Random Questions #TuesdayTen

Today for Tuesday Ten, people are answering ten random questions from the 100 random questions list. I love these questions. Would love to answer them all, but it’s Tuesday Ten and besides I’m too lazy, so here are ten.

8. When did you last step outside? What were you doing? I last went outside to go to my husband’s car so he could take me to our home. This was at around 3:15 this afternoon.

10. Do you remember your dreams? Usually, yes, but I don’t always realize they were dreams. Sometimes I dream that I checked my E-mail and then when I really do check my E-mail, I’m surprised at the number of new messages. Yes, I do dream about checking my E-mail!

17. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? I’d love to live in the United States just so that most people I know online would live in my country. The health care system in the U.S. sucks though, so I guess I’d go for the UK.

27. Type of music you like most. Country.

36. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? No, but to my defense it has fifteen strophes. In school, most people learn the first and sixth strophe. I can however barely remember the first as I write this.

58. Do you believe in love at first sight? No. It took me almost eight months to decide I wanted to be in a relationship with my now husband. I do believe people can be attracted to someone at first sight, but love is something much deeper than sexual attraction.

73. What do you do most when you are bored? I’d like to come up with something that doesn’t make me sound like the laziest creature on the planet. Go on the computer, read, listen to music… Truth is however most of the time I go into bed and sleep.

76. What did you want to be when you grew up? A writer or a teacher.

85. What kind of books do you like to read? Autobiographies, true stories (mostly from doctors), and juvenine fiction.

99. What is most important in life? Happiness, oh duh.

The Golden Spoons

St. Nicholas

I am still having difficulty getting inspired to write regularly on this blog. Ironically, I wrote six posts for my Dutch blog this week. Writing those posts gave me one idea to write about here – books I’ve read in 2014 -, but I’m too lazy to write that post.

I went on the SITS Girls website and looked at the prompts for December. Yesterday’s prompt asked if we celebrate with Santa Clause. Since St. Nicholas or Santa Clause is a particularly Dutch (and somewhat Belgian) tradition, at least in its most well-known form, I thought I’d write about that. A day late – or two, since the St. Nick’s celebration is on December 5 here -, but who cares?

St. Nicholas in some ways is like Christmas in the U.S., in that we swap gifts, there’s an old man with a white beard and a red coat involved and we eat lots of candy. There are specific St. Nicholas candies. For example, people often get a chocolate letter.

We used to celebrate St. Nicholas with my family rather than Christmas. At school, we also celebrated St. Nicholas in additon to Christmas. A tradition in many homes and classrooms is to package your gifts in a surprise package and to draw names to determine who has to gift to whom. Of course, you always thank “Santa Clause” and in some cases, who really gifted you will remain unknown to you forever. Like, I never found out who’d gifted me some chocolates packaged in a box that was made to look like a laptop in seventh grade.

At our home, we usually gave each of our family members a present, at least from the moment we were old enough to have some money for it and not believe that Santa Clause existed anymore. I hated the name-drawaing, surprise-gifting process and to my knowledge I managed to persuade (or tantrum) my parents into never adopting that tradition.

Another tradition which I couldn’t keep my parents from adopting was the Santa Clause poem. The most boring kind goes along the lines of “Santa thought long and hard what to gift dear Edward”. The best ones have some kind of moral advice in them and if they’re really good, they’re humorous too. It was usually easy to tell who had gifted me something by the quality of and tone in the poems. My mother was the one with the hugely moralizing poems, my father incorporated humor and some advice, and my sister would make up words in order to make the words rhyme. I hardly ever wrote poems and hated having to read the ones I got aloud. In fact, I hated the whole pretend play involved in Santa Clause once I was old enough to no longer believe he existed. I never went along with it.

Nonetheless, I liked celebrating Santa Clause, though possibly more for the gifts and a bit because we’d always done it this way than for any other reason. It did sadden me that we stopped celebrating St. Nicholas once I got into the psychiatric hospital. Now we visit my parents every other year for Christmas instead.

Diary Entry: September 21, 1999

Mama’s Losin’ It has some great writing prompts this week. One is to share a diary entry from when you were younger. You are allowed to make one up, but I’m going to share a real one. I was orignally intending to share one of my myDiary.nl entries. This was (and I think still is) a diary site in the Netherlands where I kept a diary between age sixteen and eighteen. I however deleted all entries from the site and the document I saved them to is in a format I can’t read now. Then I thought of sharing an entry from my earlier offline diary. It dates fromw hen I was thirteen. It is translated because the original was in Dutch, and I altered some bits for privacy reasons, but it is a real entry. I at the time addressed my entries to a fictional character named Claire. Probably got the idea from reading Anne Frank at the time. This is a short entry, because it is my second attempt at sharing something (computer crashed), and I am too lazy to translate a long entry now.

Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Dear Claire,

I am once again the home bitch. I have a figurine in the shape of a mouse. Its tail broke off and I attempted to make it, but that didn’t work. Logically, since tape doesn’t stick to stone. My sister got involved, and so now I’m in my room. Mom by the way says that my sister never gets attention and I always want attention, but she can decide for herslef whom to give attention. So, it is the day of arguments today.

Yours, Astrid

Don’t ask me what the broken figurine and my sister getting involved had to do with my spending time in my room. I probably had a tantrum over the figurine breaking, but not sure what my sister or “always” wanting attention had to do with it. I now realize my behavior did draw attention to me, but that of course is not the same as wanting attention.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Blogging #WotW

It may seem strange that I choose “blogging” as my word of the week, since I’ve only posted once this week other than this post. The reason however for both my lack of posting here and my choice of words, is the fact that I’ve set up a Dutch blog. Don’t worry, I won’t stop posting here!

What I love about the Dutch blogosphere is that, to my knowledge, it’s not as dominated by Mom bloggers as the English-language blogosphere is. It may be that I go for other bloggers to read to sites that are usually frequented by younger women. Then again, in the general blogging groups on Facebook, most bloggers are more personal or lifestyle bloggers even if they’re Mommies.

I also like it that, if a person writes about a product, I can actually be sure that, should I want it, it’s available where I live. It’s not that I’m too interested in beauty or fashion products, but lifestyle (and some beauty) does appeal to me at least as a reader. I’ve not yet taken part in a giveaway, but want to someday.

Related to the above pro of Dutch blogging is that I myself can blog about products or services I like and be sure my readers won’t say that it’s not available in the U.S./UK. Some of you may remember my post on the game of Pim-Pam-Pet (no, not going to link as I’m too embarrassed). I got only one comment saying the game most likely isn’t available in the reader’s country and besides, it would most definitely not be called Pim-Pam-Pet. (Yes, I had researched what it might be called and did think I’d stumbled on an English-language website where it was called that.)

Besides, on many other topics, the content I (intend to) write is more suited to a Dutch-reading audience. For example, I did a whole series on my old blog in 2009 on the Dutch care system. It was very hard to write about this with enough detail that it’d still be interesting to me to write about but also with enough explanation that it’d be understandable by my readers. At least Dutch readers will have some idea of wha tI’m talking about, and if they don’t, I can link to information they will understand.

Other content, of course, is more suited to an English-language audience. I participate in a lot of linkies and writing challenges, and I have no intention of abandoning them. So as I said, don’t worry, I’m not going to abandon ship.

I’ve been excited to find out that I got quite a few comments on my first “real” post (after the intro). I so far didn’t get any comments on my second and most recent post, but I don’t expect my blog to rank top of the blogs soon (or ever) anyway. I’ve also been loving to connect to some nice bloggers in the Netherlands. Overall, I really hope to continue blogging for a long time to come. That’s been the challenge usually.

The Reading Residence

My Ideal Social Networking Site

A few days ago, I came across a writing prompt for NaBloPoMo asking bloggers to describe their ideal social networking site. Suppose you got unlimited funds and a handful of tech guys to design it for you, what would it look like? Now I’ve actually been looking for a social networking site that is, well, ideal for me, so I have a pretty clear image of what I would want it to be like. Don’t worry: I don’t have money and I don’t have tech skills, so it’s unlikely to ever get off the ground.

My ideal social network would have a journaling/blogging feature as the centerpiece. The design of the journaling feature would be similar to the old LiveJournal or the current DreamWidth. I know that those who don’t use a screen reader probably don’t know what I mean, so here goes. I mean that all features of the journal, like recent entries, archive, profile page with interests and such, are easily accessible. No annoying mouseover stuff like the current LiveJournal seems to use. I mean, when you go to your or someone else’s profile page on LJ, you only see their bio, the people they have added as friends and the communities they’re members of. In order to see their interests, for example, you need to slide your mouse over the bio thingy, or something. In any case I haven’t figured out how to access interests, friends of, etc. On DreamWidth and the old LJ, these are/were easily viewable directly from a person’s profile page.

The journaling feature would, of course, incorporate full HTML editing. You’d be surprised most current online diary sites don’t have this feature. The entries would also be organizable by categories and tags as on WordPress.

Then, people would get a profile page. It would look similar to the LiveJournal or DreamWidth profile pages, with the person’s bio, external services such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and a clickable list of interests which would connect users to other users. Searching by name, bio, interests, etc. would all be standard – on LJ, you need a paid account to search the directory.

People would also be able to create photo albums, from which they can link to their journal or which stand on their own. Again, this is similar to LiveJournal, only on LJ you need to pay for a “scrapbook”.

I’d also like to include groups similar to Facebook groups. In addition, I’d like users to be able to create writing circles. These are similar to what the Open Diary used to have: you post something to your own journal, but link it up with others writing on the same topic. These circles would, however, be moderated by users in a way much like link-ups are on blogs. The circle moderators would be able to create writing prompts for their circles.

Then, there’d be status updates and a personal messaging system as on Facebook. Lastly, I’d include a social bookmarking feature which is similar to Delicious. No images required like on Pinterest – one of the reasons I hate Pinterest is that I can’t pin my own blog posts as they don’t include images.

The entire social network would meet web accessibility standards. I was going to say “of course”, but then I realized my blog doesn’t meet these standards, so yeah. Privacy would also be important. Given that I would be allocated unlimited funds according to the prompt, there’d be no need for ads. If there are to be ads, they’re going to be non-personalized. People would register with a user name and the site would only display their full name (or a display name) on their profile if they choose so. On each item they post (journal entry, photo, etc) they’d be allowed to select the privacy options of “public (including search engines)”, “registered users”, “friends” or “private”. They’d also be able to set minimum privacy settings on their journal, photo collection or individual photo albums.

Unfortunately, the prompt didn’t say I’d be allocated a number of admins to watch that no illegal or otherwise inappropriate content is displayed on my platform. I’d hire these folks with my unlimited funds though. if I were to design this social networking site, after all, I’d want to sit on my butt after the platform had launched and just play with it. No moderation duties for me please.

A Letter to the Future

This week’s prompt from Mumturnedmom is “a letter”. I have written several posts that are letters or that are about writing letters on this blog so far. Rather than link up an old post, however, I’m going to take on a new challenge and write a letter… to the future. There is or at least used to be this site called FutureMe, where you could write a letter and have it E-mailed to yourself on a specific date in the future. Writing letters to the future is more challenging than writing letters to the past, which I already did on this blog. After all, I know what the past was like, and I don’t know what the future will be like. However, here’s my attempt at a letter to myself ten years from now.

Dear Astrid,

How are you? I am doing okay, but I hope you’re doing even better. Remember me? It’s your 28-year-old self. You know, the one with all the mental health struggles, residing in an institution. I hope you’re doing better in the mental health department than I am.

Where do you live now? Do you still live in the small town large institution? Or have you moved on towards living with your husband? I hope you’re still married to him and will be for many years to come.

Are Harry and Barry, our pet cats, as mischievous with you as they are with me now? I hope not. Actually, I hope that they’ve grown into the kind of quiet cat my parents own. Then again, chances are slim, as Morse was a lot quieter when he was a kitten than Harry and Barry ever were.

Do you, at age 38, still miss out on being a mother, perhaps even more than I do? Or do you feel at peace with childlessness now? Of course, since I don’t know, maybe you actually have a child! That would be quite interesting. Most likely, you’ve at least become an aunt.

Speaking of my sister, did she start in a Ph.D. program yet, perhaps even having earned her Ph.D. already? Does she have a nice historical archiving job? Is she married to her boyfriend yet?

I hope you too are more active than I am. Maybe you have a volunteer job. Have you started on that biography writing course I so want to start yet? Maybe you’ve finished writing your autobiography! If so, is it still titled Some Former Preemies Will Later Go to University?

Maybe you’ve found yourself on an entirely different path than I can imagine right now. With my hypochondriac tendencies, I still wonder whether you’re even alive. But if you are, I hope you’ll find this – supposing WordPress still exists -, and respond.





This week’s spin cycle prompt from Lemon Drop Pie, in honor of NaBloPoMo, is “free choice”. What Ginny Marie means by this is to write what comes to mind. I have been feeling particularly uninspired this month, which is why I’ve written less than I do in most months rather than more. It’s not that nothing’s been on my mind, but it’s been tough to put it into words that others find interesting to read. Then again, I write more for myself than for my readers, unlike some heavy weights in the blogosphere. Then again, they seem to write for their sponsors even more than for their readers. Oh well.

A few months ago, I came across a prompt from I think it is The SITS Girls, which was to write about your first car. Now I don’t drive, but my husband does. I find this prompt particularly relevant now, as our current car broke down on the highway on Saturday. It sudddenly became unmanageable while my husband was driving 110 km/hour and not in the right lane. Thankfully, he was able to maneuver the car onto the shoulder before it crashed completely. Neither of us was injured and the car was taken good care of by roadside assistance. He now drives a car on loan and we’re having to get this car repaired. This is the third time the not-so-lovely secondhand Kia Rio has broken down in the four months that my husband owns it.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we long for our lovely Suzuki Baleno, also bought secondhand in August of 2012, three months after my husband got his license. We sometimes nicknamed the car “Balympia”, after my sister-in-law’s horse, whose name is Olympia, but usually we just called it Baleno.

The car was fine for a sixteen-year-old car when we bought it and didn’t have its first problem until its annual check the following year. We had this issue fixed and the car was fine for almost another year, when the head gasket broke down. The head gasket, my husband explained, is a piece of cardboard that sits between the engine block and the cylinder head of a car. It is cheap, but in order to replace it, the entire engine needs to be taken apart. Cost is approximately E700. Given that we bought the car at E995, we considered the car ecnonmically totaled in May of this year.

After the Baleno, we got a 1995 Kia Sephia. I don’t remember what caused us to throw out this car. Since it was a cheap car, we didn’t want to invest a lot of money into it, so we brought it to be interchanged at its first major problem. My husband reasoned that maybe a more expensive but also newer car would be a reasonable choice. This is how we ended up with the 2002 Kia Rio.

Kia Rio is a much more popular brand than Kia Sephia or Suzuki Baleno, which may be why my husband isn’t as attached to it as he was especially to the Baleno. We however fall into a familiar thinking trap, which is that, the more expensive something was when you first bought it, the more likely you are to want to keep it and invest in it. This is why we’re still keeping this car despite three major repairs in four months.

Teaching Your Child Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are very important in learning for children and adults of all ages. When they are lacking, a person struggles in unstructured tasks or in completing work independently and efficiently. Usually, a child develops better organizational skills as they age, being able to meet age-appropriate expectations. Still, children with even the best of organizational skills may struggle with major transitions, such as the transition from elementary to secondary school.

Other children have difficulties in organizational skills. Some can learn to overcome these as they mature, while others lag further and further behind. I am an example of the latter. In elementary school, I aced most classes, compensating for my lack of organizational skills by my high intelligence. In secondary school, I still did well because I had learned to read faster. I could therefore read the material being tested once at the last moment and still get a decent grade. Academically, my organizational skills didn’t get the better part of me till I was in college, when one reason I dropped out was my inability to plan my work.

Organizational skills are part of executive functioning. If a child struggles with organizational skills despite adequate parenting and teaching intervetnions, it might be that they have a learning disability or attention deficit disorder, but some kids have executive functioning difficulties without a learning disability or ADD/ADHD.

Here are some tips for encouraging the non-disabled child to develop their organizational skills. Some of these strategies will work to an extent with children with executive functioning difficulties too. At the end of this post, I will give some tips for dealing with kids with executive functioning difficulties specifically.

1. Use checklists. Help your child develop a to-do list. That way, the child will be able to visualize what they stll need to do and what they’ve already done. Have your child carry a notebook with them for writing down assignmnets and household chores. Have the child check off items that have been completed. You may need to monitor that they don’t check off unfinished tasks. You can have your child use step-by-step checklists for cleaning their room, too.

2. Use calendars and schedules. On a calendar, you will put all family members’ important appointments. It depends on you and your child how detailed a calendar needs to be or can be. On a weekly schedule, you list each family member’s household chores.

3. Buy your child a planner. Have them choose one that suits them or buy one for them that appeals to them. The child can put activities into their planner, but you’ll need to help them get their planner in sync with the family calendar to avoid conflict.

4. Involve your child in cleaning and cooking activities. Particurly cooking is a fun way to learn organizational skills. A child will need to learn to read a recipe, check steps they have already completed, assemble the right tools and ingredients, etc. Involve your child in meal planning too, challenging them to help you write a shopping list. Cleaning, while not as fun, is a necessary task that also requires organization.

As I said, many of these strategies will work for a child with executive functioning difficulties too. They may need more support while learning to organize their day. Here are some tips for helping a child with EFD to learn to become the best organizer they can be:

  1. Use written and/or visual step-by-step guides for chores and assignments. Incorporate as much detail as the child needs – I needed every step almost literally spelled out.

  2. Have specific tasks on a specific day of the week. Don’t have too many tasks in one day. For example, Monday is for cleaning the child’s room, while Thursday is for organizing their backpack. That way, the child will get into the habit of performing these tasks.

  3. Discuss new or unexpected situations with your child and help them prepare for what might happen.

  4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Often, children with EFD have trouble learning to automate a skill, so you may need to help them, instruct them and supervise them for a longer time than you would a non-disabled child. Use the same schedules, reminders etc. for the same tasks over and over again.

It is very important to realize that your child with EFD is not being lazy, but they have a disability that makes it harder for them to organie their work. You may need to provide more support for them to complete their chores or homework than you would a similar-age non-disabled child.

Mommy Needs a Timeout Thursday Link-up

Age Is But a Number?

Age is but a number, we so often hear. There are many, usually older people who say they never grew beyond age twenty-nine (or whatever age they like the most). Some people even say they remain children at heart.

I can relate to this, and yet I can’t. I can relate in the sense that I strongly embrace my inner children and teens and the fewer and fewer selves who are older than me. Right now, only my crafty self identifies as older than my chronological age.

Yet I am also very much aware that certain developmental expectations are tied to certain ages. I was made aware before I was nine-years-old that, by age eighteen, I’d be leaving the house. My father jokes that the family cat should earn his high school diploma if he ever turns nineteen. The cat is only thirteen, but you get the idea. Even cats need to conform to developmental milestones, so people certainly.

Of course, in the privacy of my own room or even with my husband present, I can be childish all I want. I for example bought a Barbie doll when one of my inner children was particularly active. Nothing’s wrong with that. On the other hand, the only reason I can go on forums that are commonly visited by teens, is that I’m female. Had I been male, I would’ve been seen as a pedophile. (For clarity’s sake: I don’t go on forums that have a clear age limit or ever lie about my age, and I have absolutely no intention of exploiting anyone.)

My age is not only significant in highlighting the inappropriateness of my embracing childlike roles, but also in making clear that I’m missing out on adult milestones. I never spent much time in college, let alone graduating it, though I’m hardly technically a yooung adult anymore. I never held a job, even a summer job. I am not pregnant, let alone a mother. I hardly ever lived independently, which even on sites for people with autism is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood.

I have written about many of these issues before. I grieve the loss of my child identity (and an inner child is no excuse). I also grieve having missed out on adult milestones and likely missing out on even more as time goes by. Age is but a number, but you can’t just act whatever age you feel, at least not in public. That’s with good reason, of course, but it is still somewhat hard to deal with sometimes.


Creativity #WotW

Sorry for not having written much over the past week. I’ve been really tired and also worrying about the future of my care. I for some reason haven’t been able to put these thoughts into words.

Summing up this week in one word though, I will go with something positive, which is the creative juices I’ve had flowing lately. So, “creativity” will be my word for the week.

Last week Friday (yeah, I’m cheating a bit, LOL), I made some nice earrings. No picture yet, but I do have a pic of a necklace I made earlier that week. It is only a very basic necklace with blue beads and a blue/silver pendant. I like it though, and got many positive reactions to it.

Blue Necklace with Flower Pendant

I started looking for new crafty Facebook groups to join on Monday. Usually, I find a Facebook group first and then I start a hobby, rather than the other way around. I learned about bead weaving that way. I bought some seed beads, a few beading needles, cord and wire and figured I would be able to do bead weaving that way. I wasn’t. I have both a regular weaving loom and a wooden bead loom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find instructions that I could follow without help, but on Wednesday, I got my activity staff to look at a tutorial I found – thankfully, we have a compute rin the activity room now. I then found out that a metal bead loom, which they used in the tutorial, is better than a wooden one. I’d unsuccessfully tried weaving with the wooden one before and the staff had not been able to figure it out for me either. I decided to buy the metal bead loom since it was only E11,95. I’m now waiting on it to come through the mail.

On Thursday, my art therapist also taught me loom knitting. I’d done this once before but had forgotten how to do it. She’d only done it once before herself, but together, we figured it out. I do think I’m going to bring my Rainbow Loom needle next week, because the regular crochet needles we used this time are either too big or the thread falls off the hook.

I’ve also tried to pick up regular weaving again, but am not too inspired in that area. I heard from the admin of a Dutch weaving group on Facebook that there is a weaving group for people with disabilities in my area, but I’ve yet to hear back from the person in charge of this.

Lastly, many blogging topics have floated around in my head. Unfortunately, none became formed enough to draft a blog post out of it, except for the Halloween/St. Martin’s post I wrote on Wednesday. I hope to be able to write more next week.

The Reading Residence
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