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Christmas Disasters

December 18th, 2014

The other day the Princess and I were working on the composition of a poem about the Titanic [do they learn anything in school but information about the Titanic? All three of my children have far more information about it than might be thought necessary for a generalist] when an unpleasant smell assaulted my nostrils and I was off to the kitchen like a coursing hare leaving the Titanic to fend for itself (insert your own joke here).

Not only had the pot in which I was gently steaming my plum pudding boiled dry but the metal steamer on which the pudding bowl was sitting had lost a leg and the plastic at the bottom of the bowl had melted through the holes in the steamer rendering pot, steamer and pudding a lost cause.

I made cranberry and orange sauce and gave my sister a jar to take back to Cork. She packed it carefully with a camel coloured coat. Do I need to say that the jar lost its lid? I think not.

On the plus side, the teacher was taken with the Princess’s poem on the Titanic and stuck it up on the wall of the classroom.

Share your own mild Christmas disasters. Please.


December 17th, 2014

I have had my annual haircut.

The children took pictures; this may explain my slightly manic look but, maybe that’s the way I look all the time.


2014-12-03 16.00.59

And after:

2014-12-07 12.59.37

It’s shorter. Herself reported to me that on observing that she was wearing nail varnish the childminder reproved her. He pointed out that her mother wore no make up and had preserved her “jeunesse naturelle”. “And,” as I said “he’s French which makes it even better”. He said that before the haircut, mind you.

Naughty or Nice?

December 16th, 2014

Michael: Are the Santa traps in place?
Daniel: Yes.
Michael: Don’t say what they are, he might hear us.
Daniel: What will we do if we catch him?
Michael: We’ll tiptoe up and then…boom, a knife straight to the heart!
Me (yelping): What?
Michael: He’s a stalker, “he knows when you’re asleep/he knows when you’re awake” and then he goes creeping around people’s houses at night.
Daniel: And those elves, they don’t get paid and if they don’t work hard enough, he tosses them out in the snow.

What are we to make of this, gentle reader?

Party On

December 15th, 2014

Yesterday we had a Christmas party from 4-7 for friends and neighbours. The invitation specified that children were welcome. We discovered that not only does everyone we know now have children but they are also quite big – 5-10 age range. Babies were few on the ground which was very odd.

We paid two local teenagers to help out and although that definitely helped, I was still a shadow of my former self at the end. Of course, no one arrived until 4.15 and between 3.45 when the teenagers arrived and 4.15 we all sat looking at each other and feeling excruciatingly awkward, as well as friendless (us, not the teenagers). However, people more than made up for it and vast numbers came and it was actually quite pleasant, if busy. As a bonus, we now have enough chocolate and alcohol to take us through the Christmas season in exchange for some tepid mulled wine and a soggy mince pie for everyone in the audience, so, a win all round, I guess.

Saint Nicolas, Patron des Ecoliers

December 14th, 2014

Did I mention that, on the 6th of December, Saint Nicolas came to our house? We did think that since it is now 6 and a half years since we have lived in a jurisdiction where he has authority, he might give us a skip but the children were adamant that no, he should come. I blame myself. I offered Daniel 50 cents to read a French book aloud. He picked “T’choupi fête Noël” which had the dual advantage of being seasonal and short. As he read aloud the doings of the festive mole, it all came flooding back.

So, in fairness to him, at quite short notice, St. Nicolas came in line with expectations. He just brought some chocolates and crisps in accordance with his reduced obligations in this jurisdiction. This did not stop Michael sleeping on the floor beside his bedroom door in a state of advanced excitement or him waking me at 6.30 in some distress as Saint Nicolas had brought him the wrong type of crisps.


December 13th, 2014

We all went to see “Minuscule” as part of the French film festival and it was delightful. Highlight was small child speaking clearly and crossly in a gap between adults laughing hysterically, “C’est pas rigolo!”

Last night the Princess and I went to see Oliver Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” in the Abbey. It was our Christmas outing and while nothing will probably ever match the thrill of her first theatre outing (“Little Women” in the Gate in 2011 or so the internet says) this was pretty good. Our expectations were on the low side which is always helpful. The set was amazing and as we walked into the theatre she clutched my arm in delight at the sight of the stage. The costumes were also superb. The whole thing was played hugely for laughs and almost like a pantomime in places but really entertaining for both of us. Brilliantly done and we loved it. There were no other children in the audience that I could see which was a pity because, it was very suitable and really funny. It was her first trip to the Abbey (“our national theatre” as the portentous voice before the play told us) and it was great but she was lucky as it is not always thus. In fairness to the Abbey, since the revamp there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. We were in the front row and, although we were, inevitably, slightly looking up the characters skirts, visibility was really good. Tickets were as cheap as any I have had, €13 each. When you consider that it costs €11 to go to the cinema, I think this was really good value for a lovely experience. You should go, if you live in Dublin, and bring your children aged 11+.


December 11th, 2014

For the past month, herself has been doing an after school drama class and getting the bus home afterwards on her own which she really enjoys.

Yesterday, at about 4.10 when she should have been coming in the door, I got a call from a mobile number I didn’t recognise. A man with a foreign accent said, “I have your daughter, do you want to speak to her?” “Yes!” You will be relieved to hear that she had not been kidnapped. Due to the water charges protest there were no buses running and she went to a phone/internet shop to call me and tell me that she would be late as she was going to walk home. She tried to use the shop system but it didn’t work for her and the man behind the counter just let her use his phone which was very kind. But I didn’t want her to walk home as it would soon be dark and told her to wait outside the school and I would come and get her. It should only have taken about 10 minutes to get in but between getting out the door with the two boys and the remaining water charges traffic chaos it was nearly half an hour later and almost dark when I pulled up outside the school and picked up a frozen little figure from the top of the steps. She looked so small and cold outside the big locked door – all on her own in the city. It was grim for her and a number of passers by had inquired whether she was alright which is can be unnerving when you are small and alone although I am sure that their intentions were good.

It was all a bit upsetting but I am very proud of how she acquitted herself. I wish I had thought to tell her to wait in the nearby library which was warm and familiar but I hadn’t and, since she has no phone, couldn’t, of course, call her to tell her or to tell her about the traffic.

The campaign for a Christmas phone has just stepped up a notch.

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