Settling In

So, this week was my first week back at work.

It wasn’t technically a whole week as I’m doing one day off a week to use up all the holiday collected on maternity leave, but it was a lot more work than I’ve done in a long time.

It was really odd being back. It felt like I’d been away forever, and yet no time at all as well. Everything was the same – same people, same desk, same work – and everything felt different too. Some people welcomed me back, others didn’t seem to notice (someone emailed to apologise for not saying hi and said he didn’t recognise me – I forgive him because he’d only known me as hugely pregnant!)

I have to say, I quite liked being back. That might just be because it was the first week so I wasn’t really doing proper work all the time. It took me two days just to go through the 900 emails I’d collected while I was off. Another day to go through the stack of papers that several maternity cover people had left on my desk. Embarrassingly, the first day I had to ask my boss to go home early to breast pump as my boobs were huge and rock hard! Ah, the joys of breastfeeding 🙂

The hardest thing was, of course, leaving Little Moore, but for the most part that wasn’t too bad either. He did okay on Monday with my mom, though was a little grumpy and hard work, but I expected that. God knows how she’s going to cope with him and his cousin next Monday! Tuesday and Thursday he spent with his dad so I wasn’t worried about him then, and Wednesday was our family day. So the worst was Friday.

Nathan works early on a Friday so I had to get myself and Little Moore ready to leave for work/nursery by 7:15. Which was actually pretty easy as he was awake at 5:30. Sigh! Dropping him off at nursery was hard. He cried when I handed him over and I just wanted to snatch him back. But instead I made a quick exit: I think he’s worse if I hang around because he can see me and just wants to come back.

I thought about him all day. Most of me was worried, part of me was saying that this is good for him. He needs to get used to other people and become more independent, because I think he is very attached to us. I resisted calling them all day, telling myself if there was a problem they’d call. I also resisted leaving early to get him, though that was tempting! The best part was that I couldn’t wait to get home and play with him and make him smile. I think a little distance can do us good.

When I picked him up, he didn’t look too happy. They said he’d been okay, miserable on and off, had only drank 1oz of milk (I left 10 for him) and only napped for 10 minutes (normally he’d have at least a couple of hours). He looked exhausted and we ended up putting him to bed early that night, after lots of milk feeds. I’m hoping it’s just because everything’s new and strange there and that he’ll get used to it.

Plus side, we got some cute little art work from him so I need to find somewhere to hang that at home – it’s times like these I wish I had a magnetic fridge to put things on! I’ll see if I still feel happy about work next week, and hopefully Little Moore will settle into nursery a bit better.

Going Back to Work

I can’t believe I’m typing this but it’s almost time for me to go back to work.

When I started maternity leave mid-February, it felt like I had forever. I always planned to take 9 months rather than the full year, but it’s come round so fast and now I have mixed feelings about it.

I can’t say that maternity leave has been a breeze. I knew it wasn’t going to be a holiday, as some of my friends seemed to think, but I was looking forward to it all the same. I have loved spending every day with my little boy, but in the beginning especially it was hard. Once Nathan was back at work I had 4 days a week where I was supposed to take care of this tiny thing by myself. It’s a bit of a shock to the system.

I’ve enjoyed most of the time I’ve spent off, but some days were a struggle. We’re living in a new area where I don’t know many people, I wasn’t going to any baby groups and I felt horribly lonely. Plus I was breastfeeding a newborn every two hours, day and night, and I was exhausted. There were times when I looked forward to going back to work: not having to worry about feeding and nappies, speaking to people, doing a job I’m good at, being me and not just ‘mum’.

But those were rare times. For the most part these have been the best nine months and I wouldn’t change anything. It’s even more fun now Little Moore is older and able to play properly with things. We’ve enjoyed reading together, playing building games and peek-a-boo, and we’ve started messy play recently too.

Although I have mixed feelings about going back, I know it’s the right decision. I want to be able to provide the kind of life for him growing up that I did. All my parents worked hard (mum, dad and step-dad) and because of this we lived in a nice house and did fun things together at weekends. I want to provide for my son in that way, and although it might mean sacrificing some time with him, I know it’ll make the time I do spend with him even more special.

I’m also lucky in that my work is very flexible. I’m going back 4 days a week, so I’ll have 3 to spend with Little Moore. I can choose my working hours and am able to work from home too, so there’s flexibility in case he needs me unexpectedly. We’re also not having to fork out a fortune on nursery fees: Nathan will have him twice a week, we’ll have one family day, and my mum is taking care of him and his cousin once a week, so he only spends one day at nursery. I think he needs that one day to socialise with other babies and spend time in a different environment with different people.

While part of me would love to be a stay at home mum, I think deep down it’s not for me. It’ll be a challenge in the next few weeks getting into a new routine and getting used to working again, but I know we can do it, and with Christmas around the corner there’s something to look forward to too!

Book Review: The Next Together (Lauren James)

Publisher: Walker

Pages: 356

Release Date: September 3rd 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

Review:

This is a book that I have been meaning to get on for ages and I’m a bit embarrassed that it’s taken me this long. But, hey ho, I’ve read it now, and just in time as I have a beautiful copy of The Last Beginning sat on my shelf too.

The Next Together follows the story of Katherine and Matthew across four different timelines. They meet, they fall in lover, they’re torn apart, and then they come back to do it all over again. Why do they keep coming back, and is there a way to stop the cycle?

The book flits between the characters in their different eras with ease: I never felt confused as to where we were, and I didn’t really dislike one either. I often find with multiple view points/stories you end up groaning when you realise the one you don’t like is up next, but I enjoyed all of these. I liked 2039 the best, and felt it really showed the way the future had changed well in little subtle ways.

Katherine and Matthew were great characters across all their incarnations. I think I liked all the different Matthews but Katherine did occasionally get on my nerves: I didn’t think she was as funny as she thought she was and I’m not sure we’d get on in real life!

The great mystery of the book was why they kept coming back together, and when I was none the wiser near the end I realised I might have to wait until book 2 for a full explanation. There’s enough to keep me satisfied for now though. The bits I found most interesting were the comments in between sections, where notes were made on whether the relationship was on track or if the ‘objective’ would be achieved. I found this really intriguing, and the repeatedly denied request for interference was really frustrating and I was really happy when it finally happened.

This book was a fun mix of genres and I felt it had a bit for everyone: romance, historical, sci-fi and contemporary. Each era was well researched and felt natural, and after the action packed ending I’m really excited to read the sequel.

4

Book Review: Outcast – A Darkness Surrounds Him (Robert Kirkman)

Publisher: Image Comics

Pages: 152

Release Date: January 5th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Review:

Nathan has raved about this book for a while so I promised to read it as one of my Horroctober reads. I’m also really looking forward to starting the TV show too, which looks awesome!

Outcast tells the story of Kyle, a man who has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and is finally starting to get some answers. But the more he learns, the more things spiral out of control, threatening all life on Earth.

I did enjoy this but now I’m looking back to review it I don’t feel like I have a lot to say. It felt like this was very much a set up book: we meet some characters, learn Kyle’s background, see a few possessions, but it doesn’t feel like the story has really started yet. Still, it’s made me interested in the story and I want to see what Volume 2 has to offer, so it’s done its job!

The thing that really got me was some of the gore in the artwork – some pages were a real shocker when you turned them over, and I loved that. It really used the format of the graphic novel to shock you, which is great. While not the most exciting read, I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.

3

Book Review: Mister B. Gone (Clive Barker)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 248

Release Date: October 21st 2008

Summary (from Goodreads):

You hold in your hands not a book at all, but a terrifying embodiment of purest evil. Can you feel the electric tingle in your fingers as you are absorbed by the demon Jakabok’s tale of his unintentional ascent from the depths of the Inferno? Do you sense the cold dread worming its way into your bloodstream, your sinews, the marrow of your bones as you read more deeply into his earthly education and unspeakable acts? The filth you now grasp has been waiting patiently for you for nearly six hundred years. And now, before you are completely in its thrall, you would do well to follow the foul creature’s admonition and destroy this abomination of ink and paper before you turn a single leaf and are lost forever.

You have been warned.

Review:

This book starts with our narrator, a demon named Mister B, asking you as the reader, to burn the book. He repeats his plea, but as you read on he realises it’s to no avail and agrees to share some of his story if you promise to burn the book when he is done. This bargaining continues until he eventually tells you all his story, including how he ended up trapped in the book in the first place. The story is told in a conversational way, as Mister B talks directly to you, acknowledging the relationship between you as narrator and reader, even playing with it as times (trying to make you stop reading by omitting every other word, etc).

Mister B. Gone tells the story of Jakabok Botch (Mister B) as he is burned in a horrific fire, evades death at his father’s hands, is brought up from hell by a group of inept demon catchers and then meets another demon, Quitoon, who he travels Earth tormenting the locals with, until the book reaches a climax in a small German town with a man named Gutenburg.

As a publishing student I had a good guess at where the book was going when they mentioned Gutenburg and some world changing machine he had made. I liked the idea that his printing press was so incredible that both heaven and hell get involved.

This book was well written, with some really gruesome descriptions of what Jakabok and Quitoon do to humans – lots of the baby stuff made me cringe as a new mum! I didn’t feel this was really my kind of book though – it moved a little slow for my liking and I found it wordy and dull at some times. Still, I can see why others would like it and I’d recommend it if you like something a little dark and twisted.

 3

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star (Nicola Yoon)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Corgi Childrens

Pages: 384

Release Date: November 1st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Review:

I loved Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and was excited to read her latest book. I didn’t have any idea what it was going into it but it turned out to be a cutesy romance with some more serious undertones on identity and immigration.

The story follows Natasha, whose family is about to be deported back to Jamaica and Daniel, who has an interview for a university his parents want him to go to. Chance throws them together but is there’s a romance that is destined forever, or destined for failure?

I’m not usually one for romance stories, and this one was sickly sweet sometimes, but I couldn’t help enjoy this one. While Daniel believes in true love and meant-to-be, Natasha is a girl of my own heart and cynical about the whole thing.

The story mainly alternates between Natasha and Daniel’s points of view, but also has the odd aside from more background characters: the feelings of security guard at an office who wants to commit suicide, the regrets of Natasha’s father, a history of Daniel’s brother. These little flavours of other people were a great way to explore other events and characters, as the story takes place over one day.

With Natasha’s family due to be deported the next day, it seems as if there’s no chance for the two to ever have a relationship, even as they fall for each other. I was worried the whole thing was going to be resolved nicely and the two would live happily ever after: while I kind of wanted that for them as they were so sweet, I’m cynical and don’t like insta-love and perfect romance stories like that, so I was glad when a lot of obstacles were thrown their way. I won’t spoil it but I was satisfied with how things turned out.

Diversity is a hot topic at the moment and it was refreshing to read a story that wasn’t about two middle class white people. We see the casual racism that’s thrown at them – Natasha feels pressure to have her hair chemically straightened as Afro hair isn’t ‘good hair’. The issues of identity and immigration are really fascinating as well. Natasha was born in Jamaica but grew up in America: America is her home and she feels no connection with her place of birth. She was brought there illegally by her parents and is being forced to leave due to her father’s mistake. There’s a frustration in the helplessness of a young person who can’t control her own fate.

This was a bittersweet love story that I really enjoyed. It was good to read a romance story from a perspective that isn’t white/middleclass and can educate me about cultures I don’t know much about. It’s another hit from Nicola Yoon and I’d really recommend it.

4