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10 March, 2018 at 8:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I am 49 today. Herself arrived home from school yesterday to announce, “Se├ín 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

Christmas Round-Up

7 January, 2018 at 9:43 pm by belgianwaffle

So Christmas day passed off peacefully enough. Herself was displeased with her offering from Santa “Why does Santa hate me?” but otherwise all was well. We went out to the cousins for drinks with extended family but it was just ourselves at home for dinner which I really liked. I am not the world’s greatest natural hostess and I find it pleasantly undemanding when it is only family for dinner.

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Our crib shepherd lost a head at a crucial moment and so missed most of the big day. He was taken out by a large book on Dr. Who which hit him inadvertently. It was suggested that he might be renamed St. Denis for this year only (his head is now safely superglued back on his shoulders).

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On the 26th we went on the traditional orienteering expedition in the Dublin mountains with the cousins. For the first time ever, as far as I can remember, it did not rain.

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That evening, herself went as emergency babysitter to the three year old child of friends who live around the corner. It went very well and she sees a lucrative new income stream opening up.

On the 27th we went to Cork where a vast array of exciting presents awaited. We stayed in our friends’ place in East Cork and went up and down to Cork city for various excitements including ice skating.

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We did the Ballycotton cliff walk which was spectacularly muddy. We ran into another family; the mother was American and was walking along with a child in a sling and the father was Irish and admiring the view. They also had a two year old splashing through an enormous puddle. Her mother kept begging her not to run through the puddle; advice which the child ignored with unfortunate but not entirely unexpected consequences. I felt very sorry for the child and her mother. I did think her father was quite useless. Herself has urged me not to be so judgy but I said, “I bet your grandfather was better than that in the 1970s.” When we checked at her insistence, however, he indicated that he too would probably have looked at the view. I refuse to believe that. Like his granddaughter, he is not judgy (other than about politicians, oh my goodness, lots of judgements there) and I feel he just wanted to exonerate the father from blame. I digress. Thanks to our new boots and greater height and motor skills than the average two year old, we remained dry.

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That evening, my sister and her partner took the boys to the new Star Wars film and dinner in Milano’s. Herself, Mr. Waffle and I went for a more sophisticated dinner option together which she quite enjoyed (she tires of Milano’s but her brothers never will).

We finished our Christmas holiday jigsaw. Almost unbearable excitement, I know. The house in East Cork has no television or wifi which I really enjoy. The children, slightly less so, though not as much less as you might imagine.

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We were back up to Cork the next day where my brother and sister made a very elaborate family dinner for ten where the Yorkshire puddings were a highlight for Daniel and Michael. My brother bench pressed herself; this is the kind of quality entertainment that is available at family dinners. My father told us about his first meeting with my grandfather, his father-in-law to be. My mother went off somewhere with my grandmother and he and my grandfather were left to cope alone. My grandfather asked him whether he would like a drink. He would. At the time, my grandfather was going blind and after rooting around the cupboard, he emerged with a bottle of whiskey and poured out a measure for my father. He didn’t take any himself. My father who was a keen whiskey drinker was pretty sure that the contents weren’t whiskey but pretended to drink filled with fear that it might be some terrible poison – my grandfather was a farmer and farmers are or certainly were, inclined to fill random bottles with agricultural supplies. When my mother and my grandmother came home, investigation proved that the non-whiskey drink was actually Lourdes water. Also on herself asking him about living in American in the 1920s (long story, he did), he recollected turning off all the lights in the house commemorating some anniversary of the lightbulb. It must have been quite the shock coming back to Cork with its oil lamps in the 1930s. He also was quite adamant that it snowed while they were in America, given that they were living in Orange County, South Pasadena (apparently the South was important), that seems a little unlikely but he is adamant.

That night, we had games night – Michael got a number of games for Christmas and he was keen to try them out. It was actually quite good fun though slightly hideous in prospect.

On new year’s eve we went for our first walk on the beach since arriving. It started to lash rain/sleet and we ran to the hotel hoping that it might give us lunch but, sadly, no. Mr. Waffle and herself braved the rain and got the car and we went to the Kilkenny shop in Shanagarry instead. We met a good friend of mine from Dublin there with her family which was quite random and proves that Ireland is tiny etc. She and her family were reliving her husband’s childhood family holidays in Waterford and their exploring had taken them into East Cork.

Then back to Dublin. We bought a “Best of Queen” CD and a 5 set CD of hits from the 80s to listen to on the journey (mock, if you will). I can confirm that Queen had more lasting hits than all of the 80s put together. About half way back I started to feel unwell (unrelated to the hits of the 80s). By the time we got home, I was very unwell. I spent the remainder of the evening getting sick and could only lend half an ear to the various woes involving the cat (neighbours had wrong keys, had gone out and bought cat food and sent their teenager over the garden wall to put out cat food for the cat every day, frankly, above and beyond the call of duty). About 11.45 in a brief break from my time in the bathroom, I headed downstairs to wish Mr. Waffle a happy new year. He was just heading off to rescue herself from a new year’s eve party. All in all, we have had better starts to the new year. I finally stopped throwing up about 3 am. I firmly blame the grilled brie in the restaurant where we had lunch for my brief but violent illness. The next day, feeling delicate, I was sitting reading the paper while the boys played their new videogame (Overwatch, very popular), “I am a one-man apocalypse,” hissed the character on screen. Herself lent across the sofa and said to me, “It’s the brie speaking.” Oh yes indeed.

Mr. Waffle’s sister, husband and baby came to Dublin from London for a couple of days at the start of the month. We had them round for an extended family lunch before I trudged dismally back to work last Thursday. We had the tree yesterday for Women’s Christmas but it came down today and the children are back to school tomorrow. Alas alack.

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In other news, over the Christmas holidays, Daniel and Michael lost a tooth each. Seriously, when do children stop losing teeth? I think herself still has some to go and she’ll be 15 in April.

How was your own Christmas?

Thought for the Day

6 December, 2017 at 7:51 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: When the children leave home, I wonder what we’ll do at the weekends?
Him: Hmm. I don’t know.
Me: We could go to mass in the pro-Cathedral and hear the Palestrina choir on Sunday. And then we could go for a nice walk in the mountains somewhere. [Pause] Why didn’t we do that kind of thing before we had children?
Him: It’s possible that your views have changed. Maybe in your 20s mass and a walk was not your idea of a fun Sunday.

Badum Tish

5 December, 2017 at 7:47 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle: There are no gloves for the children.
Me: There are loads of gloves in the bag in the press in the hall.
Him: They don’t match.
Me: Lots of them do and it doesn’t matter, if they don’t match anyway.
Him: We need more gloves.
Me: We definitely don’t. Have you seen the gloves on the radiator in the utility room?
Him: Yes, you’ve been harping on those, why is that?
Me: Because we have loads of gloves and I know that given half a chance you will zoom out to Lidl and buy loads more.
Him: Do you want this to be a gloveless marriage?

Plans for Tuesday Evening

4 December, 2017 at 8:00 pm by belgianwaffle

After work on Tuesday, we have the following:
Invitation to a book launch
Invitation to Christmas drinks
A meeting of the school parents’ council
Michael’s weekly scouts meeting
Mr. Waffle’s weekly soccer

Things which made the cut:
The book launch
Michael’s scouts

Things I feel bad about (in order of priority):
The parents’ council
The Christmas drinks
Mr. Waffle’s soccer

Biggish meeting at work on Wednesday, likelihood I will end up working a bit late on Tuesday: 100%

How much I am enjoying having it all at the moment: 0%

The Struggle Continues

28 November, 2017 at 8:47 pm by belgianwaffle

I have recently covered how ideologically opposed I am to Kildare Village (outlet shopping) in principle while being strangely attracted to it in practice.

When we went down to the wedding in East Cork a couple of weeks ago, we stopped off for breakfast in the Pain Quotidien in Kildare Village which I loved. Mr. Waffle was distinctly less impressed as he sipped from his bowl of weak tea. “It’s all very well abroad,” said he, “but I am in Kildare and it seems outrageous to be drinking this kind of tea when I know that everywhere around me perfectly good, normal tea is available.” I left him to brood over his tea while I went for a quick run around the shops. I bought some Penhaligon Bluebell perfume which my father used to bring from London to my mother. When I met my sister that evening, I said, “Smell this!” and held up my wrist and she instantly recognised it. I’m wearing it all the time now although I do seem to be mildly allergic to it and it makes me sneeze which I concede is sub-optimal. Like my relationship with Kildare Village.

Did I mention it has a Villeroy and Bosch shop? I love Villeroy and Bosch.


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