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Archive for March, 2009

From the birth announcements

31 March, 2009 at 8:36 pm by belgianwaffle

XX-YY – K and D welcome their beautiful daughter Síabhra-Róise Antònia Elizabeth …. Born safely and gently in water into the loving arms of her mother under the professional eye of homebirth midwife …and to the early morning delight of her brothers …

It’s the proselytising that gets me. The subtext of “not born in a hospital with an epidural, oh no, not for us, and certainly not by cesarean section..we found that with a TENS machine it was all wonderful etc. etc.” Oh the politics of giving birth. I also draw your attention to the innovative use of accents (two Irish, one Spanish) which ensures that this child’s name will never be spelt correctly except, fair dues to the Irish Times, on her birth announcement.

AA and BB – C and J are delighted to announce the birth of our beautiful baby girl, Lady Ruby Mae …. A … little sister for India and Domino.

Do you think Domino is a boy, a girl or something you might wear to a masked ball?

Yeah, I know, it’s easy to mock and if these children’s parents ever find this site, I am doomed. My own brother has described the Princess’s name as just the wrong side of pretentious.

Empathy

30 March, 2009 at 8:35 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel has recently developed a slight rash on his arms coinciding with a spell of renewed cold weather and Michael’s continuing difficulty with his colouring assignments.

Me (rubbing on cream): Are you worried about something sweetheart?
Daniel: Yes.

Michael has gone up the stairs to the bedroom where he is swigging down his bottle (no comments please, no one is more aware than I am that the boys will be 4 and starting school in September) and getting into his pyjamas. I decide, in Michael’s absence, to see whether Michael’s misery is affecting Daniel.

Me: Are you worried about Michael?
Daniel: Yes.

My poor child, anguished about his brother and his brother’s misery.

Me: Why are you worried about Michael?
Daniel (loudly): I’m worried he will take my bottle.

Things that happen to you when you are over 40

24 March, 2009 at 1:04 am by belgianwaffle

I have spent the last number of evenings alphabetising our book collection. This is disturbingly entertaining. I may be going insane. In a dull meeting today, I found my mind wandering longingly to the four shelves that then remained to be tackled.

I have a burst blood vessel in my eyeball. It is not an attractive look.

Ireland won the rugby Grand Slam. Alarmingly, I remember when we won the Triple Crown in 1982. Last Sunday afternoon we saw the bus bearing the victorious players and pieces of plate go by while we were stopped at traffic lights. If the children become international rugby stars, we will remind them of this moment – my brother is working hard on their skills, only this evening he had them all practising doing a scrum together.

I am cycling to work and finding that the world of cycling in Dublin is very macho. It’s all men in lycra with high visibility vests and sporting helmets. I miss Brussels where there was a gender mix in the cycling population and all the competitive macho cycling took place deep in Flanders.

I discover that my writing style has started to resemble that of a a TV critic, desperately trying to knit together disparate elements under an unlikely unifying theme.

Chinese whispers

21 March, 2009 at 9:23 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: What do you want for breakfast?
Daniel: I want some lego.
Me: You can’t eat lego.
Daniel: I want lego you can eat.
Me: There isn’t lego you can eat.
Daniel (fretfully): Yes, there is.
Me (fretfully back): No, there isn’t.
Daniel (weepily): I want lego.
Me (crankily putting it on the table): There, are you happy now?
Daniel (crying): No. I want white round lego with butter.
Me (mystified) to Princess: Have you any idea what he wants?
Her: Yes, he would like a bagel.

Learning

20 March, 2009 at 10:33 pm by belgianwaffle

It appears that Michael is not colouring properly. He does not make an effort. His teacher is cross. She told us this and we nodded seriously. She was not deceived. “I know” she said, “that you think it is only colouring, but it is important for concentration, how will he manage in September when there are 27 other children clamouring for the teacher’s attention?” We are planning to start the boys at big school in the autumn where the pupil teacher ratio will go from 6:1 – Montessori to something far less favourable.

Nevertheless, I am finding it hard to care. If his St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks are less coloured in than Daniel’s, well then so be it. With this kind of attitude at home is it any wonder that his colouring reports continue to be poor.

Meanwhile, I discover to my surprise that the boys both recognise numbers 1 – 10 (Daniel somewhat more readily than Michael) and are starting to point to letters and pronounce them phonetically. Clearly, they are learning something at school despite the colouring difficulties Michael encounters. I feel a bit guilty that I have only noticed these talents by the by and have done practically nothing to foster them. Daniel is desperate to start reading and sits running his chubby fingers under the words in books while saying them very slowly (he knows them off by heart). I think that he is trying to unlock the mysteries of his sister’s new reading trick. He sees her spelling them out to herself and thinks that, somehow, if he says the word slowly and runs his finger under it, it will work for him too. Who knows, maybe he’s right.

Reading

19 March, 2009 at 10:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I enjoyed this.  Mortifying disclosure, but there it is.  Lots of plot and free rein is given to the Mormon talent for giving people really odd names (thank you, Kara for the insight into this lesser known Mormon trait, Kenneddee must remain a favourite).

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

This was recommended to me by a friend. It’s a child’s story about being a refugee and it’s great. Much better, I think than “The Diary of Anne Frank”, this may, partly, be because the narrator is still alive at the end. My edition was somewhat belittled by having exercises for children at the end (how would you have got on with rationing?). I cannot understand why publishers feel this kind of thing will make their offerings more appealing, particularly when they are publishing classics. What next a section at the end of “Pride and Prejudice” – how would you look in an empire line dress? That said, there was a very nice short piece by the author at the end talking about her experience from an adult perspective.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

This is a great book. I read “Prep” when it came out and did not like it much and I was distinctly dubious about this one but it was excellent. It’s very long and it is a wonderful feeling when you are on page 15 of a 500 page book and you know you’re going to love it. It’s an imagined life of Laura Bush using real life incidents. It made me take an interest in Laura Bush for the first time. It also made me sympathise with her and think that it was a pretty invasive book. But good. It is very well written as was “Prep”. Unlike “Prep” the action does not take place exclusively in a small boarding school and for Ms. Sittenfeld’s style, this is a big bonus. She is, I think, slightly obsessed about class in America and, funnily enough, this book has less on that than “Prep” though the immensely lengthy bit on Princeton reunions was, frankly, too much for me. Overall though, this book is fascinating both for the imagined character of the American wife and her relationships with others. I was very sad to finish it. I plan to dig out more of her back catalogue.

End of Term by Antonia Forest

Speaking of back catalogue, I am now actively pursuing Antonia Forest books. When the publishing exec was back recently she rooted round in her bedroom and found a very battered copy of this book (every page has said farewell to the spine but mercifully all still there). I did enjoy it and I do intend to ferret out all the books in the series but I think that the first, fine careless rapture may have worn out. I am fascinated to discover through my internet research that the books were written over about 30 years and although only 2 years of fictional time elapse between the Marlow twins starting out in third remove and moving to upper fourth (I think), the author has blithely set each novel in the time in which it was written. I will report back. You stay on the edges of your seats out there.

Sunday Reading

18 March, 2009 at 10:42 pm by belgianwaffle

The Observer’s theatre critic went to see a new Mark Ravenhill play. She didn’t like it much. This line, I think, shows that these people earn their money:

The East German, failing to adapt to the market economy, retreats to the forest with his brother’s son (unconvincingly represented by a bath sponge)…

Meanwhile over in books, politician Peter Hain was damning a former colleague’s diaries with faint praise:

Anybody who has been a minister will enjoy this engaging tour de force, and anyone aspiring to be one will gain real insights.

Well that’s a big audience then. The publishers will be delighted. He goes on to concede that it will also appeal to the “curious reader”.

The author, Chris Mullin does not appear to have taken his responsibilities as seriously as Mr. Hain, something Mr. Hain is keen to emphasise at every possible juncture:

Most MPs are desperate to be a minister, and the minority of us who have been (I was for 11 years) feel privileged. Not Mullin.

He caused consternation by refusing to have a ministerial car or to take red boxes home at night and at weekends. How he stayed on top of the job without doing so I do not know. I always took at least one box home, which meant that an official vehicle was essential.

He also refused a pager and mobile; again, how he managed in today’s 24-hour, news-driven political world I have no idea.

Nevertheless, he again remained frustrated at an “utter lack of influence … Mine was a job for an ambitious thirtysomething rather than a grown-up.” I remember him saying something similar at the time and finding it puzzling. I had always found it possible to “make a difference”, even when a junior Welsh minister.

But he still hankered after a “proper” government job and, in June 2003, was made Africa minister, a rewarding post I had enormously enjoyed doing several years before.

Literary criticism

17 March, 2009 at 8:34 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Look “a crowd, a host of golden daffodils”
Princess (patiently, as though talking to the feeble minded): Yes, lots of daffodils.
Me: “I wander’d lonely as a cloud”.
Her: No you didn’t.
Me: Eh? It’s a poem.
Her: But you can’t wander lonely as a cloud.
Me (truculently): Why not?
Her: Look up, there are loads of them. Clouds are never lonely.

I can’t help feeling that this astute observation is probably as true in the Lake District as in Ireland. I’m holding off on our discussion of poetic licence for another day.

I feel it should be noted

16 March, 2009 at 10:57 am by belgianwaffle

That for the second time since the Princess was born, Mr. Waffle and I went away alone together at the weekend. We were separated from our progeny for just under 24 hours while my sister and Mr. Waffle’s parents did Trojan babysitting work. It’s not a very interesting post this but I felt it should be recorded for posterity.

We stayed in a (small) country house type place and all of the guests assembled in the drawing room before dinner. Among them were two older Americans and they were charming, interesting and delightful people and, I thought, really, if people are ambassadors for their country, then these people surely must do it better than anyone. I also thought, my God Americans are very well preserved. They looked fantastic and were well into their 70s. Apparently they still like to ski too.

Other guests were less thrilling. In large part this was because there had been a rugby match earlier in the day and they discussed it throw by throw and scrum by scrum. When I left the country five years ago, rugby was a minority interest. This is, alas, no longer the case. It seems to have come with the boom. Perhaps, if I am lucky, the recession might diminish the national interest in rugby as well as the national income.

Perspective

13 March, 2009 at 9:33 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: G says that you are the strong, silent type and hard to get to know.
Him: Mmm.
Me: I quite like that. I think, my hero, the genius, I know him. But that can also somewhat undermine your glamour. Do you know what I mean?
Him: No man is a hero to his valet.
Me: Do you want to think about that?
Him: Behind every great man stands a slightly bemused woman?

Analysing the Downturn

12 March, 2009 at 10:00 pm by belgianwaffle

This morning, the Princess and Michael were lying together chatting in their parents’ bed and, coming up the stairs, I heard the Princess say to Michael:

You see, Ireland is in crisis Michael. People are losing their jobs and they are standing in large queues to complain about it. There are no jobs because the banks took all the money. In fact, Mummy got the last job in Ireland.

That last bit is probably true.

Round number

10 March, 2009 at 6:23 pm by belgianwaffle

I always feel that there is no point in being disappointed that people do not remember your birthday, if you do not remind them.

Internet, today is my 40th birthday. How would you feel about putting a happy birthday in the comment box?

Go on, make my day.

One for our American cousins

5 March, 2009 at 11:28 pm by belgianwaffle

I am indebted to Jason for alerting me to this liberal response to this republican proposal.

Industrial Action

4 March, 2009 at 10:30 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess will be six on April 12. She has been preparing thoroughly for this event. Using her new found reading and writing skills she has been drawing up guest lists and food lists and sundry other lists for the big day.

She is particularly concerned about presents. She does not want any more dolls. She has enough dolls and she wants exciting toys like her brothers get.

The other evening I arrived home from work to find her marching up and down with a home-made placard saying “NO MOR BARBEES”.

Those of you who were kind enough to offer advice will (mostly) be pleased to hear that her parents have decided no more ballet. It looks like, following the work to rule, management has caved on one item, at least.

You will remember that I turn 40 this day week

3 March, 2009 at 10:33 pm by belgianwaffle

A young Filippina woman offered me her seat on the bus. I demurred. She insisted.

Do I look pregnant or elderly?

Which is worse?

Advice please

2 March, 2009 at 10:59 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess, at her request, started ballet classes before Christmas.  We paid for the gear and we paid for the lessons.  After two weeks, she said that she didn’t like it and she wanted to give up.  I wouldn’t let her on the grounds that I think it’s bad for her to be able to take up and give up things on a whim (we have previously had a similar experience with swimming, I can only rejoice that I have never succombed to requests for a pony).

The ballet teacher has already taken me aside and told me that the Princess shows no interest in class. Last Saturday, I was called aside again.  They are having a show at the end of March.  As I understood it, the Princess was to be the seventh snowdrop of seven.  No longer.  The ballet teacher said that since the Princess was inclined to wander off, she was worried that she would fall off the stage.  The stage is very high.  In my heart of hearts, I believe that the ballet teacher’s real problem is that she does not want one of her snowdrops to be out of time and wandering aimlessly around the stage and she is using health and safety concerns to achieve this objective.   I do sympathise but, at the same time, they are only 5; how much can the Princess be ruining the performance?  The ballet teacher is obviously very keen to get rid of the Princess as she has offered (enthusiastically) to refund me the fees for the term.

The Princess is, understandably, a bit upset that she won’t be in the concert but I think she would bear up very well, if she knew that she could give up ballet. We have given her a chance to put her defence which goes as follows a) she cannot hear the teacher b) it is too complicated c) it is too cold d) she does stay with the group and e) it’s not fair.

Internet, what should I do?


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