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Changing By Degrees

3 August, 2018 at 10:57 pm by belgianwaffle

When we were in Cork, Mr. Waffle and I found ourselves in the Stone Corridor in UCC admiring the ogham stones. There was an office with a plaque there; it said “Head of Student Experience”. “What do you think that is?” I asked Mr. Waffle. “I think it’s what we used to call the Dean of Discipline when I was in college.”

Unnerving

27 July, 2018 at 9:58 pm by belgianwaffle

Conversation with my sons this evening:

Me: You know we’re going to a barbecue tomorrow?
Michael: Something even more important is happening.
Me (dubiously): Uncle Dan is coming to stay?
Daniel: More important than that.
Me: I give up.
Them: It’s your wedding anniversary!
Me: 9.45 on the evening before is a truly excellent time to be reminded of that.

Long Hot Summer

1 July, 2018 at 11:13 pm by belgianwaffle

The boys have been on a range of courses on a week on/week off basis.  On off weeks, Mr. Waffle is normally able to check in at home a couple of times a day.  Mr. Waffle was away for work for two days last week and the boys were home alone for both days.  On day 1 they went out briefly to deliver leaflets for a neighbour (there’s going to be a local walking tour apparently) and Michael lost a baby tooth.  He’ll be 13 in September, will the baby tooth collection never end?  He felt strongly that in his father’s absence the tooth fairy would never come but he was wrong.  He said that the fact that agents associated with the tooth fairy accidentally threw the tooth in the bin earlier meant that the work force was unreliable.  However, the fact that the tooth was found – and you have not lived until you have gone through the black bin on a warm day looking for a missing baby tooth – argues strongly for the work ethic and reliability of this particular tooth fairy agent.   So, day 1 was alright but by the end of day 2, however, it wasn’t quite “Lord of the Flies” but it wasn’t far off it either.  Michael’s entire intake for the second day prior to my return home from work appears to have been 2 slices of toast and honey so no wonder he was  a bit ratty.  On the other hand, it is so hot that even I don’t feel like eating and, unlike Michael, I am fond of eating.   Poor Daniel does not deal well with being cooped up all day and he was like a caged lion.

Mr. Waffle came in on Thursday night on a late flight.  He said that he heard two other passengers who had met on the plane chatting.  She was a Ukrainian woman who appeared to have lived in Dublin for a number of years and he was a Pole visiting Dublin for the first time.  Mr. Waffle heard her say to him, in reply to a question about the weather, “It’s 28 degrees, they think it’s really hot.”  Dammit it is really hot and I remember 1976 (the year of the heatwave, lads).  Guess what Mr. Waffle brought home from Luxembourg?  That’s right, a French/Dutch Michelin map of Denmark.

On Friday afternoon, I took the boys to the swimming pool.  I was kind of amazed that they could swim.  I think I have mentioned before that we gave up on swimming lessons years ago in the face of stern opposition from them and I have ever since been terrified that they would drown in open water.  While I wouldn’t describe either of them as strong swimmers, they both enjoy swimming underwater, can both float for ages and Daniel can do a length and Michael about 3/4 of a length which, frankly, was much better than I would have thought possible, clearly something sank in from the hated lessons.

On Saturday we went for a walk in Wicklow from the Pier Gates to Lough Dan. It was pretty toasty. It was fine on the way down although a bit warm from time to time. We seemed to reach the shade pretty quickly.

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The views were delightful, as always.

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The boys enjoyed going across the little river on the stepping stones.

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When we got there, the lake was beautiful. Mr. Waffle and I swam and the boys paddled, it was boggy but warm. What genius brought swimming gear and towels? This genius.

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I thought the journey back would be easier. I don’t know why I would have thought that because it was ALL uphill. Once we got out from under the trees, it was a bit “Mine eyes have seen the abomination of desolation” as we trekked up the stony roads in the blazing sunshine.

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By the time I arrived back at the car, I was utterly exhausted. The boys seemed ok though, so that was something. We went for dinner in Roundwood to sustain us for the drive home.

Today was quiet after our epic trek yesterday. We went to visit the grandparents but that was about it for the day. Excitingly, I did get to speak briefly to my firstborn. Main news items: she is enjoying her residential course and she is out of phone credit.

Poor Mr. Waffle is off to lovely Luxembourg again today so I dropped him out to the airport this evening. His flight was delayed by an hour but he was able to work on his Danish on duolingo – we are doing this in anticipation of our trip. Possibly a bit pointless. I can now say, the girl eats the apple and the girl eats an apple. A distinction which seems ludicrously important in lesson 1. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Home alone or Random Updates

20 June, 2018 at 10:44 pm by belgianwaffle

“So what news?” you ask.

A couple of weeks ago, I made Mr. Waffle and the boys go to the theatre to see “A Feast of Bones” which the Princess and I saw five years ago and liked. They left the house with great reluctance. Michael, in particular, pointing out that I had a history of never booking them in to good things. I pointed to the session on African explorer Thomas Parke which still remains my single most successful cultural outing. However, I finally have a second triumph, because they all really enjoyed the performance. Go me.

The weekend before last, Mr waffle was off in foreign parts for the weekend. He had a 25 year college reunion. Meanwhile I held the fort. We had a lot of pizza. Michael had his drama showcase which went fine thank you for asking. Daniel had a match – I dropped him up and another parent brought him home. He told me that he was taken off injured after 5 minutes which wasn’t totally ideal. I think he has some kind of floating body in his knee and from time to time, when I have an idle moment, I worry about this. Herself took a break from studying (this was when the Junior Cert was still on – happily it has now ended, it was ok, results in September) and went out for walk at the seaside with her friends. There was a certain amount of scurrying to get everyone everywhere on time but we made it. I left the washing out on the line overnight though – living life on the edge.

On Sunday we cycled to mass. “Are you ok?” I asked Dan. “Fine, why?” he said. “Your knee injury from yesterday,” I said. “Oh,” said he, “I made that up, I was fine and played, it’s just that I didn’t want you to make me have a shower.” Where to begin? I still took him and his brother to the cinema that afternoon (because I am saintly and he did shower on Sunday morning).

Herself finished her exams last Friday and the saintly mother of one of her friends took a group of them to the Taylor Swift concert. A good time seems to have been had by all etc.

Last Sunday was the annual church garden party. Yet again, I found myself manning the ice cream wafer stall with no fridge. Very trying, frankly. Mr. Waffle won the father’s day raffle – a hamper which looked promising but turned out to be full of Nivea for men products. That’s what happens if your sponsor is the local chemist, I suppose.

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There was a box full of loads of Greek and Latin plays and histories. And even though our house is full to overflowing with books and I suspect I will never read them I was unable to resist picking up 5 books for a euro (two French books as well which will be for herself to never read). Here are the books I will never read:

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The boys did a science course last week but have no activities planned this week which fills their little hearts with delight. I met them in town for lunch on Monday. They made their own way in and out. They were in great form. I have to say, if I never see Milano’s again, it might be too soon. That evening, Daniel had a GAA match in Tallaght. Tallaght! With the snow earlier in the year, they are still catching up on league matches during the week rather than at the weekend and it is spectacularly inconvenient. It feels like the season is never going to end.

Daniel went back to the ophthalmologist this afternoon and basically he is cured. He will probably always need glasses but as he is very longsighted, his eyesight will improve from now on. Apparently watching television and playing on the phone is good for his eyesight, if anything. The patching when he was little has worked and his astigmatism is gone. He can wear contact lenses for sport if he likes. And we never need to go back to the ophthalmologist. Nice man but, frankly, I rejoice.

He got his hair cut to celebrate and we had a cup of tea.

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Mr. Waffle is away for work until tomorrow evening, so I am coping alone (so far so good). Real challenge will be tomorrow. The children will be home alone all day – when Mr. Waffle is in the country, he drops in at lunch time to feed them – so I have told them that they have to get dressed and feed themselves. It remains to be seen how that will pan out. Will I come home to starving, feral children in pyjamas? All to play for. Poor Daniel has yet another GAA match. Happily it is relatively nearby so I have told him that he will have to get himself there by bike and he seems resigned if not enthusiastic (I appreciate that enthusiastic would be a big ask there). We’re all looking forward to the return of Mr. Waffle tomorrow evening, particularly the person who may, possibly, have felled a down pipe while doing some overdue rose bush pruning. Also the cat who is sitting looking at me as I type, hoping against hope that I might feed her again.

Tragically, he has to go away again next week and the week after. How will it all end? Also, we have no summer holiday booked. I think I am beginning to panic a little here.

My aunt was 89 today or will be on Friday. My granny always said that my aunt was born on June 20th but the Californian authorities have recorded it as June 22nd on her birth cert. Still, the family wisdom is that my granny ought to have known and so my aunt is celebrating today. Only a spring chicken etc. compared to my father, of course.

Any news yourself?

To Dust We Will All Return

30 May, 2018 at 7:18 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle’s aunt died a couple of weeks ago; she had been ill for a while and it fell into the category of merciful release, I think. We brought the children to the removal and I was surprised that Daniel was quite upset. Of course, I should have realised that she was the first person my children know who has died. I had also forgotten that it would be the first time that they would see a dead body and I think Daniel, in particular, got quite a shock. With my constant funeral going, at this stage, I feel barely a week passes without my seeing an embalmed and jaundiced corpse so, I perhaps underestimated the likely impact.

The funeral was small but Mr. Waffle’s cousin read a nice eulogy and over the lunch afterwards, Mr. Waffle was rather pleased to meet an old schoolmate of his aunt’s who was able to tell him what she was like when she was young. His aunt, who was somewhat eccentric, had planned her own funeral (many years ago, memorably, she rang Mr. Waffle while he was shopping with the children in Tesco to discuss her choice of coffin) and, to be fair, it seems a pretty good idea as the service really was very nice. She was very Catholic indeed so, if you are of that persuasion, do say a prayer for her.

7×7

10 March, 2018 at 8:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I am 49 today. Herself arrived home from school yesterday to announce, “Seán in my class thinks you’re a drama queen.” “Why?” I asked. “Because he asked what I was doing for the weekend and I said that we all had to stay at home on Saturday because it’s your birthday. He asked if it was an important one and I said no but I told him that we’re all dreading when you turn 50.”

So, yes, I like to celebrate my birthday, is that bad? Herself spent the afternoon slaving over my favourite brownies. I expect to enjoy them after my birthday dinner. Mr. Waffle got me flowers, a candle (always welcome to me) and a framed print of a picture which I once failed to identify on University Challenge (I pronounced it appealing and he took careful note).

More generally, I had a slightly unsatisfactory day. The boys and I cycled into their drama class. Some evil person punctured Michael’s tyre while they were in there which meant it was flat as a pancake when they emerged and we had to walk home pushing our bikes (“I’m tired” “When will I be able to stop and eat my bun?” “I want to go to the toilet.”). It took a lot out of all of us.

Mild highlight of the day so far was herself walking up to the bike repair shop with me after I got home.

Be not afraid though, because Mr. Waffle and I took a day off work during the week to celebrate my birthday. We went for a walk in Glendalough and had a nice lunch in Powerscourt. Was there snow in the mountains? Yes, there was:

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We had to scoot back to Dublin a bit earlier than we would have liked because there were parent-teacher meetings for the boys, but that was satisfactory as well because they seem to be getting on very well which is always a relief to hear.

Furthermore, tomorrow is mother’s day. I am not delighted about it coming hot on the heels of my birthday as I think 48 hours of indulgence is a lot to ask from my family, however, it has put me in a good position to force everyone to go for a walk in the mountains tomorrow. Rejoice.

So I am hoping that 49 will be a good year. My sister is recovering from cancer – she’s gone back to work which is great. I am starting a new job in April – you may congratulate me – and so far I have all of the delight of anticipation and none of the horror of the new job. And surely, I have done enough funerals in the past year that there can’t be too many more to go through this year.

Now, you will have to excuse me because I just heard from the kitchen the magic words, “Someone put the kettle on!” and I think that my birthday cake is approaching.

Independent Lives of Infinite Variety* or Weekly Round-Up

10 February, 2018 at 6:07 pm by belgianwaffle

Last Monday night, Daniel had hurling training, there was a talk in the school about Transition Year and I was hosting bookclub. Something had to give. It was Daniel’s training. He took it manfully, particularly since the weather was freezing.

On Tuesday night it was parents’ council in the school at 7, Michael in scouts at 7.30 and Mr. Waffle at soccer at 8. We made everything but one of us had to cycle home from the school at 8.30 in the evening in positively Baltic conditions.

On Wednesday morning, the Princess and I left the house at the same time. As we arrived at the top of the road in the freezing cold, she said, “I’ve forgotten my gloves but I’m not going back”. She had “mocks” this week, a venerable Irish rite of passage where you do a whole set of practice exams for a week before you do your actual State examinations in the summer. Since you have half a year of the course left to cover, results are invariably hair-raising. They are taking these with immense seriousness in the school and she was particularly anxious not be late. I was wearing gloves. It was very chilly, my fingers were frozen inside my gloves. I half-heartedly said, “You can have mine.” “No,” she said, “you have further to cycle” and she pedaled off like a demon in the other direction. I felt like a heel all day.

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On Wednesday night there were no activities. This encouraged me to spread my culinary wings. Other nights I get home at 6.30 and there is some activity which means that dinner has to be on the table and eaten by 7 which doesn’t really allow for flights of fancy. On Wednesday night we had salmon (sadly still raw when brought out of the oven), cheesy potatoes from the butcher (slightly out of date but ingredients were described as “potatoes, cheese, sauce” so a bit difficult to gauge how bad out of date might be, sauce, it turned out, included cream so that meant out of date corresponded to “completely inedible”) and green beans (do you find that these always take longer to cook than you might think?). The whole was an unmitigated disaster. Thursday saw me returning to “fun with pasta” (say what you like, pasta and pesto, hard to go wrong) and last night Mr. Waffle had to go out to his parents’ house so the children and I had take away which was undoubtedly the highlight of the culinary week although, doubtless, very bad for all of us.

How was your own culinary/activity filled week?

*Title is Hilaire Belloc, if you’re wondering


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