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Archive for January, 2007

Poor me

30 January, 2007 at 4:04 pm by belgianwaffle

I haven’t had a sick day since the boys were born. It’s not that I haven’t been sick, it’s just that it’s always been more peaceful in the office than at home. All weekend I have had a miserable sore throat and this morning I just couldn’t face going in. I couldn’t face staying in either. Mr. Waffle offered to ask the upstairs neighbours for the use of their spare room but in the end I just barricaded myself in our bedroom. The cleaner said she would not clean it and the childminder, very kindly, said that she would take the boys to her house. The problem with the latter is that I now have to collect the Princess from school and have just dragged myself from my sick bed to do so. Not too sick to blog though, just thought you’d like to know that.

The trip to Ireland was relatively uneventful but I think Shannon to Cork to Dublin to Brussels is a lot of travelling to ask a little girl (and her sick Mummy) to do in three days and I don’t think I would try it again. The Princess was a little bewildered by it all and yesterday morning when I explained that we would be leaving that evening she said dolefully “but we’ve just arrived”.

Travelling with one child is delightfully easy. I could have wished that, as we queued to get on the plane at Shannon she hadn’t announced loudly “Jesus” (getting everyone’s attention) “Mummy when we went to the toilet, we forgot to wipe my bottom”. I was able to reassure our amused fellow travellers that, in fact, we hadn’t. Dublin airport was a drag as we landed at pier D which meant a trek through miles of prefab to get to baggage reclaim but otherwise uneventful. The Princess has her own bag for travelling and she likes to fill it with random items. This meant that on the way back to Brussels her bag contained a couple of books, a sandwich, a wicker cat, two finger puppets and an array of shells and stones which she had picked up on the beach with her loving grandparents that morning. I represented to her strongly that these would be better off in Dublin but to no avail. The bag weighed a ton. I relied on security to come to my rescue. After all we couldn’t take through a half bottle of water, surely they would insist that we remove our rocks, sufficient in number to bury the pilot but, alas, no. We could have stoned the pilot to death with our supply but they didn’t care.

So coming in to Brussels airport I was carrying her coat, my coat, doggy, her enormously heavy bag and my handbag. I suppose I was better off than Charlie McCreevy who was sitting in row 1 on the plane. The air hostess had solicitously packed his bag into an overhead bin in row 5 and he was impatiently watching the plane empty while hoping that he would eventually be able to get it. Oh how the mighty are humbled by the disappearance of business class.

That is all. I am off to collect herself, place her tenderly in front of “Barbie of Swan Lake” and return to my sick bed.

Why my poor mother has a lot to put up with

28 January, 2007 at 1:38 pm by belgianwaffle

My mother: So, Alf is coming tomorrow to give me an estimate for painting the kitchen.

My father and I in unison: “Where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea.”

Alf did come in due course and it turns out that his son runs for Ireland and had just had to turn down a scholarship to a US university because he failed maths. The irony is that Alf’s nephews and nieces are extremely good at maths having competed in the maths olympics (there’s a whole world out there, people). His sister married a mathematical genius who, incidentally, is my friend the heart surgeon’s mother’s brother. Are you still with me? Did I mention that I come from a city that’s really a small town?

On Friday the Princess and I travelled to Cork with friends from Brussels. These friends have somewhat complex domestic arrangements. They are a gay couple. They come to Cork every second weekend to visit a daughter who lives with her older brother, her lesbian mother and her mother’s partner. The lesbian couple and their children used to live in London where, I’m sure, this kind of thing is not unusual at all but I have to say I felt twinges of foreboding when they moved back to Cork. Unnecessary. Not only does no one care but there is another lesbian couple with children living on the same estate as them. In many ways, the world is getting better and better. However, it turns out that the child’s paternal grandmother is from my mother’s home town in Co. Limerick and we know all about them, oh yes, including my friend’s aunt the nun. My mother is curious to know what she makes of it all but religious are very right on these days.

Do you ever wonder why I crave the anonymity of the big city?

New world order

26 January, 2007 at 11:32 am by belgianwaffle

The Princess and I are going to Ireland for the weekend leaving the men to fend for themselves. Due to the Princess’s chronic inability to get out the door on time and my belated discovery that I would have to leave work at 11.00 to get a 3.00pm Ryanair flight, I have taken the day off work. I told my lovely, right on boss and, of course, it was fine. We had a more general conversation, as follows:

My lovely, right on, boss: So, J [his wife] has put her back out and there’s a problem with the car so I’m taking E to and from the creche every day on the bus.

Me: Sympathetic murmur.

Conversation moves to more work related topics.

My lovely etc. boss: So, I sent the papers out at about 6.30 last night.

Me: 6.30? 6.30?? What time does E’s creche close?

My lovely etc. boss: Oh I’d collected her by then. I sent the mail from the bus while holding E on the other knee.

Me: Goodness, men are the new women.

The final insult

25 January, 2007 at 10:43 pm by belgianwaffle

I drove into work this morning because it was so cold. On the way in, trying to change lanes (on the little ring, if you know Brussels), I had my wing mirror clipped by a speeding large car. I glared at him balefully and adjusted my mirror which was undamaged. At the next junction an elderly and oddly dressed gentleman came up to my window and tapped on it crossly. “You damaged my car” he said. We pulled in and had a look. Alas, his wing mirror had a small dent. It is so typical of me that as we sat in my car, I decided that, really, it was all my fault. This, despite the fact that he was wreathed in alcohol fumes. He wasn’t drunk, but he wasn’t entirely sober either. He was retired. And despite his large car, which he confided was a hire car, he looked very poor and was wearing a strange assortment of tracksuit bottoms and tops. We filled in the accident form. This being Belgium, we ended up filling in the form in Dutch which neither of us understood very well because he had no copy in French and I only had an English copy. I dutifully marked that I had been trying to pull into his lane but refrained from remarking that he smelt of drink and had been driving very fast. Partly, it was my wishy-washiness but partly it was because I felt we could probably bear the cost of repair considerably better than he could. Anyway, we parted relatively amicably. However, after he had left the car, I noticed that there was a big damp patch on the passenger seat where he had been sitting. I suppose that we’ll all be old, drunk and incontinent some day.

Guest spot

24 January, 2007 at 7:29 pm by belgianwaffle

The feckless brother has written this for your delectation:

Got over to Brussels this morning on an early morning flight, had to get to the airport very early to deny one of Micheal O’Leary’s minions the pleasure of saying the check in desk is closed and which part of no refund don’t you understand. As you can imagine I was in peak form for a community service visit staying in a house with three exhausting but adorable kids. First stop was to pick up the eldest girl the Princess, she was in top form terrorising the lunch time customers of an elegant Brussels eaterie. Not being used to the business of looking after kids I found her behaviour exhibited a certqin degree of stuborness which I was inclined to put down to genetics but my elder sibling assured me it is was the way all 3 year old kids were. Next up was the playground, with lethal looking monkey bars climbing walls and slides. The place reminded me of an unfortunaye incident a few years previously I managed to sprain my ankle trying to impress a girl on the monkey bars after pub closing time……….suffice it to say the outcome wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for [i.e. three weeks on crutches]. Fortunately today’s visit did not leave me mentally and physically broken as the Princess took to the playground with a vengence; she made a sand cake for me and as I looked like I was about to eat it I could see the princess thinking “he’s thick enough to do this” and she duly warned me that it was a pretend cake. I’ve been called away now to play a boardgame by my niece, I fear I’m going to test her patience as she explains the rules to me.

Nervous

23 January, 2007 at 11:52 pm by belgianwaffle

A while back a colleague said to me “you don’t have a blog or something daft like that?” and instead of replying in a suitably Jesuitical manner “why would you ask me something like that, do I look like I’m 16?”, I was caught on the hop and I said “yes”. He is the first person I’ve ever worked with who has known about the blog. It’s a little unnerving. We are friends as well as colleagues and I trust him to keep my secret safe (are you listening J?) but yet, the whole Chinese wall thing is mildly unsatisfactory. My colleague rubbed his hands in glee when he found out and said “it’s like being gay and wanting not to be outed”. Who would have thought this blog would bring me such a range of new experiences?

And then there’s another friend and former colleague who has heard that the blog exists and is, I am paranoidly convinced, slowly but surely scanning the blogosphere until he finds me. Not that there’s anything here I haven’t already told people; as one friend memorably remarked to me, “you would tell your life story to the person beside you at the bus stop”. Do other people’s colleagues know that they blog? Do they still have paid employment? Answers on a postcard, please.

In other news, my feckless brother is coming to visit tomorrow and as my mother says “you must be absolutely delighted”. Yes, yes, I am, of course I am. I just had to remind her that he has faults but she remains annonyingly unconvinced.

Hello there cruel world

22 January, 2007 at 12:10 am by belgianwaffle

Please don’t make me beg. The children already do that. At 10.30 pm, I negotiated as follows with the Princess:

Me: You need to go to your own bed.

Her: Silent clinging.

Me: Daddy wants to go to sleep.

Her: Silent clinging.

Me: OK, you can sleep in our bed until I come into bed.

Her: Silent clinging.

Me: Do you want me to come to bed too?

Her: Silent clinging.

Me: OK, look, I’ll lie down with you for a bit in Mummy and Daddy’s bed.

Her: Victorious smile.

So, ahem, I see from the Irish Times that there are Irish blog awards. I mean fancy. If you were to nominate me, I would be pleased, I would be grateful, I would promise faithfully to reply more regularly to the odd commenter who comments here (just to let you know, your comments are the sunshine of my life), so, that’s it then, except would you call this a specialist blog? I’ve decided that it is. This is not a hint or any attempt to influence potential voters should they exist. Should you choose to do so, you could nominate me here, or not, of course. It’s a delightfully straightforward process, honestly. Would you prefer, if I slept on the floor?

She sings

19 January, 2007 at 3:41 pm by belgianwaffle

Yes, I know, more videos of my children, well you don’t have to look, if you don’t want to. I’d like you to know that her devoted aunt thinks she may have perfect pitch. Ahem. What do you think?

Wish me luck, I’m off to collect herself from school, thereafter we go to the creche to collect the boys and then on to the doctor’s where at least two of them will have to have jabs. I quake with fear, people.

Random

18 January, 2007 at 11:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Firsts:

Michael walked across the room today. Daniel cannot do this and he is bitter.

The Princess remembered where she had left her doggy. She also reminded us that my brother is coming to visit next week; we have a lot on our minds, some things leak out.

I answered an internet questionnaire thingy for Peggy. I don’t normally do these things because I’m too lazy, but there you go. I sit here with my little fingers frozen to the keyboard to oblige (did I mention that we have no hot water and no heating tonight?)

1. Attrapez le livre le plus proche, allez à la page 18 et écrivez la 4ème ligne. corpses: most lie within what has become popularly known as

2. Sans vérifier, quelle heure est-il ? 23.49

3. Vérifiez :23.51

4. Que portez-vous ?

Electric blue Christmas present fleece over work clothes – not a great look.

5. Avant de répondre à ce questionnaire, que regardiez-vous ?

Flickr – trying to work out the mysteries of photo posting. I may be making progress.

6. Quel bruit entendez-vous à part celui de l’ordinateur ?

Nothing – all is silence though I expect to hear a little cry shortly.

7. Quand êtes-vous sortie la dernière fois, qu’avez-vous fait ?

I went out to the night shop to buy milk for the boys. They have consumed in excess of 3 litres since yesterday. Sigh

8. Avez-vous rêvé cette nuit ?

No. I slept from 11.00 to 6.00 and only got out of bed at 8.15. Fabulous.

9. Quand avez-vous ri la dernière fois ?Not since my loving spouse went to bed at 10.00 telling me not to stay playing with the computer all night. Can it really be nearly midnight?10. Qu’y a-t-il sur les murs de la pièce où vous êtes ?

A picture of men with currachs. A picture of yachts in Cork harbour framed by John Gilbert of Patrick Street, Cork: Print Seller, Frame Maker, Leather and Fancy Goods; Optician to the Eye Hospital and to the Faculty. A man of positively Victorian talents. A port of Cork calendar. A couple of Giles Norman prints of, um, boats. I am somewhat surprised by the nautical theme here. And a picture of her highness taken just before she finished at the creche. I remember Heather writing once about those houses which have acres of family pictures everywhere you look and I cringed in recognition but what can I say, I have three children and everyone conspires to photo them and charge me for it. And then, of course, there are my own sins of photography. There is also a list of school holidays, creche holidays and work holidays. Behind me are two of Bobble‘s beautiful photos which Mr. Waffle got me as an inspired present and a stained glass picture we got as a wedding present. I would go on, but I think we’re all getting tired of this exercise.

11. Si vous deveniez multimillionnaire dans la nuit, quelle est la première chose que vous achèteriez ?

A house in Dublin sufficient for our needs. Three story over basement in the centre with a large garden. Oh rats, only a multimillionaire? I was hoping for billionaire status.

12. Quel est le dernier film que vous ayez vu ?

Angela’s Ashes. Why?

13. Avez-vous vu quelque chose d’étrange aujourd’hui ?

No.

14. Que pensez-vous de ce questionnaire ?

It’s long – Peggy, why did you make me do it? I should be in bed.

15. Dites-nous quelque chose de vous que ne savons pas encore.

You know everything about me. No, wait, let me think. Actually, yes, you do.

16. Quel serait le prénom de votre enfant si c’était une fille ?

Well, Cecelia, if Mr. Waffle didn’t hate it so much that he would have to spit every time he said it.

17. Quel serait le prénom de votre enfant si c’était un garçon ?

Well, I’m thinking maybe Michael, maybe Daniel. Is everyone else on the internet too young to have children?

19. Que voudriez-vous que Dieu vous dise lorsque vous franchirez les portes du paradis ?
Wishy washiness rewarded, or, perhaps, more traditionally, blessed are the peacemakers.
20. Si vous pouviez changer quelque chose dans le monde en dehors de la culpabilité et la politique, que changeriez-vous ?
I’m not sure I understand culpabilite but if it means, no world peace type choices then, as a former Miss World candidate, I’m baffled. Did I tell you that a friend of mine’s uncle married a former Miss World. It’s been a curse to her; she has very beautiful cousins.
21. Aimez-vous danser ?
Yes, I’m just not very good at it.
22. Georges Bush ?
Do I like him or his policies? I think he is probably a pleasant dinner companion and, if he were a friend of your parents, you’d probably think that he and Laura were lovely people. I bet they’d look at all the photos of your children too. As for policies, well, I don’t even think that George likes those much any more.
23. Quelle est la dernière chose que vous ayez regardée à la télévision ?
Holby City. Oh dear.
24. Quelles sont les 4 personnes qui doivent prendre le relais sur leur blog ?
Nobody will have to suffer. Thank you and good night.

Choices, choices

17 January, 2007 at 6:39 pm by belgianwaffle

I have often employed the tactic of offering the Princess, unpalatable choices, for example, she will say “I don’t want to go out” and I will reply “well, it’s either go out or go for a nap; you decide”. She is then temporarily stuck and I use the pause to press home my advantage. She seems to be getting the hang of this game, though. The other day she asked me to read her a story as I was getting Daniel out of the bath. “I can’t” I said. “Well, it’s either read me a story or get a smack; you decide”. I should point out that although she personally is a big fan of corporal punishment, we have never smacked the Princess, though we have often been tempted. She does not appear to have imbibed our values and believes in the “spare the rod and spoil the child” maxim, particularly, insofar as it applies to her brothers.

Nightlife or there is no virtue in brevity

16 January, 2007 at 10:34 pm by belgianwaffle

18.25: Arrive home from the office.

18.26: The Princess comes screaming along the corridor wearing an outfit that my sister brought her from India telling me to get out “I was going to be Chamsous Saba as a surprise, go away”. Chamsous Saba is the Princess from the film “Azur et Asmar” and she has been our ‘mostly companion’ recently. This picture may give some idea why this character is so particularly appealing to her imperial majesty.

18.27: The boys realise I am home and start wailing to be picked up. The Princess continues resolutely trying to thrust me back out the front door.

18.28: Mr. Waffle arrives home and the Princess realises that her attempts to dress up and remove her parents at the same time are futile. She collapses in noisy, indignant sobs. The boys continue to wail in the background. Mr. Waffle and I struggle to remove our coats.

18.29: The childminder and her daughter leave, though not before placating the Princess with the offer of a bun.

18.30: Mr. Waffle goes to the bedroom to change. The Princess eats her bun thoughtfully. The boys climb all over me.

18.31: Daniel indicates clearly that he would like some of the Princess’s bun. I ask her to share.

18.34: The Princess, with great reluctance, hands over a morsel of bun “I hope he won’t choke on it” she says sagely, shaking her head. “Of course he won’t” I say.

18.35: Daniel chokes on the bun and vomits copiously, he appears to have had something orange for dinner. He gets the floor and me. The Princess runs off in terror.

18.36: Mr. Waffle comes running from the bedroom in his underwear to placate the Princess and stop Michael playing in the vomit. I take Daniel in to the bathroom and start cleaning him up. I run the bath and put him into it.

18.40: Mr. Waffle brings in Michael and adds him to the bath. He is a cross, tired little boy and will only stop crying if given his toothbrush in the bath. The Princess deems this to be incorrect, prises it from him and runs off. I cannot leave the bathroom as the two boys are in the bath. Mr. Waffle is wiping up vomit in the other room.

18.43: Michael’s howling begins to affect Daniel. They are now both standing up in the bath, red in the face and howling.

18.48: Mr. Waffle returns. We haul them out of the bath and bring them to their bedroom, still roaring. “Why isn’t anybody paying attention to me?” the Princess asks in hysterical tones. “Goo, goo, I’m a baby too. I want a bokkle!”

18.55: The boys are put to bed.

18.56: Daniel starts to cry and I go back to bedroom to rock him to sleep in my arms. Mr. Waffle takes the Princess to the bathroom and puts her in the bath.

19.15: Both boys are asleep, the Princess is still luxuriating in her tepid bath (if at all possible, she would like the bathwater to be freezing).

19.16: Mr. Waffle goes to work on dinner, I haul the Princess out of the bath and, using this moment of calm, finally manage to remove my vomit spattered suede (alas) skirt. I dry her and put on her pyjamas.

19.20: Mr. Waffle reappears in the bathroom holding a small damp pair of tights and an underpants which he has discovered somewhere on the premises. “Did you have an accident, sweetheart?” “Yes”. “Where?” “On the couch”. Excellent. “It wasn’t a big wee” she said placatingly “it didn’t get very wet”.

19.25: We sit down to dinner. “It’s just like last night’s dinner” the Princess says suspiciously. In this, she is correct. We had roast chicken on Sunday and we had cold roast chicken yesterday. I can see how this might be a problem, if you had also had chicken sandwiches for lunch. I ask what she would like. “You decide, you’re the grown-up, did you forget that?”.

19.26: I ask the Princess whether she brought her lunch box home from school. She insists on getting it to show me though I was quite prepared to take her word for it.

19.29: Mr. Waffle observes that the Princess has eaten none of her dinner. She rubs her fingers in the gravy and sucks them. Mr. Waffle puts his head in his hands.

19.30: The Princess announces she wants her penguin mug. We get it. Mr. Waffle puts a little water in. She wants more. I put in more. She laughs delightedly.

19.35: The Princess announces that she is not hungry. “Then”, we say “it is time for bed”. It transpires that she is hungry after all. She eats painfully slowly. We discuss in some detail my failure to transmit to her or her father the information that she was supposed to wear red to school that day. I forgot. The following day is a blue day. We are all prepared for that. Though, as Mr. Waffle points out, if there were a pink day, she would really come into her own.

19.55: We decide that the Princess has had enough. We certainly have. I announce that I am putting her to bed. She clings pathetically to her father and says “Please, Daddy, put me to bed, I don’t like Mummy.” We prise her loose and I take her to the bathroom. She asks hopefully “If I’m bold for you, will Daddy put me to bed?”.

20.05: She turns on the light outside the boys’ room. “Don’t” I hiss furiously “you’ll wake them up, turn it off, right now”. She doesn’t. “If you don’t turn it off, your gold shoes will go ‘hors jeu’”. She laughs manically “I really want my gold shoes to go ‘hors jeu’”. I wonder whether this is working. Mr. Waffle grimly places her beloved gold shoes in the pampers box set aside for confiscated toys. She skips into the bathroom. I turn off the light in the corridor.

20.10: She refuses to wash her teeth. She sticks her hand over her mouth. I get her in a half nelson and try to wash her teeth. She protests vociferously. Mr. Waffle points out, too late, alas, that holding her nose is a good tactic to address this. “I will wash my teeth, if I can have that toothbrush” she says firmly, pointing at Michael’s toothbrush. “But that’s the one he had in the bath” I say feebly “he could have scrubbed his bottom with it or anything”. She giggles uproariously and insists. “I don’t like that toothpaste, do you mind?” she says. I offer her a choice of the three child appropriate and two adult appropriate tubes of toothpastes available in the bathroom. She settles for one of them.

20.20: We go to her room. “What story would you like?” “Spot’s noisy toy box”. In this volume, purchased as a Christmas present for her brothers by kindly relatives, if you push buttons, it makes noise (the clue is in the title). I look nervously across the corridor to where her little brothers are, against the odds, still sleeping peacefully. She changes her mind “I want the little Brown Bear”. I thank God and point out that her pyjama bottoms are falling down. She pulls them up “Now you can’t see my bottom.” “Nope, it’s invisible”. “Like God, my bottom is like God”. She considers “not really like God because my bottom is still there underneath my pyjamas. I can see it, if I want”. I agree that this is correct. She puts out her hand “look, I’m holding God’s hand”. Pause. “Is he here?”. “Yes, God is everywhere” I reply. “Then are there lots of gods?” she asks. “Well, no, though of course, different people believe in different gods” I say feeling myself getting bogged down. “Why don’t we just read about the little brown bear?” I ask chirpily.

20.35: I leave her room and cravenly leave the light on for her to ‘read’. I go to join Mr. Waffle who is wrestling with our ever-growing pile of laundry (vomit covered, for extra flavour).

20.45: Mr. Waffle goes to turn out her light. She wants Mummy. I go. “I want a new Mummy”. “Do you want L’s Mummy?”. “Yes!”. “When I go to school would you like me to collect L instead of you?”. “Yes” she said in slightly less sure tones; then “no, Mummy, I want you”. And, in what seems to me something of a leap of logic, she looked at me dolefully and said “I don’t want you to die Mummy, why won’t you be my Mummy when you’re dead?”. I did my best to reassure her, sang a song and turned out the light.

20.55: Play with the computer.

21.00: Sit down on the sofa with Mr. Waffle to watch University Challenge.

21.10: The Princess knocks on the door in the hall. Mr. Waffle stalks out to deal with her. “Mummy, mummy” she says plaintively and eluding his grasp, she zooms in and wraps herself around me. Her worst suspicions are confirmed as she notes that after she goes to bed not only is the television on but we appear to be eating biscuits as well.

21.15: I bring her into our bedroom and put her into the bed. She is delighted. I return to University Challenge looking at Mr. Waffle somewhat guiltily. I am not proud of this reward for bad behaviour but, you know, there might be an art history round and I could miss my chance to show off.

21.30: I shift uncomfortably on the couch. “You know, it feels wet, could that be possible?” Oh yes, it could, the wee on the couch, of course.

21.35: Mr. Waffle retires to the kitchen to prepare bottles for the night shift.

21.40: Mr. Waffle scoops a sleeping Princess from our bed and returns her to her own.

21.45: Mr. Waffle retires.

22.00: I retire and turn on the light, announcing mutinously to Mr. Waffle that it is a “reading in bed night”. He sighs resignedly.

22.10: Lights out. Everyone asleep.

23.40: Daniel wakes, I go to the kitchen to get him a bottle.

02.00ish: The Princess comes in to our bed, I am unsure of the time as I was sound asleep and her arrival didn’t wake me.

04.30: Daniel wakes, Mr. Waffle goes to the kitchen to get him a bottle. I go to lift the Princess back to her own bed and find she has no pyjama bottoms. I fear the worst (and she hasn’t wet the bed or had an accident in ages). Mr. Waffle gives Daniel his bottle and strips her highness’s bed. I go back to sleep. The Princess continues to sleep the sleep of the just in our bed.

05.30: Michael wakes. I go to get him a bottle. The dining room table is covered in Mr. Waffle’s work papers and the lights are on but there is no sign of the man himself. I go into the kitchen to find him taking clothes out of the washing machine to put in the drier. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I could get some work done” he explains.

06.00: Mr. Waffle comes back to bed.

06.30: Michael wakes. I go to get him. He is disastrously wide awake. We go to ring my sister (it’s 11.00am in India) sitting in the soothing dark and carefully avoiding the wet spot on the couch. It is dark and on the speed dial, I inadvertently ring the Novotel in Luxembourg. I am pleased to announce that they are awake and perky at 6.30. My sister, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found. Probably enjoying a four star hotel somewhere. Michael has a happy time bashing me with the telephone receiver for the next while.

07.10: Mr. Waffle arrives in, showered, shaved and dressed. I am speechless with admiration. I hand over Michael and crawl back to bed inadvertently waking the Princess who spends some time poking me in the eyes and mouth.

07.30: The Princess rises from our bed and forces me up also. Daniel is woken by the general noise and howls in indignation. Michael crawls down gleefully to see what’s happening.

07.35: I cravenly retire to the bathroom leaving Mr. Waffle to deal with the troops. At this stage, he presumably makes the Princess’s sandwich, which he dutifully does every morning. If the poor child were relying on me, then she would probably starve to death.

07.50: I could give you the whole morning routine but I’ve already covered it here. Of course, we did have the added excitement of trying to dress herself in blue. She insisted on blue underwear as well, she likes everything to be just so.

08.26: With one thing and another, it is this time before the Princess and Mr. Waffle depart for school. When he arrives, he is severely reprimanded by the scary teacher. The Princess is the 15th late child that morning. All it takes says Madame Tatienne is “un petit effort”. Indeed. Must try harder.

Let it snow

15 January, 2007 at 10:02 pm by belgianwaffle

A friend of mine spent Christmas with her husband’s family as did her sister. Her unmarried siblings and her parents decamped to Chamonix for Christmas to ski. Mr. Waffle’s entire family including the piccolo cugino went to Austria for a week’s skiing after Christmas. And where is my feckless younger brother at this very moment? Well, he’s just gone to Chamonix for a bit of skiing after seeing the rugby match in Geneva.

Is anybody tired of the Celtic tiger, yet? Anybody at all? Yes, indeed, begrudgery is alive and well, but it appears to have emigrated.

Get answers to your knotty theological questions here

14 January, 2007 at 3:51 pm by belgianwaffle

Her: Does Santa Claus get sick?

Me: I’m not sure.

Her: We’ll have to ask God, God knows everything.

Me: Mmm but sometimes God’s answers aren’t particularly clear.

Her: We’ll have to ask him to speak more loudly then.

In other news, my sister spent the weekend here. When she arrived, 10 staff stood up and said “Good afternoon, Miss Helen”. She recommends it.

The nightmare of the working mother or moan, groan, grizzle, whinge

13 January, 2007 at 3:59 pm by belgianwaffle

I got home the other day to find the house empty yet tidy. No note, nothing. Logically, I knew that the childminder had probably just taken them for a walk but deep down I thought this is it I’m always whining about the children and their mess and now I’m being punished in a “monkey’s paw” kind of way. Yes, they all came back, since you ask.

The childminder had a friend to help her the other day and the Princess took a real shine to this friend, so much of a shine that when the friend tried to leave the Princess clung to her and begged pathetically to go too. This was not entirely pleasing to me. It also happened when one of our regular babysitters was here the other day. Then when I was collecting her from school the other day, she refused to leave the afterschool fun and games until she had watched the end of a cartoon. How pleasing this is to a mother.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I had to go to a meeting at very short notice. Regular readers (hi Mum) will recall that I don’t normally work Friday afternoons but part of the deal is that, if they need me, I will be there. It doesn’t arise very often but I would like a bit more notice when it does. So, to be there I had to arrange a babysitter to collect the Princess from school and reschedule an appointment I had made to take the boys to the paediatrician; do you think anyone was particularly grateful? No, of course not.

In non-whiny news, we no longer have lice, rejoice! Also, if you wish, you may hear the Princess recite a cautionary verse in a somewhat alarming fashion.

Nostalgia already

10 January, 2007 at 11:44 pm by belgianwaffle
It’s a year since the Princess started school. They start them early in Belgium; two and a half. She was the oldest child in the creche when we kept her there until January. Two and three quarters the other parents muttered darkly, look at the size of her, she should be in school.
In a spirit of nostalgia, I was looking through her drawings and other stuff from the creche which they presented to us in a neat folder when she finished (you stay at home mothers may have been there when they painted the picture but I bet you don’t have their work neatly filed for you by other people like us working mothers). They gave her an assessment:

“Nous avons découvert en P une petite fille charmante, épanouie, souriante, curieuse et appréciant la vie à l’atelier entourée de ses amis. P a un excellent vocabulaire et une très très bonne structure de phrases et fait bien la part des choses par rapport aux deux langues (francais-anglais).

Lors du regroupement au coin tapis, P est la première à s’installer. Elle connaît tout le répertoire par coeur et est capable de reproduire un coin tapis a elle toute seule sous l’oeil admiratif de ses copains. P porte beaucoup d’intérêt aux histoires; elle fait ses petits commentaires et en demande encore et encore.

Elle reconnaît son prénom écrit selon la méthode Cohen. P connaît les couleurs primaires et secondaires. Lors de nos activités artistiques, P tient ses outils correctement. Elle respecte les consignes données par l’adulte, a acquis la psychomotricité fine. Pendant nos séances de psychomotricité, P saute, grimpe, rampe et passe dans le tunnel sans crainte.

Elle connaît les notions spatiales au-dessus/en dessous, devant/derrière et connaît son schéma corporel. Lors des jeux, P aime beaucoup jouer avec les poupées et les poussettes comme une petite maman. Elle apprécie aussi les jeux de constructions.

Nos grandes conversations et moment câlins nous manqueront beaucoup.

Bonne route a toi, P.

L’équipe de l’Atelier”

Can’t say why but it makes me feel a little sad; I chose to go back to work but it doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have it both ways.

Welcome to the empirical world

8 January, 2007 at 9:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: How was your weekend?

New student trainee: Dreadful, I was working on an essay.

Me: On what?

He elaborates.

I offer my considered and somewhat divergent views.

Him: Well that’s an empirical paradigm whereas I am working with a theoretical model.

Ah students.

Bedtime

7 January, 2007 at 10:11 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess and I were looking at a picture of animals in a wood in her book.   We named them and the various flora surrounding them.  She pointed to a small insect “what’s that?”.  “I’m not sure” I said.  “Probably an insect” she said wisely.  “Yes, probably”, I agreed “what do you think it’s doing?”.  “Probably looking for hair to live in”.  Indeed.

Please see nostalgic video of Princess reciting a nursery rhyme when nothing lived in her hair, if you are so inclined.

Little Christmas

6 January, 2007 at 10:10 pm by belgianwaffle

In Ireland and perhaps elsewhere, for all I know, January 6 used to be known as Little Christmas or Women’s Christmas. The idea was that women would get a break at Epiphany from the intense work that Christmas entailed. I was telling the Princess about this today. I explained that the women used to do all the cooking and cleaning and this was their chance for a break. “Amazing” said the Princess. “Did the men just do this?” she asked standing stock still and staring fixedly out the window. I like to think of this as a victory for equal opportunities. I am reminded of the Icelandic woman who told me about her son who was six. For all of his short life, the mayor of Rejkavik and the President of Iceland had been women. When the mayoral election came around there were candidates of both sexes and he asked his mother in amazement “can a man be mayor too?”

Women’s Christmas did not pass off very peacefully for the female members of the household. The Princess and I have been enjoying particularly poor relations recently. She will not do a thing for me, especially when the boys are there and random actions of mine can lead to screaming and hysterical crying from her. For example, this morning when I pulled the blind she began to cry loudly and shout “No, no, I want to eat my breakfast with the blind down.”

Later in the day we had the following conversation:

Her: Give me a biscuit or I’ll kill you.

Me: That’s not a very nice thing to say.

Her: Why?

Me: Well, it’s unpleasant to threaten people and in the long term, it’s probably not worth killing your mother for a biscuit. Think of it, then you’d be like Cinderella and Snow White with no Mummy.

Her: I was saying a joke. Sure, I wouldn’t even know how to kill you and I bet it would be really expensive anyway.

Given the way relations have been going, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, if she’d been phoning round contract killers to see what their rates are.

Christmas Round-up

5 January, 2007 at 2:55 pm by belgianwaffle

Christmas Eve

Princess: Can I have a sweetie?

Me: Sweetheart, you’ve had loads of sweeties since we’ve got home, so I think that today we’ll have a detox.

Mr. Waffle (anxiously): Does this mean that we have to squirt ginseng up her bottom.

Christmas morning

The Princess goes into the room (obviously dark, it’s still the middle of the night) lit only by Christmas tree lights and looks at all the presents under the tree. Before touching a present she runs anxiously to the fireplace and stares in awe at the empty milk glass, the apple core and the few biscuit crumbs left on Santa’s plate.

Christmas afternoon

The publishing exec prepares for the annual influx of her relatives for drinks. She is wearing very high heels and a very daring baby doll dress. It’s glamourous but, you know, daring. I look at her dubiously. “Oh” she says airily “I want to give them something to talk about in the car on the way home”.

Later Christmas afternoon

Mr. Waffle’s cousin upstages all other cousins by mincing up to an elderly aunty and going to kiss her on the cheek. He pulls back in alarm while surreptitiously wiping his mouth and says “Gosh, aunty, I was actually going for your cheek there”.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

5 January, 2007 at 12:13 am by belgianwaffle

We left my parents’ house in Cork yesterday morning at 10.50.  We took the 11.30 train to Dublin where we arrived at 14.30.   At Portlaoise, the train was nearly full and the Princess had to give up the two seats she was sprawling across to a mother and two children.  Great and vocal was her indignation.  We were deeply mortified as we tried to explain to her in furious whispers that the seats were not, in fact, hers.  “And would it be nice to leave these three people standing when you can sit there beside Daddy?”   To summarise, her view is that it would.  We taxied across the city to the airport arriving at about 15.15.  During the journey the Princess decided to strip to her vest and tights but, otherwise, it was uneventful.  

We then checked in and went through security and were safely in the cafeteria by 16.30.  At 17.30 we were preparing to board.  The flight was full of important Irish Europeans including the current and former secretaries general of the European Commission.  I like to think that our screaming children added their little mite to the happiness of these important souls.  Connecting with the citizen and all that.  An acquaintance of Mr. Waffle’s who is a pleasant man and was also travelling said to me that minding the children must be like “herding mice at a crossroads”.  “Who” enquired the Princess “is a mouse?”.   “You are” I said.  “And your brothers” added the jovial acquaintance.  “We are not” she huffed indignantly and, putting an arm around each brother, said “don’t mind him, my little brothers”.  When we actually got on the plane she saw this poor man coming down the aisle and she said quite audibly “Look, that’s the nasty man we met at the airport”.   Embarrassed smiles all round.    Mr. Waffle had the dubious pleasure of sitting with Daniel on his lap and the Princess beside him while I was across the aisle with Michael.  It was a long journey.  Daniel got the bottle of water with the squirty lid and amply dampened all within squirting range.  The Princess helpfully offered to mop up the damage with her dress (can I say how much I regret putting her in a dress that buttons up the front).  Once sitting happily in her vest and tights she proceeding to colour in all visible flesh with red marker. Meanwhile Michael was endearing himself to the two patient civil servants sitting beside me by tossing his bottle in the air for them to catch and ensuring that their suits would smell of sour milk at their meetings today. We arrived promptly at 20.30 and spent the next 20 minutes trying to clothe the Princess and cajole her off the plane while her brothers roared in indignation.  We emerged, picked up our ample baggage and taxied home for 21.30.  Sighs of relief all round.

Siblings

2 January, 2007 at 11:27 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: If Dan (my brother) ever gets married his wife is in for a shock.

My mother (indignantly): Why? Your brother is very good you know.

Me: Yes, I know, but he’s not exactly Mr. New Man round the house is he?

My mother: He’s fantastic, before I got my cleaners in regularly he used to do an awful lot around the house.

Me (recognising a lost cause): Yes, ok, he is very good but he does have the odd fault.

My mother: Precious few.

Me: Outraged silence.

Meanwhile, my sister’s project has finally gone live in India. She rang this evening at 1.45 am local time to say that 100 people had been working flat out since 4 that afternoon and they’d just managed to get out an invoice. I didn’t like to say but I did think that maybe writing out the invoice by hand and delivering it on foot would be more efficient.

Happy new year

1 January, 2007 at 5:08 pm by belgianwaffle

I have no new year resolutions.  I have no coherent thoughts about last year or this year.  Why don’t I share my thoughts on advertising instead?

Has anyone else seen the seiko watch advertisement that says “It’s your watch that says most about who you are”? Is this possibly the stupidest slogan in advertising history?

Belgian banks at the moment are really pushing the idea that their staff are just like you and you can bank with someone you identify with. Fortis, KBC, they’re all at. Unfortunately I can’t find any links to the ads because I am incapable of harnessing the power of the internet. These ads are mildly annoying and I do like the way that a bank rejoicing in the name of key trade sends them up.


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