Category Archives: Blogging

I’m back!

It’s been a while. A long while. A way too long while since I even logged on to WordPress, let alone wrote anything! But I’m back, well I’m trying to be (I imagine Arnie saying “I’ll try to be back” wouldn’t have made quite the same impact – ha ha).

Jacob has recently started pre-school 3 hours a day, and the weeks leading up to that, a lot of my sentences started with: “Well, when Jacob goes to nursery I’ll have a bit more time to do that…” so I planned to do a lot of things, and I mean a lot of things.

First things first though, I increased my hours at work. Working only two days a week is lovely, but it does not help ones financial situation much, so half of the hours Jacob was going to be at nursery I agreed to work. Luckily the amazing company I work for are really flexible and were happy to let me do the extra hours from home.

After taking off time that I spend walking to school and back to do the now 3 school runs a day, this leaves me with about 3 hours at home to do other things. In those 3 hours I decided to do the following:

  • Go for at least 2 runs every week
  • Cook lots of meals to go in our freezer for the busy days
  • Write at least 2 or 3 blog posts a week
  • Become a domestic goddess whose house is so clean it barely looks lived in
  • Catch up with some friends I haven’t seen for a while
  • And write a book

All of that in 3 hours a week.

I don’t think I need to explain why this hasn’t happened. Although in the first two weeks of Jacob’s new adventure (for details of this you will have to wait for my next post) I did go for 1 run, cleaned and tidied up our dining room and generally got the house in a state that, although it very much looks lived in, you don’t stick to the kitchen floor anymore. And the best bit is that I have actually finished the first draft of my first ever novel – eek!

Oh, and I have just written a blog post, but obviously you already knew that 🙂

 

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I wasn’t scared……well, maybe a little

A few months ago I found a little lump in my breast…..slight moment of panic. A few days later……it was gone……sigh of relief. A few weeks later…..it was back…….moment of: what the heck do I do now!?!

To be perfectly honest, the temptation to just ignore it was pretty strong. I spent a couple of days doing jsut that and I did really well. But no matter how hard you try to pretend these things aren’t there, they niggle…..and niggle……and niggle. You can ignore them but they never quite leave your brain.

So I decided to have it checked out. The doctor I saw couldn’t feel anything and I wasn’t actually that worried. I am not sure whether this was just complete denial of the whole situation or a genuine feeling, but I assumed it was nothing to worry about. The doctor shared my lack of concern but still referred me to hospital to make sure. 

The appointment came through quite quickly, and still I wasn’t worried. 

The day of the appointment came, and still I wasn’t worried.

I drove to hospital and got myself a cup of tea because I was early, and still I wasn’t worried.

I find the right department, let reception know I was there, sat down, and still I wasn’t worried.

I had a look around at the people in the waiting room and the numerous leaflets with titles like ‘coping with cancer’ and all of a sudden it hit me; today could be just a routine check with a positive outcome and I’ll be home for lunch, or it could be the start of a long horrible journey. 

A lady of similar age to me arrived for a post treatment check up and all I could think about was whether she had children and whether they knew what their mummy was going through.

Luckily I didn’t have to wait very long. The nurse who saw me was lovely and she didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but she sent me to have a scan anyway.

The scan confirmed that it was just a bit of dense tissue and I was sent back to the nurse with the result. By this time the waiting room was so full that it was standing room only and it was a very strange feeling to know that not everyone in this room will be as lucky as me. Some people will, like me, be home for lunch and that be the end if it. But for some this will only be the start, and their lunch will be truly ruined by the prospect of the awful journey that is ahead of them. 

Again I didn’t have to wait long to be seen and the nurse confirmed the resukt of the scan. She also pointed out that I did the right thing by having it checked out. Then she sent me on my way.

And I went home, and felt lucky, damn lucky.

Around the corner from Anne Frank

Most people in my life know that writing is one of my biggest passions and ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But then I did grow up, and well, life happened and becoming a writer didn’t.

But when my wonderful Elisabeth was born I decided that I was not ready to let the dream go and I would somehow become a published writer one way or another. A lot of writing projects were started but very few were finished, apart from one. One that meant an awful lot to me because of the person I wrote about.

Just writing the story was incredibly satisfying, but I wanted the world to know about this amazingly brave person, and I was over the moon when ‘Dutch Magazine’ (dutchthemag) was willing to publish it.

This is the story of how Anna Elisabeth Van Nes-Visser, my beloved grandmother, saved the life of a young jewish girl during the second world war.

 

Around the corner from Anne Frank

Everyone knows the story of Anne Frank and “Het Achterhuis”, but Miep Gies, who looked after the Frank family, wasn’t the only one who, during the Second World War, risked her life by hiding Jews. There were thousands of them. It is estimated that 25,000 Jews survived the Second World War because they were offered a hiding place. Some people hid Jews to make money, some did it because they thought it was the right thing to do and some because not doing it didn’t even occur to them. Anna who lived at the Leliegracht in Amsterdam, around the corner from where Anne Frank was hiding, was one of those very brave people. She was also my grandmother.

In the summer of 1943, the house where Liesje, a young Jewish girl from Amsterdam, and her family lived was raided. Liesje was the only one who managed to get out of the house before the German soldiers took her whole family. She was hidden by the family who lived next door but they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, keep her. They put her in touch with someone who moved her to Utrecht where she found a place to hide, but in the winter of 1944 she was no longer safe there. This is when Anna was asked if she would take in a Jewish girl who had nowhere else to go.

Just over a year before, Anna’s father had been executed in Camp Vught. He was given the choice to either tell where Klaas, Anna’s husband, was hiding or to die. The Nazis did manage to find Klaas in the end, and he had been in Camp Vught for almost a year when Anna was asked to take Liesje in. Anna felt she needed to do something because of what the Nazis were doing to her family, and she agreed. After the war she often struggled with her reasons for this decision. She came from a very religious family and feelings of revenge weren’t generally accepted.

Liesje moved into Anna’s attic room. Anna tried very hard to accommodate Liesje’s Jewish traditions and Liesje tried to be as little a burden as she could. From March 1944 until May 1945 Liesje lived in Anna’s attic. She would only come downstairs for dinner, this was risky of course and the door to the attic was always left open just in case she had to go back upstairs quickly, but Anna insisted that dinner was eaten at the dinner table. This was her way of bringing some normality into the girl’s life.

Liesje helped out where she could. Anna had three children under five and had to go out every day to queue up for food. One day when the two youngest were ill and it was freezing cold outside, she left her three children with Liesje. All went well until someone she had known for years, and who knew that her husband had been captured, asked her: “Anna, where are your children today?” Anna didn’t expect the question and didn’t know what to say. She made up an excuse about her oldest looking after them. Luckily her lie had been believed, but that was the last time she ever left the children with Liesje.

Liesje lived in the attic until the end of the war without ever going outside. If she ever looked out of her window, she could have seen “Het Achterhuis”, but she wouldn’t have known there was a girl hiding there, just like her, living through the same fears. If they had both looked at the same time, they could have seen each other, and maybe even given a careful wave.

The stories of these two girls, Anne Frank and Liesje, are very similar. Both of them were Jewish, both were scared, but both of them were lucky enough to find a woman brave enough to risk their lives by hiding them. But the end of their stories couldn’t be more different. The Franks were betrayed and arrested. Little Anne died in March 1945, two months before the end of the war aged only 15. Liesje on the other hand struggled to walk normally when, on the 6th of May 1945 Anna took her outside for the very first time since she arrived 14 months earlier. Little Liesje, or Auntie Lies as she would later be known to us, died a happy woman aged 82.

After the war there has been some debate over what actually happened. Two parts of the story have different versions. The first is what happened to my great grandfather. My grandmother’s account is that he was executed because he wouldn’t give up my grandfather’s location, but my grandmother’s sister has always insisted that he died of pneumonia in Camp Vught. The other part where there is some doubt, is how Liesje ended up with my grandmother. The story that she has always told her children is that Liesje was living next door and escaped into my grandmother’s garden when their hiding place was raided. She hid in her coal shed overnight and knocked on the back door in the morning. A written account that we have from Anna however, tells us that she was asked whether she would take Liesje in. This document also mentions my grandmother’s struggle with the reasons why she decided to hide a Jewish girl. We do not know for sure what actually happened, but in my opinion the way I have written it here makes most sense. It seems likely that the execution of Anna’s father would have instilled the feelings of revenge that made her decide to help Liesje and that she later struggled with. This could also explain why she told a different story of how Liesje came to live in her attic. If she would have found Liesje in her back garden it almost takes away the conscious decision of taking her in and therefore the hiding of the girl is not a decision based on feelings of revenge.

We will never know for sure what really happened, but regardless of which version describes history most accurately, the plain truth is that Anna, without a shadow of a doubt, saved Liesje’s life, and so did so many other brave souls who risked everything by offering innocent people a place to hide in their homes. Their stories need to be told. And never forgotten.

 

 

I’m back!

Wow, you know you’ve been busy when writing is one of your favourite things and still you haven’t posted for 5 months! I know! Five whole months without as much as a word. Without trying to make excuses, the main reason I haven’t been blogging is that we have had a lot of illness over the last few months. I was ill pretty much from just before Christmas up to nearly the end of February with one nasty cold and/or flu after the other. And as soon as I was better, yes you guessed it, the kiddos got ill.

Jacob got off lightly the first time with just a cold that was gone within a few days, but Elisabeth was not so lucky and she was poorly for almost two weeks. We even got worried we might have had to cancel her birthday party, but she got better just in time…..or so we thought. Last week she again came down with high temperatures, sore throat and ear ache. Poor girl.

Because she is far too ill to go to school I have taken today off work (unpaid, eek!) to look after her. Normally I work from home when Elisabeth is not well because she is such a good girl and she happily lets me get on with what I need to do, but we have had so little sleep this week that I decided that and trying to work and looking after a poorly girl was just a bit too much. So a day off it is (which was a good decision because even writing this is making my eyes wanting to shut quite desperately!).

Anyway, winter won’t last forever so in theory the colds will go, and hopefully that means I will have a little more time (and energy) to write. In the next few days I would like to share with you my first ever published article about how my super brave grandmother saved the life of a Jewish girl during the Second World War, so watch this space!

Happy 1st birthday ‘Being Mummy’!

Today my blog is one year old, happy 1st birthday ‘being mummy’! And coincidentally this is my 100th post, 100 posts in one year doesn’t sound too bad at all I don’t think.

When I started this blog my main aim was to get back into writing on a regular basis, given the 100 posts in one year I think this has been quite successful. But this blog has given me so much more, so much I wasn’t expecting, but now I don’t want to live without.

It has given me the opportunity to keep people I don’t speak to regularly up to date with what Elisabeth is up to, some of the little things you wouldn’t necessarily share like
Conversations with Elisabeth or Come on smile if you have the energy.

It has made sharing bad news a bit easier. As many of you know we have had two miscarriages in the last seven months and writing about this did not only help me get on with things, but it also meant that I could tell people what happened without ending crying my eyes out every time (only a few people were unfortunate enough to have to cope with my tears). And the support I received from other bloggers and friends on Facebook and Linkedin was just amazing, all the lovely comments really did make a difference.
Bye baby
Grieving for another baby

Luckily the year (the blogging year which runs from April to April) has also brought some good things, one of the ones that stands out is that we are sleeping again! Elisabeth is now very consistent with sleeping through the night and she will only wake up if she is ill or when she has had a bad dream. It took her a while (although really 20 months is a little bit longer than a while) but she has really got the hang of it now. But if you would like to re-live some of our worst moments (excuse me if I don’t join you, living through it once was plenty thank you) feel free to read some of my sleep deprived ramblings below:
The things we do to make them sleep
I knew I shouldn’t have
Never again
Needless to say we are extremely happy to be sleeping again, although I should know better than to say that because every time I do little madam likes to prove that she is still capable of staying up most of the night.

Another thing I really like about this blog is that it has made me write down some really special moments which otherwise might have been forgotten:
Going forwards walking backwards
Things that make me smile without fail
It’s the little things
Conversations with Elisabeth

I guess these last 12 months have been like many other years, full of things that were nice, some that were not so nice, some that were absolutely wonderful and some that were truly heartbreaking. But all in all, it’s been pretty good.

Thank you all for reading.

Love
Elske

One lovely blog award

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How exciting, I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award! Steph from http://thebowtiebutterfly.com/ was kind enough to nominate me – go check out her great blog!

Now before I continue, I was nominated for an award before by my blogging friend at http://memyselfandkids.wordpress.com (check him out as well, awesome blog!) which I was very grateful for, however I had only just started blogging and I had no idea what the whole awards things was about, let alone what I should be doing. So, I hope to do a better job this time 🙂

Here we go, seven things about me:

1) Being a mum is my all time favourite thing in the whole wide world. It’s such a wonderful thing. Even though it is often really hard, Elisabeth completes my whole being and I love spending time with her.

2) My favourite time of the week is at the weekend when Elisabeth has just woken up and we all have a cup of tea in our bed.

3) One day I would like to move back to Holland, whether it will ever happen I don’t know but it is something I would really love.

4) I enjoy listening to classical music, especially Vivaldi.

5) When I was 16 I dyed my hair bright purple, it looked great!

6) The funniest thing on t.v. at the moment is without a doubt Miranda (Friday night, 20.30, BBC1) makes me laugh out loud every time.

7) I eat cheese sandwiches for breakfast, quite a normal thing to do for Dutch people, but here in the UK this is definitely classed as a bit weird at least.

And these are the people/blogs I would like to nominate (in no particular order):

http://joannenewmanartist.wordpress.com – because she is cool (and the fact that she is my sister in law has nothing to do with it!)
http://memyselfandkids.wordpress.com – because I love his blog
http://ratnamresidence.com – because she is a great mommy and I love reading about her adventures
http://lifetakesover.wordpress.com – because I love reading about all the stuff I’ve still got coming
http://cristianmihai.net – because I love reading about writing

Happy blogging everybody!

One Thousand……Really?!?!

This week I reached quite an exciting milestone, I reached 1,000 views on my blog! How exciting!

When I started blogging I was quite sceptical, I couldn’t really imagine that anyone, apart from my mum, dad and sister, would be interested to read about my little life. How wrong was I? On one thousand separate occasions someone decided to have a look at what I had to say, how amazing is that?!?

Now either you, all my lovely blogging friends, are a really forgiving bunch, or maybe, maybe I am quite capable of writing half decent posts. I hope it is the second, but my insecure self finds the first easier to believe. Whatever the reason, I am very pleased so many people visited my blog over the last few months and hopefully we’ll hit 2,000 soon.

Thank you very much for reading!