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Year end lists

31 December, 2009 at 12:27 am by belgianwaffle

It’s that time of year. From a trick I got from Nicholas one year, I am going to put up the first sentence from the first post for every month of 2009. Because I can.

January 2009

Did you miss me? [Back after Christmas]

February 2009

Him: I have a meeting at 5, so I may not be home until after the children have gone to bed. [A funny story without the punchline. There may be some disadvantages to this technique]

March 2009

The Princess, at her request, started ballet classes before Christmas. [Which she then gave up]

April 2009

The Princess and I had a day off together last Friday. [I am clearly a good mother to one of my children]

May 2009

I was at mass with my mother in Cork last week. [And a good daughter too]

June 2009

The weather was spectacular this weekend. [Fascinating]

July 2009

Still no sign of doggy. [Anguish]

August 2009

The Princess and I graced Cork briefly over the weekend. [Definitely a good mother to one of my children]

September 2009

I am very fond of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s books which provide delightful rhymes for the children and plenty of pictorial interest for the parents who end up reading and re-reading. [Now so]

October 2009

The Irish people will be voting again on the Lisbon Treaty tomorrow. [YES, they voted YES.]

November 2009

Really, why would I do this again? [This would be NaBloPoMo]

December 2009

I am on leave today and occupying myself with domestic administration. [Another fascinating opening line]

New year’s resolution: Make opening lines more interesting.

And a happy new year to you, gentle reader. Please stick with me, I intend to make my opening lines more interesting.

Feeling Sentimental

24 December, 2009 at 8:29 pm by belgianwaffle

Since the afternoon driving home from work when I had the slash and burn budget on RTE radio 1, child abuse on Today FM, general economic doom and gloom on Newstalk and yet more cricket on Radio 4, I have, increasingly been listening to Christmas FM. The clue is in the title, they play Christmas music interspersed with DJ chatter – it’s manned by volunteers and all profits go to a homeless charity. I have learnt that there are an awful lot of dreadful Christmas tunes, I like the Enya Christmas song (I know) and even “Fairytale of New York” will pall eventually. My children now believe that Wham’s “Last Christmas” is as much part of the seasonal canon as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and, who knows, perhaps they are right. You haven’t lived until you have heard three small children singing about how this year they will be giving their hearts “to someone especial, especial..”

One afternoon while in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher I heard an unappealing Christmas ditty about my “grown-up Christmas list”. The singer was hoping that Santa would bring her world peace. I found myself thinking idly along the following lines: that is so stupid, Santa doesn’t even come to grown-ups and, of course, children won’t ask for world peace, selfish little blighters. Then I stopped and reflected that even if our children DID ask for world peace, it might be a difficult one to deliver. Does this mean that deep down I still believe in Santa Claus?

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

A martyr to grammar

23 December, 2009 at 11:33 pm by belgianwaffle

My husband is doing a bit of occasional lecturing work to keep us from starvation. He gave his students an essay recently. The texts are now in and it appears that the majority of his students are completely illiterate. His last lecture of the term focussed on what is likely to come up in the examination in January. He prefaced it by announcing that the thing most likely to increase their success in the examination was gaining a working knowledge of the use of the apostrophe. “How did they take that?” I asked. “They only started writing when I told them the topics they needed to cover for the examination.” I understand that Sophocles had similar problems with the younger generation.

Meanwhile, I too suffer for my love of grammar. Consider the following email exchange.

From: Former colleague A
To: Former colleague B
CC: Me
Subject: Lunch

I had mentioned to Anne we were meeting up and took the liberty of asking her along on Tuesday – is that ok with you? We can always gag her if she keeps talking about Cork!

From: Former colleague A
To: Me
Subject: Lunch

[In response to indignant reply from me]. So, is next Tuesday, ok?

From: Me
Subject: Lunch


From: FCA
To: Me
Subject: Lunch

Is that an endorsement of my literary style, a reflection of inner well being, or an indication of attendance?

From: Me
To: Former colleague A
Subject: Lunch

No, no and yes.

From: Former colleague A
To: Me
Subject: Lunch

How dare you insult my writings

From: Me
To: Former colleague A
Subject: Lunch

You forgot the question mark.

From: Former colleague A
To: Me
Subject: Lunch

I see your own literary style still tends to pedantic.

Mr. Waffle’s Moment of Truth

22 December, 2009 at 11:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel: Is there actimel in my lunch box?
Mr. Waffle: No, but there is fruit: grapes and apple.
Daniel and Michael in chorus: I don’t like grapes.
Mr. Waffle: No Michael, there is a banana for you.
Michael: I don’t want a banana.
Mr. Waffle: Well, Michael, every day you get a banana for school and it doesn’t come home so, I assume, something happens to it in school.
Michael: Yes, I put it in the bin.

And in today’s link section, an appealing post by a woman whose school sandwiches are never rejected because (insert really terrified gasp here), she homeschools her children.

One for the Greens or, in the wake of Copenhagen, it’s not all bad.

21 December, 2009 at 10:11 pm by belgianwaffle

We have a green bin for plastic, paper and tins, we recycle glass, we have a brown bin for biodegradeable waste and a black bin for everything else (this last goes to landfill). Each of these bins is collected once a fortnight. My very organised husband has had to work on a list of which bin goes out on what night.

To my absolute astonishment, we sometimes only need to put out the black bin once a month. True, we now have no nappies but we are still a family of five with small children who are known to go through mountains of stuff. What is amazing is how much of it is recyclable or compostable. Oh God, I am becoming a green bore. Save me.

Turning into our mothers

18 December, 2009 at 11:07 pm by belgianwaffle

Lesley has a post about how we all start using our mothers’ catch phrases: she lists six of her mother’s which she uses. Here are six of my mother’s that I use and, should you feel inspired to give six of your mother’s in your own blog (or in the comments, if you haven’t got one, surely you have), I will have started a meme (stolen from Lesley, but never mind).

So here we go:

1. You would drive a horse from his oats.
2. You never lost it [this is negative, trust me].
3. What you’re told, when you’re told.
4. Tidy and you’ll find.
5. What can’t be cured must be endured.
6. The best is the enemy of the good.

Thus far I have, however, successfully avoided:

1. Quarrel implies fault on both sides [so annoying this one] and
2. You can but you may not.

Small world

17 December, 2009 at 11:03 pm by belgianwaffle

Jordana’s daughter in the frozen north made a joke as they were putting her to bed the other night. This struck me because the Princess told me exactly the same joke at the same time. I blame Hannah Montana.

Existential Questions

16 December, 2009 at 10:30 pm by belgianwaffle

I see from my archives that I began this blog on the 10 December 2003 – six full years ago. When I started, I was an unemployed new mother living in another country. I began with the admirable intention of keeping my family up to date with their relatives abroad. Yet now that they see me with far greater regularity, I am still hard at it. It’s a mystery. I always say in these anniversary post that it was the brilliance of Angela at Fluid Pudding which inspired me to begin. Not quite sure what inspires me to continue other than my role as keeper of the family archive which, you can tell, I take very seriously. I see another belgianwaffle is doing a much better job of working out why he bothers.

In a shameless attempt to get a reaction from my audience, can I tell you that I am hoping for some happy anniversaries in the comments section. Actually, you probably are why I bother. No pressure now.

Christmas Build-up

15 December, 2009 at 10:28 pm by belgianwaffle

We put up the Christmas tree on Saturday afternoon. The children were delighted On Sunday morning at 6.45, the Princess arrived into our room fully dressed asking to go downstairs and look at the Christmas tree lights. I shudder to think what time she will rise at on the 25th.

No better man

14 December, 2009 at 10:27 pm by belgianwaffle

My husband is a saint. On Thursday afternoon the childminder was sick, he stepped into the breach and picked up the children from school and minded them (the disadvantage of being self-employed is that you tend to be more available for domestic crises than your office bound spouse). While he was at it, he left in the man from the cable company who fixed our television (he also rang them and stayed on hold for hours to get this service). On Thursday night, a friend of mine came to stay the night. I met her in town and we went for dinner while Mr. Waffle continued to tame children at home. When we got back about midnight I discovered that he had tidied the house within an inch of its life. I slightly undermined the effectiveness of this by exclaiming to my friend in tones of awe: “It’s so tidy, I can’t believe it.” Due to the absence of a spare room in our lives (sigh), my friend was sleeping in the Princess’s room. Mr. Waffle had blown up an air mattress, upended the Princess’s bed to make room for it and even put out towels and fresh soap in the bathroom. I nearly died of happiness.

I had thought that my friend was leaving on Friday but discovered that she was leaving on Saturday and staying at a nasty airport hotel on Friday night. I felt that our air mattress was bound to be better and offered it to her. She accepted. Unfortunately, on Friday night I had a work reception followed by a concert for which my sister had already purchased tickets (the Coronas, alright, since you ask). So on Friday, my saintly husband picked up the children from school (as it was closing early), minded them from 12 to 2 (the disadvantage of being self-employed again), then left them in the care of the child minder. He returned home at 6.30, fed the children, put them to bed, tidied the house and then fed and entertained my friend.

Did I mention that every week day morning he gets up at 7 to make sandwiches for the children for school?

How lucky am I?

Random Cultural Differences

10 December, 2009 at 10:53 pm by belgianwaffle

1. Cats

During the time when the cat was weeing in the hall (which now seems to have passed, or do I indulge optimism too far?), I went to my friend the internet and asked how do you persuade your cat to wee outside. I opened up a world of controversy. Many Americans, it appears, never let their cats outside at all. This is just the weirdest thing I have ever heard in my life. It’s helicopter parenting gone mad. Outdoor cats (i.e. cats who are let out the door without a leash) don’t live as long. Your indoor cat can be kept happy by playing with it all the time. I particularly enjoyed reading about the compromise cat cage where you let your cat out the back garden in an enclosure. Come on, tell me you don’t think this is very odd.

2. Philantrophy

I heard an American on the radio arguing for the merits of a charity gift card for Christmas. He listed the benefits as follows: 1. The charity benefits. 2. The donor feels good. 3. The recipient gets to feel like a rich person. This last one is not very convincing in this jurisdication. The culture of philantrophy so deeply ingrained in our American cousins is, alas, not present here. I think if you wanted to make an Irish man feel like a rich person, you would probably need to give him money rather than give money away on his behalf.


9 December, 2009 at 10:53 pm by belgianwaffle

From: A friend
Sent: 04 December 2009 08:44
To: Me
Subject: Prince, anyone?

Cross-cultural confusion

8 December, 2009 at 10:15 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael: Christmas is Jesus’s birthday.
Me: Yes, that’s right.
Michael begins to cry.
Me: What’s wrong?
Michael: That means Jesus gets all the presents.
Me: No, no, the baby Jesus loves us all so much that he wants all the children to have presents.
Princess: And Santa delivers the presents with help from his brother Saint Nicolas and his sister the Befana.

What it is like being married to the most organised man in the world

7 December, 2009 at 8:13 pm by belgianwaffle

From: Loving Husband
To: Me (safe in the fastness of my office)
Subject: various

Have bought smiley face presents (for all three) and put in the Waterstone’s bag. Also cards (on windowsill) and paper (in dresser under stereo). Have also put car seats into Zafira – key is hanging up. Fed cat at lunch time – she may be hitting the wall as regards roast beef.


Pretty good, eh?

Call the tabloids

6 December, 2009 at 10:39 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Does anybody know who Barack Obama is?
Her: Yes, let me think, yes, he is the President of the United States.
Me: Very good.
Daniel: I’ve seen him.
Me: Really?
Daniel: Yes.
Me: Where?
Daniel: Outside my window.
Me: Oh yes?
Daniel: Oh yes, and he was naked.

And here’s a nice link for those who love Dr. Seuss.

And for the cat owners with children, keep the children away from the hole punch or your cat may end up like this.

Christmas Cheer

5 December, 2009 at 11:15 pm by belgianwaffle

We went up to Farmleigh this afternoon. It was restored for the nation by the office of public works and is open to the public when very important guests are not staying there. It was bought from the Guinnesses for €29.2 million (ah, that property boom again) and it is a, not very attractive, piece of high Victoriana, in my view. I can’t help feeling that there are many other buildings the nation might have been better off spending its money on.

Nevertheless, as our politicians are fond of saying at the moment “we are where we are”. There are markets in the courtyard and events all year round. I have been consistently disappointed in the Farmleigh offering but the fact that so many other people regularly have a great time there keeps drawing me back. Today, wasn’t too bad. The courtyard was chilly and cheerless and the Santa unconvincing but the house was warm and manned by people in 19th century gear (I am a sucker for costume – I nearly died of happiness in Upper Canada Village). In the ballroom, there was a big Christmas tree and a choir were singing beautifully. All around were people like us with small children, spellbound. Children were sitting on their parents knees, rocking back and forth – their little faces all aglow from the cold weather outside. When the choir stopped singing, you could have heard a pin drop. Two childish voices piped up into the silence:

Childish voice 1: This is boring.
Childish voice 2: Yeah, this is boring, I want to go somewhere I can spend my money.

No prizes for guessing whose children these might be.

Thoughts on customer service

4 December, 2009 at 2:10 pm by belgianwaffle

I am on leave today and occupying myself with domestic administration. Your Christmas card is in the post. I have booked pantomime tickets. We will be gracing “Aladdin” with our presence. I looked at the online booking form. It was fine and very easy to use. Yet, vaguely, I recalled having spoken to a human being when making the booking last year and being pleased by the experience. I called instead. The woman in the box office talked about our seats. I talked about the height of my little family. She gave me options. We discussed whether it would be better to sit in the middle or closer to the edge or perhaps up in the balcony. She said that the rows were not very wide and sitting at the edge gave just as good a view and maybe that might suit better so that we could go in and out to the toilet (a likely eventuality). She got my details a lot more speedily than the online site and I was able to explain that I wanted the tickets to be sent to my parents in Cork rather than my home address in Dublin, though the latter was my billing address. She was also able to pronounce my surname properly. Non-Cork people always pronounce it wrongly. Are human interactions not much, much nicer than online ones? Or am I just turning into my mother?

Thank you to those of you who read for all of NaBloPoMo and further gratitude to those who wanted me to keep writing. What stamina you have. I have been ignoring the blog all week so if your carefully thought out and charming comment has gone unanswered, or worse, been caught in the spam filter, sorry, but I will be back to you. Oh, and have a link. If you are Irish, you will recognise this way of addressing a scandal.

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