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?

An Unexpectedly Productive Monday

Today, I’m feeling better than I was expecting when I woke up this morning. I mean, I didn’t sleep well last night. I was ruminating a lot into the wee hours of the night and then kept being woken by a fellow client’s screams. This client can’t speak or use any form of alternative augmentative communication. The staff think he was in pain, but they couldn’t figure out what was bothering him. Thankfully, he seems calmer now. I hope he actually is.

I had a pretty productive day today. In the morning, I went to my GP. I had to discuss how I’m doing with respect to my abdominal discomfort now that I’m on one magnesium tablet a day. Together, we decided to leave it at this for now. I’m not totally well, but I’m as well as possible.

I also asked him to do a breast exam, because I’ve been feeling some discomfort. I felt okay with a male examining my breasts, after all he’s a doctor. Thankfully, he found no abnormalities, but he referred me for a mammogram just in case anyway. It’s been scheduled for this coming Thursday, which I consider really early given the state of healthcare and the pandemic and all.

In the afternoon, I decided to sort through my polymer clay stash to throw out the clay I can no longer work with. I mean, I know all clay can be made workable if conditioned enough, but I just feel that it’s too much work for me given how totally crumbly some of them are and how some of them literally get shredded by my pasta machine.

In the evening, I went for a walk, made another polymer clay unicorn and decorated my room for Christmas. Yes, I’m early for someone from the Netherlands, as most people don’t start decorating until after St. Nicholas, but I won’t be celebrating that anyway.

How was your day?

How I Cope With Loneliness

Today in her Sunday Poser, Sadje asks us about loneliness. She describes the experience as the feeling she gets when her family or friends can’t celebrate something important (such as the seasonal holidays) with her. This is one aspect of loneliness indeed. I feel lonely, left out even, knowing that my sister will be celebrating St. Nicholas with my parents next week and I haven’t been invited. Okay, she has a child for whom this holiday is more meaningful than it should be for me as an adult. Still, I am reminded of the last year we celebrated St. Nicholas with my family, or rather, the first year we didn’t. That was because of me: I had been admitted to the mental hospital shortly before and my parents didn’t want the hassle of having to watch me while I was on leave, so at first they suggested they celebrate the occasion without me. That year, my sister refused and the celebration didn’t go forward at all. Now that my sister has a child, there’s no way she’s going to care about whether I’ll be included or not. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’d rather have me excluded.

Loneliness, however, can take other forms too. Like I mentioned last month, loneliness comes from within a lot of the time. That’s why you can feel lonely when you’re surrounded by people. I often felt this way in the high school cafeteria.

I find that what helps me cope with loneliness is to surround myself with positive influences, both in the form of people and activities. I mean, I could dwell on my family’s rejection of me, but I do have a loving husband and loving in-laws. I also have caring staff and nice fellow clients, some of whom I consider friends.

It also helps me to engage in fulfilling hobbies, such as writing, reading and crafts. Through my blog and Facebook groups, I feel a genuine sense of connection to the outside world. Reading helps me escape my problems, including my sense of isolation. Crafts distract me and help me feel that I can be productive in a way. All of these help me overcome my sense of loneliness.

How do you deal with loneliness?

Gratitude List (November 27, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone on this rainy Saturday! I hope all my U.S.-based readers had a great Thanksgiving. Here, it isn’t a thing. However, I like to show thankfulness everyday. For this reason, I’m doing a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful I reached my goal of 10K steps a day once during the past seven days. Okay, it was on Sunday and I only got (barely) more than 5K steps one other day this past week (Monday). The rest of the week, I’ve been rather sedentary. However, I’m still grateful I can apparently still walk 10K steps in a day.

2. Speaking of which, I am also grateful I managed 15 minutes on the elliptical today. It didn’t earn me much in the way of steps, but at least my muscles haven’t totally atrophied so far.

3. I am grateful I had a good talk with the current behavior specialist for my care home on Tuesday. It was my second time meeting her. She helped me clarify some of the things I wanted to talk about with my nurse practitioner too.

4. I am also grateful my appt with my nurse practitioner went pretty well as a result too. I had originally considered quitting treatment with him, but decided against this after the talk with the behavior specialist. Overall, my appt with my nurse practitioner was relatively constructive. We decided on some things to make our sessions more productive. For instance, next time I E-mail him about not being well, he’ll try to call me back so we can assess the seriousness of the situation and what can/needs to be done rather than him telling me to wait for our next appt.

5. I am grateful I am sleeping slightly better lately than I used to. I am still not usually getting the nine hours of sleep a night I need to function optimally, but I’m getting close.

6. I am grateful I have been able to pick up the polymer clay craft again after a bit of a break when I’d finished the owl. I created a unicorn yesterday and it looks pretty cool.

7. I am grateful for French fries yesterday in celebration of St. Nicholas. The holiday isn’t till December 5th, but we celebrated it early at my care home.

8. I am grateful I got nice presents. Well, my husband will actually get the bill, as like I explained before, the care facility doesn’t pay for St. Nicholas presents. I had E-mailed my staff a wishlist too. As it turned out, I didn’t get the specific things I’d had on my wishlist, but I got similar things. I got a number of cookie cutters to use with my polymer clay and a little box of fruit candies.

9. I am grateful my assigned home staff, who was my one-on-one this evening, helped me through some tough flashbacks. I did ultimately decide to take a PRN quetiapine, but I think I really benefited from my staff’s help too.

10. I am grateful my loved ones so far aren’t directly affected by COVID, in the sense that I don’t have any direct family members or friends who’ve contracted the virus.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 21, 2021)

Hi everyone. Today is a rather mixed Sunday weather-wise. We had sunshine almost all morning and early afternoon, but now we’re having clouds and rain. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had a late afternoon coffee (I normally have them at around 2:15PM and it’s almost 3:30 now). I am likely to skip my soft drink, which I normally have at around 3:30, and have some water again when my one-on-one comes on at four o’clock. If you’d like a drink, you’re welcome to grab a soft drink or water or get a Senseo in the kitchen. Let’s catch up.

I already shared on Friday that this week was a rather meh one. So, if we were having coffee, I’d try to focus on other things. I’d share that I’ve been trying to pick up the polymer clay craft again. Yesterday, I finished three labels with “Bedankt” (Dutch for “Thanks”) on them for the three staff who are leaving soon. I still need to cure them in the oven and add glitter glue for decoration. I’m probably going to do that this evening.

I will still need to make real presents for each of the three staff, because I don’t think just a simple label, even if it’s hand-made, is enough. One of the staff is leaving at the end of this month. The other two aren’t leaving till the end of December, so I still have time for those.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been oohing and aahing at some polymer clay supplies I want to get for Christmas or St. Nicholas (December 5). You need to actually pay for your own St. Nicholas presents, but I agreed with my assigned staff that she could spend around €15 on them and I’d send her a wishlist which she could pick something from, so that I’d still feel a sense of surprise. We do get a small Christmas hamper from the day center, so I told my day activities staff she might talk to my assigned home staff about ordering from the same company as to save on shipping. Some things on my wishlist include cutters, pushmolds and texture sheets.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I bought a new essential oil diffuser. I couldn’t seem to clean the other one properly anymore, so all scents were starting to smell the same. I made a note in my Reminders app to clean this one each month, but with how often I’m currently using it, I’ll probably make that every other week. The new one has a remote and two mist settings for normal and strong mist.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband came by to take me out to lunch this afternoon. We’d talked about going to a particular snack and dine place we’d been to two years ago and I’d looked forward to it all week. It was really good back then. Now, not really. The burger we ordered was okay’ish. Not very bad, but not good either. In addition, we had to wait forever to place our order and the staffer really was quite curt. This time, we were asked for our CoronaCheck code, but not our ID, as is required. Oh well.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (December 5, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone. I hope you’re well. Last week, I said I’d like to make gratitude lists a weekly habit again. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. My mood being slightly better than it was last week. I seem to be slowly climbing out of the pit of depression and overload. I am still in crisis multiple times a week, but it’s no longer an almost-daily occurrence.

2. St. Nicholas. This is celebrated today here in the Netherlands. Usually, kids get gifts then. We no longer celebrate it in our family and my niece is probably too young to understand the concept too. We don’t really celebrate it in the care facility this year either. However, we do have lots of special St. Nicholas candies.

3. My mother-in-law. She visited me on Thursday, which was good. I really had a good time.

4. Reading. Like I said earlier, the second novel in Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy is out this week and I immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. It’s a true page-turner.

5. Playing cards. I love to play the game of mau-mau or “bullying”, as it is called here.

6. A rainbow-colored ball. I can’t remember how I got it, but it’s among my toys. I have been loving throwing it back and forth with the staff.

7. The snoezelen® equipment we got at the home now. I may have said before that there’s an empty room that the staff had turned into a snoezelen® room when the day center closed. Then we got a client temporarily placed in that room, so its sensory equipment had to be removed. That client left though and it’s unlikely we’ll get a new placement anytime soon. So our staff bought some more sensory equipment. We now have a special sensory bed with speakers installed in it. I lay on the bed yesterday and loved feeling and hearing the soothing music.

8. Getting to the psychiatrist sooner than expected. Originally, I heard me appt isn’t till sometime in January. Thankfully though, the psychiatrist had a cancellation or something, so I was fitted in for December 22. Though my mood is slowly lifting, I am still glad I can see her.

9. Essential oils once again. Okay, I’ve shared about those before, but I keep discovering new blends. Yesterday I had one that included geranium and I hated the smell. I quickly emptied the diffuser though and then tried another blend.

10. Sleep. I haven’t had nightmares in a week or so. At least not ones that haunt me during the day. That’s definitely a win!

Yay, I got to ten. I know some are repeats, but that’s okay. And at least I didn’t include a ton of food-related thankfuls.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Ten of The Most Memorable Gifts I Ever Received

Originally, I wanted to post about the lovely box filled with snacks and gifts I received for Christmas at day activities earlier this week. It’s a tradition here that employers give their employees such a box for Christmas. Of course, day activities isn’t a real job, but we get a Christmas box anyway. Ours was even more special, since it had been partly personalized for each of us by our staff. Maybe I could devote a post to this box, but then I remembered that Finish the Sentence Friday is about gifts too. I am twisting the prompt a little and not just writing about the gifts I received as a child or for Christmas specifically. After all, like I may’ve said before, Christmas isn’t as important a gift-giving celebration as St. Nicholas on December 5. Besides, I don’t always remember which gifts I got for St. Nick and which for my birthday. For this reason, I’m creating a list of the most memorable gifts I received throughout my life.

1. Wally, the stuffed whale. I got her when I came home from the NICU at three months of age. I slept with her till I was nineteen. Yes, I slept with stuffed animals that long! In fact, I still do. Now I don’t sleep with Wally anymore, but I still own her.

2. Roza, my favorite doll. No, Rosa isn’t spelled with a z in Dutch, but I had no idea. I got her from my paternal grandma for my third birthday. She had bought her in Berlin and we joked about the German word for “doll”, which is similar to the Dutch word for “poop”. Roza remained my favorite doll throughout childhood. When I was seven, I was interviewed for a Dutch magazine for blind children and said that my memory from three years back was tha tit was the year after getting my favorite doll.

3. A Barbie doll I got for my eleventh birthday. The reason this one is so memorable is the fact that my mother regretted giving it to me. She felt it wasn’t “age-appropriate” and I might need to go residential at the school for the blind if I didn’t catch up with my age peers socially and emotionally. I need a separate post to explain the (lack of) logic behind this reasoning.

4. Deodorant. I got this for my fourteenth birthday from my sister. No, not in a package that had other toiletries in it. Just a deodorant stick. She clearly wanted to send me a message. I didn’t get it.

5. A coffee maker. I got it for St. Nicholas when I was 20. I was going to live independently the next year and needed a coffee maker then. My husband is happy he didn’t drink coffee when I still had the apartment I used that coffee maker in, as it quickly got very moldy and dirty from lack of cleaning, as did the rest of the apartment.

6. A Planxty CD. This was the gift my husband gave me for the first birthday after we’d started dating in 2008. I only played it when my husband was there, as I really didn’t like it. Then again, he didn’t like my first gift for him, which was a book of previously unpublished philosophical works.

7. A liquorice “cake”. My husband and I got it for our wedding from my staff at the psychiatric resocialization ward in 2011.

8. The sensory cat soft toy I got for my birthday last year. It can be put in the microwave and then gives off heat and a lovely lavender scent.

9. Rainbow/Sofie, the stuffed unicorn I got from my previous day activities when I left there. She’s truly so cool! She has two names, because two readers of my blog each came up with an equally good one.

10. A weighted unicorn soft toy. Finally, I have to include something from this year’s Christmas box. It is, interestingly, another stuffed unicorn. This one is weighted as to provide sensory benefits. I’m having another contest to name her, like I did with Rainbow/Sofie.

What gifts will you always remember having received?

Full Day at Day Activities

Hi, I’m Marieke. I am the insider who is most often out at day activities. I enjoy sensory activities, movement activities and just relaxing in the weighted chair or snoezelen (sensory) room. I am also very good at relating to my fellow clients. I know that I am (or should be) intellectually more capable, but I don’t feel that way. I guess it’s something to do with social and emotional development, or whatever.

Yesterday, we went to day activities for the whole day. We’ve been going for the whole day on Tuesday for about a month now and we love it. We had fun yesterday too, going for a short walk in the afternoon. There’s a farm with lots of cute animals next to the day center. We walked near the animals. I couldn’t touch them, but the other client who was with me and the staff could see them. He said lots of funny things about the animals. Like, when we passed an alpaca that had its behind turned towards us, he said “butt” and laughed.

Today, our support coordinator would have visited us in the afternoon after we’d spend the morning at day activities. However, she was off sick so couldn’t come. Our support worker also couldn’t fill in for her and our mother-in-law couldn’t come either. As a result, we would actually have nothing to do and no-one to rely on for the afternoon. Our day activities staff were a little concerned about us, so they asked the manager whether we could spend today’s afternoon there too. We get funding for six half-days and we already go on Tuesday and Friday for the whole day and Monday and Wednesday morning. The manager was willing to treat this like an exceptional situation though. So we could attend for the full day today too.

It was so much fun. In the morning, we did a cooking activity. I went shopping for it with the staff. Usually, I participate in the cooking itself too, but we felt this would be too overwhelming. Instead, I went into the snoezelen room. The staff made a stir-fried egg roll with mushrooms, onions and bell peppers.

In the afternoon, we had music. A music therapist came to our group. She sang and played the guitar. We could also play on the guitar for a bit. We sang St. Nicholas songs. I am glad I was out, as some of the others would’ve found this too childish and just been annoyed at the noise. I really loved it though.

Tomorrow, I’ll have the day off, but I will go horseback riding in the afternoon. That should be fun!

My Favorite Holiday

Carol anne’s most recent question of the day is about holidays. She asks us what our favorite holiday tradition is. She herself loves Christmas for its presents. My favorite holiday is also in December and we also celebrate it with presents. Today, I am going to share about that.

First of all, we’re not one for holidays. We don’t like the adjustment and lack of structure. However, we love getting presents. As such, our favorite holiday is Santa Clause. It’s celebrated here in the Netherlands on December 5.

Santa Clause is in many ways similar to Christmas in the United States. It is celebrated on December 5 in honor of St. Nicholas’ birthday. In reality, St. Nicholas, who isn’t a real saint in the Catholic church anymore, died on December 6.

Santa Clause is celebrated with lots of presents, which the Santa is said to deliver through the chimney. they are usually packaged in a surprising kind of way and it’s a tradition that Santa Clause leaves a poem for the children. These poems are intended to be a bit moralistic, telling the child what they need to learn next year to be a better child.

There is also a lot of candy that’s specific to St. Nicholas. I love most of these candies!

As young children, we of course believe that Santa Clause is real. I was about eight when I learned that he isn’t. One of my fondest childhood memories is of my father playing Santa Clause’s helper Black Peter being stuck in the chimney.

I obviously no longer believe in Santa Clause, though I’m not sure what the littles will think if I say this. As an older child, after I’d stopped believing, I found it very hard to play along with the game. Now though, I’m enjoying it. Most of my fellow clients at day activities believe in Santa Clause, which makes the holiday extra magical for me too.