Ex Pat Mamma

Friday, April 28, 2006


So I've been feeling a little shaky and sorry for myself today after last night's traumatic events. My throat's sore too, from the effort and my voice has dropped a good octave and a half. Ah, woe, is me. Then hubby told me that the neighbour downstairs had been worried all night because she heard me screaming and thought something had happened to er pupo. I think I owe her an apology... her and probably the whole neighbourhood.

Primal Fear

Last night, there was a spider walking across my pillow. An ENORMOUS spider. I exaggerate not, it was the size of the circumference of your average coffee mug. That's MUG, not expresso cup. Not expecting such in Iceland, I thought it must be a shadow, but no, it really WAS a spider and it was moving! Blessedly away from me, but that didn't stop me as I leapt from my bed and began screaming hysterically.

At which point, I woke up.

Now, spiders are pretty scary things, especially ones that look like they could swallow a cat without chewing. Waking up to the sound of screaming isn't much fun either, though I have some experience of that, since my darling hubby will ocassionally share one of his nightmares with a blood curdling yell. But when you hear screaming, then realise it is yourself, and yet aren't quite awake enough to stop yourself, don't know where you are or what is going on... well, THAT is scary. Nightmares, I can deal with. Nothing in my life so far compares to the fear of waking up whilst sleepwalking. WHERE AM I? WHY AM I SCREAMING? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE (as hubby emerged from the bathroom, looking almost as scared as I felt)? WHAT'S GOING ON? It is unbearably disorientating.

The science boffins shall correct me, but as I understand things, when you sleep, your body goes into a temporary paralysis. Some people suffer from bouts of this paralysis whilst awake - not good if you are crossing a busy high street. In others, the sleep can come without the paralysis at times, and hence sleepwalking. I haven't done it since I was a teenager, and for some reason then only when I was extremely tired. Thank goodness term finishes today (I type as I invigilate the last exam) so hopefully I can get some proper, dreamless, walkingless sleep and not have another run in with blind panic.

Er pupo, light sleeper as he is, that he will wake if we turn the kitchen tap on, didn't even flinch. Hubby wasn't too chuffed though.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

They can't take that away...

Yesterday, we paid off half our mortgage. The Kroner continues its descent and I am beginning to get nervous. This is a small country; there will be no rush to save it. Incredibly, the Prime Minister has been publicly talking down the currency and suggesting that it is a sign we ought to join the EU and the euro. I wonder where his savings are? So before our savings lose any more value, we have bunged them on the flat. The mortgage is index linked; the savings account not, so even if interest rates go up (and our mortgage has a guaranteed fixed rate of 5.1%), it is in our interest to keep the mortgage down. If the banks collapse, at least we have somewhere to live. Sooner or later, I'm going to have to send money to the UK to pay for our holiday but it bites so bad to send it right now. I keep hoping to wake up to a minor recovery, but every day it is worse.

Our holidays are looking more and more austere...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A little etymology

With some regularity, I discover words in Icelandic that bear more than a passing similarity to those of Caithness dialect. House is hús (pronounced hoos), one goes út (oot), to cry is að gráta (growta), to go to somewhere is to go tíl. On Thursday, we learned one more, particularly fitting for er pupo, which is að blaðra (blathra), which is quite literaly, to blether; er pupo is a blaðrari, a blether.

He is still quite chuffed which his papá and shows no likelihood of managing mamma any time soon, nor any interest in the attempt. He chats away to himself constantly, especially in his high chair and it is quite a delight to watch his little face frown in concentration as he makes a new sound and listens to himself.

Happy Easter

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


For months, our currency has been over-valued and I've been saying to hubby, GET OUT, GET OUT NOW. GET THE SAVINGS INTO EUROS. And of course, we didn't. We half heartedly went to the bank when it dropped 10% and got some information, but there was no "ethical investment" option, so hubby said no and asked his uncle to look into alternatives in Italy. Currency has since dropped another 13% and I have just booked our vacation accommodation in Scotland. We will also be in Italy for a month. If things keep going at this rate, I don't think er pupo will be eating much.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


in the plural! Yet another sharp little pincer appeared this morning. And he said mamma. Once. By mistake. He was just practising making sounds and hasn't learned the word yet. But my heart melted all the same. Wee petal.

Easter vacation approaches which means a few days off to spend with him. We'll stay home, but it will be relaxing to not be running around or having to teach rude and arrogant first years who seem to think they 1) don't need to come to class 2) do ME a favour if they do come to class 3) can come into the class at any time of the lesson, disturbing me and the other students 4) can use their cell phones to class 5) may play computer games, surf the net, chat on msn in class 6) know more than I do. Big virtual slap to them all.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

He waited for his mamma.

As I left for DC, er pupo was showing signs of major advances in crawling, speaking and teeth. Thankfully, he managed to contain himself until my return and this week (Wednesday), I had the joy of discovering his first very sharp little pincer. Today, he added to his tricks, with a very careful "papá" that he has been practising every since. Papá is, of course, more than delighted. There has been absolutely no intention nor effort to produce "mamma" but hey, at least I found that tooth. Crawling still seems beyond him, I mean, why bother, when you can just yell? And he can always pull up the play mat so that the toy comes to him. Nappy changing is a battle of the wills, as he insists on being on his tummy and I insist he stay on his back. It usually involves some screaming (usually his), but I will NOT, unlike his gullible father, be seduced into letting him have his own way on this. So I say now, but then, I am not the one who is at home with him all day. The "provider" role certainly has its advantages.

It's all change now; even his hair grew when I was away. Admittedly, it didn't grow very much and it is only noticable because he was such a baldy before I left. But it seems that from now on, perhaps for the next few months, there will be rapid development.

Back to Reality

and a pleasure it is. I had a great experience in DC. My students did well in the Jessup moot court, we all learned a huge amount and, try as I might to resist, I actually quite liked the city. Akureyri has been firmly placed on the map and our law school has proven its international credentials. My students won 2 of their 4 rounds. We lost one student to severe bronchitis, which meant another student had to step in for her with 3 hours notice, but despite a very stressful day involving doctors and hospitals and exrays, she seems to have recovered. I even managed to wangle my way into a major conference on international law and met a couple of former professors. I took advantage of my relative liberty to party hard and work hard.

And yet, it is always a great joy to return home to my little family. Er pupo was delighted to see me. I don't think he was particularly upset by my absence; as long as his dad was around, he was content (though a little nervous if his dad went out for an extended period, leaving him with his grandma), but I was given a great welcome home. When I picked him up, he laughed and laughed with joy at being reunited with me. Ah, the poor thing knows no better.

Work keeps me busy, as does the boy. The light is changing fast here, and er pupo has not quite understood that just because the sun wakes up at 6am, he doesn't have to. And he is a long way off from appreciating the concept of a "weekend."

The easter break approaches, and then there are just a few more weeks of teaching, before the summer term when I can actually get on with my job without being hindered by legions of complaining students. Well, not legions exactly, but it seems that way when they are at their most irksome. On my first day back, one student approached me to ask if she could have the essay question early because she was going to Spain with her boyfriend. And she expected me to be sympathetic. I was very tempted to give her a slap and blame it on the jetlag.

Bring on summer. I don't find it reasonable that in April I should still be having to dig my car out of the snow in the morning.