parenting

Archaeology 101 and ‘Reverse Archaeology’

I wear many hats, some of which are archaeological, and so a typical day for me can come in many different ‘flavours’.

Today, my day started on public transit.

Taking the subway

Taking the subway

And then more public transit.

And the bus

And the bus

But I finally arrived at the Markham Museum.

Markham Museum

Markham Museum

I work as a program instructor at the museum, giving tours and programs for groups that come, but this morning I was actually doing a special program for the museum’s own summer camp.  This week’s theme is Junior Archaeology, so I was teaching a group of seventy 4-8 year olds about Archaeology 101.

I had my tools:

Dirty dig kit!

Dirty dig kit!

And some artifacts:

Markham Museum artifacts

Markham Museum artifacts

And I spent a while talking about all the things that archaeologists learn from bones and stone tools and broken pots.  I also talked about how archaeologists don’t find dinosaur bones, and how we only find things that people have left behind – mostly garbage.

After Archaeology 101, I did some reverse archaeology – burying things for the campers to dig up later.  The activity I set up was Archaeology Bingo, laying a grid and burying everyday objects under some of the squares.

Archaeology Bingo

Archaeology Bingo

Archaeology Bingo

Archaeology Bingo

It was hot work, nearly 40C with the humidity.

But after I finished up, I headed home to put on my next hat.  That involved taking my youngest to a museum to enjoy some well-deserved air conditioning!

Archaeology-mommy

Archaeology-mommy

So while my day did not consist of excavation, or research, I was imparting the joy and excitement of archaeology to a great group of kids.  Archaeology catches the imagination, and where better to encourage that than in a day camp during the summer at a museum!

Hard Work Pays Off!

This is my third year of doing this. In the previous years I had wrote about the desire to go back to school and then when I actually went back. On June 26, 2015, I graduated from my community college, Foothill College, with double honors, two Anthropology certificates, and my AA in Anthropology. This was a huge accomplishment for me because I am a mother of five and my (soon-to-be-ex-) husband recently left my children and I out of the blue… and homeless (my parents have been kind enough to allow us to stay with them until I can find a place of my own, which I’m hoping will be soon). To say things have been easy is a huge understatement. I will begin work on my BA in January 2016. The original plan was to begin in August 2015, but some things have come up that are preventing me to do that, so January it is.

I may not have any exciting stories to tell yet but I am sure as I move on to my BA and things get going –maybe even some volunteer work thrown in there- I’ll eventually have stories to tell. But for now, I leave you with this: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!!!! Don’t let anything stand in your way. Hard work DOES pay off! And if you are a parent… don’t be discouraged in thinking that you can’t be a parent and a student, it IS possible and doable!

The Archaeologist Who Stayed Home

For the record: I am an archaeologist, even doing a PhD on contemporary archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire. I am not a “mummy blogger,” just putting down a couple of my thoughts on a subject we archaeologists really don’t talk about much.

Four more days. Four dreadfully slow days until my husband comes home from the field. He has been away for seven and a half weeks on a very exciting excavation in southern California, the kind that are once in a lifetime. While he is off having fun in sunny California, I am home writing my PhD and being a mother to our three year old. That’s right archaeologists have CHILDREN!

This is our first big time apart, with only one of us is in the field. Even when we both worked professionally in cultural resource management, we managed to get on the same projects, most of the time. At the time, ten days apart seemed a life time. How ignorant we were. When you can hear the time you are away in the development in the speech of your pre-schooler, you feel you have been away for years. (I did three week field work, six weeks before my husband left, and noticed a difference. I can’t imagine what it will be like for my husband.)

Being apart is something as an archaeological family we are all going to have to adjust to, as such I have really tried to help our Munchkin while dad has been away. Here are three things that have helped us.

IMG_2554

  1. Communication: Pretty much a given, but is so much harder in real life. For this particular excavation it was NOT every night, but on his days off we did get to have some Skype time, which helped greatly. Munchkin was mostly happy to get to talk and SEE daddy, but after a call he would act up, which is a kid’s way of showing emotional distress.
  2. Calendar: At three he gets the idea of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and that at one point in the near future we are going to have a church day. Seven weeks may as well be seven years or seven months, no real way to understand. We printed off a calendar of all the days dad is away and let Munchkin choose his stickers. Every morning after breakfast we pull out the calendar and place a sticker. We have learned all about numbers and days of the week (thank you They Might be Giants). We count down every once in a while to see how many days until daddy gets home. He gets numbers. He also get the power of stickers and tries to put his dinosaur sticker on the final day every day, as if by some magic it would make dad come home earlier. (If only…)
  3. Celebrate Important Dates: The 15th of July was one of anniversary days (how long we have been together). We met at a volunteer excavation in Pioche, Nevada a little over a decade ago. We have always celebrated this day as something special. My husband went the extra mile this year and had flowers and a gift sent to me on the day. Even though he was not here, I could feel the love!

If I REALLY, REALLY thought hard I could come up with another two and then it would be a tidy list of five, but then it would seem forced.

Relationships as an archaeologist are tough. I have seen many come and go, and I know that we are not unique. Most of the time I have seen family archaeologist become one in archaeology and one leaves and gets a “real” job. I love archaeology. I don’t want to be the one to leave, I want to be an archaeologist. Thus, I am an archaeologist.

If this post has not been archaeology enough for you, here is how I spent the non-mom section of my day: researching the difference between Temple Grandin and Bud Williams (Google bud box) cattle management systems and how these differences could be seen in ranch corral layouts.