Sunday, 23 November 2014

Connected, but not connected

One of the superior aspects of the modern living is that we have the instant possibility to connect [when there is an Internet connection and it works]. However, this will never replace the real connection and presence. As a Skype Mummy I do have a connection to my son and my husband every day, but it is not the same as taking Number One Son to school in the pissing rain or tackling the homework. Archaeologist Husband seemed to be somewhat stung when I tried to give advice on the way to get our son to do the homework - this week drawing something on a hobby and writing two sentences on it. The latter part is stretching it, since Number One Son really does not know how to write, yet. He can copy and struggles with fine motor action while doing it. However, he has started to write his name and spell it without urging. Sometimes there is a hint that he may be able to read single words or short sentences without help. But these are just glimpses of his progress while the others seem to be galloping somewhere further on the learning path.

Anyway, my suggestion was to try asking him to draw a cat, something he really wants. He has already named the non-existent cat, so that is an easy sentence: 'Cat is called Shelly'. But this may have been a suggestion too far, since Number One Son had been up at 5am again, so any 'wisecracking' from the away parent was heading to the shredders. I have heard that some parents have kept the Skype on all time in the evenings, but Number One Son's Skype is on his tablet and I think mother intervening with Dora the Explorer or playing Angry Birds Transformers would be frowned upon. I have heard the complaints when Mummy replaces a Dora cartoon...

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Confessions of a bad wife

I have a confession to make. I am now back in Stockholm typing this only because I totally and absolutely forgot my husband's birthday. Thus, without any hesitation, I booked a return flight on the Sunday, "because I had flown so many times mid-week and it would be good to show up at least once at work on Monday morning when one is returning from Britain/abroad". Nothing in the numbers of the date reminded me of anything. Until Archaeologist Husband started to speak about the video night, which suggested to me that during the weekend something special was happening. As I consequence, I swanned away in a taxi when Archaeologist Husband had staggered out of the bed to keep eye on Number One Son after staying up and chatting with his best mate until 2 am. Somehow I think that the special birthday present I bought from Rome or Number One Son's cute 'Happy Birthday' just wasn't enough.

I had managed to book a babysitter and was the one to take Number One Son to the school disco that of course was on the Friday night when we could go to the fancy restaurant in the village. I braved the 100 four-, five- and six-year-olds running, dancing, eating and drinking in the dark where I lost sight of Number One Son several time. Archaeologist Husband was clearly traumatised with his experience in the spring, so I guess who will take responsibility of these events in the future. However, I am just needed as a walking purse who hands over money for sweets and soft drinks.

Sadly, the dinner was not a perfect success either. I had started feeling ill in the afternoon and could not eat properly. Instead of the full three courses Archaeologist Husband got only two and the drinks were not flowing as normally. As a consolation, I took him to our local from the time before Number One Son and that seemed to cheer him up a little bit. I find some consolation in the fact that we both forgot our wedding anniversary last spring - we only noticed when my sister-in-law made a 'may the fourth' comment...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Conference skyping

I must hang my head in shame, since in the latter of the two conferences I attended this week, I did not make an attempt to skype home in the evenings – even if I was only in Cambridge. This was partly due to the fact that during the first night I was so tired I collapsed to bed as soon as the conference day was over and during the second I did not get Eduroam to work. I have either set it up only at Stockholm or totally forgotten my password and other details. I have to sort that one out when I have more time. Embarrassingly, I did not get the conference guest system working either, but maybe they had not entered me, since in principle I have Cambridge Eduroam. I had to do the tutoring my online course using my smartphone...

However, in Rome I was skyping both from my hotel and the conference venue. The wifi connections make life so much easier, although dragging the laptop around adds to the chores. Nevertheless, the seaming contact with the family is successful only when the wifi is actually working and the timetables go together. On the first conference day in Rome I skipped a possibility to go to eat with some of the other Swedish delegates in order to tell a bedtime story to my son. Frankly, I was also so tired, I would have made very poor dinner company. Additionally, I would have risked falling asleep onto my bowl of pasta... Quick toast in a bar and a glass of peach juice provided my quick supper.

At the University of Rome Tre I was sitting on the chairs in the huge corridor open area and balancing the microphone next to the laptop. Due to the time difference and the time for our conference dinner (a nice buffet – standing cocktail party style as also the previous night in the Swedish Institute), Number One Son and Archaeologist Husband had barely managed to get back from the after school club. Since it was so early, Number One Son showed much more interest to his toys and a possibility to watch cartoons than talking to Mom. However, his hug on Friday morning showed how much he had missed me in re

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Trick and treat

I made a lucky escape yesterday, when Number One Son had been trick and treating with the Anstey coffee group crowd. I managed to forget my son's bedtime story book to the hotel room in Oslo, and I have failed to remember to e-mail them in order to get it back. I am afraid it will be 'Goldylocks' until I remember to print out some stories from the Internet. I thought that I had put it in the suitcase in the evening after skyping, but apparently I just placed it on the small dressing table in the room. Feeling a bit a failure and I rubbish Mom here about that. I do remember my notes for the lecture, but forget seasonal Moomins... Maybe I should check what is on 'Bad Mom' on the online channel of the Finnish tabloid Iltasanomat. It makes me always feel better.

Number One Son (by Archaeologist Husband)

On the Halloween note, Archaeologist Husband explained how he and a number of other parents were frantically panic buying fancy dress and sweets for the children. Archaeologist Husband ended up being the only parent dressing up, but his enjoyment of steampunk is well known. Although I must say his attire resembling a long-haired progressive rock basist (I assume he was meant to be Captain Hook or similar) was hilarious. That wig will have further use...

After a long break I have had time to read Facebook - partly it has turned out to be the best place to contact certain people - and I noticed that apart from half-term trips, we had a serious amount of pumpkins around. Number One Son got his pumpkin already at the beginning of the week. It is interesting how this American cultural enculturation takes place. Number One Son self started to talk about Halloween party: it is something from the school, but not necessarily intentional. However, who would not like a bit of light inside a pumpkin in the darkness. Tonight Sweden celebrates Helgondag, but is has been raining all night. In England it is the Saturday for the early bonfire night fireworks. Guy Fawkes comes early, but I am afraid my 'celebrations' contain washing laundry and packing...

Number One Son plus the first pumpkin (by Archaeologist Husband)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Black Dalek missed already

I took my Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son to the Snibston Discovery Museum yesterday for a half-term treat. This time it was duly the time to treat my boys who had contrary to original plans lingered in our living room watching cartoons while I was test driving or taking our old, sticky-taped car to the dump. The farthest we had got was to the New Walk Museum to check the dinosaurs and a bit of additional light relief was provided by a trip with the new car to the speak therapist’s appointment. On Saturday, it was going to be the Dr Who Day instead.

It turned out that some of the programme had the hallmarks of the am-dram society, but it was all good-humoured and the main thing was to see and talk to the moving daleks. There was also a pink lady dalek that was quite amusing, and the daleks could move really quickly indeed. The most marvellous sight was that of Number One Son running around trying to get to the daleks whenever possible. However, he had time to do some outdoor sliding and gliding and try out the interactive floor in the centre.

The adults could see a series of different cybermen styles from the 1950s onwards and there was a Unit jeep as well. Some of the Dr Who lookalikes were better than the others, but K9 was moving around and there was a cyberman ‘silly walk’ to finish it all off. It was marvellous to see Snibston alive, when one considers how the county council tries to shut it down. The cuts seem to never end and there will be next to nothing left in the end. However, the Dr Who day was definitely worth a visit.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Time for Diwali

It is Sunday so it must be Anstey and home... I have returned home for a week and will be enjoying part of my annual leave, even if I cannot escape work altogether. An important presentation requires attention in the evenings and the car is on its last leg, so part of the week will be devoted to visiting second-hand car dealers, browsing Autotrader and taking the old car to its last resting place. It is scary to notice that it is not September any more but we are approaching Halloween - that I will bypass in Stockholm - and this week Diwali.

Number One Son's schoolwork project deals with Diwali and we are supposed to create and execute a poster on the subject with our child. Thus, I was googling 'Diwali' and choosing BBC Schools' web site as my primary source of information together with some websites targetted to the local people in Britain with Indian origin. This suddenly made me realise that Houston, we have a problem. We are one of the over 40 procent of British households that are non-religious and we do not do God, so explaining Lakshmi and Ganesh, the main Hindu gods involved, is slightly pushing it. Santa Claus seems to be easy, since Number One Son happily plays with his toy one. We just have to hope that they have done God(s) in the nursery and school.

We are supposed to include informative content, for example tell why people celebrate Diwali, name important objects and tell the stories related to the celebration. The first two are easy, since ultimately, Diwali is the Indian Christmas bringing light to the darkness and similarly involving candles, food and present, but the last suggestion seems slightly too complicated considering the late developmental stage of Number One Son. The return of Rama after 14 years relating to a circle of mythology I do not know, seems too complicated, when you are entering to the story totally randomly as a total outsider. I assume we will stick to the light winning the darkness and Lakshmi and Ganesh representing the beauty, wealth and good luck.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

When I am away...

The sunny culprit

Nothing is more worrying than when you are Skyping home and you suddenly see a fresh bruise on your son's cheek. Due to Number One Son's speech difficulties, Archaeologist Husband has not really got out from him what happened, if he fell on the grass or if the constant playful bickering and egging up that goes on between Number One Son and one of the other little boys who went with him to nursery has taken turn to the worse. Number One Son is on a green card, so he has been misbehaving and headbutting has occurred. Not a nice thing to hear and see over an echoing net connection.

Nevertheless, Number One Son seems to be developing both socially and emotionally. His last school homework got an 'outstanding' remark and apparently the homework for the coming Friday has already been done. It was on numbers, something he is comfortable with. The outstanding homework was something I also contributed, but Number One Son had drawn more animals to go with animal names starting with certain letters. His emotional development does not come with very pleasant consequences to me. He has started to say that he loves me (among his favourite toys and things, different food stuff and his friends), and verbally communicate that he misses me. Yesterday he had asked when doorbell rang, if Mummy will be there.

The misbehaviour at school happened unnervingly during the afternoons of the same week that I travelled back to Stockholm. When Number One Son's understanding of time will become better, I have to start explaining to him what, where and when. Luckily, now it is only one week to half-term and I can make my presence and ascertain him that I will always come back. The half-term will be fine, since the job interview was postponed to the following week (a positive sign from a potential new employer!). However, the car has now definitely broken down for the last time, so instead of seeing the industrial legacy of the Saltaire World Heritage Site and cruising the Yorkshire Dales, we will see as a family the second-hand car dealers of Leicester. It just does not sound as fancy - or fun!