A toothache, Orientation and Mobility lesson, and pizza (independent living skills series 18)

I woke up an hour after missing a call from a friend from overseas, and I was tired. The past weekend I had a toothache. I was ready for school even though I really did not want to go. When I got to school, I talked with my classmates and I helped clean up the student meeting room. Soon we all had our assignments for the day. I had another Orientation and Mobility lesson. I forgot my sunglasses at home. Because of that fact, and because I wanted to work on working in a crowded area, my teacher and I went to the mall.

First, I had to find a landmark and I had to use a map to find the first store I wanted to go to, Ross. I started off heading in that direction, mind mapping along the way. The store was easy to find. I had a fun time looking at all the clothes. I even thought about buying some thin ankle socks, but in the end I decided not to buy anything.  I backtracked my route to find Old Navy. I enjoyed seeing what that store had to offer and I even found some clothes I could wear for a job interview.

From there my teacher had me go to the food court. I had to look up and follow the signs. I used my environmental clues. Just had to follow my nose 😊

Then we went to Belk. While I was mind mapping to find a variety of departments my teacher told me how to find percentages off for when something is on sale. Believe me, the store had a lot of items on sale that day. Soon I felt comfortable doing the math and learning how much I would save on any of the great sales that were going on.

Our last stop was Dillard’s. We went around the store, having me learn the routes and how to mind map along the way. I have to admit I was getting tired because of the soreness I had in my mouth. We went up and down the escalators a few times. On my first attempt I was fearful; after a few rounds I felt confident. My teacher challenged me to go up and down two times on my own. I felt so confident when I did it on my own. I feel like I am no longer afraid. By now my tooth was really hurting and I was tired and hungry.

We went back to the center. When I got there, I was able to join in a daily living activity of making pizza. My teacher, one of our assistant daily living skills teachers, and I made the last pizza. My pizza had sauce, cheese and pepperoni on it. We cooked it for a while and when the cheese wasn’t melted my teacher broiled it for a few minutes. I had never cut a pizza with a chef knife before so I was taught to cut it by pressing hard and rocking my knife back and forth, then moving my pizza to the next section. I did not feel that comfortable doing it the first couple of times, so our main cooking teacher had to step in to help me. I love learning new things. 😊 While we were cooking our pizzas the director of Division of Blind Services stopped by. I was able to tell her about how things were going and what I felt like I needed. I felt listened too.

Soon our pizzas were done and everyone who had a piece enjoyed it. There was some left over so I grabbed one to take home to my grandpa.

After our lesson my classmates and I cleaned up the kitchen and the student lounge.

Since I was still hurting I called my grandpa. When I got home I went to the dentist. I am okay, and I have some medicine to help me feel better.

Even though I had a toothache and an added dentist visit I still had a good day.

 

 

 

Bargain Shopping and cooking fish and whole- grain biscuits (independent living skills series lesson 9)

I was early for class; I was also eager to get my orientation and mobility lesson started. Come to find out, it was cancelled again. That made me feel disappointed because I really enjoy my lessons on travel.

On top of class being cancelled, many of my classmates were out for one reason or another. So, two of my classmates went to the technology lab for a lesson, and I went and had a one on one lesson with my cooking instructor.

For those of you who do not know I am on a special needs diet known as “The No White Food Diet.” This diet basically eliminates all white food such as sugar and flour. My instructor knows about my dietary needs and he looked up a whole-grain biscuit recipe. The recipe was simple and it used some of the same skills that I had learned from the previous lesson.

Our mission was simple, go to Ever’man Cooperative Grocery & Café and get the ingredients.

The shop was busy with people and I was fascinated by the variety of products they had. If it was not for the prices of some of the products, I would shop there regularly. It felt like they had everything I would want to eat on my special needs diet, however the prices were so high.

My instructor got a small bag of coffee, and we also got the flour that we needed for the biscuits. Before we left the store, we looked at the bread, meat, produce and the vitamins. We compared prices per pound for some of the items. My instructor pointed out that since this store was a specialty store it would carry some specific items, like the flour, I would want to buy for the price they had listed, however some items, like vegetables or meat I could shop elsewhere and save money.

Once we got the flour and coffee, we went to Bailey’s Produce & Nursery. We looked at all the fresh produce like peaches, plumbs, squash, and corn. We talked about certain recipes that I could cook and how buying from a store like this would be healthier and better for my wallet. While we were shopping, one thing kept coming back to me in my mind, “How does someone like me, who has limited public transportation go get groceries?” The answer was simple, buy what I can with Amazon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables when I go shopping. Living by a bus line or using Uber would be helpful.  Pushing my feelings aside, we stopped by a fast food hamburger joint to get me some lunch.

We had one more stop to make to a discount grocery store. While at the discount grocery store I got milk and baking soda. Before we left, we stopped by the meats and produce and compared prices from the notes that I took from the Everman’s. This discount store had a lot of items that were a lot cheaper.

Once we got back to the center, we put all my ingredients into one bag. I got a special treat, I got to watch my instructor cook a piece of fish, then he told me how to peel and dice an avocado. He also diced a tomato.

His lunch looked better than my hamburger and fries. It was a great day and I learned a lot about how to be a successful visually impaired person.

P.S. Once I got back home I went ahead and baked my biscuits. They came out great. 😊

 

Inspiring Visually Impaired Youth and Cooking Breakfast (independent living skills series 8)

“Hey Amanda, you want to join us outside?” my Orientation and Mobility teacher asked as she, another Orientation and Mobility teacher and a small group of visually impaired children waited by the door. “Sure, let me grab my cane.” I responded.

After grabbing my cane, we all headed outside to a nearby field. Seeing the children laugh, run and play made me feel good.

Everyone was fine until one student said he did not want to play with the ball because there were spikes on it.

My Orientation and Mobility teacher tried to reassure the child that he was not going to get hurt and that the ball was soft. He was still hesitant, so I stepped in. “You guys know that I have sick eyes too.” I said to the children. “Let us look at this ball. See the ball is soft.” The boy was still scared that he was going to get hurt. “I can touch it, and I am not getting hurt.” I said as I patted and touched the tactical ball.

At this point, my Orientation and Mobility teacher chimed in, “It is tactical so you can feel it.” The student was still nervous about getting hit in the face, so to combat that fear I had another student throw the ball. After I caught it and threw it back, the student’s fear was relieved and they started playing again. Joining the teachers again, we talked about the Children’s summer camp and about Jingle Ball. As we talked about these things and as I watched the children play it made me stop and reflect on my own childhood. Sadly, when I was growing up I was not involved in these kinds of programs. I wish that I was because I know that these programs help children build confidence and independence early.

Soon my cooking teacher and some of my classmates showed up. So, I went back into the student conference room. I hoped we would be baking a cake, like I requested, however instead we were going to cook a simple breakfast which included; biscuits, eggs, hash browns and sausage.

To start the cooking class off, another classmate and I peeled some potatoes. I had already previously used a peeler when I peeled some carrots, so I felt confident about this task.

After the potatoes were peeled, we had to cut and dice the potatoes. I had used a chef’s knife before, so I had some confidence already in my ability to complete this task. However, I went to fast, and I had to remind myself to slow down while I was dicing. While the potatoes were being prepared and put into a large bowl another student started making biscuits. I was curious about making biscuits because the last time I made biscuits they came out harder than rocks. I was hoping for a better outcome this time.  When it was my turn to make my batch, I was nervous and I felt unsure with my cooking abilities, and I lacked confidence which was heard in my voice as I talked to my teacher.  The dough felt sticky as I kneaded it. I did not like how the dough stuck to my hands; and I was glad when my biscuits were on the cookie sheet. Once that was done, I was relieved when I could wash my hands. I then had to face my fears and I had to place my cookie sheet into the hot oven. Before I did that, my teacher gave the whole class some tips.  I was able to put the cookie sheet in the hot oven without any problems. The battle was won. While my biscuits were in the oven I watched another student cook sausage. I was then instructed to crack and whip some eggs into a bowl. I had cracked eggs before and that was no problem. However, I had to be taught how to use a whisk. Because of my Cerebral Palsy I could not be as fancy as my teacher did it, however the way I beat the eggs got the job done.  While this was going on my teacher went from station to station checking on each student. Soon, the meat, the first batch of biscuits, and the potatoes were done. All that was left was my biscuits and the eggs. The timer beeped and that meant it was time to take the biscuits from the oven. I too had to take up this challenge and get over the fear of the heat. Before I took the biscuits out of the oven, my teacher gave us a lesson on how to safely remove the pan. He also allowed me to do a practice run of where I would put the pan before I actually took it out. I took the pan out with ease. My confidence rose. I still have a lot more pans to pull from a hot oven before I get my full confidence, however I will get there.

Once I was finished with this task, I transferred the finished eggs to a serving dish. I felt good about myself at that very moment.

It was time to eat, and the staff, and all the students enjoyed the meal.

Cooking Mexican (independent living skills series lesson 3)

After a short bereavement period, I decided to return to school in my grandma’s honor. I was nervous the night before because I had missed class the previous week, but I had a lot of support from the staff and classmates.

Today we were learning how to cook Mexican. We had the choice to make: Small or large quesadillas, burrito, or hand corn tacos. During the lecture part of the class, we discussed shopping on a budget, getting assistance while shopping, and basic types of spices that would be useful to have at home.

We were all eager to get cooking. For those of us who needed practice cooking meat, we got to brown the hamburger. I was one of the students, (3 of us) cooking it.

I learned to start cooking meat on high heat, then once it’s mostly cooked, it sizzles, and you can turn the heat to medium.

While the three students were cooking the meat, the remaining students chopped onions, bell peppers, and peeled and mashed avocadoes. The students who cooked the meat learned how to use paper towels on a plate to drain the meat. We also chopped vegetables too. I chopped an onion, tomatoes, and tried to peel an avocado. During the vegetable prep, the director of Division of Blind Services stopped by. It was nice to meet her, and to be able to show off my new skills, as well as share my professional achievements.

Once all the ingredients were chopped and the meat cooked, we got to choose either tacos, quesadillas, or a burrito. I had two hard-shell tacos, and I made a quesadilla for my grandpa. I had fun with this lesson and as always I look forward to advancing my cooking skills.

 

First Day of Class: Cooking (independent living skills series lesson 1)

For those who do not know, I am enrolled in cooking, Orientation and Mobility (O and M), and Amazon Echo Dot classes at a local training center for the blind and visually impaired.

I was nervous as a frantic mouse who was trying to get away from a cat the night before. Would I do well? Would I graduate in time? What would happen if I found employment in the middle of my training? Even though all these questions were  going around in my mind, I felt comfort knowing I knew some of the staff and instructors, and two of my classmates from previous classes.

I woke up bright and early Tuesday morning; I quickly dressed and was ready for the bus way ahead of schedule. I waited and waited; when the bus did not show up for the arranged time, I called the company.  Come to find out, the company had a computer problem and I was scheduled to be picked up on Wednesday. I had to cancel my ride, and my grandpa took me to the school.

I was still early for class, so I hung out in the conference room and talked with my classmates and staff.

Soon our lecture on safety and cooking meat began. I learned all kinds of things about the safety of cooking meat.

Spaghetti was on the menu. Soon we were adding our sauce in our pans. One of the goals I identified during my pre assessment was that I need to improve my chopping and dicing skills. I was able to peel and chop garlic, along with chopping and dicing one large green  bell pepper and two mushrooms. One thing that I learned was that cutting on a clear cutting board was not helpful because of the contrasts.  I ended up using a solid white cutting board.  Once my ingredients were ready, I added it to my sauce and I let it cook, stirring as needed.

Once the sauce was finished, the teachers added in the spaghetti and hamburger that was already precooked.  We stirred everything together.

The dish came out tasty and we were able to enjoy it for our lunch. We even got to take some home to our family.

I can not wait to share the rest of my journey with you and to acquire new skills and to grow in my confidence.

 

 

Cooking on Friday Nights

Hi Blog world,

I have started to enjoy my Friday nights! Why you may ask? Because I have been cooking. One of my personal goals that I wanted to achieve this year was to improve my cooking. With guidance, from my friend Carol, I have cooked a variety of meals.

I have had the pleasure of passing on a few leftovers to some of my other friends, and it makes me happy to say that they have reported back  that they have enjoyed them. 🙂

Another thing I get to enjoy while I cook is when Carol and I get into the kitchen we have a great time. Not only do we get to talk about how to make my meal great, but we get to talk about life and about life lessons that will one day help me achieve success in my own life.

So here are my questions I would like my readers to answer: What are some of your favorite meals to cook?  What kinds of topics or  advice for life do you pass on while your cooking? Tell me in the comments below.

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene