Sunday, 14 December 2014

Skype fighting

Now I have managed to return back to England despite of the best efforts of underground trains breaking down and motorway improvements closing motorways on my way back. The whole air control system broke down in UK happily only after I had managed to lose most of my sleep deprivation sleeping in my own bed. For a couple of weeks the normal life routines are in place and I will see Number One Son and Archaeologist Husband in the same country and in the same house. My blog entries are likely to be either duller or more interesting, depending on the normal way the life goes on on a daily basis. It will be about school runs and unwrapping Christmas presents with an added spice of multiculturality. But of a duller European fusion version that is more about choosing the different kind of Christmas food than anything else.

The tedium and tiredness of the last weeks away did bring about that new spice of coupledoom in Skype Mums life: the Skype fighting. This is the way your specific personal traits are transformed into digital portal online. Are you a Shouter? Well, then you will shout at the camera and let your neighbours know that You Are Skyping and that Your Are Not Happy. Are you the Mute? Well, then your partner will not get anything than your picture over Skype. If you get angry like I do sometimes on a short fuse - you shut down the whole thing and disconnect Internet. And start getting angry, anxious texts to one or two of my mobile phones. Since as an Europe-wide juggernaut you will have more than one, don't you (and your partner is likely to use the last mobile number you have texted/phoned from - handy, if that is the one that lies closed in the drawer waiting for the next trip).

The row will continue as long as you dare to keep yourself off-line: I managed a couple of minutes. Then it was time to try to patch everything up. I must say, being in the same house, getting nagged about undone housework and being able to bang the doors is much more effective and somehow reassuring...

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christmas is coming!


Number One Son and our tree - apparently (Photo by AH)

The last blog post was passed, since I spent Sunday visiting my mother and having a coffee party with my childhood friends, some of whom I had not seen for 20 years. Monday was spent in an Institutes of Archaeology and Classical Studies team building day, almost directly from the ferry harbour. Then the reality hit and I spent one day sorting out admin and panicking over my vanished e-mail address where students were supposed to send course work. Thus, I decided that I put all my Christmassy thoughts together in this post. However, not all of them are smelling of gingerbread, but remind of the reality of a Skype Mom.

Luckily, I can move later this week to work at home and continue work with book projects and other matters in the same house with Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son. Nevertheless, due to the timing of meetings and other timetabling issues, I will miss for the second time my son's Navity play. Number One Son also tried to refuse to talk to me over Skype, because he will not get a hug from me at the end. Then was a good time to start counting down to my actual appearance next week. In addition, the Finnish Christmas calendar I got from Alex's godless mother is a real joy when we open one shutter lid every evening and look for right numbers. However, the flight home could not come any sooner.


I lost the run for gingerbread making :-> (Photo by AH)

My trip to Finland means I have now a bag full of gifts: more Moomin books, Mauri Kunnas picture books, DVDs with both Finnish and English soundtrack, an educational board game and clothing. I have also one old favourite for Archaeologist Husband, so that for 15 minutes he will be happy about my time away. I have a new photo of Granny and photos of my happy girl friends. The Christmas tree is up in the house and we can start finalising the fusion Christmas meals, since we celebrate both Christmas Eve and Day with fish on the menu on the Boxing Day. We also have to send Christmas cards to all older family members. Luckily, I did my Stockholm-themed e-card yesterday.

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.