#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 23, 2020)

I’m late to join in with #WeekendCoffeeShare, but better late than never. I just had coffee. Didn’t track my fluid intake today, as I was a bit lax with it, but I also had water, yoghurt drinnks and green tea.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you how your week has been? Hopefully the weather has been treating you well. Here in the Netherlands, the week started off pretty well, but over the week-end, we’ve had a storm once again and lots of rain too.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I did some soap making again early in the week. I made a yellow, banana-scented soap that actually turned out quite well on Monday. I haven’t tried my hand at bath bomb making again this week, but I did try out a bath bomb I’d made last week in the bath last Friday.

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that this week has been pretty good in the physical activity department. I got over 200 active minutes, 150 being recommended. I wasn’t very active every day, but on the days that I was, I went above my daily goal. In fact, I probably was more active than my Fitbit activity tracker claims I was, as it doesn’t seem to count side-by-side bike rides, as I’m not steering then. I discovered that I really like one of the two side-by-side bikes we have at the day center. With the other, I cannot reach the pedals and I don’t like it if I can’t pedal along.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that over the week-end, I’ve mostly been relaxing. My husband would have come over to take me to a nearby city called Hengelo. I was planning on buying wireless headphones with noise canceling functionality there and then we’d eat out. Unfortunately, my husband was sick, so he didn’t come over.

I bought the headphones I wanted online. Then after I’d ordered them, I discovered that the mobile app they work with, which I’d considered an advantage, had really poor ratings on the app store. Thankfully, the headphones work without the app too and actually the app works fine for me. I’m not sure I’ll keep the app though, as I don’t really need it. The headphones, like I said, have noise canceling. I was a little disappointed in how it worked the first time, but then again I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never had noise canceling headphones before, after all and my room was relatively quiet when I tried it. I will try it out at day activities tomorrow, as that’s what I intended the headphones for. The headphones also have Bluetooth connectivity, which I’d never tried before either. I love that, as I’m now able to walk around the room while having my headphones on. I may try to go onto the elliptical while using them tomorrow.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (February 8, 2020) #TToT

It’s Saturday and I haven’t published a blog post in a few days. Today I am bored and slightly depressed, so I thought I’d join in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) to lift up my mood.

1. Soap making. On Sunday, I asked my husband to sort through my soaping supplies. He didn’t need to though, as the essentials were all in a wheeled shopping bag. My mother-in-law took me back to the facility on Sunday evening, so she put the entire thing in the back of her car and helped me get it inside. I took it to day activities on Monday and have been making soap a few times this past week already.

2. Ordering new supplies. I didn’t have a lot of soap base in the bag, so I had an excuse to order new soaping supplies. Besides new soap base, I ordered bath bomb and bath salt making supplies. I never made bath bombs or bath salts before. I am really excited to try.

3. The cooking activity at day activities. I used to do a simple cooking activity with the staff intern on Wednesday. Now that her schedule has changed, we do it on Tuesday. This past Tuesday, we in fact had ingredients for two recipes: ham and cheese sandwiches and a creamy cookie dessert. The reason is that last week, we didn’t do the cooking activity because I had a meeting with the behavior specialist then. The intern had time to help me with both. We ate the sandwiches for lunch and had the cookie dessert later in the afternoon. It was extra gratifying, as the clients on my side of my day activities group can’t have sandwiches due to swallowing issues, but most can have the dessert. We served the sandwiches to the other side and I actually had both.

4. My weight. I got weighed in on Wednesday and I had a small gain of 200 grams (less than half a pound). I attribute that to all the treats I had on Tuesday though. I’m also happy, because people actually notice that I’m skinnier (or rather, less fat, of course) than I used to be.

5. Some long’ish walks. I mean, no, I don’t walk for an hour like I used to at my old day activities and with my home support staff, but I did have some walks of about half an hour. Despite not having walked in the evenings much this past week, I did manage to get to 175 active minutes.

6. The support from my assigned staff. I was somewhat distressed this past week, as I’m still not fully recovered from the meltdowns I had last week. However, my support staff are all very helpful.

Like, yesterday I had a meeting with my nurse from the mental health agency. When I explained my difficulty coping with the noise at day activities, she started to suggest I move to an apartment building for autistic people and occupy myself there or go work at a sheltered workshop. This isn’t suitable and my staff helped me explain this to my nurse.

7. French fries and ice cream. My husband said on Thursday that he couldn’t come by for a long visit today but could take me out to have some fries and a snack for dinner. Today, he canceled. Of course, I miss my husband, but I didn’t miss the fries, as my staff thought it’d be a good idea to order fries and snacks for the entire home. We also had ice cream, which was still left over in the freezer from Christmas. I had the last serving of whipped cream-flavored ice cream.

I can’t get to ten, but I’m definitely in a brighter mood now. I guess that should be my eighth grateful on this list. What have you been grateful for lately?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 2, 2020)

It’s February, yay. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare again, even though I’m not 100% sure I feel like writing. I had a lot of green tea and only one cup of coffee today. It’s interesting that, at my husband’s and in-laws’, I mostly drink green tea, whereas in the care facility I almost always drink coffee. Anyway, let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was a hard one. I don’t even remember what I did on Monday. On Tuesday, I was in a near-constant panic at day activities. I eventually asked to go to the behavior specialist’s office to see if I could schedule an appointment with her to talk. However, the behavior specialist on my case wasn’t in the office. Another one was, but I couldn’t quite make it clear what I needed and so I went back downstairs.

That evening, I had another huge crying fit. I took a PRN lorazepam, but still didn’t sleep all night. In the morning, I kept crying. My assigned support worker informed me that the behavior specialist responsible for my care was on sick leave, but she called the one who’d been in the office on Tuesday.

She visited me at day activities at around 11AM and I talked for about an hour. I talked about all that I was overwhelmed by. Particularly, I felt that I need more support at day activities. This still needs some sorting out, but mostly I do now get an assigned staff member each day.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that from then on, I felt okay and haven’t had panic attacks or meltdowns. I do struggle with some level of overwhelm and anxiety, but it’s manageable.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that on Thursday, the family of a potential new client came for a visit. This stressed me out a little, because I thought another client coming to my home means less care for me. This isn’t the case, the staff said.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I traveled by train to Arnhem yesterday. A transregional ParaTransit taxi drove me to Deventer station. There, a travel assistant was waiting to help me onto the train. She apparently needed to help someone in Arnhem next, so she actually traveled all the way to Arnhem with me rather than just helping me get on the train. My husband picked me up from the station at Arnhem again. It was a relatively comfortable way of getting eased into traveling by train again.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband and I had pizza at our in-laws’ yesterday. Then today my mother-in-law would be driving me back to the facility, so she picked me up at my husband’s at 4PM. We first went to my in-laws’ house again, where we walked the dog and ate fried potatoes, broccoli and chicken. I had a Magnum almond ice cream for dessert.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I finally brought some of my soaping supplies to the facility with me today. One of our home staff was leaving this week, so I had originally intended to make her a soap earlier. Thankfully, she will be working at another home with this facility, so when I do make the soap, I can bring it to her.

How has your week been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 19, 2020)

Hi and welcome to another installment of #WeekendCoffeeShare. I can have coffee again, as my flu is gone. It was gone already at the end of last week, but for some time, I still didn’t really enjoy coffee.

I also tried Optimel, which is a type of no-fat yoghurt drink, today. I initially thought it was based off buttermilk, the idea of which has me so disgusted that I don’t even want to try it. It is based off no-fat yoghurt though and it was good. If you want to try it too, I think we have some in the fridge.

If we were having coffee, Optimel or another drink, I’d share that this week has been eventful. I already wrote about it a lot during the week, as I seem to have gotten quite a bit of writing mojo back. That’s good! I also enjoy the comments on my blog and am trying to engage with you lovely readers more. I also love reading and commenting on other blogs and seeing people respond to my comments.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the week-end was good overall. I had some nightmares again, but was able to keep them from interfering with my day for the most part. Still, I’m considering raising the issue of my vivid, bad dreams with my mental health treatment team.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband didn’t have time to collect all my soaping supplies yet, but we’re probably going to sort through them another time together. I think I may order some supplies online this coming week, but am not sure. My husband and I agreed on throwing out all the ingredients, as they’ve probably gone past their expiration date and aren’t too expensive. At least not if I only buy what I need and don’t end up ordering random stuff in large quantities.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that we succeeded at getting my photo taken at the photographer’s yesterday. This is for my public transportation pass. There are really strict rules on photos for IDs and passports, but mine isn’t due for renewal for another five years. I want the transportation pass so that I can travel to my husband by train. You can get an anonymous one too, but then you can’t load discount subscriptions or the like onto it. Now I will still need to digitally apply for the pass.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband and I ate out at La Place, a restaurant chain we often have lunch at, yesterday evening. It was okay, but rather expensive for the quantity and quality of the food. Lunch usually is much better.

If we were having coffee, I’d be sharing that I was an overachiever according to my Fitbit yesterday. It probably says so if I get over 12,500 steps a day. I got 12,700. Today I made up for it, as I sat on my ass almost all day.

Gratitude List (January 17, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I last wrote a gratitude list. This past week has been truly mixed, but I still feel there’s enough I can be thankful for. I’m joining in with #TToT again.

1. Domino’s Pizza. Last week, I went home to my husband for the week-end. When we were in the car, my husband asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. I said “Pizza” and my husband in turn asked me whether there’s a Domino’s in Zevenaar, the city closest to our home in Lobith. I said there is. However, we’d been taking an alternate route to Lobith, so my husband said we wouldn’t drive through Zevenaar, so did I mind getting pizza elsewhere? Then he started teasing me, saying stuff like “You’re still a bit sick right?” and wouldn’t it be better if we had macaroni with lots of veggies. Eventually though, he did drive to Zevenaar and we had Domino’s pizza. I loved my chicken kebab pizza!

2. The flu being gone. I feel pretty much as well as possible now.

3. Meeting the neighbors. On Sunday, our next door neighbors organized a New Year’s gathering for the people in our street and the surrounding neighborhood. My husband and I are new, so as a kind gesture to me, they had each person in attendance introduce themselves and also describe the appearance of the person next to them. I liked it. The neighbors seem nice. I at first wasn’t too sure how much to disclose about my situation, but eventually did manage to explain some without launching into some type of self-centered and depressing monologue.

4. The soap making plans. I told you about it already on Monday. I’m hoping my husband will be able to bring my supplies tomorrow. He did ask me to think of another activity we can do together in Lobith, since I asked him to bring all my supplies. I after all didn’t feel it’d be a good idea to let him sort through my stuff. Now that I think of it, several ideas come to mind.

5. Ylang Ylang essential oil. I had this in my diffuser on Monday night when I was too hyper to sleep. It’s a lovely scent.

6. Over 8,000 steps on Tuesday. I walked three times. The other days have also been relatively good in the activity department.

7. The peanut butter-chocolate smoothie bowl we made on Wednesday.

8. Chatting to some fellow clients. Like I’ve said before, most people in my home are non-speaking and severely intellectually disabled, but there are some clients in other homes and at day activities who can speak and with whom I can have a normal by non-disabled standards conversation. I had some nice interactions this past week.

9. Lorazepam. Like I said yesterday, I was in a bit of a crisis. Thankfully, the PRN lorazepam I took worked.

10. Getting my Braille display fixed. Some dots had been stuck up for a few weeks. I thought the thing just needed cleaning, so I was hesitant to call the company to get a tech guy to come over. Turned out two cells were broken. I’m so happy the thing is fixed now. I did okay reading with these few dots stuck up, but still, it was a bit annoying.

What have you been thankful for lately?

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 ntoo 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.

Writer’s Workshop: Collections

This week, one of the Writer’s Workshop prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It is about things you collect. It definitely appealed to me, as at least as a child an teen, I used to collect a lot. Now I seem to collect things you can use and that I actually intended to use when buying them, but then I end up rarely using them. Does that count as collecting?

As a child, I, like most other children, had a large collection of stuffed animals. I also had a lot of Barbie dolls and such. In particular though, I had lots of PlayMobil® figures and stuff for them. When I was about eleven, I was even gifted a large box of PlayMobil® by someone on a garage sale. I had previously visited the garage sale and bought some of his stuff and by this time he probably wanted to get rid of it all so bad. That plus seeing how much I enjoyed it and came back each time to buy more stuff, probably convinced him to give it all to me. I however did play with it a lot until I was about fourteen. I particularly remember the games I played with some Native American-looking PlayMobil® figures whom I called Ingassa and Maranna. I had no idea at the time what were real Native American names (still don’t to be honest). I would always say these figures came from Costa Rica.

Later, I collected gemstones and crystals. I had some interest in their presumed healing properties, but mostly just liked looking at the colors and feeling their shapes. I had a lot of quartz crystals, including amethyst, rose quartz and citrine. I also loved calcites and had both the green and honey-colored ones. I at age twelve did a large research project on mineralogy. I however had no idea one of my stones was a form of asbestos. When I found out what it was while living on my own in 2007, I almost landed in crisis thinking I or one of my parents would develop cancer from it.

By the time I came to college age, I didn’t really collect anything anymore. I don’t even know where my crystals are, even though I know I had them at my student apartment. I can’t see the colors now anyway, although I at least used to have a file in which I wrote which one was which so may be able to experience some joy from them anyway.

When I was about 25 though, I developed an interest in crafting and started buying craft supplies. For some stupid reason, I started with card making, which is a pretty inaccessible craft for someone who is totally blind. I probably spent over €1000 on supplies before finally giving it up. Then came jewelry-making, polymer clay, rainbow loom and some others, all hard for someone with my disabilities. I finally settled on melt and pour soap making, although I haven’t done this since coming to the care facility. The good part is though, even if my soaps don’t turn out aesthetically well, I can still use them, so I don’t just collect soap stuff for the sake of it.

More recently, I started collecting all kinds of scented stuff. I have a large collection of essential oils at my husband’s and my home. I also have wax melts and of course the fragrance oils I use for soap making. I love those. Still, my diffuser is probably still packed from the move. I need to ask my husband where it is, so I can bring it to the facility.

When I collect something, I’m usually more interested in researching the stuff I collect than actually using it. I loved learning about lotion making when I first started soap making, but I rarely actually made any lotions. I also have a ton of books on aromatherapy (most thankfully free or through my Bookshare subscription), but rarely make any blends. Of course, the reason is partly that I cannot tell how many drops of a particular oil I put into the blend. I would love to ask my staff for some help with this, so that I can make diffuser blends or even massage oils. But first, I need to find my oils and my diffuser, as I don’t want this to end like my card making obsession, where I spend another €1000 (that this time I don’t have) before realizing this isn’t for me.

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 15, 2019)

Hi everyone, how are you? Let’s catch up over a cup of coffee or once again green tea in my case. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was full of ups and some downs, though the downs weren’t as low as I’d expected. As regular readers of this blog know, I will be moving to the care facility in Raalte in eight days. My staff, my husband and I have been doing some preparation in regards to my leaving my current day activities and going to start up in Raalte.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally told my mother I’ll be going to the care facility. I sugarcoated it a little, saying I’d be staying at my care agency in Raalte during the week and going home to my husband on week-ends. As a result, at first she wasn’t sure I’d be actually sleeping at the care facility. After a little “but I thought you were doing so well” and all, she wished me good luck at the place.

I am not 100% sure how to feel about it. In a way, this seemingly supportive attitude contradicts my memories from years before and that is hard to adapt to. However, I’m trying to be gratefulfor her support. I haven’t talked to my father or sister about it yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my sister gave birth to a baby girl, Janneke Sietske, last Tuesday. She is named Janneke after my sister’s and my grandma who died last year and Sietske after one of my brother-in-law’s grandmothers. Janneke had some health issues early on and we haven’t been able to visit yet. We’re planning on visiting her next week though.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that today, my husband and I made some small banana soaps for the staff at day activities. I’ll give them to them on Friday, when I have my leave-taking party.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my last appoitnment with my nurse practitioner went okay. He has referred me to the mental health agency in Raalte. I haven’t seen the referral letter, but he said he’d written about my trauma but that, for now, here and now work is most appropriate for me. I did try to get it through that ultimately, I do want to process my trauma. I’m not sure that will happen, as most likely I can’t get trauma therapy without at least a C-PTSD diagnosis if not DID/OSDD. Precisely getting my trauma-related issues assessed is a huge trigger for me.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I finally finished The Fault in Our Stars, which I started reading already three weeks ago. I will hopefully be able to finish at least one more book before the end of the month.

What’s been up with you lately?

Where #SoCS

Where am I going? Where am I even right now? Yes, I am currently at home, writing this blog post. I go to day activities four days a week and spend the rest of the time at home or at my in-laws. I don’t blog nearly as much during the time I’m home as I’d want to.

I know I’m in the process of going into long-term care. It is an incredibly slow-moving process, so I can’t write much about it.

I have developed an interest in reading. I want to be blogging more about books. Not that I want to be a “book blogger”. I still want this blog to remain as eclectic as it has been so far.

But I want to do something with my life other than being in the process of going into long-term care. I don’t mean I want to work a real job or go back to university. Or maybe I do, but I know I can’t. Then at least reading should satisfy that need for doing something with my life.

Maybe I’ll someday pick up crafting again. Soap making or jewelry-making. I tried to make my own melt and pour soap at day activities again last Monday. It went okay. I needed a doable amount of help. Same probably with jewelry-making. At least with making the simple string necklaces I am used to making. They aren’t even bad. But they aren’t something I can blog about.

And as it seems, I’ve dedicated everything I do in life to the purpose of blogging about it. Well, not exactly. Of course I’m not going into long-term care to have a more interesting life to blog about. That seems like something my parents would think, since I did at one point feel like becoming a mother mostly for that purpose.

I can have a much more interesting life if I just live. And if I find joy in what I do. That way, I can help spread positivity. And I hope that by sharing where I’m going with a positive attitude, I can have an influence on the world, or at least the WordPress community. I don’t need to be an “influencer” – such an overused word – to be of influence. I just need to be me.

I am writing this post for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt this week is “Where”.

Soap: The Fun of Bath and Body Product Making #AtoZChallenge

The First Soap I Made

Welcome to day 19 in the #AtoZChallenge. I’m so excited to share today’s topic, as for today, I will be talking about a special interest of mine.

In the summer of 2016, I discovered soap making. An online friend of mine, who is also blind, had been doing it for years, but I hadn’t given it much thought. Then I decided to buy a starter kit. It contained melt and pour soap base, colorants, fragrance oils, a mold and other supplies you would need. I went about making my first soaps and they turned out okay. I need to say here that I’d tried a ton of other crafting hobbies before, including card making, polymer clay and jewelry making. Though my jewelry turned out okay’ish too, all my other craft projects turned out rubbish. I didn’t notice it at first, so I had some reservations re my soap making too.

The good thing about soap making, is that the result, even if it isn’t visually appealing, can be used. I have several soaps that were too bad for gifting, but I use them in my bathroom.

I cannot make soap completely independently (yet). I have tried, but then my kitchen became a huge mess. However, my soaps usually turn out pretty good if I get some help.

Besides soap, I’ve made body butters and lip balms. I like making those too, but they’re more work. I’ve also tried my hand at body lotions, but they never turned out good. I still would love to make those someday, as their visual appearance isn’t as important as with soaps.

The friend I mentioned above doesn’t use colorants in her soaps. I am still figuring out how to work this thing out, as white soaps don’t appeal as much to sighted people, but with colorants, you have to be careful to match the color and fragrance. I’ve made a few big mistakes in this respect, including a purple soap with coffee fragrance.