Sunday, 22 November 2015

In view and out of view

I really do not understand my laptop. After working perfectly, showing video in Skype, it suddenly decided that enough is enough and it was time to cut the Mummy off. Not that I am a pretty sight after days driving or being outside in fieldwork, but it would be nice to have two-way communication with video link. The image quality from UK is also quite pixellated, but a glimpse of Number One Son lightens any day - even if slightly hazy.

What I should have done today is Christmas shopping, but I totally forgot after some editing jobs not related to me being in Italy. I was just enjoying the bright, crisp sunshine and thinking of lunch. That was a little bit of a disaster. I learnt not to order a tourist portion of chicken and potatoes. The chicken had been edible perhaps a couple of days a go before it was grilled to gristle by a hot table or similar. First time ever I sent a plate back to kitchen as inedible.

I have promised a toy from Italy. I wonder if a thing made out of alabaster counts as a toy...? I may be doomed if I test, so I have to try to keep concentrated tomorrow, if the promised rain comes and we will be waiting for Tuesday.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Wifi playing up!

Of course, just when you hear that both Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son are feeling poorly during the first week of me being away, the wifi at the Department decides it does not like me nor my devices. The Skype calls for vain without an Internet connection, the registration web site does not come up on my laptop and the computer at which I sit does not recognize my USB camera, so I have sound out from my colleague's loudspeaker but I cannot send my picture to my son. Thus, son finds Minecraft much more interesting than a distant voice of a travelling mom. Another colleague touches my laptop - and hey presto - at least the registration panel becomes visible in the Internet browser.

One week gone, three weeks to go away home. The next two weeks I should have wifi in the hotel, but it will be in Italy, so it will depend on the room, the breath of the walls and the spot I or my devices will be placed on. Internet is marvellous in connecting people, but it only connects when the network is running smoothly and your device can get connected...

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Confessions of a bad wife - is it part 4?

"We are in Stockholm - can you spot Mom?"

I am packing my bags again and heading away for four weeks. It is time to go to fieldwork and before that handle all the rest of negotiations and planning around it in Sweden. I will also again manage to miss Archaeologist Husband's birthday - but at least this period of time was not set by me. Nevertheless, I will be back for letting him to head to the TAG 2016 at Bradford to meet his fellow Bradfordians.

After a long stretch at home doing the school run every morning, I seem to be soon partly in Britain and partly in Sweden again. This will again take a lot of organisation in order to keep people happy, but luckily, there are always parts of research that can be done at home or at the Cambridge University Library. In the end, with a salary, we can have proper holiday in Finland to see family and we will be kept in cat food.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

From the SEN(CO) review to trick and treating

All ready for trick and treating

This week was one of the highlights of the small school children and Beavers: this was the week of the Halloween. As a Finnish adult, I see Halloween as an artificial American import, but the children, they see it as an opportunity to put scary skeleton, monster, Scream, vampire or pirate costumes on and go trick and treating in the dark, seeing some fireworks along the way. One just does have heart to spoil there fun. We went trick and treating with a group of parents from our previous NCT coffee group in the village and about 15 children ran excitedly from a lit pumpkin to another decorated door. Number One Son has now a huge amount of sweets and lollipops, since like he tends to, he got very excited and was about the first at every door, almost forcing his way in. However, we realised that we were asking repeatedly the children to 'form a an orderly queue' and avoid houses without pumpkins even if we could see people watching rugby final or some light entertainment programme in their living room. Could you make an American import any more British than that!?

Parents and monsters congregating

The week had some very serious content, since we had the first SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) review meeting at Number One Son's school. We spend almost two hours revising the text so that, while recognising the improvements in speech, he is still immature for his age and, even if delightful, has many disruptive mannerisms that have to be managed by the teaching assistants. It also came to light in the Beavers that one of the assistants there have to keep an eye constantly on him, since it is easier for him to relate to adults and younger children than those of his exact peer group. He is one year or more behind emotionally and behaviourally and luckily the school recognises that we cannot support his school attendance without official status and council support. We have been lucky that the last speech therapist and the school SENCO have such a long experience in their fields and we are truly supported. This also means that Number One Son's short attention span does not get other children in the class distracted.

We want your sweets!

It was a quick move from the meeting to home to collect Number One Son's fancy dress party costume for the Monster Disco, organised by Beavers. He went as a ghost knight, all his face painted white. We had to change in the cloakroom at the school, since he went to the disco directly from the after-school club. The disco continued pass his normal bath time, but there was no way I was going to succeed in finding him in the disco room earlier and drag home. He really enjoys his Beavers! Now I only have to sow about 10 badges on to the right spots on his Beaver jumper. They may not be 10, but they feel like it!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Half-term with sharks and ghouls

The autumn October half-term started in sunny weather and we first just enjoyed the leisurely existence in the park. Number One Son now masters the flying fox, so there was a lot of fun to be had. Although both I and Archaeologist Husband were busy juggling different duties. Archaeologist Husband was suddenly needed to cover for a lecture series after a course responsible had a concussion whereas I struggled with a job application in Swedish. I did make it in time but I am feeling for the panel when they have to read all 9 or so supporting documents.

The canalboats in Birmingham as photographed by Number One Son

When the deadline was passed, I took Number One Son to Birmingham to the National Sea Life centre. We had not been before, since I wanted to be sure that he will fully enjoy something, which can only be described as a pretty expensive experience. Now it was definitely the time and he wholeheartedly enjoyed seeing the fish, looking for the sharks and playing in the soft play area.

The Octonauts theme was spot on in the centre, but it was the penguins and the fish that were in the centre stage all the time. As is customary, some of the displays that you encounter in these aquariums is less impressive. They tend to have a mangrove shallow water tank, even if the fish are quite small and colourless. Well, it is one essential world watery ecological environment covered, but most people just walk by. However, everybody are cheering for the penguins.

The main feature is the ocean water tunnel where a huge ocean turtle is floating in the water together with different kinds of sharks and colourful fish. A huge lazy shark was first resting on top of our plasticky tunnel and then moved by our second round lying on the sandy floor. The little boys were totally mesmerised and running around spotting sharks and the turtle and shouting to each other when noticing a new stingray floating by.

This time around we travelled with a coach and found out that actually it is a wise choice for Birmingham. You are not exactly in the new New Street station and shopping centre - we did not have time to visit - but it is a stone-through away from Bullring. Coach takes about the same time as the train and is much cheaper, so it is a viable alternative. There is even a bus stop at the coach station on the route from our village. Naturally, we could not be without a visit to McDonalds and a walk through the ever changing centre of Birmingham. I just wonder how much of a Paradise the Paradise shopping centre will be. In any case, both I and Number One Son enjoyed popping into the commercial art gallery in the concert hall building and viewing work from Ronnie Wood, Bob Dylan and the art forgerer who now sells his fake Monets and Dalis in his own name while waiting our timed visit to the Sea Life centre to start.

The Leicester visit was to the Guildhall children's event. This had a ghosts and ghouls theme due to approaching Halloween, but since it was the October half-term, it was not as popular success as the knight one in the summer. Number One Son is not very much of a crafts person, so he was missing having small boys to run around the premises with. He quite enjoyed looking for the magical object cards in different rooms of the museum and he got his face painted, though. A quick visit to the teddy bear shop, Disney shop and poundshop rounded up a visit that made Number One Son nodding in the bus on the way back. Success!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Towards the half-term

The last school week before the half-term started in happy mood. It was a birthday party of one of the Friends and a lot of excited running around. Nevertheless, 6-year-olds start to be a bit too large to bouncy castles and the result was first ever nosebleed, since Number One Son was tiny. This did leave a long pause: the bleed stopped relatively quickly - and it was me who was covered in blood and having an early Halloween feeling. Number One Son was back running around.

I and Archaeologist Husband duly went for the parents' evening and heard a lot about the curriculum and how Number One Son is doing at school. He seems to have a continuous stream of very good teachers - and it seems that Number One Son is besotted with the latest one. This helps with any potential behaviour problem, since we can always remind him about what the Teacher would think of this.

I missed the highlight of Number Son's week. It was the time for all the new Beavers to get their neckers and all regional and such badges SOMEBODY has to sow on. Luckily, the coming week is the half-term and then they will have a monster disco for Halloween, so I do have some time. Archaeologist Husband was present, as was Friend's mother and Facebook and other nooks of Internet have been filled with videos and photos. It was the first time Number One Son had his scout trousers on as well!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Revisiting Nearly New volunteering

This Saturday morning I was back at the Beaumont Leys School spending the time before lunch with other volunteers setting up this Autumn's NCT Nearly New Sale in Leicester. This sale is amazing show of organisation ran by marvellous women who have steely professionalism, even if this is not their job. The forms have been filled, the room layouts planned, the seller lists in plays and furniture moved in the halls by the morning of the sale - like every year. The the sellers arrive and everything starts to roll.

I with the others was emptying boxes with seller numbers and putting soft toys, baby walkers, jigsaw puzzles and musical instruments into their place. For an archaeologist, this provides an opportunity to reflect on categorisation and classification. Is a book with buttons for different noises an educational toy or baby book? Is a battery-powered fairy wand an item of fancy clothing or a toy? And where does one put an oven guard? With bed guards? With equipment?

Although Number One Son is even no toddler any more but a small school boy, I could still pick up a few bargains in volunteers' pre-sale; I was uncertain if I managed to get anything. However, I picked up beaver trousers for my beaver, black school shoes for £1.50, a new umbrella and sea-themed bed linen among the bits and bobs. All was only £12 even if there were winter boots included. Of course, I forgot that I had picked up boots in the sales already in the spring... The lure of real or imagined bargains!