Monday, November 17, 2008

Long Weekend

I spent the weekend in another town, visiting an old friend who has a daughter the same age as Hamster; I'll call her Mulan because she's smart, full of energy, and (despite her prettiness) her behaviour doesn't quite fit feminine stereotypes. Also like Mulan, she's a beloved only daughter.
Mulan's dad and I had been a bit worried preparing this vist; both girls are a bit shy, and their common language (and Mulan's native) is one that Hamster is not quite fluent in. The food and accomodation planned were also very different to what Hamster is used to.
But the girls positively surprised us. Hamster ate all the new food, and just didn't ask for seconds of things she didn't like; she let Mulan braid her hair, and they bathed together without a problem. Mulan let Hamster use her bed, and slept on a foldout on the floor; she didn't complain ever about Hamster's hesitant speech and funny accent, and willingly repeated at a slower pace many of her own sentences.
There were some difficult moments, usually related to a lack of food, or drink, or both, but they didn't last long. And I'm proud to have been with Hamster as she saw her first mummy and her first blue whale skeleton. We're now trying to plan a visit from the Mulan family to our town.
I think we need to be more courageous in traveling with the kids. Apparently the twins also behaved very well during the men-only weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yesterday evening

I picked up Hamster at home, picked up her friend Celtic and Celtic's mother, and proceeded for pizza dinner plus movie. The movie was Mamma Mia!, and ours where the only children in the cinema (at the 8.15pm show). They enjoyed it a lot, although not as much as we mothers did - we got a few more jokes, or so I fervently hope.
Hamster claims she can understand part of the lyrics in the original without reading the subtitles.
I have now ordered the dvd together with a copy of Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert. I will need to discuss with PrinceC whether the latter should also be shown to the children, or at least to Hamster.
Celtic is so named because when she started going to Hamster's daycare center she was described by one of the cafeteria cooks as "she looks like a celtic princess". Celtic is very tall for her age, has a fair complexion, green eyes and wavy blond-red hair. She also wears glasses.

Blog Technique - Family Names

I've decided that I need names for people in the blog, and that the system of numbering people, while mathematically sound, is confusing me (especially as the students are heading into the double-digits).
Hence, C#1 will be henceforth called Hamster: this was her nickname when she was a baby, because of how round her face was. My husband will be PrinceC (for Prince Charming, which is how he looked like when we met - no similarity with any Wildean character is implied, although he does age well).
I'm still working on nicknames for the twins: I'm tempted by Shout for C#2 and Whine for C#3 but am afraid that it might sound negative :-).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back to everyday life

This week is the first normal week. All students are there, everybody has reached (I hope) their final office, and I have no official travel scheduled for the next few months.

On the other hand, my private life is full to the brim. Tonight, dinner at S#9's with my whole family (he actually likes kids) and his mother - who's a math professor herself. Tomorrow, to the movies with C#1, a friend and the friend mother. We will see Mamma Mia! Next weekend, London tour with C#1. Next week, I'll be part of a theatre show, reciting part of the declaration of the rights of women. This last event is particularly pleasant, since it's a direct effect of female lobbying, namely having dinner with most of my female colleagues (unfortunately, though more than half were present, we didn't need a particularly large table).

Now I just have to finish two overdue projects, but I find it incredibly hard since all I want to do is work on my New Pet Project. I have even chosen what journal to send the paper to :-).

Oh, and there are no comments at all about the Obama election because I tend to talk when I'm grumpy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Like in the old days

I feel young again. Today I took a long (9+ hours) train trip, since taking the airplane woudn't have been so much faster. To complete the deja-vu feeling, the second train was 35 minutes late. So I missed the third, and ended up spending one hour chatting with a friend of my college years in front of the station, under an unseasonably blue sky.
The unfortunate side effect is that I'm completely exhausted.

To justify the label mathwork, I'll add that:
1) I did work during most of the journey;
2) purpose of said journey is participation in a scientific conference.

I hope that on my way back the three-train system will work somewhat better - or this time I'll end up speding the night at my friend's place.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Big changes

Actually, big changes are usually evident to the outside world: a member more or less in the family, a new abode and/or job. Here nothing so momentous has happened, but still a feeling of revolution is dominating me.
The most obvious event is that the twins have started school. C#2 has already achieved basic reading skills (in the native language, which is one where the connection between written and spoken is almost bijective).
C#3 is not so far, but on the other hand he's officially the second best player of "Fusball" (Tischfussball/calciobalilla) in our household, and I have to concentrate pretty hard to maintain my leading position. At least the long hours of training in my university years have now helped me gain the respect of my son.
My daughter C#1 is taking both english and german lessons this year. Since the summer she has obtained a weekly allowance, and yesterday she spent some of it for the first time. She bought a "Teach yourself spanish" book. All I can say is that deep in my heart my 8-year-old self is dying with envy.

But the main change is that I'm putting order in my life, inside and outside. I've organized my new bedroom, formerly known as family storage area (what used to be mine is now C#1's). I'm not yet done, but I'm on my way to have a snug home office. And I've reorganized my office. Not only can one finally see the floor, and the cleaning ladies have actually started to clean it, but I know what's where - well, there are still some piles of junk I have to go through, but I'm definitely improving.

Last week I had my first (small) political victory in my current "leadership" position (the one half of my colleagues thought I was unfit for). This required a lot of organizing, but I'm quite happy with the result and especially with my choice of allies. And a colleague told me that I've managed to change my speech style: he said I sound much more professional.
I'm also starting to work together with the very few other female professors; that's particularly useful since we're distributed across fields and can give each other inside information on what the other groups are thinking.

And tomorrow I'm going to a conference: I have a pleasant and productive week in front of me.