Category Archives: Community/Weekly Events

Happy Birthday, Pim!

I cannot quite believe I am writing that down, but if I look at the dates it is true: my little baby turned one year old on Monday.

We had a small celebration with his grandparents, aunt, and a few acquaintances on Monday, and expect a larger group of friends and family on Sunday (it will be so busy for out little one; we have our fingers crossed that he will actually catch some sleep..).

As always, I was busy trying to juggle work and decorations for the village festival (which seems to coincide with Pim’s birthday from now until who knows when) as well as preparing for his birthday. It wasn’t perfect, but I certainly tried:


We decorated with lots of garlands and balloons (the picture doesn’t really capture it, since it only shows part of the room), that were all utterly fascinating to Pim. One of his current favourite pastimes is to point at objects, hear their name, and to be carried to them so he can briefly feel them — and so that is what he did with his birthday decorations. I also put up lots of pictures from the past year. Initially, I wanted to copy Michelle’s idea of putting up the number one in pictures, but I ended up simply putting a random collage of pictures on our glass doors in the living room and kitchen, because I couldn’t make a number work in our living room without damaging paint etc.. It still looks nice and really festive though, and I loved going through the pictures and revisiting some of these moments on the eve before Pim’s birthday, particularly as I haven’t been able to find the time to put together his actual photo book yet *blushes*.

I also made Pim a cake as well as a mock one for cake-smash purposes. The cake smash wasn’t a huge hit with Pim, but to be honest we had kind of expected it. He doesn’t really enjoy getting dirty and he is usually incredibly careful with things, and so instead of going for a full-on smash, he continued to carefully touch the cake with his fingertips, study his hands, and then frown a little as if he didn’t quite know what to make of this. Ah well, it made for some lovely pictures anyway. And it does capture his current personality remarkably well.


And anyway, Pim did enjoy doing “Hip, Hip, Hooray” in front of the cake. Every time we use that line he looks around so happy and proud with his arms in the air. And it, of course, made us proud too. We hadn’t expected him to do it in front of a large “audience”, since he usually reserves his clapping, waving, hoorays, kisses, and cuddles (the words he seems to associate with actions) for a more intimate setting.

As seems to be the case for most babies, Pim had little interest in his gifts. We had a small slide wrapped in the living room when he entered, but he only wanted to point and stare at the decorations when he first entered the room. After a little while he also became interested in the slide (we thought), but it turned out he only wanted to touch the balloons we had taped to the present. The tearing noise of wrapping paper couldn’t even interest him, he was so overwhelmed by the general state of the room. However, once the present were unpacked, he loved them! We had puzzled over what to get Pim for weeks. He had already received the two things we were sure he would love a month prior from others: a wooden activity cube with Pim’s 3-month-favourite: a wire maze on top, and a ball track. Traditionally, babies receive a sandbox, but the summer is almost over and as I said, Pim doesn’t like to get dirty.. and so we hadn’t a clue what to get him until he suddenly became obsessed with the baby slide in the pool last week. Of course, he can’t really  use the slide as it is intended to be used yet but he loves it when we place him on top and let him mock-slide downwards. Also, it will be a nice addition to the still-being-renovated garden next year. Others also made quite a good judgement of toys Pim would enjoy, and we will continue to swap them up in the following months–year. He was particularly keen on the gift he received from my sister in America, which was extra nice given that she couldn’t be there.

Overall, I think the birthday went really well. I was, of course, a bit overwhelmed and emotional by the end of the day. Honestly, I wasn’t quite ready for the day to arrive and I also wasn’t quite ready for it to be over. I wish we could have celebrated Pim’s birthday all week. To make it last. Or to make the growing up so fast stop, perhaps? In that sense, I am glad we’ll be able to repeat the experience on Sunday.

Reading, the blog, and everything else

Changes picture

Ever since Pim was born, I do not get to read as much as I would like. It is not just taking care of him, but also organising ways of seeing each other as a couple, finding time for sports, or just having time to do nothing for a while. I think we can say that my life has changed since Pim. In incredibly good ways. But it also means reading fell a victim. And I do not think I can ever fully remedy that. So it is time for the blog to change. Little by little. If I ever want to be able to maintain a blog again.

The first step was changing my blog title a few days ago. It no longer reads “Iris on Books”, but has been changed to “Iris, Books, and More”. It is a minor change, and I do not think any of you would have noticed if I hadn’t written it down here. But it is important for me: it means I might find the breathing room to actually write posts again, without feeling trapped by my own restrictions.

Yes, I am sorry to say goodbye to bookblogging-as-bookblogging. But I think I may say that what I had managed to build years ago has faded away little by little over the past two years anyway. From a professional standpoint, my blog had not been a book blog for a long time. But from a personal one, it still was — and probably still is.

Here’s the thing: I could try to rebuild the blog to what it once was. But honestly? I think I might be lying to myself just a little every day. I just do not feel as free to write about books now — less than I used to anyway.

So what will change? Books will hopefully probably still be a large part of what I write about. I am still a reader — I just do not read as much as I used to. I would also like to share other things I care about: politics, PhD life, motherhood, household stuff, random thoughts, anything really.

I know that some of you might not want to bother with that sort of thing, and I understand. To those: thank you for reading my blog in the past, and for the interactions we shared.

To those who might stick around a little longer, I also want to extend a thank you. The blogging community has supported me through a lot, and I have made a number of friends through this outlet that I absolutely cherish. Hopefully, this -sort of- fresh beginning will be a way to reconnect.

There are still things I am unsure about: I would like to keep the backlog of Iris on Books, I would like for people to be able to find me on twitter through the name they know me by.. and so, I am as yet undecided on whether to start anew somewhere else, or to stay here. And what to do about the URL, and the like. Sometimes i feel the change should be more substantial than changing the blog title, at other times I don’t. So yeah.. this is an ongoing debate I am having with myself.

Recommendations Wanted: Books/Stories about Refugees and Migration

Would any of you know good books/stories/op-ed pieces on refugees and/or migration?

Because.. I cannot help but feel I should do *something*  in my own inadequate way, with all the news about refugees and the *ahem* not-so-friendly policies. And for me, doing something always begins with reading. I have already asked my colleagues about some more scholarly pieces, but would love to know if there is any fiction or perhaps also non-fiction that I should look into.

I feel — or rather, hope — it will be superfluous, but, honestly, no “there’s no room here”, “let’s leave them to drown” pieces, because I see enough of that going around on twitter and elsewhere, and I just do not agree, nor do I have any interest in reading about it.

Three years ago, I read Marie Ndiaye’s Three Strong Women, and as I noted back then, I did not like it as much as I knew I should. Nevertheless, the third story, the one about a woman named Khady, who tries to travel to Europe, still echoes through my mind from time to time. And I cannot help but recall it, whenever I see the news. It learned me to see so much more clearly something I unconsciously always knew: that migration is a difficult undertaking and that we in Europe are forever talking about it from a position of privilege. The circumstances and emotional reverberations were never quite brought home to me so vividly as it was in this story.

So, I am looking for more of these. Stories that bring the human, emotional, lived experience back in the picture — lest we forget that these are people and not news items or you know, all these crazy terms being used in media & politics.

If there’s more interest, I might even compose a list for others to browse.

Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR

Planned reading is not at all my thing right now. I mostly just grabs whatever suits my fancy, and I usually end up discarding about 3 books before I finally settle down to read one that feels right. However, I do enjoy making lists. And summer always feels a little more relaxed despite still having to do a lot of work. So why not enjoy the thought of summer by attempting to compose a list.

So, here goes: 10 books I imagine I’d like to read in the upcoming months, barring a few more specific ideas that I am pondering at the moment and that will probably mess this all up again:

top10 Summer TBR

(I am still coming to grips with Picmonkey, so hopefully my collages will start looking better in due time).

From top left to bottom right:

  • The Long Song by Andrea Levy
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  • A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
  • The Favorites by Mary Yukari Waters
  • Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons
  • The Madwoman on the Bridge by Su Tong
  • Frangipani by Célestine Vaite
  • The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice
  • The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Basically, this is a mix of books that have been on my shelves for a good long while and that I have meant to read for forever, but that I somehow never get to. It also involves a test of whether I should keep them on my TBR at all (e.g. Mr Rosenblum), and attempts to face illogical awe-of-status that turns into fear-of-reading (e.g. Siri Hustvedt, Amitav Ghosh). Generally, I just picked books that make me happy by just thinking of reading them. That should serve as a good point of departure right? Only drawback? I think the Eva Ibbotson looks a little bit more like a winter than a summer read if we go by its cover, but I know Ibbotson is the kind of writer who I generally like at whatever point in time.


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and encourages sharing lists of books around a certain theme or topic each week.

Currently… #1

I have seen these kinds of posts appear on other blogs regularly, although I am not sure where I first saw one and thus do not really know who to credit with the idea (if anyone knows, please tell me!) I thought this might be a good way of returning to blogging without constantly feeling I should first give the whole blog a makeover (on which I have many thoughts, perhaps I might formulate them all coherently soon?)

So anyway, here goes..

Reading: I finished reading Miss Buncle Married last night and am currently debating whether I should read the third installment right away (because I so enjoy these books by D.E. Stevenson), or if I should wait considering I enjoy them so much and I won’t have any new Miss Buncle books left after I finish The Two Mrs Abbotts.

Listening to: If I do find the time to listen to music it is mostly to one of these two new releases: Noel Gallagher’s Chasing Yesterday and Death Cab For Cutie’s  Kitsugi. These are safe options, yet providing new-to-me music.

On planning & projects: this is what my office wall currently looks like.

On planning & projects: this is what my office wall currently looks like as I aim to organise the last 19 months of my PhD.

Feeling: Happy but also super stressed most of the time. I know, I know… it’s the first year as a parent. No one is surprised. But it is still true. At times I feel I can barely keep up. Actually, I do not think I am keeping up at all.

Thinking About: Planning and Projects, to put it all into two words. Right now, thinking along these lines and trying to see everything as a project which enables planning helps me to feel a little on top of things. In the middle of the chaos that is my life right now (motherhood, last 1,5 years of my PhD, a house that still requires a lot of work), it seems the safest bet to not feel constantly overwhelmed. I’d like to share more on this soon, but it also involves thoughts on blogging.

Blogging: Well, not much, as we have seen. I am seriously debating changing this blog to suit my current life more, which, lets face it, does not include tons of reading anymore. But then, I am loathe to do away with my Iris on Books, since it gave me such joy over the past years. And I do still love books very much. Then again, I’d also love to refashion it into something a little bit more “alive” than this blog is currently. But it would mean a make-over of some kind. And well.. where would one find the time for that?

Pim (picture taken by my father)

Pim, busy with his favourite pastime: “flying”, or pretending to do a “free fall”.

Eating: I wish I could say it was healthy. Or that I was being mindful about it. Instead, I am basically eating whatever. Another point of change, hopefully.

Happy about: Pim. I know I seem to be mostly complaining here, but having had Pim is genuinely a source of joy. Seeing him making progress as he begins to become more mobile and seeing his discovery of the world in giant (for a baby) leaps is amazing. Also, his smile whenever he sees that Bas or I are there to take care of him, or better yet both of us, always translates itself into instant happiness and lessening of all the worries playing in the back of my mind.

What are you currently reading, doing, eating, thinking, loving, and/or worrying about?