On April 3rd 1970

This morning my mother called me for my birthday and regaled again the story of my birth. My older siblings were all born at home in The Netherlands but by the time I came along, my parents and older siblings were living in Israel, in a village just outside Jerusalem, and home births were not done there. So, I was born in a hospital. My mother didn’t have me in the good, reknowned hospital not far from where we lived as my oldest brother had died there a year before and I think going back there was just too much to bear. Instead, I was born in a not so state-of-the-art hospital in the city of Jerusalem. My mother tells it like this:

“It was a Friday afternoon around 2 pm and I was outside in our back garden, hanging out the laundry to dry, nine months pregnant and a few days overdue.”

I love the memory of our back garden and when she starts telling that story, I can completely picture her in my mind’s eye with that laundry. In my childhood I’d see her hang the laundry there often and she always marvelled at how quickly it all dried again. We lived in a red house and I always picture that and then the big garden in the back with grass and flowers and shrubs and trees and a lot of sunshine. The pictures here below were taken at the back of the house about two years before I was born, when my parents and siblings first moved there. We lived in the downstairs section of the house, there were also two small apartments upstairs.

My memories of our back garden are very much linked to these following pictures (and yes, that is me at about a year old in that one picture). I loved the fir trees and to this day when it’s hot outside and I walk underneath a fir tree, the feeling and smell of that can immediately transport me back to my childhood.

Anyway, back to my mother’s story…

“I was hanging laundry when my labour started and it came in fast. Your father drove me to the hospital in Jersualem and an hour later you were born. It was an extremely quick delivery and your dad wasn’t allowed in the room. I was in a cubicle and just after you were born the doctors and nurses left me to attend a birth in a neighbouring cubicle and then a third birth in another cubicle. I almost felt like I had given birth three times that afternoon! I was then told to pick up my baby and belongings and to go and find a bed somewhere on the ward. They also gave me an antibiotics pill because apparently hygenic conditions in the hospital, especially the bathrooms, were not ideal. It was a hospital favoured by Orthodox Jews and I remember the women lying there without their wigs on, their hair very short and patchy. A rabbi came by the beds to sing a blessing for each mother and baby. When he came to my bed he said, ‘You are a goy (i.e. non Jew), I won’t sing for you.’ I protested, however, saying I didn’t want to be treated differently and that I would like a blessing for my baby as well! And so he did indeed sing his blessing for us. On Friday evening Shabbat had started and no one was allowed to be discharged on Shabbat. Papa was allowed to come by and visit us and then on Sunday, I picked up you and my belongings and discharged myself and papa picked us up to go home again.”

My mother loves telling this story and I have heard it so often! I always used to roll my eyes at her when she would tell me the story of my birth yet again, willing her to be done with it as soon as possible and trying to rush her along. Yet now that I have children of my own, I find myself repeating stories of their births to them as well and they are impatient with me about that too. It took me to have children of my own to finally understand my mother better and her need for telling this story as I now too like to do the same thing with my kids on occasion. And so this morning, when mama called me and told me again about how I was born, I smiled happily and was glad to still have her around to tell it.

Women’s Day today…

… and also my husband’s birthday! I love that his birthday coincides with this day because he is also my favourite feminist (as I point out each year 😊) and the greatest champion of me being who I want to be as a woman and as a human being. He even supported me getting my tattoo (which is healing very nicely and I am still in love with it!), even though he really doesn’t like tattoos much. So, happy birthday to the love of my life!

And to all women everywhere – may you find peace, love, shelter and the space to be who you want to be. I know, that is not an easy feat in the very trying times that we live in… ❤️

All grown up!

It’s after midnight and December 19th now, which means that mini-me turns 18 today! From this tiny and cute baby girl…

… to the beautiful, smart, very funny, lively, compassionate, sensible, sporty, cat-loving, driven young lady she is today…

All grown up now, ready to vote for the first time (municipal elections next year) and do grown up things like legally drink a Flügel and travel on her own. We love her to pieces, enjoy watching her grow and have every confidence in her for her future. Happy birthday, dear S!

Multitasking and tug of war

The holiday season is definitely upon us, another weird year where we are half in quarantine yet again during the holidays. We’re working from home again, office Christmas parties are online again, and all restaurants, theatres, museums and non-essential shops are closed after 5 pm, at least until mid January. This Omicron Covid variant is looking grim as we still await our booster shots (my mother and aunt have had theirs, though, so that’s good).

So, office Christmas parties. There was an online work Christmas get together yesterday with a pub quiz but as there is much left to do before my daughter’s 18th and my aunt’s 85th birthday this weekend (on the same date!) and also for Christmas, I used the time to multitask. The Christmas shopping I have been ordering online is coming in now and things need to be wrapped, so while I was answering online pub quiz questions, I was also wrapping gifts…

Earlier in the week there was an online Christmas do for the volunteers at the Refugee Center where I work and, in between a full day of online meetings, I was able to use my lunch break to participate in that. Glad I did, it was fun. More fun than my regular work Christmas thing as it was more personal.

I spent yesterday evening working on a birthday video for my beloved aunt but when I watched it again this morning before work, the first half felt more like a funeral than a party. So, while working, I listened to all sorts of music on YouTube to figure out another first track for the video. I found a funny one and changed the music in my video during my lunch break. I used the first 3 and a half minutes of this…

As it’s getting quiet at work, I also pinched some time to finish the birthday poster for my daughter (with a small portrait picture for each year of her 18 years), as I do every year. I think I am now finally on top of things (except for party shopping which will happen tomorrow).

I’m really glad the Christmas holiday is coming up! I only have today, Monday and Tuesday to work and then I’ll have two weeks off. Bliss. My current boss and my new boss are caught up in a tug of war over me. My new boss wants me mid February, my old boss wants to hold on to me for a month longer (officially I have a 3 month notice period) and I’m just sitting back, watching it unfold as I simultaneously keep telling my current boss I’d also rather leave sooner than later. She’s so weird. Before I got the job she was encouraging me and saying how I should do all I can to follow my work-heart and now that I am, she’s holding me back. Anyway, it’ll work itself out. I’m starting to get into a Christmas zen mode, no use to to get worked up over things I can’t change.

Richard is getting his Christmas mood on as well, with his traditional call to give to a good cause…

I wonder if the message on the Just Giving page that he links to is also his Christmas message this year…

I hope he’ll still write a message more like he has done in previous years where he reflects on the past year. No pressure and time will tell, but it would be nice.

Anyway, it’s been really busy this week. On Wednesday I even had an insane amount of volunteer work to do at the Refugee Center that didn’t fit into the one afternoon I usually do and it took me all day. As my regular work is now starting to dry up, I’m quitting early today and I’m more than ready for the weekend to arrive. Back to single tasking and getting out of the way of tug of wars.

Christmas spirit?

As soon as Sinterklaas leaves our country, everything bursts into Christmas here. We have not celebrated Sinterklaas at all this year. It’s usually a children’s festival and our children are now grown and have little interest in it. There are also grown up parties sometimes, but this year there was none to attend and I didn’t have interest in making Sinterklaas special either. I did buy the traditional chocolate letters for the family…

… and when I handed out the letters to Mr Esther and the kids, I sang a very short Sinterklaas song for them (same one as sung 48 seconds into this video)…

… and that was pretty much it.

Now it’s time for Christmas. Mr E. didn’t initially want to put up any decorations. “Didn’t we only just pack them away?” he asked and yes, it does feel that way. More than a year and a half working from home and everything seems to be blending together. Suddenly we seem to virtually be in winter again and I hate that it now gets dark early and those short winter days. The only things that can cheer me up when there’s so little daylight are twinkly lights and candles, so I did want to put something festive up. We now have a smallish Christmas tree, which I decorated on Sunday (blasphemy to be doing that on the day of Sinterklaas itself!), and I put out some little Christmas village houses we have that we can burn candles in. The twinkly lights at the window of our dining area have already been up for a little bit.

You’d think that would be enough to get me into the Christmas spirit but I am just not feeling it. I did put together and order the family photos calendar I make every year for my mother, aunt and siblings but I have absolutely no other Christmas shopping done yet. I don’t even have a clue what to get everyone. Mr E left the house earlier this afternoon, saying a package would arrive and I am not allowed to open it. Meanwhile, I have nothing, niets, nichts, nada, niente, le rien, zilch planned or bought. I so need to start getting on top of this. I also need to figure out what to get our daughter for her 18th birthday in 12 days time. She has no clue what she wants either! I just can’t seem to figure it all out. How did December creep up on me like this and find me wholly unprepared? I thought I was doing OK but now it really feels like the winter blues I feel every year may have arrived.

Something just needs to boost my mood. I watched (half watched, really) a few Hallmark movies but most of those seem to be getting me more annoyed than cheering me up. I did enjoy skipping through Parenthood episodes with Peter Krause and Lauren Graham but many episodes are such tearjerkers, I can’t go into depth with those either. I do love the marriage Peter Krause and Monica Potter portray as Adam and Kristina…

… and I also love the season 4 – 6 storyline with Lauren Graham and Ray Romano as Sarah and Hank …

Parenthood really is a great series and when I feel a little lighter, I’ll definitely go in again and also pay closer attention to other storylines, but now is not a good time.

I’ve also enjoyed the look of Richard in the Stay Close images I have seen…

… and I like the trailer…

… but even that has me apprehensive. I fear too many red herrings going nowhere, like in The Stranger, that other Harlan Coben series Richard did last year (or was it early this year that that came out?).

Maybe, to boost my mood and get more into the festive month spirit, it’s time to start taking those Vitamin D pills I bought a month or so ago or maybe I should finally invest in that light therapy lamp I’ve been meaning to get myself? I hope twinkly lights and candles can help.