Tag Archives: Family

Gratitude List (Birthday Edition)

It’s been over a week since I posted. This past week has been pretty rough, but there have also been good moments. Time for a gratitude list once again! I am going to cheat a little and include some items from the previous week.


  1. I spent the week-end at my parents’ for an early birthday celebration for me. It’s a tradition that my parents give me redcurrants and strawberries for my birthday. However, the redcurrants had not ripened yet and the strawberries had been eaten by my parents’ chickens. My mother bought some on the market though, which were much better than the ones I had bought at the supermarket a week or so before.

  2. My husband helped me figure out how to copy music from CDs onto my computer. I copied some of my parents’ music. Also, one of my parents’ acquaintances, who is a singer/songwriter, invited me to her album presentation this coming September. I’ve not yet made up my mind whether I’m going, but it was cool to get an invite.

  3. I got some lovely beads from my parents. They were plastic beads, whic I don’t normally use. I usually use glass beads. However, I was able to create a nice bracelet with some of these beads.

  4. Getting these beads from my parents inspired me to look for acrylic beads in funny shapes and colors to make a memory wire bracelet of. Memory wire bracelets get quite heavy if you use glass beads, so I was happy to find acrylic beads in heart, square, disc, round and even butterfly shapes. I just finished the memory wire bracelet a few hours ago, but don’t have a picture yet.

  5. I have been able to get into a nice exercise routine with the help of my husband’s MP3 player (which he gave to me). It helps me get an idea of how long I spend on the elleptical trainer or stationary bike.

  6. I have discovered a new kind of candy at the institution town’s store. I know, not exactly healthy, but so yummy! I managed to keep from bingeing this week even though I did buy the candy.

  7. Institution meals are notorious for lacking taste. Furthermore, because of a new meal-providing company, we no longer get to choose our meals from a menu each for ourselves. Instead, the nurses choose and we just have to go with whatever is being served. This makes me extra grateful that tomorrow is my birthday and I got to select a birthday meal. It’s still provided by the same company, but the meal I selected (noodles with beef and some kind of peas) is quite good. I got to eat it today as I’m at my husband’s tomorrow.

  8. The weather has been quite good yesterday and today. Today, I wore one of the skirts I bought a few weeks ago again.

  9. My husband took me out to lunch at the restaurant near the institution town railroad station today. I ate a delicious tuna salad roll.

  10. My sister and her boyfriend will be coming over tomorrow and my in-laws will be visiting on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it!


What are you grateful for this week?

Linking up with Reasons to Be Cheerful.

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Not My Mother’s Daughter: How I’d Parent My Hypothetical Child

One of this week’s writing prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It asks how you parent your kids differently than your own parents parented you. Now I don’t have any kids, and if I did, I wouldn’t get my way on every parenting decision. After all, my husband would’ve been there too, and, the way he views parenting, he’d be the stricter one of us.

I imagne, if I have to be very honest, that my hypothetical child’s upbringing would be similar to my own. I don’t approve of many of my parents’ actions, but then again they were done out of powerlessness. I imagine, agian being very honest, that I’d be quite permissive to my child but would lose it eventually and become aggressive. This is one reason I won’t have any kids.

Ideally, if I had a child, I’d parent them as naturally as possible. I don’t mean eating all organic food and using cloth diapers, as I don’t believe in this. I mean guiding them through their natural development rather than teaching or training them. For instance, I have some strong opinions on toilet training, which some parents take very seriously. I of course know that the skill of using the toilet is important, but I also think that too much pressure will stress the child out. Having witnessed some incontinent adults being humiliated and pressured, I know I don’t want to subject my child to the same unless it’s absolutely necessary. I originally wrote a lengthy, TMI’ish monologue on toilet training and how I would and wouldn’t approach it, but I’ll leave you to read up on natural toilet learning to find out.

My husband and I have had discussions or debates about what education we’d want for our child. I am a traditonally-educated person and went to an academically challenging high school. My husband has had a less traditional route in his education, though he finally earned a high school diploma at the same level I did. Both of us would choose an education for our child that is different from our own, even though we agree that our child would never go to the posh type of high school I went to. I think if it’d come down to it, I’d want a challenging education for my child too, but my heart screams “No!” to pushing my child’s academic limits.

Now that I think on it, my heart screams “No!” at the idea of pushing my child’s limits in general. This may be one more reason why I’d make a bad parent, though I’m not sure. After all, pushing a child over their limits is different from feeding the fire of their curiosity (be it for academics or otherwise). I don’t know whether this is optimism about a child’s natural curiosity and capacity for learning. It could quite likely be fear of overburdening my child like I was overburdened.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Parent Appreciation: Realistic Limits

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – so that
it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV)

It’s Mother’s Day today. I am a bit late to post for it, as I couldn’t think of a theme to write on. Then I read Nicole’s post over at One Picky Chick, in which she lists ten reasons why she’s the meanest Mom (and wouldn’t change it) and I thought of the ways in which my parents set rules. The above Bible quote only popped up when I chose a memory verse for a Christian women’s group I’m a co-admin for. My parents are atheists, so they’ll probably not like it that I start a post honoring them with a Bible quote, but it’s fitting. This post isn’t focused specifically on my Mom, as my father was my primary caregiver, but I still want to say I definitely appreciate my Mom.

My parents weren’t perfect, of course. When I was in schema-focused psychotherapy and reading up on the things children need from their parents in their upbringing, I had negative comments on about everything mentioned. However, the last one was “realistic limits”. Though I had some negative experiences with those, most times my parents in fact provided me with good enough realistic limits.

My parents had some non-negotiable rules. School was pretty much the most important thing in life and always came first. We didn’t get to stay home from school unless we ran a fever, because, if we didn’t run a fever, we weren’t sick. Of course, there likely would’ve been exceptions to this rule, but at least it was clear that seeking an excuse to stay home in a slight tummy ache was not acceptable.

What rules like this taught me, is to be quite a rule-abiding person. I only learned in my teens to early twenties that you could actually get away with not doing your chores, but even now, I don’t like to break rules like this one. When I don’t do chores, it’s usually because I flat out forget.

On other rules, my parents were more flexible. When I was young, bedtime was bedtime. However, as I had trouble sleeping, my parents eventually relaxed this rule. I still had to go to bed at a certain time, but I didn’t have to go to sleep right away. Particularly once my sister had moved to a room of her own, this meant a lot less stress and less bothering of my sister and parents (at least at night).

I was an irritable child, but, thanks to my parents’ realistic limits, I didn’t become a defiant child. It also caused me to gradually learn self-determination. For example, the above example about bedtime taught me to regulate myself re sleep. I had my own rules about how much sleep I needed so when I needed to go to bed. I never slept in on school days.

When I think of what I’d do if I were a parent, I think of setting rules in a similar way that my parents did. Some things are non-negotiable and a child will just have to obey. When things are not that important and particularly the child isn’t a threat to themself or others (physically or psychologically), I’d be more flexible. My parents had a hard time with me sometimes, because, though I wasn’t openly defiant that much, I did have quite severe behavior problems. It must’ve been a tough balancing act between giving me too much room for self-determination and not allowing me to develop that sense of self-determination. I thank my parents for setting realistic limits.

Equipping Godly Women
Found Love. Now What?

A Favorite Childhood Memory: Sleepovers at My Grandma’s

Today, I decided to check the Blog Everyday in May announcement and saw that it isn’t a requirement to post everyday. You are free to participate whenever you like. Not only did I decide to add the badge into yesterday’s post after all, but I think I’m going to try to join in with more prompts.

Today’s prompt is “a favorite childhood memory”. This is a tough one, since I tend to dwell on the negative aspects of many memories. A few days ago, however, I saw my sister had posted a picture of the two of us on a sleepover at our grandma’s. I was immediately tempted to write about that. Not only does it allow me to use a picture in my post for once, but sleepovers at my grandma’s were happy moments in my childhood and, for once, they don’t have a bittersweet connotation to them.

Sleepover at My Grandma's

I wrote about my grandma before. She is one amazing woman and I cherish the days spent with her. Particularly, my sister and I loved going for sleepovers. We went on a sleepover at least once a year until I was around fourteen.

Our grandma had saved many of her children’s toys and also still quilted stuffed animals. In the above picture, you see my sister and I playing dress-up.

At the time this picture was taken in 1994, my grandma lived in a family home in a quiet neighborhood in Zeist. She’d frequently take us on walks. We nicknamed the neighborhood “poo place” because of the proliferation of dog shit on the pavement.

As I said in my earlier post, my grandma would often take us on “expeditions” to explore the town and countryside. There was an “expedition” to the parking lot once she’d moved to a senior citizens’ home down town (to figure out how many stories it consisted of!)) There was also an “expedition” to the wildlife garden and an “expedition” alongside a ditch. The ditch had waterplants growing in it that looked just like grass. We joked that you can’t walk on this type of grass. Now that I look it up, the English Wikipedia has a picture of a ditch in the Netherlands. Wonder whether they don’t exist elsewhere. But I digress.

My grandma, as I said in my other post, volunteered for the local environmental conservation charity. I had lots of fun going to the activity group (the “activigeese” I mentioned), where my grandma would make quilted blankets, animals and such for the charity shop. I didn’t do much while at the activity group, as I’ve never been good at sewing, but I did enjoy chatting to the other ladies going there.

After we stopped going on sleepovers, my grandma did take us on a vacation to Paris in 2001. My sister had just finished her first year of secondary school and I had finished my second, so we both spoke a bit of French. We spent the week at one of my grandma’s French acquaintances’.

Of course, I still had my meltdown moments even when at my grandma’s. She was firm with me but never lost her temper. As I may’ve said in my other post, I just plain admire my grandma’s positive attitude. This is probably one reason that, growing up, I had the best relationship with her of all my grandparents. I undoubtedly drove her crazy sometimes, like I did most people in my life, but she handled it so amazingly. This is one reason why visits to my grandma as a child don’t have a bittersweet meaning to me now.

Found Love. Now What?

50 Things That Make Me Happy #50Things

I love listing positives and things that make me happy. Therefore, I was so excited to see the 50 Things That Make Me Happy meme over at Mummy Tries. I wasn’t tagged for it and I am not going to tag anyone because I’m too lazy, so consider yourself tagged if you so wish. Listing 50 things that make me happy may be quite challenging already, but I’m going to give it a try.



  1. Daydreaming about living with my husband. Now that we’re trying to figure out how we can make this happen, I’m so excited.

  2. Coffee!

  3. herbal tea. Since writing this post, I have discovered a few new herbs that I like, such as St John’s wort.

  4. Going for a walk.

  5. Yoga. Unfortunately, I can’t get my instructional DVD working, but I still like what I still know about yoga.

  6. Journaling.

  7. Reading inspirational, helpful and positive books.

  8. Being moderately successful at my attempt at losing weight without much effort. All I basically do is keep from binge eating and exercise some.

  9. Snuggling with my cats. Barry isn’t too much of a snuggler and Harry is quite hyper, but I like them both.

  10. Facebook. I am a big Facebooker, mostly engaging with groups. I haven’t updated my blog’s FB page in forever, but that’s because pages don’t work that well on the (relatively accessible) mobile FB.

  11. Crafting. I haven’t done much of it lately, but since I got complimented on my work by my husband recently, I think of giving it a try again.

  12. Cooking at day activities. I can’t cook independently to save my life, but I can help.

  13. When the head nurse makes us French fries or pancakes.

  14. The fact that I’m getting somewhat fitter. A month ago, I couldn’t even walk to the grocery store without my breathing going fast. Yesterday, I walked for about an hour. I did get tired at the end, but it was rewarding.

  15. Art therapy. I don’t always look forward to it, particularly because it’s in the morning and I’m not a morning person. I do usually like it though.

  16. Music. I recently got a Spotify account and love listening to songs on it. I mostly enjoy country.

  17. Taking a bath or shower.

  18. Nice spring weather. We’ve had some pretty good days lately.

  19. Going to concerts with my family. I wasn’t able to go to Sarah McQuaid’s concert this year because I was ill with the flu. I hope to be able to go next year.

  20. Listening to children’s stories and songs.

  21. Essential oils. I love diffusing them in my AromaStream diffuser.

  22. Hot chocolate. I get a cup each week at art therapy.

  23. Getting some fruits and veggies and nuts out of my parents’ large garden when I visit.

  24. Gardening. I don’t do it often nowadays, but my art therapist offered to get me some herbs in a pot that I could grow.

  25. Shopping online or jus looking at all the lovely stuff I could buy but won’t.

  26. Sleep. My sleep/wake cycle is a bit off though.

  27. When my husband says he loves me.

  28. Planning for possibly going back to distance learning at Open University. It might not work out, but just the idea is nice.

  29. Blogging challenges and writing prompts. I love being able to participate in challenges like the A to Z Challenge, although it’s sometimes frustrating when I have lots of other things to write about.

  30. The singing of birds.

  31. Mindfulness exercises.

  32. Learning about natural health even when I can’t or won’t practise it.

  33. The fact that I have some more energy after starting on vitamin D and iron supplements (and vitamin B12 but that has been discontinued).

  34. Going to church. I don’t go nearly as often as I would like to, but I love it everytime I go.

  35. Reading devotionals and other spiritual writings. I lean towards progressive Christianity in my faith, but also derive meaning from many other traditions.

  36. Reading and writing poetry.

  37. The fact that I overcame most of my classic PTSD symptoms.

  38. Nurturing my inner child(ren).

  39. Having a much better relationship with my parents than I used to have.

  40. The fact that I’m a lot calmer generally and having much fewer meltdowns than I used to.

  41. Black liquorice. I haven’t bought it in a while because it is a binge food for me, but my husband has offered to help me divide it into portions. That way, I will be able to enjoy it in moderation.

  42. Receiving cards and small gifts from people from all over the world whom I’ve met online.

  43. Meeting online friends in real life. I recently traveled to Rotterdam to meet someone I’d known for twelve years but never met in real life.

  44. Hearing my parents tell stories about their life in the countryside. I really hope to live in a rural area someday too. This is weird, because I used to believe I wanted to live in the city.

  45. Going to my favorite restaurant with my husband. When I lived in my old institution, we went there often because it’s in that city. Now we treat ourselves to it on special occasions like our anniversary.

  46. All kinds of animals. I used to care for guinea pigs and rabbits at my old institution and go to a horse staple to care for a pony.

  47. Making my own smoothies.

  48. Long summmer evenings spent outdoors.

  49. My birthday. I used to dread it but now look forward to it.

  50. Putting on make-up – or rather, having someone else put make-up on me. I don’t get it done often, but when I do, I like it.

Wow, this was a little hard sometimes, but I am so much happier having written this list! It truly cheered me up. Have a nice week everyone!

You Baby Me Mummy
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Mami 2 Five

Acceptance and Autism #AtoZChallenge

Today, for my first post for the A to Z challenge, I want to focus on a fundamental aspect of parenting an autistic (or non-autistic) child and of being a person: acceptance.

Many pro-cure autism parents don’t like the word “acceptance” when used in the same sentence as “autism”. They think that to accept their child’s autism means to like it, or to see it as something that can’t possibly be negative.

In truth, accepting means simply acknowledging what is. I remember I was discussing acceptance with a former therapist and saying I wasn’t ready toa ccept something. At that point she said that I might not be ready to accept the current weather but it’s still stormy whether I accept it or not. It is in the same mindset that I would like to encourage parents and autistic people to accept themselves or their autistic child.

Most parents, even those who would like to take away their child’s autism, accept their child for who they are. In other words, they acknowledge that their child is autistic now. Some obviously don’t, as some parents are in denial and others view autism as something completely separate from their child, but most do. Acceptance does not mean not wanting to change anything. In fact, in dialectical behavior therapy, a common treatment approach for people with borderline prsonality disorder, you are taught that to change something, you have to accept it first.

Let’s face it: your child is autistic. That’s the reality you have to acknowledge as a parent if you even want to begin to change anything about your child. You wouldn’t start treatment for autism, whether it’s behavioral or biomedical or medication treatment, if you didn’t accept your child is autistic.

I can illustrate this with my own life. My family till this day does not accept that I’m autistic. I wasn’t diagnosed till early adulthood for this reason. Then, when I accepted that I’m autistic, I started seeking treatment. I take medication and get counseling. This helped me greatly improve behaviorally. I would likely still have meltdowns everyday if I hadn’t accepted the fact that I’m autistic.

In short, to accept yourself as an autistic person or to accept your autistic child means to acknowledge the reality of autism. As parents, you probably love your child regardless of their autism, too, but that is different from accepting them. Accepting yourself or your autistic child does not mean liking your or their behavior. It does not mean there is nothign you wish to change about yourself or your child. After all, everyone has things they want to change about themselves and one aspect of parenthood is to help your child change.

Four Things I Wish Parents Knew About Neurodevelopmental Disorders

A few days ago, Natasha Tracy of Bipolar Burble wrote an interesting list of things she wishes parents knew about mental illness. I am going to use this list as inspiration and write a list of things I wish parents knew about neurodevelopmental disorders.

1. Neurodevelopmental differences exist. Whether they are disorders, is a societal controversy that you as a family cannot solve. If your child exhibits behaviors that get them in trouble, you may view them as just part of their individuality. That is great! However, please note that your child’s neurology will not change by the way you view it. If your child gets stuck, that’s a sign that they need help whether you like to admit it or not.

2. Neurodevelopmental disorders are not your fault. Your child’s neurology is not something you caused by anything you did or didn’t do (unless you as the mother drank or used drugs during pregnancy). Whether your child’s neurology leads them to get in trouble at home or at school, is related to the interaction between their neurology and the home or school enviornment. You (and the school) can make positive changes there.

Most adults feel their parents did things during their upbringing they would’ve liked to be done differently. However, you probably do the best you can. If you start feeling powerlessness and exhibiting behavior you regret, it is time to seek support.

3. Seeking help is not a weakness. It is in admitting our limitations that we show our strength, in this sense. If your child is unmanageable, it is better to seek help than to treat them harshly or to indulge into their every wish. You are not a bad parent for needing help with your child. Again, the child’s behavior is a result of an interaction between their neurology and the environment. Especially if your child is having trouble in school too, this is a sign that it’s more their neurology.

4. A diagnosis is a label, not a verdict. Your child with an atypical neurology might need a diagnosis because of the need for services. This does not change who they are as an individual. Neurodevelopmental disorders affect children and adults of all intellectual levels and personality types, and there are so many different aspects to neurodiversity that no two children with the same diagnosis are alike.

Because of the way the school system worked when I grew up, a diagnosis for me would’ve been a verdict in a way. I hope this has changed now.

Mums' Days

How I’d Spend the Holidays…

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s writing workshop prompts this week is to describe how I’d spend the holidays if it were totally up to me and money wasn’t an issue. Since I’ve been extremely overwhelmed by what Christmas “should” be like, I thought I’d fantasize a bit.

I have several ideas floating around in my head. The first is that I’d stay in our little apartment with my husband. Given that we have two rather hyperactive cats, we can’t decorate the place. Not that I’d want to either. I love to make Christmas cards and decorations, but to decorate my home is quite a different story. After all, this is one of my main stresses on the psych ward: the whole ward is decorated and there are Christmas trees and decorations everywhere in my path from the entrance to my room. I’ve bumped into them on quite a few occasions so far.

I would want to bring somee Christmassy atmosphere into the home, but would do it with scents. Last year, I bought a set of wintery scents at the local supermarket, all suited for in my diffuser (but they came with a burner in case you don’t have a diffuser). I love these scents and would buy some additional oil pads so that I could interchange scents without having to use the first one up before inserting a new one.

Taking a bath on Boxing Day would also be nice. At my husband’s, we don’t have a bathtub, but at the ward we do. So once returning to the ward, I’d spend some time taking a relaxing bath with some lavender soap in it.

We’d of course eat my favorite dish on Christmas night, which is chicken with vegetales and either noodles or fries. If we ate noodles, the dish would be spiced up with lots of herbs and spices. I really don’t know about spicing up fries. Any ideas?

other than that I’d just spend the holidays relaxing with my husband. I’d also spend considerable time online, since even though my Internet connection is okay, it’s not as good as my husband’s.

Most of all, I’d have zero obligation to put on a holiday spirit and shiney, happy face when I’m not happy. Of course, I’d be nice to my husband, but I’m usually nice to him the rest of the year too and don’t have to put up a façade for this.

So how am I really going to spend the holidays? On Christmas day, my husband and I will spend the evening at my in-laws, where my husband says we will eat chicken. I guess he’s afraid that if he cooks up any sort of specially-prepared holiday meal, I’ll shame him about it on my blog.

I’ll take my computer with me so that, if my husband and his family want to watch any type of televison I don’t like, I can just spend time online. Then at night my husband and I may leave for our apartment. I will probably return to the ward on Boxing Day. Most likely, there won’t be time for a bath, but I can diffuse my lovely scents all I want.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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.

My Grandma

One of the writing prompts for this week over at Mama’s Losin’ It is to write about your grandma and her hometown. My grandma was born in Hoogezand-Sappemeer in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands, but she moved to the province of Zealand when she was very young. During her adult life, she lived in Hilversum with my grandpa and their five children, of which my father is the oldest. In the 1970s, after my grandma had divorced my grandpa, she moved to Zeist in the province of Utrecht, where she became a social worker in a psychiatric institution. When I was hospitalized in 2007, my father told her and she was pretty pissed because, she reasoned, I’d never get out.

The above picture shows the knight’s castle of Zeist. My grandma lived close by there in a senior citizens’ group livign accommodation during most of my childhood. She was the initiator of this group living apartment block. A funny tale is that she spoke of her idea for a group living place to a local govenrment official from a a conservative political party (she is a left-winger) and the man said: “Oh dear lady, you sure could be wishing for that” in a condescending voice. At that point my grandma responded with: “Oh dear gentleman, I’m not a dear lady.” Because the living project was created after all and it was her idea, my grandma had first choice of apartments. She chose a beautiful apartment on the fourth floor.

My grandma was an avid traveler, reader particularly of French literature, and quilter. I imagine she’d be a great lifestyle blogger if she could use computers. She taught some Amish people to quilt when she was visiting their land in the 1990s. At age nearly 80, she still traveled to China an Mongolia. I do not know to what degree she’s currently able to pursue her hobbies, given that over the past few years, she’s gotten a little frail and has suffered memory loss.

My sister and I often visited my grandma for sleepovers when we were young. She would then take us on “expeditions” into town and into the countryside. She volunteered for Utrecht nature conservation and went to do activities (“activigeese” according to my sister), quilting to raise funds for the local park.

My grandma always was an active woman. To be very clear, she is still alive at 90, though I haven’t seen her in a few years, which is why I write about her in the past tense mostly. The last time I saw her was on my wedding in 2011. She was my chosen witness there. I still speak to her on the phone eveyr now and then, and really need to call her today to schedule a visit. Even now that she’s moved to a care home and is pretty obviously getting older, she still inspires me to continue to be as active as I can be.

Mama’s Losin’ It