6/6/97 – Pauline, the kids and I did some recording on the computer.
7/6/97 – In the afternoon, Pauline took the kids to a garden fête, despite the changeable weather.
8/6/97 – In the afternoon I took the kids to the green at the end of the road – Sean is now keen on playing tennis.
9/6/97 – Pauline walked with the kids to Sean’s school in the morning. Sean has a trip to the National Gallery and Natural History Museum today.
11/6/97 – Sean is going to Matthew’s birthday party … The party was a success; Pauline was complimented on Sean’s excellent behaviour when she went to collect him … [later] Sean complained of a sick tummy, perhaps from too much cake etc.
15/6/97 – The kids took to Sara [Italian student] well, and vice versa – Sean spent a lot of time showing her things on the computer.
17/6/97 – Susanna went to Jane’s house with Michael and Jackie after playgroup, proud of herself for being big enough to go there without Pauline. While there she was anything but shy, according to Jackie. She told her that her ‘other’ granny had died because she was very old and didn’t eat her vegetables, with a ‘what did she expect?’ kind of a shrug. It was a beautiful day – we played out the back and Sara took a photo of the kids bouncing on the trampoline.
18/6/97 – Sean had his sports day at school, and came home wearing a red rosette with ‘1st’ on it – he had won the sack-and-hoop race, to his great pride … Sean and Susanna had a new ball each – Sean’s is a Space Jam basketball. Sara got home, excited about having seen Alessandro Costacurta and an Italian model in town. They hadn’t been very friendly.
19/6/97 – Sean is now getting himself dressed/undressed in the morning and evening, brushing his teeth and so on. He’s come on a lot lately.
21/6/97 – Pauline and Dervla took the kids to see Space Jam.
22/6/97 – I cooked a pasta dinner for everyone including Sara – she says that Irish food is better than French or German.
24/6/97 – Simon was here with Sean for much of the afternoon.
25/6/97 – Sean took a present – a candle and candlestick – to school for his teacher.
26/6/97 – I went to the shop and bought 33 ‘tenpenny bags’ of sweets for Sean’s class.
27/6/97 – Sean’s last day in Senior Infants … We collected Sean and Billy at 12 – the day had been a party for them.
30/6/97 – We rang Warrenpoint – Sean and Susanna were having a great time, and being no trouble.
3/7/97 – Over dinner Laura [Spanish student] suddenly burst into tears, through homesickness, to the surprise of Sara, Pauline and myself.
4/7/97 – Sara’s mother has invited us to visit them in Italy.
5/7/97 – It was good to see Sean and Susanna again … They had been very good and very happy while away [at Granny and Grandad’s since 28 June]. Laura gave Sean a Bambi jigsaw and Susanna a set of kiddie’s dominos; also a Bugs Bunny mug to the latter and a Daffy Duck mug to the former; Sara gave Sean a book and Susanna a cuddly cat.
6/7/97 – Pauline collected Diana, who is 12 years old and comes from near Milan. Her mother wasn’t joking when she said that Diana loved children – she was constantly following Susanna round and picking her up and so on … Laura’s dad rang and I had the presence of mind to tell him to ring manana, thus overcoming the language barrier.
7/7/97 – Diana played incessantly with Sean and Susanna.
9/7/97 – Pauline got up with the students, and the prepared for a day’s trip to Brittas Bay with our kids, June and her kids, to include dinner on the beach … Pauline and the kdis got back at 8 or so, having had a great day on the beach.
11/7/97 – Diana had a couple of friends in, and Laura watched the news in Spanish on TV – all about a man who had been kidnapped by ETA. We spoke to her about the Spoanish Civil War and so on, which she is interested in: her great-grandfather fought for the Republicans.
15/7/97 – Susanna, very proud of herself, has gone to the shop with Olivia and Astrid. Sean is at Simon’s.
19/7/97 – Pauline and the kids were at the Powerscourt waterfall.
22/7/97 – Laura’s friend Patricia came round to help her cook ‘tortillas’, i.e. Spanish omelettes, for our dinner.
24/7/97 – Pauline and the kids headed off for the ICT trip to the museum and picnic … [later] the kids all had a great day at the museum. Sean was very interested, Pauline said, and very charming to the guide.
25/7/97 – Sean and Andrew made a ‘stage’ out the back, complete with painted backdrop.
26/7/97 – June collected Sean and Susanna to take them to Lady and the Tramp with her kids, and also gave them lunch and dinner. Pauline, Diana and I went to Sandyford, where we bought a ‘Living Books’ educational game for Sean, and Diana bought presents for her dog and her hamster … [Later] As we were going to bed we heard loud knocking next door the Fitzsimons were locked out and José was asleep and couldn’t be roused. I climbed our extended stepladder and rapped on the window till he woke, bemused.
27/7/97 – We were up pretty early – said our goodbyes to Diana and Pauline drove her to Milltown. She was sad to leave the kids … [later] Sean bounced his basketball 1,400 times without stopping, as counted by me.
28/7/97 – Sean’s 6th birthday … Sean gradually opened his presents – Arthur’s Teacher Trouble from us (I installed this and the kids played with it; it’s very good); goalposts and a net from Susanna; a proper tent from the three grandparents. A camera arrived in the post from Aileen and Jim … Sean’s party guests arrived – Billy, Michael N, Matthew, Michael B, Olivia, Simon, Phillip. The party went well – it was a nice day and the kids were able to play in the garden a lot. Pauline made an ‘ice cream cake’, rice krispie buns and other goodies. Some kids were here late, and other kids arrived post-party – Andrew, Adam, the other Olivia. Sean had a great birthday.
29/7/97 – Pauline took the kids out and they bought yet more toys with money that Sean had been given for his birthday (Susie had a quid or two and Sean donated some money to her) … Sean and Susanna went to bed in the tent, in the front room.
30/7/97 – We said our goodbyes to Laura, who was sad to be leaving and would like to come back next year. Pauline drove her to Milltown – she and I will be glad to have the house back to normal, nice though the students were … Sean and Susanna went to Michael Noonan’s birthday party in the afternoon … The kids went to bed in the tent again; Sean was awake very late.
31/7/97 – The kids slept in the tent again.
5/8/97 – We watched some TV – Sonia O’Sullivan failed in the final of the World Championship 1500 metres even though Pauline, Sean, Susanna, Olivia and I were shouting ‘Sonia, Sonia’.
6/8/97 – Sean rang from Warrenpoint; I also spoke to Nuala, Peter and Susanna. The kids had been playing on the boat all afternoon.
9/8/97 – Sean and Susanna were at their first funeral – of one of the Houricans.
15/8/97 – I took Sean and Susanna, and Sean’s goalposts, to the end of the road for a game of football.
16/8/97 – Sean was bold when Pauline was getting them ready for bed, hence no stories were read, to Sean’s dismay. There was uproar.
17/8/97 – Pauline got a picnic ready and we went off on one of our research trips, to try and get an idea of where we might like to live. First we went to Trim, where we visited the castle and had a picnic beside it – the castle is very impressive, but on looking around we weren’t all that impressed by the town, which is very small. We went on to Navan, which, to our surprise, was much better, and then along the Boyne valley to Drogheda, stopping to look at the river. There’s a lot of lovely countryside, and plenty of historic and prehistoric sites. We were less impressed with Slane and Drogheda than we had been with Navan.
18/8/97 – The kids played around the house and with Olivia most of the day.
21/8/97 – Although the day was quite wet, Pauline took the kids to a nature trail in St Enda’s Park.
22/8/97 – Simon was here playing with Sean all day.