Thursday, 18 May 2017

Review: My Name is Leon

My Name is Leon My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Set in the 1980s it tells the story of 9 year old Leon who has a difficult start in life. His Jamaican father is absent from his life and his Mother Carol struggles to cope especially when Leon's brother Jake is born. With a different father Jake is white Leon is not. Leon tries desperately to keep the baby and his mother cared for but when Carol is found to be totally neglecting both children they are placed in foster care.

The book follows Leon's struggle with being in foster care and losing his brother. It is well written and the characters are well portrayed. The ending is quite open ended. It will be interesting to see if the author writes a sequel.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge 17/5/17

From this Side of the Pond 
Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at
Pop over there to see other posts and if you want to join in add the link to your Hodgepodge blog post to the Linky List at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.

1. May 17th is National Pack Rat Day. Sidebar-should we be celebrating this? Hmmm...
Are you a pack rat? Even if you're not a full-fledged pack rat, most people have one thing or another they struggle to part with. Tell us what's yours.
Well I had to look that expression up but no I’m not a pack rat.  Maybe a pack mouse?  De cluttering my house is a work in progress.  I still have one son at home and my daughter doesn’t yet own her own home so there are still things of theirs in the loft.  There is also stuff belonging to my other son who has recently bought his own home that I now need to persuade him to either take or get rid of.  I suspect that much of it will not be taken.  For a long time I had a lot of my Mum’s things in my loft from when she moved into a nursing home.  I gradually got rid of those once she’d passed away.
There are also some toys up there I saved for when grandchildren arrived so now I have Nathan I will need to revisit those boxes!
2. What are two things you know you should know how to do, but you don't?
Well in theory I know how to change a car tyre but in practice I can’t do it.  The bolts are always on too tight to get off by hand but I’d rather that than have my wheel fall off!  And I have roadside cover for such problems.  I’m a fairly practical sort of person so I mainly get by and if I get stuck there’s always YouTube or Google these days.
3. Do you crave sugar? Do you add sugar to your coffee and/or tea? Do you use artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes? When dining out is dessert a given? Are you someone who has slain the sugar dragon, and if so tell us how you did it.
I don’t think I’ll ever slay the sugar dragon although I have switched to artificial sweeteners in tea.  Dessert is always a given when eating out unless I’ve had a starter and sometimes there just isn’t room.
4. What's a trend it took a while for you to come round to, but now you can't imagine living without?
Mobile phone.  I resisted for a long time but I wouldn’t be without it now.
5. What's a song that reminds you of a specific incident in your life? Please elaborate.
Well anyone married will probably remember “their song” and of course I remember mine.  But other music that sticks in my mind is the funeral music for my Mum.  It was the first time I’d been involved in arranging a funeral so it was hard choosing the right music but as it was a simple cremation we only needed 3 pieces.  We had Pia Jesu for the entry, Do not be Afraid for the committal and we exited to the theme tune of one of her favourite TV programmes. (Coronation Street) It seemed fitting.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
My Grandson Nathan is still in the hospital but continues to improve and is slowly getting the hang of breast feeding.  Well he’s got the hang of it but it tires him out so he can’t do it for long enough yet.  Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before he’s home.  Thanks for all the good wishes and prayers.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Getting back into gear.

It's Mother's Day in the US today but we celebrated back in March.  However yesterday (13th May) was my daughter's birthday, her first as a Mum.  It was also the 5th anniversary of the death of my Mum so it's a day that made me think about Motherhood.  Strangely, my Mother took her leave at the exact time that my daughter entered the world, 4.13 am give or take a minute or two.  This picture is my Mum and me.    Image may contain: 2 people
Image may contain: 1 person, baby
Mum with Rebecca

Rebecca with Nathan

My Mum didn't have perhaps the best example of motherhood.  Her Mum didn't make things easy for her.  As the eldest of 4 girls Mum was often looking out for her sisters.  Money was tight and having gained a place at the local grammar school only one set of uniform could be afforded.  Mum did a lot of overnight washing to ensure she was always clean and tidy for school.  The start of her married life was spent living under the same roof as her parents where she had the lion's share of housework to do.  And despite sharing the house until I was born (by which time my brothers were 12 and 7) there was very little babysitting done by my grandmother.

Fortunately for me that led to my Mum being very different.  She was mostly there for all of our childhoods, only taking part time jobs once I was older.  Once I was married and had children of my own she was always willing to babysit.  We lived close by and in addition to the babysitting she was often at our house, doing ironing, cooking and just generally being another pair of hands and of course helping with the kids, reading, playing games and so on.  I don't think I would have done such a good job of bringing up my kids without her help or example.  That might sound like bragging but I think my kids are genuinely the sort any parent would be proud to call their own.  They also had a great example set to them by their other Grandparents.  So it's definitely been a team effort and of course hubby played his part too.

Hopefully some of this has been absorbed by my daughter now that she's embarking on her own Motherhood journey.  Followers here will know it's been a bumpy start.  Baby Nathan was 6 weeks old on Friday but he's still only just over 5lb.  He is doing well but it's been hard watching my daughter having to cope with all the uncertainty.  The constant round of expressing milk.  Trekking backwards and forwards to the hospital.  Leaving him behind everyday.  The constant checks and ups and downs are naturally causing her and her wife to be anxious.  Thankfully it's definitely more ups as he gets bigger and stronger but I am so proud of the way they have coped.

We spent time with them yesterday and managed to get out for a birthday lunch but they were both constantly checking their phones for the time and messages.  Fortunately there was no call back from the hospital and all was fine.  We made it back in time for Nathan's next feed and although it wasn't how she expected to be spending her birthday this year I think Becca enjoyed it.

I realised though this week that I've been wallowing a bit.  It's understandable I know, given I witnessed the birth first hand and have lived through this difficult time along with them.  And of course anniversaries remind us of loved ones we've lost.  My children were lucky enough to have my mum in their lives for at least 20 years but I did miss her yesterday.  She would have been so proud of my daughter and would have made such fuss of the baby (if she'd been in her right mind).  But she would also have been giving me a good talking to along the lines of "Yes it's hard watching your kids struggle with situations and it's hard not being able to cuddle the baby yet but the world's still turning and there are still things to be done.  Get off your backside and back into gear!"

Thanks Mum, for everything.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge 10/5/17

From this Side of the Pond 
Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at

Pop over there to see other posts and if you want to join in add the link to your Hodgepodge blog post to the Linky List at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.
1. Share a favourite memory of your mother or share a favourite something from your own life as a mother. If you're a mother (or stepmom) tell us how your experience as a mom differs from your own mother's experience.

I have lots of happy memories of my Mum.  She was widowed early so we were very close and she spent a lot of time with us when my children were little.  Sadly she didn’t live long enough to see all my kids settled and meet my first Grandson but I know she would have been so proud of them all. She was a great help to me which made my early time as a Mum so much easier.  This was the exact opposite of her experience with her own Mother who only babysat on the very rare occasion, even though they shared a house together until I arrived.  I hope I can emulate my Mum and not my Grandmother. 
2. In May we celebrate teachers (May 9) and nurses (May 6) both. Most every family has at least one in their midst, so tell us something (or a few things) you appreciate about the teacher or nurse on your family tree.
2 of our DILs are teachers and one of Hubby’s sisters is a nurse working in ICU.  They all amaze me with their dedication particularly when successive Governments interfere and cut funding and make their jobs much tougher than they should be.
3. Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad...which would you go for if all three were on the menu? On bread or a bed of lettuce? If you answered bread, what kind of bread would make it the perfect sandwich?
I would enjoy all of those on a bed of lettuce plus bread.  Why should I choose lol?. If I had to place them in order it would be chicken, tuna, egg.
4. Do you have a desk? Is it organized? If so, share your secret to keeping it that way. If you don't have a desk, where in your home do you take care of family paperwork and business? Where do you normally sit to blog?
I do have a desk.  At the moment it is so disorganised I’m trying not to think of it.  It lives in the bedroom we’ve just decorated.  I’m sure you get the picture.  I am gradually getting things finished but lots of stuff just got piled together when we had visitors recently and I need to do a major sorting exercise. I blog in several places – currently on the sofa, sometimes in bed, maybe at the kitchen table but hopefully soon back at my desk!
5. When I was nine years old I was a skinny, shy little thing who liked to ballet dance.
6. Insert your own random thought here.
That desk is not high on my priorities at the moment.  This little man is:

He is doing so well.  He's showing some interest in breast feeding.  That's the last major hurdle before he can go home.