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Go on Emily-Jane!

26 June, 2014 at 9:45 pm by belgianwaffle

I was at a GAA blitz* all Saturday morning with Daniel. Most of the teams consisted of little boys only but one team was mixed and there was a really great girl on the team. The coach kept shouting out her name “Go on Emily-Jane, up the wing” and so on. Emily-Jane is not a name to conjure with in GAA circles I would have thought, but I was wrong.

*If these words mean nothing to you, lucky you.


25 June, 2014 at 9:53 pm by belgianwaffle

After bedtime, Mr. Waffle and I have the following conversation.

Mr Waffle: Where’s Michael?
Me: In bed?
Him: No Daniel’s reading in bed but no sign of Michael.
Me: I saw him go out into the garden earlier, could he still be outside in his pyjamas?

He was indeed. The neighbours had some cousins around for a barbecue and he had stuck his head over the wall to investigate. The daughter of the house invited him to hop over the wall and when Mr. Waffle found him, he was engaging in an enthusiastic game of chasing next door untroubled by his pyjamas and bare feet.

The Longest Weekend of the Year

24 June, 2014 at 10:01 pm by belgianwaffle

June is always a very busy month with the end of school and GAA and the various outings associated with these.

We have already had the school tour (a day in a bog), the GAA finale, the football blitz at school, the school sports day (Daniel won two medals, hurrah), school end of year reports (all good, thanks for asking), the Church garden party (covered earlier in this blog – we made €200 on the slushie machine), this weekend as well as GAA we had my Sunday afternoon bookclub (your point?), the street party and a midsummer drinks party at a friend’s house. Next weekend we will be at a housewarming and a fortieth birthday party (whoever thought we would see 40 again?).

The children finish school on Thursday. Although sixth class graduated today (really, sixth class? When I was a child, you had to get a degree before you could graduate – insert harrumphing noise here). A very good friend of the Princess’s graduated and a couple of them went to the cinema after school. Crucially, without parental supervision. Great excitement. In addition, I am taking parental leave over the summer and hope to finish work on Friday until September. Fancy!

I think we are ready for the holidays. Also the weather is fantastic. I understand that that is all due to change by the end of the week. Alas.

Home Truths

23 June, 2014 at 10:35 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Where does all my money go?
My sister: Sympathetic noise.
Me: I mean, I get my hair cut once a year (it grows slowly – has always only needed an annual cut, really).
Her: Sympathetic noise.
Me: I don’t buy make up or perfume (these are supplied by my sister who is an adventurous purchaser and gives me spares). I hardly ever buy clothes. I get my books from the library now. Where does it go?
Her: I think you will find that effective savers don’t eat lunch out every day.


22 June, 2014 at 10:24 pm by belgianwaffle

I have long harboured an ambition to go to the Hill of Tara. We went in the teeth of the children’s opposition. The Rough Guide described it as resembling nothing so much as a golf course. That is true. “Hill” is generous. It bucketed rain and we all got soaked to the skin.

Notwithstanding all of this, there is something a little bit magical about the place.

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As Samuel Johnson would say, worth seeing but not worth going to see.

Peacefully, in his 99th Year

21 June, 2014 at 11:07 pm by belgianwaffle

My friend M’s father died recently. They thought he would make 100 but he didn’t; he had a long and happy life and died at home surrounded by his family. He was very well until the last year of his life, in fact, he only finally gave up driving at 95 and shooting at 92 (some relief in relation to the latter, I think).

M’s father was born in 1915 and his own father was an old man when he was born, having been born in 1845. When M’s father was young, he remembered his father telling him about people calling to the door of the farmhouse in Tipperary, starving in the wake of the Famine. It seems extraordinary that someone with such a close link to the Famine should only have died earlier this month, I suppose he must be the last person to have had a parent who survived the Great Famine.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

20 June, 2014 at 11:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr Waffle took the children zipwiring in the Dublin mountains. Where will this madness end?



Darkest Peru

19 June, 2014 at 10:39 pm by belgianwaffle

One of the nicest things about travelling by train is that the free travel scheme means that there is always a good sprinkling of pensioners which is nice in itself but also they bring out the best in students (the other hardy perennials on the train) who are always very polite to them and help them with their bags and generally restore your faith in humanity.

Anyhow, I was on the train up from Cork on a Saturday and three elderly gentlemen, travelling separately fell into conversation about a hurling match between Limerick and Tipperary. One of them was a priest and one of the other men asked him whether he had ever been on the missions at all. He had – 12 years in Korea and 30 in Peru from which he had lately retired. Did he know the two girls who were arrested for drug smuggling? He did indeed, had spoken to them several times. He also opined that the prison where they were serving their sentence was one of the better ones in Peru, he having visited several others for many years. As Fr. Brown says, you can’t be a priest without knowing quite a bit about human depravity. Many anecdotes followed – the lives on other inmates, the altar boy who showed him a local remedy for swelling, how to handle snakes with a stick on the way to school – but my favourite related to Brazil.

One of the other men had visited South America and travelled around (our pensioners, an adventurous bunch) and asked the priest about Manaus. He had been there, he had much to say about the rubber trade. One interesting thing was that the ships transporting rubber had to take rocks back to Manaus as ballast. The last place they passed through was Cork and so all this Cork rock ended up in Brazil. He said that the opera house in Manaus is built from Clonakilty stone. I don’t know whether this is true, but I really hope so.

Here endeth the lesson.


18 June, 2014 at 10:34 pm by belgianwaffle

I was in Armagh the other day and needed to buy paracetamol. I got 16 for 45p. If you are not amazed by this, you do not live in Dublin.

And Another One Down

17 June, 2014 at 10:25 pm by belgianwaffle

This year’s childminder has left us. She has gone back to Spain. We are all a bit sad, as she was really lovely – warm and friendly. She was also very, very beautiful – about six feet tall with long, thick, dark hair to her waist and perfect features. I was describing her to a colleague and he asked whether I make it my practice to bring good looking young women into my house. Apparently, I do.

But in related good news, our previous childminder who the children also loved has come back to us for the month of June as he is between jobs having left the crèche where he was employed because he was concerned about standards (he is very French, which is not to say that he is wrong). Anyhow, if he doesn’t find another job over the summer (when we can’t take him on as I am off work on unpaid leave and there are limits to our funds), he has promised to come back to us in September which would be wonderful.

Are you fascinated by my childminder problems?


16 June, 2014 at 11:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle was in Germany last week and he brought home with him a rather unappetising pretzel. On the strength of this, herself decided that she would like to make some.

So she did.

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And they were absolutely delicious.

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She also made brownies, flapjacks and fairy cakes for the church garden party. And manned the slushy stall – a more challenging task than you might expect.

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A weekend filled with virtue.

Final word to Michael:

Michael: What is all the money raised going to be spent on?
Me: The church roof.
Michael: What, nothing for the poor?

Nostalgie, La Legende

15 June, 2014 at 9:56 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to Brussels for work a couple of weeks ago. We left Brussels for good in July 2008 and this was only my third trip back. The first couple of times, shortly after we had left, I didn’t feel anything in particular and I remember remarking to people in Ireland how surprised I was that I didn’t miss Brussels at all.

This time, it was different though. The weather was lovely; much warmer than here. You forget that Brussels is warmer. And so much was the same, the Sablon, the 92 tram, I felt a remembering tug of all the things I used to love. I went to see some old friends in the evening and their children, in the manner of small children on whom you turn your back, had grown from infants to polite, slightly exotic older children who kissed me on both cheeks when they greeted me.

I think I would like to spend a long weekend in Brussels. Nobody is more surprised than I am.

In the airport on the way home I overheard a Belgian mama lamenting to her mother about the difficulty of finding an English speaking exchange for her child. She pointed out that everyone wants to learn English so the English can go where they like and their fancy rarely falls on Brussels. The grandmother asked whether she had considered Ireland although, she added doubtfully, she herself had been to Dublin and the English spoken in Ireland was entirely unintelligible.

I love Belgians too.

Agony of the Faithful

14 June, 2014 at 9:38 pm by belgianwaffle

At mass recently we had to do, the introduction (me), the second reading (herself), the prayers of the faithful (all of them and some other children rounded up on the morning).

The reason for this was that a number of our choir members sing in a national youth choir and they were singing at mass so regular readers were thin on the ground (either singing or preparing tea for the singers). The regular reading organiser asked me to round up children to say the prayers of the faithful. A number of novice readers I approached in the church shrank back in horror and I was left to fall back on my own brood. Daniel and Herself are regulars but Michael has only done it once before. I had him practice two prayers. Just before mass, one of the regular young readers turned up and I nabbed her and said to Michael, “OK you only need to do one now.”

I did my introductory bit and I thought that considering how bad previous attempts of mine have been, it wasn’t too awful but my family said I looked pale and shook like a blancmange. Can this be true? Hey, don’t mock until you’ve had a chance to bore a church full of people yourself. The Princess missed her cue for the second reading as she was distracted by the really beautiful responsorial psalm sung by the choir and had to zoom up to the altar with the speed of a coursing hare. She was fine once she got there – she has nerves of steel.

And then I found myself worrying – when are the prayers of the faithful? When do my little readers need to be shepherded to the altar? The Princess and I exchanged agonised glances. The priest paused. “Is it now?” I hissed at Mr. Waffle. “I don’t think so,” he said. Oh the agony. There was a really meaningful pause after the creed and the Princess gathered the children together and brought them up to do the prayers of the faithful. Michael was up first. Although he has read less often than the others, he is a clear and confident reader from the altar so, once he was there, I entertained relatively few fears. He began. It was the wrong prayer – he had got confused in the messing about before mass. He realised this. Instead of ploughing on, he put his hand to his forehead and said, “Oh no, oh no, it’s not this one.” Alas. Poor Michael, he was very cast down, though nobody minded at all, on the contrary, I imagine that they welcomed the variety from the standard prayer for vocations (singularly ineffective).

In other religious news, this Sunday, I will be operating a slushy machine for the Church Garden Party. The early Christian martyrs have nothing on me.

Sic Transit

13 June, 2014 at 9:37 pm by belgianwaffle

A couple of weeks ago, the Princess and her friend E went shopping together in town. Alone – unaccompanied by parents. They were given two hours, a limited range (one shopping centre) and a mobile phone.

In advance, she was full of excitement. She chose her outfit with great care and applied a limited amount of make up (birthday present from E). Her eyes shone with anticipation; she couldn’t stop smiling. I tried to point out that a period of two hours in a shopping centre, even in a large shopping centre, was likely to be dull but to no avail, she was undaunted. I went to collect her in some trepidation. It was wonderful. They had the best time ever. They ordered lunch together. They bought a magnetic necklace in two halves that said Be Fri and st ends. They took a photograph of themselves in a photo booth.

Last weekend they did it again, they were given 3 hours and a wider radius including streets near the shopping centre. She was mildly excited in advance. Afterwards, I asked how it was, “Fine, grand, you know.”

Not Waving but Drowning

9 June, 2014 at 11:13 pm by belgianwaffle

On the way home from swimming, Michael was indignantly asking why he had to learn to swim and I was explaining that swimming was a life skill.

Michael: I won’t go near deep water.
Me [automatically, remembering this ad from my childhood]: “It’s possible to drown in only a few inches of water.”
Herself: Yes, remember that relative who drowned…
Me: Yes, yes, your Nana’s great aunt who drowned in a barrel of cream [as a toddler].
Herself: No, I was thinking of Grandma’s great uncle who had a fit in the bath.

19th century deaths were much more dramatic.

Religious Debate

8 June, 2014 at 10:36 pm by belgianwaffle

Princess to Bohemian Friend: Are you Catholic?
Bohemian Friend: Sort of.
Princess: Eh?
Bohemian Friend: Well, we go to the Protestant church because it’s near our house but I still like to pray to Mary.
Protestant Friend: Oh for heaven’s sake make up your mind.

A Weekend of Two Halves

7 June, 2014 at 10:51 pm by belgianwaffle

A couple of weeks ago, I took the children to see Derek Landy, author of the popular Skulduggery Pleasant books. Herself read them for the first time a while ago but they have merited re-reading and the boys have been haring through them over the past couple of months.

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I was a bit worried that the boys might not enjoy the session [being less patient than their sister] but I needn’t have worried, Derek Landy was fantastic. He spoke for about an hour and had them all in stitches and then stayed patiently signing books and chatting, with every appearance of enthusiasm, to every child in the room.

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Buoyed up by this undoubted success, we went to the National Museum on Sunday for a session on Vikings billed as being for “the young and the young at heart”. I now know that this means for ages 3-6. The children were in the centre of the room on the mat and there was no escape. This nice man from New Zealand sang a number of songs of his own devising about the Vikings which the younger children loved. Michael just sat with his head in his hands throughout. Herself and Daniel gamely tried to answer the questions that the songster threw out to the audience about the Vikings. Since they were aimed at 3-6 year olds, my pair obviously knew the answers and their hands went straight up in the air every time. Mr. NZ sang loudly and with enthusiasm. I had a migraine and the headache tablets I had taken before leaving the house were only somewhat effective in countering his efforts.

The only amusing moment was when Mr. NZ said, “Brian Boru beat the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf, where’s Clontarf?” [Expected answer – Dublin] A three year old with curls stuck up his hand. “It’s on the Northside.”

It’ll be a while before we’re back to the National Museum, I’d say.

Lost and Found

6 June, 2014 at 10:27 pm by belgianwaffle

The children did a course over the Easter holidays which was very successful. Somewhat surprisingly, it appealed to all three of them. It was about ecological awareness but they called it “bug camp” as much of their time was spent constructing “bug hotels” in the park. The remainder was spent discussing Good Game Empire and Minecraft with their fellow students.

They also visited the National History Museum where Michael, as is his wont, wandered off to read in the library corner. He didn’t see the need to share information on his whereabouts with anyone. The misfortunate course organisers were looking at video footage from the museum to try to find him when he wandered back to the group. I sometimes think that Michael’s mission in life is to give adults heart failure.

Tenuously related – the phenomenon of the lost child is described rather beautifully by the other belgianwaffle thus:

Lost a child at a packed, boiling hot Mexican fiesta in a museum. Child, as is often the case, had no idea it was lost. 5 men with walkie-talkies and a hyperventilating mother begged to differ.

Foraging for Food

5 June, 2014 at 6:45 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle is away for a couple of days and standards have slipped. The children say, in great excitement, “Are we foraging for dinner?” This consists of staring at the contents of the fridge/freezer and hauling out what appeals. Tonight the Princess, upholder of standards, has promised to make us chicken rissoles from Monday’s leftover chicken. I think, however, we all feel that the return of Mr. Waffle will be a good thing.

Blood and Gore

4 June, 2014 at 10:13 pm by belgianwaffle

My loving husband was virtuously cleaning the cooker one morning and managed to give himself a knock on the overhead extractor which led to him bleeding copiously all over the kitchen floor and down the side of his face in a very dramatic manner. The children and I were very alarmed. No more cooker cleaning for him.

In other – admittedly tenuously connected – blood on the kitchen floor stories, the cat caught a blackbird and brought it into the house. A blackbird is quite a big bird to have in the house, particularly when a cat is haring after it in delight. The childminder and the children ran out of the house and shouted at the cat and the bird through the kitchen window with results such as you might expect. The childminder rang Mr. Waffle for directions on opening the kitchen window (trickier than you might think – particularly from outside). The Princess bravely ventured in and scooped up the cat and locked her into Michael’s room to the cat’s intense chagrin. The bird lay behind the kettle with a wing stuck out at an odd angle. The kitchen was plastered with blood and feathers. The childminder and the boys went to inspect the damage and the bird, like something from a creepy horror movie, sprang up on its feet and gave them heart failure. It began to fly again just as Mr. Waffle, feeling that support was needed on the home front, came back so he was able to help usher it out the window. Then he set to clearing up blood and feathers so that by the time I got home from work all that remained was a dramatic story and small feathers which turned up for quite a while in the oddest places. Is he not a saint?

Cat looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

Lights, Camera, Action, Budget

4 June, 2014 at 12:09 am by belgianwaffle

The Princess had a fantastic maths class recently. Each group of students was given a budget of €800 and told to produce a film.

There was a range of rules, such as:
Brad Pitt will halve his fee if Rowan Atkinson is in the film but Rowan Atkinson will double his, if Brad Pitt is in the film;
Brad Pitt needs €5 a day lunch money. Comment from herself – what is he eating? Comment from me – how much is Neve Campbell charging? Her – Nothing, she brings her own lunch.

Herself was very well up on the maths but perhaps less so on popular culture – sample conversation as reported to me:
Boy in her group: So, we’re going to need to cast Brad Pitt.
Her: Why can’t we have Adam Sandler; he’s much cheaper.
Boy: We can’t have Adam Sandler in a horror movie.
Her: Maybe he could expand his repertoire.

Boy: And we’ll need an axe.
Her: It costs €30 for a weapon kit. Can we not use other weapons aside from the axe to get value for our money?
Boy: No.

I don’t know much about films but I think that she might be a born producer.

Duty, Stern Duty

2 June, 2014 at 10:51 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael was sick one morning and Mr. Waffle stayed at home with him. By 11, Michael was fully recovered. To be fair, he had been awake crying in the night with a sore tummy (possibly starvation, I worry, 4 cream crackers do not a balanced dinner make) so it wasn’t malingering but the ailment was clearly not serious.

That night, as we corrected Daniel’s homework (which was also Michael’s homework as they are in the same class), Mr Waffle asked me, “Should we make Michael do the homework?” For me, there was only one answer to that question, namely, “Are you insane?” This little interchange tells you a lot about our respective personalities.

Let off the Leash

1 June, 2014 at 10:38 pm by belgianwaffle

May 17 was a beautiful day and I noticed (on the way home from a Communion, of course) that there were quite a few families in the small park near our house. Since, it was “Take your children to the park and leave them there” day, I decided when we got home to send the three children off to the park together alone for the first time. They took an unhealthy picnic and off they went for an hour and a half.

They had a great time. Nobody was run over. Nobody was even sunburnt. They reported back that the boys played soccer with some other children; they all rolled down the hill; and herself lay on the picnic mat and read her book. It was delightfully peaceful at home. Do not mock, if your children spend all day on the green and only come in at tea time. I know that you knew this all along.

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