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What’s a bus like?

26 April, 2006 at 11:52 pm by belgianwaffle

When I was small, I always wanted to travel by plane (my parents preferred mode of holiday travel was by ferry, sigh).  My father flew a lot for work and I used to pester him with questions as to what it was like and he would always say: have you been on a bus?  Well, like that, only with less leg room.

The Princess has been on more flights than I can remember and she’s always saying to me “Can we go by bus Mummy?”, “Mummy, what’s it like on a bus?”. I reply “have you been on a plane?  Well, like that, only with more leg room”.

Anyhow, tomorrow, I will have the dubious pleasure of travelling by plane to a distant destination for work.  Alone.  Leaving poor Mr. Waffle holding the babies and also the toddler.  Perhaps there will be updates from the distant country, perhaps not.  It all depends whether I can crack this wifi thing.

From the Irish Times

25 April, 2006 at 9:42 pm by belgianwaffle

“You have to think beyond it, otherwise it will eat you up inside.  Having got over the initial shock, you have to see beyond it.  Good things can happen.”

Please guess whether the woman quoted had

a)     Lost a close relative

b)     Lost a limb

c)     Lost a wedding dress when a “bridal shop” closed down.

You guessed it.  The man acting for the owner of the shop is quoted as saying “In my 30 years as a solicitor, this is one of the mst vitriolic and emotional meetings [the creditors’ meeting] I have ever been at.  For the last hour and a half, she [the owner] has endeavoured to answer all of the questions she has been asked.  She has received a number of abusive phone calls and quasi death-threats”.  No, I don’t know what a “quasi death threat” is either but I think that we can take it that the brides are annoyed.  I suspect that her solicitor didn’t do her any favours by telling the assembled multitude, however reasonably, that “customers needed to realise it was ‘only a wedding dress’ and wasn’t the worst thing in the world”.  Read more here.  Go on, you know you want to.


24 April, 2006 at 1:54 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: So, for a list it’s colon, item, semicolon, item, semicolon, item, semicolon, and, final item; not item, and, semicolon, final item.

22 year old trainee:  Do you realise that we are the only people in the world having this conversation?


23 April, 2006 at 2:10 pm by belgianwaffle


As I am sure you know, adoptive mothers can breastfeed. Oh yes. Everyone knows that. I pointed this out to a friend of mine whom Michael was nuzzling hopefully:

Her: I don’t think that will work, young man.
Me: Oh yes it will, if you’re willing to try.
Her: No, I really don’t think so.
Me: Haven’t you ever heard of adoptive breastfeeding?
Her: WHAT? NO.
Me: It’s true, ask anyone.
Her: I wouldn’t know where to start.
Me: OK, maybe not anyone.


When I was a baby, a friend of my mother’s who had worked in Africa announced to my grandmother that in Ethiopia the grandmothers helped out with the breastfeeding. I understand from my mother that my grandmother decided firmly against this course of action.


You may think that I am out there on the edge of weirdness with my knowledge of adoptive breastfeeding and such, but the BCT (Brussels Childbirth Trust) mag will always go one better for you. Let me quote from the article on breastfeeding: “Milk production is the result of stimulation of the nipple. This stimulation leads to the production of two hormones, oxytocin and prolactin in the pituitary which in turn prompt milk production. This appears to be possible for men, to a certain degree..”

Official Birthday Stats

22 April, 2006 at 9:41 pm by belgianwaffle

Number of guests: 23

Of whom children: 13

Of whom children under 1: 4

Number of faces painted: 7

Number of children concussed by collapsing chair: 1

Number of slices of birthday cake required to  restore concussed child to happiness: 1

Ladies and gentlemen, I think that we have a success on our hands.

Tears at bedtime

21 April, 2006 at 5:21 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess is refusing to go to bed these days. We have a bedtime routine, possibly the only successful parenting strategy we have adopted and, until now, it has worked perfectly. She might have got up during the night but she always went to bed. Recently, though she has been stretching the bedtime routine. It’s been taking about an hour and a half from when bed time is first mooted to lights out. In between there is bathing, singing, pyjama putting on, hugging, bottle taking, story reading and chatting, not necessarily in that order. And then there is a howl when we close the bedroom door which is a new and unwelcome feature. And the time between getting the Princess finally into bed and collapsing into bed ourselves is getting shorter and shorter.

Last night was particularly grim. Her father put her to bed and at 8.30 refused to get an extra bottle and closed the door. For a while we listened to her thumping the door saying “papa, papa” and sobbing hysterically but I crumbled and said I’ve got to go into her. He promised to come and rescue me, if I wasn’t out in ten minutes. When I opened the door, she was sitting on the floor red in the face with tears streaming down her cheeks. Her little body was all hot and she was shaking. She was, however, down but not out and she looked at me balefully and said “Go away Mummy, I was calling Daddy not you”. Why, thank you sweetheart. Anyhow, I took her into bed and sang to her and calmed her down and then her father came and we both talked to her and then I left and then, finally, he left. And by the time we had finished, it was well after nine.

In consequence of last night’s late bed time, she was like a briar this morning. She woke up at 7 (too bright Mummy) and climbed into bed beside me (Mr. Waffle was not there, having been in with the boys polishing off the later night shift) and lay there like a soggy sock (I was originally going for limp rag but I thought I would try to invent a new cliché). She wouldn’t eat her breakfast, she wouldn’t get dressed, her chair was too far from the table waah, waah, she wanted a nut from her father’s muesli but he had EATEN THEM ALL (cue Mr. Waffle going to the kitchen to sift through the muesli box for a nut) – you name it, everything was dreadful. She would try the patience of a saint, in fact she did and Mr. Waffle spoke quite harshly to her in the matter of putting on shoes. She came running to me, sobbing hysterically “Daddy scared me”. Poor Mr. Waffle was crushed.

Normally her father walks or cycles to school with her, but this morning, for a variety of reasons, we all ended up driving there in the car. Mr. Waffle deposited the Princess and me outside the school and drove on to the creche with the boys. I suppose we should have realised that this change in routine would confuse her but I wasn’t really expecting to end up holding a wriggling hysterical child who was calling after a departing car “just one last hug, Daddy, please” as other parents looked at the ground and presumably thought “newly divorced, the poor child won’t see her father until Monday”. I brought her nto the classroom and there was prolonged wailing when I made to leave. I stayed for ages, but in the end, I had to go (I know I have the most accommodating job in the world but they do actually expect me to come in in the morning). Her teacher chose this morning to tell me that she is not having very good days at school at the moment. After I left the classroom, I hung around outside for a moment to check that she had calmed down. Even if she cries, she usually stops when we’re not there to hear her. But not today. Peering through the glass pane at the top of the door, I could see her clutching Hop Hop and crying as though her heart would break a good five minutes after I’d left the classroom. But I really had to go, so go I did.

I’m not sure what all this is about. I suppose our dizzyingly complex childcare arrangements for the month of April are taking their toll on her. If it is hard for her father to know who is doing what, it must be even more difficult for her. Breda O’Brien in the Irish Times has taken over from Oliver James in the Observer (he seems to have been tossed out in the revamp) as my guilty conscience in the matter of childcare. If you wish to know the kind of guilt Breda is excellent at inspiring, see this. A couple of weeks ago she said that parents who work full time must get used to their children sleeping less well at night as they try to make up during the night, time they couldn’t spend with their parents during the day. I wonder, could there be something in this? I’m her mother; it’s all my fault anyway, isn’t it? The boys, however, seem to love the creche though they both have runny noses. More guilt, but different guilt. Variety is everything.

Forgotten something?

20 April, 2006 at 9:50 pm by belgianwaffle

April is a transitional month. Our arrangements for this month are of dizzying complexity. In fact, if I were run over by a bus, I am pretty certain that Mr. Waffle would have no idea of where our children might be.

Today is Thursday. At lunchtime on Thursdays, I collect the boys from the creche to drop them off at home where, from 2 o’clock, our childminder tends to their every need. I got caught up in some work and didn’t leave the office until 1.45. I knew that the childminder would be wondering where we were, so I zoomed home as quickly as I could. I was surprised and delighted at what excellent time I made and it was only as I turned into the garage that I realised that there was a reason why the trip had been so speedy. Yup, I forgot to pick up the boys.


19 April, 2006 at 9:02 pm by belgianwaffle

After bed time

Me:  Is that the Princess crying?
Him:  Yes.
Me: I thought it was Daniel.
Him:  Him too, it’s a medley.
Me: Cup of tea?


18 April, 2006 at 9:48 pm by belgianwaffle

A friend of mine who is an employment barrister has advised me not to blog about work. I feel that this is good advice but here I am ignoring it. I suppose that this is what good advice is for.

But surely, it’s alright, if I want to say good things? On Sunday, Mr. Waffle said to me “hang in there we go back to work on Tuesday” and I smiled feebly.

The other day I got a call from a friend and former colleague.

Him: You’re back at work then.
Me: Yup.
Him: How are you finding it?
Me: It’s great actually.
Him: It’s grim here.
Me: My boss is fantastic.
Him: I’m up to my tonsils.
Me: And my staff are bright, hardworking, pleasant and (very important this) obliging.
Him (suggestion of gritted teeth): Good for you.
Me (sunnily): And I have just the right amount of work, not so much that I am stressed, not so little that I am bored.
Him (definite gritted teeth): Marvellous.
Me: And I got a call from one of the boss of bosses today and she said that a) she was delighted I was pleased with the flowers she sent to me on the birth of the boys and b) she had the picture of them that I sent with my thank you card on her desk and c) she is in Brussels in a couple of weeks with the top boss and perhaps we could all go for a nice lunch.
Him: Lovely for you. (Reflective pause) You know, it should always be like that.
Me: But it isn’t, I feel as though the gods have conspired to make everything in my working life perfect.
Him (maliciously): You working mothers hate your children, don’t you?

Easter Sunday

17 April, 2006 at 8:53 pm by belgianwaffle

I had a little break yesterday morning and drove my sister to the airport at 6.45 to catch her flight back to Delhi. She is finding India trying. The local staff are anxious to whip up her enthusiasm by taking her on a white water rafting team building trip for the rest of the week. I am looking forward to my debrief when she’s back within mobile phone coverage but I can’t feel that diarrhoea and white water rafting is a great combination. But her address contains the words “posh enclave”, can it be all bad?

I have for some time harboured the ambition of going to Easter Sunday mass with my family so between 8.00 and 10.45, Mr. Waffle and I herded the children out the door. Only two of them screamed incessantly during this period. When we got to mass, the Princess whispered to me “Can we go and see the statue of sick Jesus?” Off we went. She looked at the pieta and said “but he’s still sick”. I had to explain that the likeness was taken while he was sick but that he was better now. The Princess is experiencing some confusion of ideas about Easter, so she said “And now that he is better and Lent is over, he can eat all the chocolates he likes”.

And in other news, I am somewhat behind in my reading which is why I missed Beth’s kind words about my blog. Kind, good Beth. I would reciprocate and say nice things about her blog but then you would go away and read it and never come back to me. Though I will say that the Easter snap of her little girl is rather gorgeous.

Poor dietary habits

15 April, 2006 at 9:20 am by belgianwaffle

My sister is sick. I understand that this is frequently a side effect of living in India.

Me: Your poor aunt is sick.
Princess: Why?
Me: Probably something she ate in
Princess: Why?
Me: Well maybe someone put dirty hands or dirty water on it.
Princess: Why?
Me: I don’t know, anyway, your poor aunt got a bug.
Princess: What?
Me: You know a bug, like a germ.
Princess: That you get from not washing your hands after doing a poo.
Me: YES.
Princess (to my sister): Stop eating poo.

Red girl in a blue state

14 April, 2006 at 10:53 pm by belgianwaffle

Sister in Chicago (temporarily in Delhi, in Brussels for the weekend – try to keep up): So, I’m not entitled to those tax breaks any more. And I pay tax at 33%.

Me: Mmmm.

Her: I can’t believe that I’m now classified as a high earner. How can this be happening in George Bush’s America?

Exotic sister

13 April, 2006 at 11:05 pm by belgianwaffle

My sister is here from India, for three days (that’s one hell of a carbon footprint). She loves the rain, the cold, the personal space, the food, the safe driving habits (everything is relative). It’s possible that she’s finding it a bit difficult to adjust to Delhi. She tells me that her friends have been fantastic – writing, calling, sending presents (although her friend L says that nobody is going to visit her unless she starts blogging in a more upbeat tone). Her friend E in Chicago forwards her post to Delhi once a month. He seems like a nice boy, and from Cork too. Apparently his mother thinks she sounds like a nice girl. My sister has pointed out the flaw in my assumptions by reporting the following chat between E and his mother.

Her: Your friend in India sounds like a nice girl.
Him: She is.
Her: Are you thinking of taking her to your sister’s wedding?
Him: Mum, I’m gay.
Her: Are you sure? She sounds like a very nice girl.

Not suitable for children under 3 years

12 April, 2006 at 10:21 pm by belgianwaffle

Last night the Princess got up three times to check with her loving parents “Is it my birthday yet?” And, this morning, after 364 days of waiting, that day finally dawned. Her grandparents from Dublin are here to join in the celebrations and supply a suitable array of presents. Although they are slightly run down from the 24 hour babysitting regime they’ve been enjoying since they arrived on Sunday, I was pleased to see that they were up at 7.00 this morning to join in the birthday celebrations. Many of her relatives sent presents in the post. She got a lovely dress from my parents and I am delighted to report that after opening it she instantly scurried to her room to “get a hanger for my dress”. Breakfast was taken in front of “my Cinderella for the television”; which my brother kindly sent her. Her brothers unfortunately, ahem, forgot to get her anything for the morning but by the evening they had rectified this terrible omission. Her father took the day off work and minded babies while she went out with her grandparents to choose a suitably magnificent birthday cake.

I can’t believe she’s three; finally, she’s old enough to eat toys with small parts. I used to wonder why three was such a big watershed in the world of toys with small parts but now, I think, I understand. People say that, in ways, two year olds are like adolescents (I can’t wait, no, really) and I see what they mean. In retrospect, until she turned two, she was reallly a baby but in the past year she’s turned from a baby into a little girl and though, obviously, she will change a lot, I think I can see the child she will be until she turns 13 and the adolescent hormones kick in and we spend 5 agonising years waiting to see what kind of grown up she will become. And though there are many great things about having a baby (don’t be sarky, I DO occasionally refer to them here), it is wonderful having a little girl. She tells me that she likes my hair or my shoes or that she doesn’t. She has opinions. Strong opinions. She is quite sensible. She loves rules (No feet on the table Grandad). She is not a bad conversationalist, we can go for a cup of tea and have a chat. It is fascinating to try to see her getting a handle on how the world works. And funny. She is affectionate – before she goes to bed she puts her arms round me and whispers to me “I have a secret to tell you Mummy; you’re my best Mummy in the world”. It is not clear to me why this must remain secret, but I am gratified. She then informs me “you can have a new hug but I only have old kisses”. Old kisses are fine by me. She sings. My favourite is “Believe me if all those endearing young charms” which I started singing to her at bedtime a while ago because my mother used to sing it to me. I love to hear her lisping It is not while beauty/And youth are thine own/And thy cheeks/Unprofaned by a tear/That the fervour and faith/Of a soul can be known/To which time will but/Make thee more dear”. She has a prodigious memory. She can sing a song in Irish (Beidh aonach amarach since you ask) even though she doesn’t speak any Irish. She knows many, many of her books off by heart. I use her as a supplementary shopping list (remind me to get shampoo on Saturday – she never fails). She is fascinated by everything. Frankly, this has its drawbacks, there are times when you feel that it’s just not necessary to explore what Mummy has in her bag and, yes, gosh, that is really a breastpump. She is fluent in two languages although occasionally there are difficulties separating things out [on the phone to her father “et maman a trouve un parking place sur le road!”]. She will frequently repeat to her father, in French, something I have just said to her. I am rivetted by this instant translation service but, curious too, her father and I speak English to each other – does she really think that he can’t understand what I say to her? She can read two words. Hey, it’s a start. It would appear that after ‘OK” the first word that she can recognise is, appropriately enough, “me”. She is beginning to dimly perceive that other people have feelings too. [“Did you have a nice time sweetheart?” “Yes, but Daddy was a bit distressed because the babies were going waah, waaah”.] I trust that shortly she might, in some way, try to accommodate other people’s needs or am I indulging optimism a little too far? I know this sounds sappy, but it is lovely getting to know her as she gets older and more sophisticated. Of course, on the minus side, this means that I lose my iconic status as full time working mother with three children under three, but what the hell. You know, being a parent isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be.

There’s always something

8 April, 2006 at 9:23 am by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle is giving me a break this morning.  He got up with the Princess, dressed her, fed her, changed the boys, dressed them, put on their coats, put on the Princess’s coat, put the boys into their car seats, stacked them in the lift, persuaded the Princess into the lift and headed off.  I shut the door but moments later heard a plaintive bleat from downstairs.  From the stairwell Mr. Waffle’s voice echoed “Could you bring the Princess’s shoes downstairs?”

Mid-life crisis

7 April, 2006 at 10:47 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: I was saying today in the office that I was 37. Our 22 year old trainee was visibly startled.

Him: I hate to say this but, you know it’s not that she thinks you don’t look it.

Me: I know, it’s just that she’s surprised that someone my age manages to get out of the house at all.

Back on the chain gang

7 April, 2006 at 3:46 pm by belgianwaffle

Week one is over. I took a half day today. Shortly I will be off to see the Princess perform in a concert at the end of her course on the music of the Maghreb (salaam alaikum to you too). I am particularly looking forward to hearing the number about the sleeping camel; various versions of which we have been enjoying all week. I digress. So, I put in four and a half days. And it was fine. We even went out to a friend’s birthday dinner last night. The boys both have coughs and conjunctivitis (the consequence of communal child care, I fear) but we are heartless second and third time parents and we went out anyway. It’s going ok. Bon weekend.

Knight in shining armour

7 April, 2006 at 12:22 am by belgianwaffle

Me: Did you slay any dragons today, sweetheart?

Him: No, but I told one to feck off this morning.


5 April, 2006 at 10:38 pm by belgianwaffle

Me:  Sleep tight sweetheart.

Her: Why can’t you wake tight Mummy?

Him: Actually, that is possible.

She might have a point

4 April, 2006 at 10:05 pm by belgianwaffle

From the Dutch Mama:

“Will you be mortally offended and never speak to me again?

Would you not stop breastfeeding those two strapping big young fellas? Yes, of course, breastfeeding is superior to bottles, but not so superior that it’s worth putting yourself (not to mention your poor frayed out readers) through this. They’re twins. They’re six months old. It’s too much to be tearing home at lunchtime like that.

Let them grow up. You could still breast-feed in the evenings for a while if you wanted. And they’ll probably take to the bottles with such speed and delight that you’ll be heartbroken – but be sleeping so soundly at night-time that you’ll forgive them.

There – I’ve said it. Do think about it (and don’t hate me!)”

Surely some mistake

4 April, 2006 at 9:47 pm by belgianwaffle

Him: Hurry up sweetheart, Mummy has to go to work.

Her: What? Work? Again? But she went yesterday.

All things to all people

3 April, 2006 at 8:24 pm by belgianwaffle

Today, I got up at 7.45. Of course, I had already been up for considerable periods at 1.30, 2.20, 4.45 and 6.00 but at 7.45, I got up. I fed the boys and dressed them. I had breakfast with the Princess on my lap. I made ham sandwiches. I packed the boys into their car seats and bundled them into the car leaving herself and her father waving us off (they were going to her course in a separate convoy – Easter holidays from school you will recall). I dropped the boys off at the crèche and arrived into work (at 9.20 which is pretty good going, I can tell you), where, after some meeting and greeting, I worked. It turns out that being in the office is more tiring than I recall. At lunch time I went to the crèche and picked up the boys, brought them home, fed them, expressed a couple of bottles, fed me, put them into the arms of their afternoon minder, turned around, came back to the office and worked for the afternoon. At the end of the day I drove home, to be met by two mildly unhappy boys, one hard working minder and one very reproachful girl – “I wanted you to collect me from my course but you were at work”. Cooked dinner while spouse minded children. Fed everyone, bathed the junior members of the family and persuaded them to retire to bed. Collapsed on the couch. Heard distant wailing. Not distant enough. As I type, Mr. Waffle is off ministering to the “Princess of Wails, Queen of Hearts” (his description) who appears to have dropped doggy out of her bed and needs expert assistance for his retrieval. Is it really only Monday?

Curtain Call

2 April, 2006 at 9:43 pm by belgianwaffle

I am not here anymore. I am now here where the delightful Emily has designed a website for me. Is it not beautiful? As Mr. Waffle points out, the experience of outsourcing my technical needs to a low wage country has worked well for me. Should you be thinking of taking steps outside 20six, I encourage you to consult her, she is talented, she is speedy and she is cheap, in a good way, actually, I think I mean inexpensive. And she is prepared to do maintenance for the technically inept, what more could a girl ask for? Other credits go to Technobubble who did lots of code I didn’t understand and let all 20sixers use it. For nothing. Is he not saintly? No more than our Bobble deserves though. And to kind and good Heather who sent me a long email explaining how to set up my own website which convinced me that a) she’s a lot more technically ept than me and b) I needed professional help.

All the same, I am sad to be leaving 20six where I took my first tottering steps in the world of blogging. More especially as I fear it’s going to mean losing many of my readers (please update your bloglines subscriptions now, no, I’m not begging, just saying) each and every one of whom is vital to the continuing survival, nay, flourishing of my ego. But with so many of the old guard gone, it’s just not the same here any more and it’s probably time for me to move to another place – one where I won’t be threatened with upgrades. Yes, I know the 20six upgrade never happened, but the prospect of it shook me. And then I’m back to work in the morning, so it’s all change and it seems like a good time to move.

I note that all of the dramatis personae of LJS (look up it’s that neglected category up there at the top) have now left 20six except for pog (sorry about abandoning you pog but think of the glory of it “the boy stood on the burning deck, when all but he had fled” and all that). I am therefore, delighted to announce that, somewhat fortuitously, to coincide with my departure and almost exactly a year after the last entry, the ever fabulous Heather has crafted a conclusion that will sweep you along with its drama and grandeur and also, rather miraculously, tie up all the loose ends. It will be here shortly.

Thank you and goodnight.

I asked you a question

1 April, 2006 at 9:02 pm by belgianwaffle

I must assume that when the Princess speaks English, she takes her tone from me. I fear it is not a very nice tone.

When I stub my toe and howl in agony, she will kindly ask what’s wrong and when told say sternly “well then be careful and don’t do it again”.

The house usually echoes to the sound of herself shouting “are you coming or not?” when she wants me to inspect her latest achievement “look Mummy, I’m eating a slice of ham” regardless of what I might be doing “I’m just finishing changing Daniel’s nappy” and how easy it might be for me to get away and how important I might consider what she particularly wishes to draw to my attention.

Every time she addresses me and I fail to respond instantly she says in a strict and reproachful voice “I asked you a question, Mummy”. A lot of the time, I’m forced to point out to her that no, actually, she hasn’t asked me a question and has just made a statement to which I am supposed to respond. She is trying to work out what a question is, so now when she says something she follows it up with “Is that a question or a misstatement Mummy?”. It’s like living with President Bush.

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