Category Archives: Personal/Updates

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.

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?

The Month that Was: January

Another radio silence, I know.

This one was due to suffering from mastitis during the second half of January. It was horrible. I keep telling people that I think I preferred giving birth to the pain and general illness that comes with mastitis. Then again, at the end of labour you know you have a child to look forward to, so that probably takes the edge of the pain & Pim’s birth was relatively easy anyway. Nursing has not been that easy. And yet, I have difficulty saying goodbye to it. During mastitis you have to continue nursing or the infection will get worse and so you have no choice. And now that it is actually over I am still feeding. Despite all the issues I have had, I also really love these moments with Pim?

Reading wise, I didn’t really do much since I became ill. And so, January counts a lousy 4 books, only two of which I have written about thus far:

  1. Finding Violet Park – Jenny Valentine
  2. The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman
  3. The Night Fairy – Laura Amy Schlitz
  4. Vera – Elizabeth von Arnim

More annoyingly, I was in the middle of reading The Wonderful Adventures of Nils for the Children’s Book Project when I had to return it to the library. Hopefully, I can get it back again soon.

I also did not meet a few of the goals I set for reading in 2015. Perhaps February will be better?

I am currently reading the third book in the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart, which I find highly enjoyable.

What was your January like? And what are you planning to read during February?

Sunday Salon: Packing & Changes

Tomorrow we will receive the keys to our new home. This is the first time Bas and I will actually move to a place together, as I had been living in the apartment where we have lived the last seven years a few years before he moved in.

These last few weeks have been marked by slowly packing up as much of our stuff as possible, to make the move a little easier. The new house still needs to be painted and partially needs a new floor. We need to have moved out of our apartment before the 1st of July. Since we have never painted a full house, we have no clue how long this will all take, but hopefully it won’t be too stressful.

Since I am pregnant I am not allowed near paint the whole day. I am also unable to help much with manual labour. So my job? I will probably take care of food for the people who are painting. And I’ll be working during the week as I try to complete an insane number of deadlines before pregnancy leave at the beginning of August.

Getting there.. one box at a time.

Getting there.. one box at a time.

Meanwhile, I am packing up my books. Slowly but surely. I suspected that people might be overreacting when they told me that come June, I might not be able to lift much. But they were right. It has been rather disappointing to notice that after packing two boxes of books, I need to sit down and rest because my abdominal muscles are already painful. And this is just taking books from shelves and putting them in boxes, mind. Bas carries them to the larger pile later on.

I knew I had many books but it has been a surprise to see how many boxes are needed to actually pack them up. I am down to the last bookshelf, that is, if I don’t count the review copies still hiding in another closet. Packing books has made me long for a time when I will have read all the unread books and might actually buy books I want to read at that very moment (give me a couple of years!)

I have purged quite a lot of books from my shelves (around 150), but it has been rather problematic to think of a way to get rid of them. Charity shops in the neighbourhood don’t really accept books at all anymore, and since I read in English and most read in Dutch they’re unlikely to accept my books. (There’s still one at a 5 km bike ride that I might try – but try getting there with 150 books). Selling them has proven incredibly difficult, even if I offer them for 20 cents a piece (and I don’t want to say “for free” on a general site as they then pop up in advertisements of resellers for ridiculous prices – this has happened before). And I just cannot cannot cannot fathom the thought of throwing them in the trash.

–  –  –

The move is both scary and exciting. As much as I complained about this apartment in the last couple of years, I am sure I will be sad and a little nostalgic when the time comes to leave it. I have been walking around the neighbourhood lately (restless legs means I simply have to walk sometimes or I cannot sleep), and even though I wouldn’t want my child to grow up here, there are still some places of beauty around. I will still be visiting this city every week as I go in for work, I will be seeing my friends that still live here, but it won’t be the same I’m sure.

And then there is the new town, the new neighbourhood, new people to get used to in the new house. It always takes me some time to settle in – more than it does for others, I guess. I cannot wait for the feeling of “being home” to arrive sooner rather than later. It scares me at times. But then I remember the space we’ll have compared to now. The garden. The nearness of actual nature and not miles and miles of flat grasslands outside the city. The idea of building a home there together with Bas. And with the little one.

100happydays

As I navigate these changing circumstances, I thought it might be nice to keep a photo log. I have seen the #100happydays challenge around at the facebook of a colleague, and lately quite a few bloggers have started as well. I do not quite see myself remembering to take a picture each day, but I really really want to try. Pictures will be posted on my instagram.

– – –

I hope you do not mind these rather more personal updates. I think they might become more regular from now on.

Have a happy Sunday everyone!

Happy News!

Hello! It has been a while, hasn’t it? Hopefully this post will explain some of the reasons for my disappearance.

So, last week I was in Vienna for a conference..

P1270352

Elephant at the Natural History Museum!

In front of Schönbrunn

In front of Schönbrunn

However, as might be apparent from the pictures (though some still insist they cannot see a thing – which makes me wonder how on earth they explain some of the changes in my appearance), this is not the happy news I want to share with you. Rather, it is the following:

I am currently 23 weeks pregnant and we are expecting a baby boy.

On top of this, we also bought a house about an hour away from where we currently live. (Yes, an actual house with more than one bedroom and a garden!) We will receive the key at the beginning of June, so we have been busy packing (or rather, preparing for it) next to being “busy” being pregnant.

We couldn’t be happier with these changes.

Of course it has been rather a change in how much time I was able to make for blogging (or reading). I know I have been silent about my pregnancy for rather long. Even though part of us wanted to shout it from the rooftops, we have also enjoyed keeping it somewhat private and then it was difficult to find the right time to tell. But hey, now you know :-)

Perhaps this means I can finally get into the flow of posting once a week or so, since these past months I have felt that whatever I wrote would not be what I actually wanted to write about.