Saturday, 26 December 2015

Playful Christmas

The end of the school term and the start of holidays present a small dilemma for those of us with kids whose work life is defined self-employment or research - to spend time with the children or buy extra childcare. Our situation has been in a continuous flux in recent months and even if the future looks safer than in ages, we did not think about the matters. Thus, even if there were things to do, it made more sense to go exploring Disney shop in the city centre and swimming. After all, I will vanish to Sweden again for periods in the near future.

My personal finances are still in a pitiful state, but at least I will be paid in January. Thus, I was a Scrooge again and Number One Son could marvel Father Christmas in the shopping centre from a distance. The reality was I did not much fancy to go inside a plastic bubble with fake snow flaking on me either. Just wandering around the toy shops in leisure was enough fun to my mind.

Luckily, Archaeologist Husband has a better financial position, so he together with lovely relatives and a certain godless father kept Number One Son in marvellous toys. He got different Lego, a globe, a book about Minecraft with the marvellous Stampy and a book about Angry Birds and dinosaurs. The latter two are the real winning formulas to get Number One Son reading!

However, during our fusion Christmas, my Christmas Eve was not perfect. The visit from Number One Son's friends was a happy and joyful one, but my gingerbreads were rubbish and the dinner with meatloaf, inspired by Finnish foods, worked against him. He ended up feeling sick, but luckily the British Christmas Day meal cooked by Archaeologist Husband remedied any food issues.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Honey, I lost the cat

This week's blog could be called 'The Confessions of a Bad Wife 5', since I managed to approach the matter of noticing that our family cat had wanted to reclaim her freedom after her spay operation and had done a runner with the same thoughtful care I approach Archaeologist Husband's birthday. I waited to 'late' 9.30am on a Sunday morning, before sending a text to poor cat lover who was on a well-deserved round tour of Yorkshire, attending a book launch on Friday in Hayton and seeing friends in Saltaire near Bradford on Satuday. He was about to attend the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference in his alma mater at Bradford, just waiting for his bestman and friend to appear. Instead of just swigging the beer, he had a wife making him panicky about the cat with stitches.

The cat had made her plead for freedom either by running from behind me out when I opened the door on Saturday evening to Number One Son returning from his panto trip or escaping from an open utility room window while the tumble dryer was on. I tried to keep the door closed, but it tends to pop open on its own. Either or, I had dismissed the miaows early on Sunday morning by the cat being behind the door on the landing. To my horror, later, I could not find the cat in the house. Nor there was any cat to nibble the cat food outside the following night when I thought to make sure the cat will be fed. The owners of Frank, a cat that often comes to our garden had not seen her nor any of the neighbours I and Number One Son rang doorbell of on Monday evening. The food went untouched for a second night and my desperation level grew. The cat had clear stitches that could have caught by any bramble and she might have been bleeding somewhere in horrible cold and rainy weather.

I have never intentionally had pets, so Archaeologist Husband's talk about microchipping and pet insurances did not stay long in my consciousness. However, now I learned all too much about the local RSCPA and the third party they use for reuniting lost pets with their owners and was looking for microchipping details. As indicated by the pet insurance papers, I visited duly the vet - something I have never done - to inform her about the missing cat and getting the chip number (naturally, I found the papers a day later). I created a poster Archaeologist Husband took around the block after returning earlier on Wednesday from the TAG than anticipated (it turned out he had new work coming in...). Naturally, the cat reappeared exactly after he had cancelled the appointment for taking out the stitches.

Yes, she came back. At 3.15 am or so on Friday morning I heard faint miaowing outside. She was back and so hungry that we wonder if she had been locked somewhere for days. The following morning a couple of cars had returned to the garages nearby, so a returning worker on a work trip may have opened a door that had been closed on Sunday. The stitches were healing just fine and her hair was as shiny as before. Now Number One Son was not sad any more. He had been seeing bad dreams about big roads and been sobbing in his dreams. Suddenly, all is fine for Christmas again - and I was not to blame for eternity.

The best 'Snoopy as a vulture' pose (photos: AH)

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Our singing elf

Pulling faces after the show

Sometimes a mother's heart just fills with happiness and pride. I had one such day this week, when I attended a morning show of Year 2 Christmas production in Number One Son's school. I had missed the evening show the previous night, since I had to be in London for work (and to collect my new passport from the embassy). However, there were not so many parents in the morning show, so it was lovely for all that Number One Son had one parent in two different shows. Some other families had clearly the same arrangement.

Number One Son was not a major character in 'Ralph the Reindeer', but his continuous development was clear for everybody to see. He was miming making toys with the other elfs and the child playing Father Christmas and he was singing all the time - something he would not do a year ago. It was not a talking part - he was not one sitting in the front of the stage narrating the story - but his performance had made Archaeologist Husband to praise the show and that morning it made me smile after complaining grumpily in Facebook the choice of the early show. It was so lovely that it made my day. Seeing Number One Son's mother in the country also seemed to make the teaching assistants happy.

Our Beaver ready for Aladdin!

Because of the evening show, Number One Son missed the Beavers' Christmas party. Luckily, the scout group also had a trip to the local panto organised, so on this Saturday he could join his friends one last time this year. He had actually seen the show - of course, his school organised the trip to the same Aladdin - but he had loved the flying carpet. This time, there was also ice cream on the offer. His elf hat got a second outing in a week. Plus he got excitingly a lift from my friend, since Archaeologist Husband took the car and has taken his turn in travelling. First he headed to Martin Millett's book launch in Hayton and early in the coming week he will join his fellow Bradfordians in the Theoretical Archaeology Conference. Yes, in Bradford. Where he will be joined by his bestman. Now, how red will his eyes be on Wednesday when he comes back...?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

"There is no place like home"

... when the cat is staring at you in the morning in the demanding way. Yes, I am back home after four weeks in Sweden and Italy. The life falls surprisingly quickly into its normal routine. I was again the one who was making the breakfast to Number One Son, quarrelling about the homework in mid-morning and trying to figure out how I manage to be on Wednesday in two places at the same time: in a meeting in London and in a Christmas play at the school. I think I have to change my ticket! Even if it would be better to see the first night show, I probably will be supporting the kids on Thursday morning.

Naturally, we had to help to provide the play costume. The green and red clothing items had been sorted out by Archaeologist Husband, but the elf hat was required. Thus, a trip to the Poundshop was inevitable. As expected, the retailer did not disappoint the parents. However, momentarily the protesting Number One Son slowed the process, since the elf hat on offer felt small, but our son refused to have a 'Santa hat'. I also seem to have guaranteed that Archaeologist Husband will start a blog series 'the confessions of a suffering husband', since I bought his Christmas presents with £2... Nevertheless, I will take him to the Italian Sapori restaurant in our village and that will cost me dear!

When I came home the Christmas tree was up, the inherited furniture items had arrived and the herb garden had been cleared for winter. In rushing for work, I had almost forgotten it is the Christmas season, even if I did bring two packets for Number One Son from Sweden (and one touristy item from Italy). Part of the Christmas menu has been bought to the freezer and basically the main item will be writing the Christmas cards. However, the sudden influx of work for Archaeologist Husband and his soon-to-come disappearance to Yorkshire for 'work', i.e. seeing friends in a book launch and this year's TAG (Theoretical Archaeology Group), so we have to be quick!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Goodies and baddies

The poppies in England signify the Remembrance Day on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, remembering the Armistice during the First World War. Considering the past, it is a worthy cause - even if from the reasons of conscious I cannot approve its connotations in modern conflicts. Nevertheless, remembering the war dead is something that is traditional in Finland, too, so I feel it is important to convey the respect for the losses and sacrifices of former generations. In Finland it is not poppies but candles on the graves in the dark autumn and winter nights that signify this.

However, the honourable efforts of Number One Son's school to teach the children the meaning of historicity and learn from their own history may sometimes have unforeseen consequences. One has to remember that these children are only five or six, so they cannot grasp the complexities of war or adult situations. No, Number One Son's drawings are now filled with blue and red stick-men, who are fighting each other. The blue colour stands for the goodies and the red for the baddies. This suddenly conforms with his newly found division of things boyish or girly, suitable or something to be rejected. The war game situations are not necessarily helped by Archaeologist Husband who has been happily drawing tanks in suitable colours fighting on the sides of different sides.

At least it was not me who taught Number One Son this...