The Wednesday HodgePodge (September 21, 2022)

Hi everyone. I haven’t blogged in several days. A lot is still on my mind, but I’m too all over the place to write it all down in a coherent way. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it, eventually. For right now, I’m joining in with the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. Volume 478. Sounds like a lot. Where were you in 1978? If you weren’t born where were you in 2008?
In 1978, my parents got married. I wasn’t born yet. As for 2008, I spent the entire year on the locked acute psychiatric unit. I got there in November of 2007 and left for the resocialization unit in March of 2009. This year was also the year I started officially dating Jeroen, whom I married in 2011.

2. Raise your hand if you remember records playing at a speed of 78 rpm? What’s a topic that when it comes up you “sound like a broken record”?
No, I don’t think I remember that. As for the second part of the question, anything that causes me stress or worry can get me talking like a broken record.

3. What’s the last thing you recorded in some way?
I rarely if ever make audio recordings. In fact, I did one once in my private diary app Day One just to see if it’d work. Can’t remember when though. Joyce supposes many will reply with something they’ve added to their DVR, but I have no idea what that even is. So yeah, like her, I’m going with something I wrote down and it’s my worries about the prospective new care home. I E-mailed them to my assigned home staff Monday night.

4. Thursday is the first day of fall (in the northern hemisphere). How do you feel about the changing seasons? Something you’re looking forward to this fall?
Fall is my least favorite season, so I don’t really like this change of the seasons. However, I do look forward to hopefully being able to capture some photos of the amazing fall colors. I’ve heard the main institution that I may move to in two weeks is surrounded by beautiful nature.

5. In what way (or ways) are you like the apple that didn’t “fall far from the tree”?
My mother half-jokingly says that I got all my negative traits from her and all my positive traits from my father. Indeed, I do share my mother’s short temper, but I also share her creative talent. In many other ways, we differ. For one thing, she hates to depend on others (except for my father). For this reason, she can’t stand those in the helping professions, including doctors. This is somewhat worrisome now that she’s in her late sixties and her health is declining. However, she considers me an attention-seeker for accepting care.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I’m so nervous! In less than an hour, I will be headed to the main institution to have my first orientation visit with the prospective new care home. I am really hoping it is as good as people say it is. Please all pray this works out for me.

How I Was Disciplined As a Child

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is “rules and discipline”. I am going to try to keep this post as non-triggering as possible, but if you endured childhood abuse, you might want to skip this post. Then again, maybe what I endured wasn’t abuse at all? Well, in that case actual survivors might want to skip it because it might come across as invalidating.

My parents rarely set clear rules when I was a child or teen. I can’t remember having curfews and, even at ten-years-old, I was allowed to stay awake in my room for as long as I wanted provided I didn’t wake anybody else.

In this sense, none of the provided questions in Maggie’s original post made much sense. I mean, I was often sent to my room as punishment, but I cannot remember what for. I also was never told how long to stay in my room, so I usually stayed for about an hour then slowly re-emerged.

My parents, both of them, also used corporal punishment. However, I get a feeling that they hit me more out of a sense of powerlessness than out of a righteous wish to set me straight. Unfortunately, corporal punishment didn’t stop when I got older. In fact, the last time I was hit, was when my parents more or less kicked me out of the house when I was nineteen. And then I don’t include the time my mother tried to slap away my hand from my hair to prevent me twirling it when I was 23 but I slapped her hand away.

My parents, like I said, didn’t have clear-cut rules, but they did have expectations about socially appropriate behavior. They had their own words for ridiculing me when I “misbehaved”.

The positive side of there not being many clear rules, was that my parents encouraged me to do things most other teens, and certainly disabled teens, would not have been allowed to. I was allowed on a four-week-long summer camp to Russia at age fourteen, being the youngest of the Dutch participants and the only one with a disability (the program officially catered towards the visually impaired). Then again, when I struggled socially in Russia and for this reason wasn’t allowed back the next year, my parents, especially my father, completely guilt-tripped me rather than showing me support.

I was mostly a rule-follower, insofar as there were rules at all. However, as a teen, I became secretive. I actually had my father drive me to a meeting of people with mental illness when I was seventeen, while I’d led him to believe it was a disability meeting (because one of the people there was in a wheelchair). I’m pretty sure he knew, but he never confronted me.

I don’t have children of my own, so I cannot say whether my upbringing influenced the way I discipline them. However, I did find I got easily triggered when I got the impression my sister and brother-in-law used corporal punishment on my older niece (this was before the younger one was born). Thankfully, they were able to reassure me that they didn’t.

A Courageous Choice

I was a shy, withdrawn teen who was loyal to my parents even though they didn’t have my best interest in mind. I mean, if they’d had their way, I’d have gone to university and lived on my own straight out of high school in 2005, even though I could barely take care of myself. That had been their attitude towards raising “responsible” children ever since I was a little girl: if I couldn’t – or in their opinion was too strong-willed to – learn a skill as a child, I’d learn it as an adult by myself. Or not. In any case, there was no safety net.

Though I do indeed feel that children benefit from learning by doing themselves, this was not how it worked in my family. I don’t blame my parents for not having the patience to teach me self-care skills, given that I got frustrated very easily, but I do hold them responsible for not having accepted the help they could have gotten. Though it might not have led to me becoming as independent as they’d want me to be, my current situation is about as far from that goal as can be. Then again, my parents hold me responsible for that. And I, in a sense, do too.

I was reminded of this situation when I read a journaling prompt that asked me to reflect on a courageous choice I made as a teen that’s still helping me today. I immediately thought of the choice to go into blindness training rather than straight to university once I’d graduated high school. Though this decision itself did not by far lead to the self-awareness I needed to try to get into long-term care, it was my first step into the care system. And, of course, as my parents predicted, I never fully got out.

Back in June of 2005, when I accepted the blindness training center psychologist’s offer to put me on the waiting list for the basic training program, I still had my head deep in the sand about my lack of independence skills. The psychologist did not. He suggested I go to a training home after finishing the program. He probably knew that, like many young people blind from birth, and especially those from families like mine who value academics over life skills, I wouldn’t be ready to move into independent living after a four-month, basic program. I wasn’t. I never would be. Till this day, I’m not sure whether this is my blindness or my autism or my mild cerebral palsy or what. I believe strongly that, with multiple disabilities, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, the authorities approving my long-term care funding, eventually agreed.

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

Joy in June

Hi all! Here I am with my monthly update on my 2022 word of the year: JOY. I am joining the Word of the Year linky and Lisa’s One Word linky.

Last year, the month of June was rather tumultuous. This year was no different at first. It started with the manager telling me that temp workers had to be put in place to work in my home more often than usual and this would mean I would get temping staff to work my one-on-one shifts too. I wasn’t amused and this caused me to be rather stubborn and strong-willed at first.

I can’t say that working with temp staff has gotten easier over the month. All I can hope for is that, by summer’s end, enough regular staff will have been hired.

Thankfully, there were a couple of extraordinarily fantastical experiences that helped me find joy this month. One was seeing my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog on the 13th. Of course, when picking my word, I intended to enjoy the ordinary. I do that, too.

That being said, I do need to practise being grateful in my heart with any blessings coming my way. My birthday celebrations this weekend show this: my parents gave me presents they’d gotten at the thrift store and, while I was genuinely happy with one of them, I wasn’t with the rest. Of course, I tried not to show it, but I need to work on cultivating a grateful heart even in this situation.

I remember, when I picked “joy” as my word of the year, being in doubt about possibly choosing a word such as “creative”. That, though, sounded too easy. Indeed, most joy I’ve found over the month of June has been with the creative process. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been genuinely enjoying the polymer clay craft in particular. I have a couple pieces that still need a few coats of glaze, but which then I’m eager to show you all.

With respect to finding daily notes or reminders of my word, in the form of quotes, Bible verses, etc., I haven’t been doing so well. I collected a few but then stopped. I might want to collect reminders of my word whenever I see them rather than focusing on one per day as a requirement.

Overall, the month ended better than it started. This may be because this weekend is my birthday weekend (tomorrow is my actual birthday). Then again, I think I said this in April and May too, so maybe the fact that I’m writing my monthly updates later in the month, makes me remember the joys of the last part of the month better, since they’re more recent.

How was your June?

#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?

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.

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?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (May 18, 2022)

Hi everyone. Joyce has prepared some fun questions for the Wednesday HodgePodge this week, so I’m joining in again. Here goes.

1. What’s something that makes you feel stressed? How do you cope?
Uhm, me, stressed? 😉 Seriously though, there are a lot of things that make me stressed. The most likely stressors for me are when my routine gets disrupted and when I get frustrated during a craft project or other activity that’s important to me.

As for how I cope, well, usually, uhm, I don’t. I do try to calm down by reminding myself that whatever’s going on isn’t the end of the world. However, most of the time I need someone else to sort out the problem I’m facing for me before I can calm down.

2. What’s a food you eat that evokes a memory? Explain.
I honestly don’t know, since I don’t eat most foods from my childhood anymore (or at least not in the form my parents used to cook them). I also don’t have many memories attached to foods I do currently eat. I mean, I clearly remember the licorice “pie” my staff and fellow patients at the psych hospital made for my wedding, but I haven’t eaten that brand of licorice in years.

3. This week’s Hodgepodge lands on National Visit Your Relatives Day. Will you celebrate by visiting a relative? If so is travel involved? Geographically, who is your nearest relative (not counting those living in your own house)?
I had no idea this holiday even existed, so no, I won’t be celebrating and no, I didn’t happen to visit a relative today anyway.

I am not sure whether in-laws count as relatives. If they don’t, my parents are my closest relatives geographically. They live a little over an hour’s drive and about 100km away. If in-laws count too, my sisters-in-law are probably my nearest relatives geographically. They are about an hour’s drive but only about 60km away. Both live in the same town but not in the same house.

4. What’s your most frequently used emoji? Do you make more phone calls, send more emails, or mainly text to communicate with friends and family?
My most frequently used emoji is the slightly smiling emoji followed by either the purple heart or the laughing emoji.

I mainly text to communicate with my husband, although we do talk on the phone nearly everyday too. With other family, well, I call or text them every once in a while but I wouldn’t say either is frequent. E-mail is used for discussion lists and contact with my staff mostly.

5. Tell us the story behind a favorite piece of furniture.
Okay, I’m going with the desk I have my computer and phone on right now. This one, my father bought for me on a marketplace site in like 2006. I think the person selling it was located in Fryslân in the north of the country, about a two-hour drive from my family home. The desk isn’t too large, but it cannot be taken apart. My father drove an older Nissan Micra, so a small car. The desk just about exactly fit inside the back of the car. Or actually, just about exactly didn’t fit. As a result, my father had to drive while the back of his car was open. This was quite an interesting ride. That being said, I’ll still have to ask my father how he got my tandem bike from their home to the psych hospital in Nijmegen, either in or on that same Nissan Micra or on a train.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
All this talk of relatives and family makes me want to talk to my sister. She’s expecting a baby. That is, unless she’s left me out of the loop, the baby’s still inside of her even though she’s past her due date. She said she’d probably let loose what she’ll be calling the child already. I’ve heard two names so far, one of which I like and one of which I, well, dislike quite a bit. I’m just hoping mother and baby will be well and that my sister can have a home birth, as that’s what she’s wished for all along. With her other daughter (she’s expecting a girl again), she did give birth at home but the child had to be taken to hospital a few hours later anyway.

All this is making me feel all sorts of feelings. In a sense, I wish I were closer to my family of origin, but I know they don’t agree with the choices I needed to make (ie. going into long-term care). My sister also lives about two hours and 180km away from me. It’s all rather sad really.