanding paper to use to sand and buff my polymer clay ornaments. Not only did she drive by three different hardware stores in search for it, but she eventually ordered it online at Bol.com, even though I could as easily have ordered it there. I’m so grateful but I also feel a bit off now.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I have a slight cold, so I didn’t go to Lobith yet again. The self-administered antigen test for coronavirus I took was negative. Still, I want to avoid giving my husband whatever virus I do have, especially with him just having been vaccinated and this meaning he can’t be reliably tested for COVID.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I made the most delicious chicken, curry and fruit salad with my one-on-one staff yesterday. It was great having this for lunch.

If we were having coffee, I’d use the rest of this post to blather on about polymer clay, I guess. This evening, I have been practising making ornaments as independently as possible. I can roll out pretty even bases to cut shapes out of now, as well as cut out the shapes. I am however not able to remove the clay ornament from my cutting board workspace without damaging it yet. However, I’m confident that I’ll learn.

What have you been up to?