#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?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 3, 2022)

Hello all! It’s Wednesday again and I thought I’d join in with the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. Do you have a sister? Tell us something about her. If you don’t have a sister, tell us about a friend who has been like a sister. Or tell us about a sister-in-law if you have one who is extra special.
I have one sister. She is two years younger than me, although when we were kids, people always thought we were either twins or she was the older one. She always envied me because I got more attention from our parents than she got (though it was mostly negative attention). In terms of the roles often described in dysfunctional families, she was the lost child, while I was a strange mix of scapegoat and golden child.

Currently, she lives in the far northwest of the country, close by the sea, with her husband and two girls. She will be starting training to become a childcare worker soon.

2. Resister, assister, insister, persister…choose one and explain how it relates to you and your life lately.
All of them relate to me in some way. Well, maybe except for “assister”, in that I don’t really assist anyone myself, but rather am on the receiving end of assistance. As for “resister” and “persister”, they usually go hand in hand, in a kind of paradoxical way.

3. Share a favorite song, book, movie, or television program that features sisters.
A book that’s been turned into a movie comes to mind: My Sister’s Keeper by jodi Picoult. It was the first Picoult novel I read, before I knew killing off her characters was her way of writing (oh, sorry if that’s a spoiler, but the book and movie have both been out forever). In this book though, it made sense. In others, not so much.

4. August 3rd is national watermelon day…are you a fan? Do you like watermelon flavored candy? Besides eating the melon as is, do you have a good recipe made with watermelon?
I do like watermelon, but it’s not like I’m a huge fan. I’ve never had watermelon-flavored candy, so no opinions on that. I don’t really know a recipe with watermelon, but I still need to try it in my fruit infusion bottle. I did try a few pieces of a galia melon in it, but that didn’t taste good.

5. ‘Tis August…what are three things you’re looking forward to this month?
Crafting quite a bit. Several fellow clients at the care facility I know well have their birthdays this month and I want to create them a present. Seeing my husband’s new-to-him car, that he will be getting on Saturday. Maybe driving to some nearby town or city we haven’t been to yet with my husband.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I am so glad that my crafty mojo seems to be returning in time for these fellow residents’ birthdays. Also, if you all have any idea what I could create for my husband’s and my wedding anniversary on September 19, I’d love to know. I bought a heart-shaped canvas that I can decorate with paint, polymer clay and/or other media, but I am truly out of ideas as to what exactly to do.

Gratitude List (July 31, 2022) #TToT

Hi all on this last day of July! Today I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list. I’m rather late to the party, but better late than never, huh? Here goes.

1. I am grateful for some good phone talks with the care facility’s behavior specialist this week. She gave me some useful advice on how to handle my frustration with respect to my recent care review with her and my nurse practitioner from mental health.

2. I am grateful my nurse practitioner gave the get-go for me to lower my antipsychotic again. Next week, I’ll be starting with the slightly decreased dose.

3. I am grateful for a nice visit from my sister and her family. I am so grateful Janneke, my oldest niece, was really friendly with me. I tried to show her how to make a play-doh unicorn, but she may still be a bit young for that and/or I wasn’t engaging enough.

4. I am grateful I got to hold Wolke, my youngest niece, who is just two-months-old.

5. I am grateful for the belated birthday gifts my sister and her family brought me. I got four sets of cutters and a set of texture sheets to use with my polymer clay.

6. I am grateful for a delicious salami pizza with added olives and red peppers. Yum! We ordered pizza (and fries for Janneke) last Monday when my sister and her family were here.

7. I am grateful for a good visit from my mother-in-law on Friday too. We went out to have lunch, which was delicious.

8. I am grateful for no mosquitoes last night or the night before. This hopefully means my anti-mosquito device, that I’d bought last Friday when in town with my mother-in-law, is working. Either that or none had been in my room at all. I don’t really care which, as long as the critters aren’t bothering me.

9. I am grateful my pasta machine isn’t broken after all. I had experienced it’d crumble several colors of polymer clay. Even after a deep clean session, it still did this, so I thought it must be broken. Thankfully, one of the most knowledgeable people in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group took a look at a picture I’d taken and said it wasn’t broken. Apparently it’s the clay.

10. I am grateful the new pasta machine I impulsively ordered online when thinking the current one was broken, can be returned. I will probably ask my staff to drive me to the PostNL pick-up point tomorrow. When I have my refund, I’m going to order supplies I really do need from that same store I now ordered the pasta machine from.

What are you grateful for?

Joy in July

Hi everyone. It’s nearly the end of the month and this means it’s time for me to update you all on my word of the year. As usual, I’m joining the #WOTY linky, as well as Lisa’s One Word linky. My word of the year, as I’ve said before, is “JOY”.

Early in the month, I had a horrible setback, as I got the news that my now former assigned staff would be quitting her job at my care facility. This caused some major sadness and emotional turmoil in me, but after a while, I was able to channel it into something good by creating something for her – a polymer clay hedgehog. I enjoyed the creative process and the smile I brought to her face when I gave her the gift.

Overall, I did find that my joy or lack thereof was more than in the previous months tied to my material success, in the sense that, if I felt I was failing at a crafty endeavor, I didn’t enjoy it either. The same goes for my blog: I was ecstatic when reading all the positive comments to the poem I wrote last week, but didn’t enjoy writing when I had the idea that I wasn’t “successful” in my blogging.

Similarly, my joy is also more tied to material possessions than it used to be. For example, the day my former assigned staff left, I ordered a stuffed dolphin for comfort. While this did help me, maybe at other times I would’ve been able to seek joy without having to spend money. I am not saying spending money on comfort items is necessarily bad, but ultimately, they aren’t material things that will bring me joy.

Joyful experiences included a visit to the trampoline on the last day my now former assigned staff worked my one-on-one shift, eating out with my husband and a visit from my sister and her family. While they involved material things too, in the sense that we spent money on the dinner and my sister gave me some beautiful belated birthday gifts, the experiences themselves were truly great.

In some good news, I did do some Bible reading everyday again this week, while I’d hardly done any over the rest of the month. It is causing me a lot of emotions.

Overall, the month of July was filled with some high peaks but a lot of deep lows too. I must say though that, considering the impact of my staff leaving, I was expecting much worse. I really hope the month of August will be better.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 23, 2022)

Hello everyone on this fourth Saturday of July. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. It’s been a few weeks. Let me share what’s been going on.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask how your weather is. We haven’t had an official heatwave here, as we had only three days of daytime high temps above 25°C. Then again, on Tuesday, the temperature reached 39°C. That’s not a record, for your information: the Netherlands’ official all-time heat record was reached three years ago and it was almost 41°C.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, on Monday, I took a trip into town with my staff. I had to get some toiletries and new baby wipes (which I use for cleaning my claying supplies). I also went into Action, a discount store, actually looking for origami paper. I didn’t find any, but did buy some clear stamps, a stamping pad, blank cards and alcohol ink. As it turns out, I will most likely only be able to use the alcohol ink for my clay, and I’m not 100% sure how, as it contains glitter. I mean, that may damage my pasta machine rollers, so I may need to only roll by hand when I’ve used this alcohol ink. I might find other uses for the other supplies. I was thinking of starting up simple card making again. Now my past self is laughing and telling me “No!” in a firm voice at the same time, but I’ve already decided not to invest any more money into it. If I can’t do this at all, that’s €4,95 wasted, but some people at the day center may still be able to use my supplies.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been loving coming up with some ideas for my polymer clay. I’ve also been watching a lot of YouTube tutorials. I’m still not actually crafting much, but that will hopefully change soon, as I managed to blend three different intensities of the same color green that I intend to use for a unicorn. Let’s hope this unicorn turns out great!

If we were having coffee, I would share that I really need to mind my food plan again soon. I am still just overweight as opposed to obese, but I do need to watch out that my weight isn’t creeping back up. On Monday though, my sister and her family will be here for a belated birthday visit and we’re going to order pizza I think. That will be the fourth time in a month that I’m either eating at a restaurant or ordering takeout. After that, I’ll seriously watch my diet. I’m already trying to make sure I’m not having too many treats. For instance, yesterday I was hungry mid-afternoon and decided to have some carrots rather than going for my licorice. I think that counts for something.

If we were having coffee, I would resist the urge to rant about my appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner and the care facility’s behavior specialist on Tuesday. It was really frustrating, but I’m not ready to share the details. I would instead refill your cups and ask you how you are.

A Few Pretty Intense Days

Hi everyone. It’s been a few days since I wrote on my blog and I didn’t even check my feed reader yesterday at all. The last few days have been rather intense emotionally.

First, on Sunday, my husband picked me up at 8:30AM to drive to my sister and her family, who live across the country. Little Wolke, my baby niece, was, well, a baby. She didn’t really interact at all. Neither at first did Janneke, my older niece, who will be three in September. My sister did explain that “auntie Astrid’s eyes don’t work” so that’s why I can’t look at her, but she was still shy. Once my sister had taken the polymer clay bear I’d created for Janneke and let her undo the wrapping, she was a little more engaging. I did feel bad that, when she said the bear wanted a kiss, I told her not to (since I keep hearing mixed things about the safety of polymer clay in this respect). I did worry for a while that maybe Janneke was a bit too young for the bear, but my sister said she doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore and my husband said she has to learn.

My brother-in-law kept my husband occupied with the same old stories and jokes he tells each time we see each other. Meanwhile, Janneke warmed up to me and started inviting me in to her play. Janneke had hip dysplasia, for which she needed surgery last September. She still remembers in a way or so I think, as all her dolls needed to go to the doctor and get fitted with a cast (or have the cast sawn off).

At one point, my sister did start talking about needing to get rid of her pregnancy pounds. I felt a little uncomfortable about that, as she’s quite thin and I am still overweight. Then she started telling me about her career plans.

Overall, I did notice that my sister only talked about herself (and her kids). This is okay with me, but it does remind me of my parents often telling professionals that I am only able to talk about myself. It makes me feel as though the reason I’m not allowed to talk about myself is not that it’s about myself, but the fact that I don’t live a “normal” life. In other words, the contents of what I tell my parents makes them uncomfortable more so than the fact that it’s about me. Either that or my sister is somehow a lot more reciprocal with my parents than with me.

I do think I like Janneke after all though. Last time I saw her was at my birthday almost a year ago. My sister prompted her to give me her present, but she said: “No auntie Astrid not nice.” I felt that was both cute and a tiny bit upsetting.

Thankfully, my husband was able to drop me off in Raalte again in the afternoon. I arrived here with half an hour to spare before we’d eat dinner, which was Chinese takeout.

Then yesterday, which was a bank holiday, I spent most of the morning in bed, because a temp worker was assigned my one-on-one shift and the two most recently employed staff, neither of whom I know well, were working the regular shift. The temp worker tried to get me to go out of bed at first, but she had no idea about the activities I normally do during the day and I didn’t have the energy to explain them to her. Overall, I felt really powerless and like I’d rather not have someone there at all. Thankfully, today we’re more or less back to normal.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 4, 2022)

Hi everyone on this warm but windy Saturday afternoon. It’s been a while since I joined #WeekendCoffeeShare, so I thought I’d participate once again. I’ve just had my afternoon coffee, but the other clients are still having theirs, so grab a cuppa if you want. I also have a delicious loose-leaf herbal tea that I swapped with my assigned staff for the lemon and mint flavored green tea that came in a box I’d acquired back in February when I had COVID. After all, back then the staff had taken the entire box to my room and only then realized that because of the risk of contamination, she couldn’t take it back to the kitchen. It contained four varieties of green tea: plain, lemon, orange and mint. I like plain and sometimes orange only, so now that I trust the box isn’t laden with viruses anymore, I gave the other two varieties to my staff. Anyway, the herbal tea contains cinnamon, lavender and I don’t know what else, but it’s truly lovely. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week was rather intense emotionally. On Monday, we welcomed a new resident to my care home. She’s quiet and doesn’t seem to need a lot of care, but the fact that she can walk independently and yet does have a profound intellectual disability, does create some of its own risks.

The door to the home now needs to be locked for her safety. She can’t work keys, so the key remains in the lock during the day for me to open it. (At night, it’s been out for years already for my safety.) This does create some inner turmoil in me, both because of the lack of clarity (either the door is locked or it is not, in my mind) and because of my feelings about the presumption of competence for me. I mean, I am an elopement risk too and some recent events in which I’ve been quite a possible danger to myself while running away, do make me feel weird. On the other hand, I really don’t want to go back to my time on the locked psych unit.

If we were having coffee, I would also share that, on Wednesday, my assigned home staff captured one of my child alters on video while playing with one of the new resident’s sensory toys. She later asked my permission to forward the video to the other staff and the behavior specialist. I at first said yes, then felt a little anxious but eventually decided to give my permission after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did finish all the presents for my sister and nieces on time for my visit to the family tomorrow. Besides the earrings I created for my sister and the mobile for little Wolke (that’s the baby’s name), I created a polymer clay bear for Janneke, my older niece.

Deciding when exactly we wanted to visit, was a bit of a hassle, since I’d forgotten my sister and her children of course need to sleep during the afternoon and I had more or less filled in for my husband that a morning visit wouldn’t be possible because of the long drive. Finally though, we agreed that we’d be at my sister’s by 11AM tomorrow and have lunch there. My husband insisted on picking me up here in Raalte tomorrow. Now that I think of it, I realize that it makes perfect sense, since he, unlike me, is a morning person. Oh well.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I went clothes shopping this morning with my staff. I bought three pants and two shirts and immediately wanted to put most of my old pants in a bag for the charity shop, because they’re way too wide. I didn’t in the end though, because I want to give it some more thought.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d report that I’m now under 69kg, yay! I have now lost exactly 3kg since starting my healthier living journey back in January. Of course, that’s not much, but it’s better to go slow and keep losing than to go fast and then gain all the weight back because you’re tired of the healthy lifestyle after a while.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (May 25, 2022)

Hi everyone. How is it the last Wednesday of May already? I seriously can’t believe it. Anyway, I’m joining in with the Wednesday HoddgePodge again. Here goes.

1. It’s National Wine Day (May 25)…do you like wine? Red or white? Dry or sweet? Do you have a favorite? Have you ever been to California wine country? Or any other wine region? What’s a dish you make that calls for wine?
I can’t stand wine! One day, when one of our staff was retiring and had a little leaving party at my care home, somehow we had white and red wine (don’t ask me how we got it, as normally we aren’t allowed alcohol in the care home). Some staff convinced me to try a little of the white wine. I took a sip and blurted out: “Ew, this is gross.” Then they gave me the red wine. When I took another sip, I yelled: “Yuck, this is even worse!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been to any wine region. Not consciously at least and I don’t care to go there either.

2. What’s something you’ve whined about lately?
The staffing shortage in health care and particularly my care home. Literally half the team left within the past year or so and, this past Monday, the manager informed me that they may need to get temp workers to do my one-on-one shifts too rather than just the general shifts. I know rationally that the manager can’t help the staffing shortage, but emotionally, well, I feel rather overloaded.

3. Last time you were “wined and dined”? Tell us about it.
I honestly can’t remember. My husband and I haven’t been eating out since before COVID, I guess.

4. Three cheers for_____________________.
Care workers, of course. I know the workload is crazy. I can be a pain in the butt at times, but I do appreciate their work.

5. This will be the last Hodgepodge in the month of May. Somehow next Wednesday the calendar rolls into June. Before we go though, sum up your May in twelve words or less.
Eventful, an emotional rollercoaster ride.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been busy with preparations for visiting my sister and her family so I can see my new niece. She was born last Thursday. As regular readers of this blog know, I created a sort of mobile for my baby niece. Here is the picture (I’m holding it in my hand because I had nothing to hang it onto).

I wanted to gift my sister something for her birthday (which was on May 13) too and saw she wanted a membership to a positive parenting website. I am positively surprised (no pun intended) that she’s interested in that approach, as it’s vastly different from our parents’. I didn’t end up buying the membership for her, but hope she does keep this mindset.

I also am happy to share that the handheld drill and drill bits I wanted for drilling holes in my polymer clay pieces for jumprings finally arrived. I had ordered them last Wednesday and the website said handling and shipping would take up to three business days. Apparently they took three business days before they started collecting my order. I need to drill the holes so that I can attach jumprings to pieces in order to make earrings. Since the gift I did buy for my sister, is a pair of earrings, I intend on making her another pair out of polymer clay just for fun.

I also intend on making one more unicorn, because my older niece also deserves a little present when her baby sister and mother both get something.

Sunday Ramble: Childhood Memories

Hi everyone. I’m participating in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble again. Today’s topic is childhood memories. Here are the questions.

1. What is your first good memory from your childhood? (If this is a trigger question for you, tell me how your day is and what the best thing is about today.)
My third birthday. My grandma visited and gifted me a doll she’d bought in Berlin, Germany. Either she or my father explained that, in German, the word for doll is “Puppe”, which is pronounced the same as the Dutch word for “poo”. Of course, me being three and my sister being one, we laughed our butts off.

2. Name 3 things that you loved when you were just a youngster?
Playing with PlayMobil®. Swinging on the swings. Making mud pies.

3. What did you dislike, or even hate, when you were growing up?
A lot of things, as my childhood wasn’t the best. However, I’ll keep this non-triggering. I hated it when my sister was singing or humming.

4. If you could go give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
You have absolutely zero obligation to prove your worth to your parents or anyone else.

5. What kind of celebrations did you enjoy when you were little, and do you still like those celebrations now that you are grown?
I had a love/hate relationship with all kinds of celebrations. I loved getting presents and special treats, but hated the social obligations involved. When I was a child and teen, we celebrated St. Nicholas. This involves pretending that St. Nick gave us presents. Once I no longer believed in St. Nicholas, I greatly struggled to play along and this led to some frustration among my sister and parents. Needless to say, now that I’m an adult, we no longer celebrate St. Nicholas. My sister and her family do celebrate it with my parents though.

I felt similarly about my birthday, loving the presents but not liking the social aspects. Same now that I’m an adult and more so with my family of origin, because, well, we don’t have the best relationship. With my husband and in-laws, I do like being together for my birthday.

6. Bonus Question: What commercial did you always wait for to come on television as a child? (If you didn’t like commercials or television, what event did you wait for to come about when you were a kid?)
I didn’t really enjoy commercials, although I liked Loeki the Lion, who came on inbetween commercials on public television. He was recently reintroduced after an absence of over twenty years I believe.

With respect to TV shows in general, as a child I loved a show called Droomshow (Dream Show), in which a pair of girls competed against a pair of boys in all kinds of candy-related games and the winning team had to shoot for prizes while the losing team got the “shitty shower”.

What was your first good childhood memory?

Gratitude List (May 20, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m feeling all sorts of things today. To focus my attention on the positives, I am doing a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful my husband and I went barbecueing on Saturday. It was delicious!

2. I am grateful my hearing is still fine. I had a hearing test on Monday and am so happy it showed I can still hear pretty well.

3. I am grateful for clean water. Upon inspection, legionella was found in one of our water pipes. Again, for the second time in a year. I am grateful the cleaning crew was able to destroy the bacterium.

4. I am grateful for an opportunity to go swimming. Because the crew had to come out to clear our waterworks of legionella bacteria, we had to leave the home from 10AM till 4PM Tuesday. The other clients could stay at day activities, but I normally get my day activities in the home. We did set up my computer in an empty room at another home, but I really wanted to be gone. My staff offered to take me swimming. It was great fun!

5. I am grateful for a day in which I walked more than 10K steps. Tuesday was a truly amazing day with respect to physical activity.

6. I am grateful that, after the legionella was destroyed, the home didn’t smell of chlor or whatever they used to clear the waterworks.

7. I am grateful for warm weather. Not today, but the rest of the week, we had daytime temperatures of roughly 25°C.

8. I am grateful my husband’s truck’s trailer got fixed. It had been having problems with its brakes that could’ve led to it catching fire for weeks. Thankfully, each time, my husband stopped driving just in time. Last Wednesday, he texted me that it’s a miracle and the thing had been fixed.

9. I am grateful for crafty inspiration once again. I have truly been loving creating some things in polymer clay again. Unfortunately, because I used the day center’s oven today to try if that’d work better than the large care home one, it burned my project. It was just a small test case though.

10. I am grateful my sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday. She chose the name I dislike as the baby’s first name and, for the middle name, chose the name I like but spelled in a way I like a little less. I’ll get used to it though.

What are you grateful for?