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Dalkey Island

1 August, 2017 at 10:11 pm by belgianwaffle

Despite my very recent resolution about probably never going on a family outing again, I made the family go to Dalkey island off the coast of Dublin a couple of weekends ago. The weather was beautiful.

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We had a picnic. We explored a bit.

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We paddled.

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We admired the view.

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I didn’t see the famous goats (apparently there are 5 on the island) but I did see some seals very close up and the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my life; also very close up but it moved faster than the seals which were basking on the rocks.

It was a success. More outings to come; my poor children.

It Never Ends

10 July, 2017 at 11:54 pm by belgianwaffle

I was in Cork recently and went into town to get some things for my father. I was out rather longer than I expected. He telephoned me.
Him: Are you alright?
Me: Yes.
Him: There’s no rush back; it’s just when you were late I was worried you might have been in an accident or something.

He is 92, I am 48. It looks like parenting is forever alright.

In other news, he told me about the college chaperone. When my father was at college in the 40s and my mother in the 50s, the college employed a chaperone; by the time I got to college in the 80s, they had thrown their hats at it. I suppose it was the 60s did for the institution of college chaperone.

Anyhow, Mrs. Madden (for that was her name – possibly the last UCC chaperone, google was unhelpful in relation to my researches in this regard) was friendly with my father and she told him this story. Apparently the students would be assigned to mind the chaperone in turn and keep her plied with food and spend time chatting to her. She said to this one young man, “This is very hard for you, I am sure you would much rather be out dancing with the girls”. Instead of mendaciously insisting that there was nothing he would rather do than spend time with Mrs. Madden he said seriously, “Yes, but I offer it up.”

My father related this tale over dinner out – my sister and I were triumphant at having got him and my aunt out for my aunt’s birthday. This involved a complex series of manoeuvres with a walker, a wheelchair, a disabled parking badge and a phone torch. This last was cunningly deployed to allow those whose eyesight was less than perfect to read the menu in the dim lighting which the restaurant favoured. You may congratulate us.

A Star is Born

8 July, 2017 at 11:41 pm by belgianwaffle

I got a new niece on June 15. Mr. Waffle’s sister and her husband in London had a baby girl and it is very exciting. The children are delighted to have their first new cousin in nine years. We’re all dying to see her in Dublin (we have mercifully held off on descending on the new parents in London). Our family whatsapp group which had been filled with health logistics for older relatives is now filled with baby photos; it makes a very pleasant change. It is lovely to have good news.

I am tempted to tell the niece’s parents that by the time the Princess was their new baby’s age (about 3 weeks), she had attended a wedding in another country.* Not something I would really recommend to be honest. Although, with pleasing symmetry, the eldest child of that marriage is coming to us the week after next to brush up her English. Herself and the Princess get on fine but, I don’t think they will be attending each other’s weddings although, I suppose, you never know.

*It’s usually about this point that Mr. Waffle tells me, “It’s not a competition.”

The Family Walk: An Endangered Species

5 July, 2017 at 7:56 pm by belgianwaffle

Since the children have been very small, Mr. Waffle and I have been taking them on family walks which they tolerate and occasionally enjoy in fact but despise and loath in prospect. We haven’t had so many weekends to go on family walks recently with various other family responsibilities to attend to but one Sunday recently, we had an opportunity to go on a family walk. I told them about it a couple of days in advance, the children were all bitter and Herself turned down several invitations to hang around with her friends as she told me with great bitterness. As she had been seeing them all pretty much 24 hours a day since school finished my withers remained unwrung.

On the day itself it took us forever to get out of the house. They were all grumpy and we arrived at Carlingford at lunchtime. I’d brought some baguette to keep us going but a majority of the party felt it would be best to have lunch first. I was not among the majority. I sat through lunch in the pub brooding on my wrongs. The others were cheered though but then we started on the actual walk and there was a bit of “I don’t want to” from herself and the whole thing was a somewhat tedious. We walked uphill for about 45 minutes and we saw some cows.

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Daniel and Michael recover from our epic uphill trek:

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I had hoped we would walk to a deserted village but by the time we started it was too late. A tamer route was substituted but at the top of the 45 minute uphill, the party was a little unsure about directions so we walked back down the way we had come to everyone else’s delight and my fury. The days of whinging beforehand, the one hour and twenty minute drive to get there, the lunch in the pub, the moaning when we started off and all of this for 45 minutes uphill and about 20 back down (it was quite steep). I was truly fit to be tied. They were all a bit contrite at this point and sent me off to an antique shop to browse while they scuttled away for ice cream. I didn’t buy anything but I did find a replica of my duck jug; it turns out he’s available in good bric-à-brac shops everywhere.

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When I rejoined my family they offered to drive to the deserted village; that was really not the point. God, even writing this, I am remembering how very peeved I was.

I am not sure how much longer we can keep dragging the children on walks and have me retain my sanity. In more positive walk related news, Mr. Waffle and I went for a walk together in Wicklow and it was beautiful and nobody was cross at all.

Here’s a picture.

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Yet, somehow, my ire has abated and, even now, I am thinking of making them all schlep up to enjoy this view when the Princess’s French exchange comes in July. My poor, poor little family.

Oh Cecilia, You’re Breaking My Heart

4 July, 2017 at 6:55 pm by belgianwaffle

My father is 92 and my aunt has just turned 88. When I had dinner with them recently, I asked my aunt about toys of her youth. “Well,” she said, “I remember I had a beautiful rag doll called Cecilia.” “You can’t possibly remember that after all these years,” objected my father. “Yes, I do,” she countered, “because she was named after aunt Cecilia who made her for me and you took her and nailed her to a tree when you were playing cowboys and indians.” Can I reassure anxious readers that sibling relations have improved since the early 1930s? But, poor Cecilia, never forgotten.

Mildly related: I wanted to call the Princess Cecilia after the very same aunt but Mr. Waffle put his foot down. I made her take it for her confirmation name instead because that was before she was a teenager and I had some influence; recently she has been torturing me by saying, “But did I really take Cecilia or did I just tell you that?”

83:17

14 May, 2017 at 12:56 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to a talk recently by a distinguished American scholar on behavioural economics. It was grand. I managed to restrain myself from going up afterwards to tell him that his wife’s first cousin was a good friend of mine from school (welcome to Ireland) although based on his (possibly too extensive for his audience’s liking) introduction about his wedding, I think he would have liked that.

One of the things he mentioned in passing was that it was a rare household where when you asked husband and wife how domestic work was divided between them the total came to 100%. I decided to test this hypothesis at home.

Here are the scores that were returned.

Me – Mr. Waffle 60%: Me 40% [I was being generous]
Mr. Waffle – Mr. Waffle 50%: Me 50% [He is very right on]
Herself – Mr. Waffle 60%: Me 40% [My work is less visible than his]
Michael – Mr. Waffle 60%: Me 40% [Really, my work is less visible than his]
Daniel – Mr. Waffle 83%: Me 17% [Seriously?]

I was outraged by Daniel’s score, the root of which is clearly that my work picking up shoes, laundry and other dropped items is completely invisible. Bitter.

In a, probably not entirely helpful, development since the introduction of the American economist’s aside into our lives I have taken to saying in a bitter undervoice as I go about my alloted tasks, “All part of the 17% service.”

It’s a fun game for you all to try out at home. Let me know how you get on.

The Essence of Romance

6 May, 2017 at 4:21 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle went away for work on Thursday and came back on Friday. Sadly, this meant he missed the boys’ service of light which is part of the new super duper extended disco remix of the confirmation ceremony (they will be making their actual confirmation in June – fun fact, the Irish for confirmation is “dul faoi lámh an Easpaig” literally meaning to go under the hand of the bishop but when herself was confirmed the bishop was not available, am hoping boys will do better – I was only confirmed by an auxiliary bishop myself so we have poor form here).

The ceremony was held in the school which I was a bit dubious about but in fact it was absolutely lovely. The two violinists in the class whose progress we have been tracking over religious ceremonies for many years, have really improved, the children knew their lines, they sang beautifully and the evening sun streamed in through the tall Georgian windows and lit up the beautiful drawing room which is now the sixth class classroom and features children’s collages on the walls as well as the work of Dublin’s finest 18th century stuccadores on the ceiling. Daniel and Michael had their actual baptismal candles which I regarded as an organisational triumph but sadly I should have road tested them as the wicks were a bit short and they went out. The boys were displeased although I think more generally, they enjoyed the ceremony. Not as much as they enjoyed the Domino’s pizza beforehand though.

My sister who is recovering from an operation was well enough to come up and it was lovely to see her. The Princess came along under duress but loved it. It’s been a couple of years since she has visited the school but all the teachers and the principal have been following her progress and congratulated her on her various achievements and I think she was pleased. As it happens, two of her best friends from primary school have younger sisters in the boys’ class so they were there too and the three of them ran around the school commenting on how small the desks were. She showed me where they had written their names on the wall behind the radiator. “Where’s your name?” I asked. “Further down,” she said, “I was more scared of the authorities”.

The shopping was delivered on Thursday night and on Friday morning, I discovered that toilet paper had not been included in the delivery. I gave herself a tenner and asked her to pick some up on the way home from school. My sister offered herself a lift to school which she gratefully accepted. My sister also offered to buy toilet paper but I felt that it was too much to ask a recovering patient. Normally Mr. Waffle looks after all these things as he is self-employed and flexible (as he often points out, self-employed does not mean never has to work and can do errands but it’s an uphill battle getting that message across). The boys and I went out to the shed to pick up our bikes and I noticed that the Princess’s bike was missing. Good job her aunt gave her a lift. I texted herself, “I hope your bike is in school as it’s not in the shed.” About 11.30 she called me at work. Could I collect her as she was sick? I could not as school finishes early on Fridays and by the time I had cycled home and picked up the car, she’d have made it home under her own steam. How I missed my self-employed husband. Unable to do anything for my sick child I offered, “Look, don’t worry about picking up the toiled paper.”

She made her own way home. “Your bike was in school,” I said. “Look,” she said, “I’m not proud of this but I cycled to the library after school yesterday and locked my bike outside, then I forgot it was there and walked home.” It’s quite a step. However, the bike was still there on Friday and she was able to retrieve it and bring it home. And she bought toilet paper. I let her keep the change.

Mr. Waffle came home at 10 last night. As I said to him, he should go away more often as it helps me to appreciate him even more. As I write, he is off collecting the boys’ new bikes from a soulless shopping centre and he’s already done two loads of washing. My hero.


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