Friday, March 30, 2007


I swear if I get another one of those e-mails about hypodermic needles found in a Macdonalds ball-pit, or a child dying from licking lead-based paint off the nursery walls I think I'll go chuffing mental.

You read them first thing in the morning, when the only thing you have in your stomach is coffee and a fervent desire to go back to bed, and they're always signed 'concerned' or 'just a heads up'. Aaarrggh. Leave me alone!!! It's hard enough to keep kids alive without worrying about all this other ridiculous crap. I know she could poke something metal in to that outlet and nuke herself, I know she shouldn't be running with that machete, or playing with that bottle of Anti-Freeze. It's hard enough just trying to keep them away from the genuinely lethal stuff. Lets just try and keep it within the realm of sanity alright? If she gets a brain parasite from playing in a sand-box that a raccoon has pooped in I will be beyond devastated, but I will not stop her playing in a sand-pit 'just-in-case'. I will not stop licking ATM envelopes because someone in Michigan allegedly died from a laced envelope. People in Michigan are looking for ways to die I tell you, I used to work with them!


So, how are you? Had your coffee yet? Had your dose of hate/fear e-mail? I know I shouldn't let it get to me, but as I've said before, I'm not exactly good at letting things go, and I'm a tad vulnerable first thing in the morning, and not a little insecure about my parenting skills in the first place.

Of course, if you've sent me anything recently regarding the risks of cosmic radiation in the under-5s or how your pre-schooler may already have lethal levels of mercury due to substandard play-dough, thankyou, I know it's out of genuine concern for her well-being. I'm working on it. Now get lost.


In other news, LK deserves husband of the year (or at least the week) for cycling fifteen miles to and from work sometimes multiple times a day because our car, the Stealth Creampuff, has conked out again. Head gasket, whatever. Sayonara Ford we're buying Japanese.

You have no idea how long it took me to look up how to spell sayonara. Sion? Cyon?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rock On Grandma

Yesterday I was ID'd for buying a 12-pack of Heineken. The cashier must have thought I looked less than 21 because my shopping surely spoke of someone entrenched in middle age; toddler meals, organic yogurts and imported beer.

I may appear like a fresh-faced schoolgirl, but my soul burns with the fire of an eighty year-old grandma. Just look what I've managed to accomplish this month:


and this:

The last one was even knitted for my own daughter, *gasp*, a full year after my last attempt.

Here she is, clearly delighted with the new addition to her wardrobe:-

That pose is right out of the
Sirdar catalogue I swear.
Don't mention the hair.
I know.

What marks me as a truly old codger at heart though is that I woke up on Sunday and the first thing I thought was not, hello, there's a large naked Dane in my bed (and yes, sadly still a toddler), no, I thought - hoorah, I get to have a stab at knitting cable!!

Oh yes, give me wool, a complicated pattern with instructions that the Enigma machine couldn't fathom and I'm in heaven. This is what I'm attempting next:-

That's right, the 'in-at-the-deep-end cable-a-thon' courtesy of Debbie Bliss. I'm erring on the side of caution and knitting it for a 3-yr old. On second thoughts, looking at that 4-page pattern, maybe I should cast on a few more stitches and aim for a 12-year old. Whatever happens, I'm sure Anna's going to look just as lovely as this cute Asian boy.

Apologies to all those who don't share my passion for knitting (all of you), and apologies to those weirdos who got here by googling 'cute Asian boy'.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

P.S. I love you

That last post was not intended as a direct advertisement for Typhoo Green Tea, though it is really good and you should try some. If it was, I would not have taken a photo of Green Tea in front of a green background.

Frickin' idiot, gosh.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tea By 'Eck

How much do I love the internet? Just look at this:

My favourite tea, Typhoo Green Tea, ordered online and purchased for a song! I used to have my poor old Mum post it to me, but now I have 480 bags of my very own. Enough for months - or just less than a fortnight if my Mum and Dad come and visit.

The funny thing is, I was never a tea-drinker when I lived in England. Not much of a coffee drinker either. Coffee always smells so wonderful, and always tastes so disappointing, and I'm a weakling when it comes to caffeine too. Half a cup of coffee and I'm bouncing off the walls, and LK starts cleaning the kitchen fearing the worst.

I always used to joke that I was kicked out of the country for not drinking tea. I'm from Harrogate, home of 'Yorkshire Tea' and 'Taylors of Harrogate' and 'Betty's Cafe'. Everyone I grew up with would drink mug after mug of the stuff. If you're at home and you hear my Mum's car in the driveway it's a knee-jerk reaction to put the kettle on. Everyone knows that the massive electricity spike after the Royal Wedding in 1981 was caused by an entire nation switching their kettles on going 'Well, that's that, I'll brew up then'.

Then I had Anna, and Mum and Dad came over to help, and suddenly I was never without a cup of tea by my side. Now I can't do without it, and I'm thousands of miles away from a good source of tea-bags. You can buy Yorkshire Tea in Santa Barbara, but it's true, it's brewed for Yorkshire Water, and it tastes like old woolly socks out here. I've wondered if it's all psychological, whether it was indeed a latent taste for the stuff, or whether I'm subconciously drinking it as it reminds me of home. If that were the case though, I'd be watching the Cricket World Cup, but trust me, that'll never happen. Cricket truly is a reason to emigrate.

So let me know if you fancy a cuppa. I'll be mother.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

California Dreaming

It is overcast and drizzly here today, I was right about the fog apparently. I don't think this is rain, I believe it's what they call 'heavy marine layer'. Whatever it is, it's making me think about home. That and the projected health insurance increase that's sitting on my desk at work. Socialised medicine certainly sounds appealing right now. I'm thinking about sending Anna back to the UK for her routine physicals, the plane fare might be cheaper than my premiums.

So, before this post becomes any more miserable, I'm going to think cheerful and list twenty things I'm looking forward to on our trip home to Blighty in May. In no particular order might I add..... just in case you think you fall below 'mushy peas' in my standings..... (it's highly likely you do though).

1. Chips and mushy peas. My dear old bro just moved next door to a killer fish and chip shop, so I'll be spending lots of time round there pretending to visit him. LK is not such a fan of fish and chips, but that's because I ridicule him about;

a) saying 'fission chips', and
b) for saying 'I'll have the toona' the first he time ever ordered at a chippy. You can take the boy out of California......

2. Taking Anna to the duck pond. You can't feed the ducks here. I'm sure they're all on the 'Zone' diet or at least something macrobiotic.

3. Going shopping with my Mum in York. Thinking all the prices are in dollars and are therefore half the price that I'm actually paying. Plus, I haven't been to an English shop in well over a year, so even Next might have something new in stock. Plus I can buy stuff at M&S and no-one in SB will be any the wiser.

4. Curry and booze with my friends from school.

5. Proper adverts on the telly. I know everyone in the UK is probably sick to the back teeth of the latest KitKat advert or whatever, but dear God the 'commercials' over here are total and utter crap, and they're on more than the shows, and they slag off the competition outright, which doesn't seem very sportsmanlike if you ask me, AND they make you think about haemorrhoids whilst you're eating your tea in front of the telly.

6. Free babysitting (hi Mum!)

7. Weather! I know it sounds ludicrous, but actual weather. Brilliant (briefly).

8. Being thousands of miles away from our tenants, our mortgages, our childcare situation, our jobs, our condo conversion project.....

9. Seeing my entire extended family for my Mum's 60th birthday.

10. Going to Oasis and seeing the Lake District.

11. Woolie's pick-and-mix. American candy is rubbish, the chocolate tastes like it's been left unwrapped overnight and they don't have pick-and-mix. Philistines!

12. Watching British news and documentaries.

13. Going to Paris for the first time.

14. Being away from the bubble that is Santa Barbara for a few weeks.

15. Getting my accent back, however briefly.

16. Meat pies. Pickled onion monster munch. Salt and vinegar hula hoops. Poppadoms with mango chutney. Wensleydale cheese. Pork scratchings. Gin and tonics. Sweets. Bitter lemon. Dandelion & Burdock. Sausage rolls.

17. Going for walks; stiles, fresh air, clouds, wellies, someone saying 'just look at that view', getting lost, my Dad having to consult the map, finding pubs and tiny old churches with overgrown graveyards, wondering where the chuff we parked the car. Having Thornton's toffee half-way round, for energy.

18. Taking Anna to Harlow Carr gardens where she can run around and pick shadows to her hearts content. As long as nobody sees her.

19. Buying Anna lots of things that say 'I love Mummy' instead of 'I love Mommy'.

20. Not having to start all my conversations with 'no English actually. North Yorkshire. Near York. No not New York. Ha ha. Really, how was your trip to London. Oh, dear, no ice in your drink and it rained for 5 years solid. Gosh, sorry about that.' Ha bloody ha.

On the other hand, after that little I heart England love-fest,

Things I am not looking forward to:

1. Driving in the rain. Driving a 'stick' on the 'wrong side of the road'. Narrow roads. Having to overtake tractors. Paying for petrol. How dirty cars get.

2. Remembering to be quiet during the weather otherwise my Dad will give me one of his Paddington's hard stares because they don't have the 'weather channel' 24/7 with Doppler radar like we do.

3. OMG the flights. 3 stops (at least!) each way seemed like such a small price to pay for free air-miles tickets back when I booked the flights in October, but now it's March and I have a toddler, and someone please pass me a brown paper bag.

4. Going to Oasis and having to stand next to my brother's fiance while we're both wearing bikinis.

5. Teaching Anna about jet-lag.

6. Knowing we can't afford any of it.

7. Putting on 10lbs each week I'm home.

8. Being dressed circa 1997 which is when I emigrated, having to borrow my Mum's clothes.

9. Wondering what the chuff people are talking about when they mention mobiles, broadband, Shilpa Shetty, Big Brother etc etc. Realising I've missed 10 years of UK culture (maybe not such a bad thing!) but knowing that I've become an ex-patriot and that I don't belong there anymore just as I don't belong in California.

10. Knowing that I have to fly back to California. Knowing LK is going to get upset at how much I miss home.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


My friend C. says that one of the best things about having a 4-yr old is that you get to find out exactly what the babysitter's been up to whilst you've been out, because as soon as you get home your little canary will sing til it's blue in the face.

Anna's not quite up to dishing the dirt yet - or so I thought.

One of the advantages we had early in our nanny-sharing arrangement was that the other Mum worked from home, and so our nanny always had to be on her toes with our two in case J. walked out of her office. Unsurprisingly the nanny started taking the girls on long rides in her car; they would go to the zoo, to the parks, to the beach, everyone was happy.

This afternoon I'd decided I was going to get my lardy food after all, so I headed to the local McDonalds Drive-Thru, because if you have a toddler nothing says welcome to America like not having to get out of the car to pick up your food. We're not big junk food eaters, McDonald's is mostly road-trip food for us, and we've certainly not encouraged Anna to be a happy meal fiend, so imagine my surprise as I'm pulling off the road towards the drive-thru - not even at the drive-thru, when a little voice from the back of the car starts parroting 'fies fies ambugger fies Anna fies peas'.

Quite. Apparently those tofu nuggets I'd been feeding her last night weren't quite cutting the mustard for my little canary.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Home Alone

LK has gallivanted off to Palm Springs with his gay lover, ostensibly to watch the Pacific Coast Open, leaving me quite literally holding the baby. This is the first time either one of us has been away from Anna for a night since she was born. I am not that impressed with the idea of being a single parent, I am chuffing knackered. She is finally asleep at 9pm (Anna is steadfastly ignoring last weekend's time change) and all I want to do is drink three glasses of wine back to back and join her.

I'd had all these plans to enjoy my time alone (well, almost alone), I was going to write, watch Casino Royale endlessly with my finger poised above the pause button, eat lots of lardy food that LK despises, sleep like a starfish and generally enjoy myself. Upon reflection, this is exactly the same kind of plan I had when I thought about possibly working from home after Anna was born. The kind of plan that does not involve having to look after Anna every second of every minute of every hour. What was I thinking? Where was all this magic free time supposed to come from? Looking after Anna is constant. CONSTANT. She is not the slightest bit interested in ogling Daniel Craig, apparently he is not a patch on Elmo, and the only lardy food I had chance to sneak was an errant chicken nugget of hers, and even that was a faux chicken tofu nugget.

Meanwhile, back in Palm Springs, LK has called to reassure me that all is well and that he has not fallen prey to his rich hosts proclivities, because, as he said on the phone 'you've no need to be worried, I defended you when they asked why I was still on my first marriage when I could get any person I wanted, I said, you haven't met her yet'. Hmm, I wonder how that came up in conversation. Time for that vat of wine I think.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Brokeback Marriage

There are many, many inappropriate things you could say whilst watching Brokeback Mountain with your husband, but surely one of the worst has to be;

"Wow, can you imagine if someone loved you like that"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cor Wot a Scorcher

It's been in the 90s here in the last few days, which if you're in the UK means over 30ÂșC, because it seems that in the ten years since I left home everyone now refers to temperatures using Celsius only, and gives me a blank 'I no speak your Yankee language' stare if I even utter anything about Fahrenheit.

This was not always so, people. I swear I remember talking about temperatures being in the 'high 80s' when I were a lass, but then again, thinking back, I did grow up in North Yorkshire, and 'high 80s' and 'North Yorkshire' are not often mentioned in the same sentence unless it's to talk about population age.

So, yes, it's been warm - scorchio even. Anna's been wearing her shorts, breaking out those deliciously chubby toddler legs which seem to be getting leaner by the second. There's even been talk about starting up our ocean swimming next weekend, but you don't have to be a geographer to know that sudden warm weather coupled with a very cold ocean means we'll be knee-deep in fog in no time.

Fog always makes me laugh. Google that I dare you!

Many years ago when my fellow geographers and I were newly matriculated at up-your-own-arse-bridge we were all discussing our horrific entrance interviews thinking probably quite rightly, that if we were the ones picked then either,

a) Nobody else applied
b) We were the cream of the crop. Not bloody likely.

We each had our mortifying stories but the one that'll always stick with me was from C. To cut a very long story short, one of the questions he was asked was if he could think of any recent news stories that might be particularly pertinent to geographers. I can just visualize Dr. Blah asking the question and thinking 'don't say the rainforest, don't say the rainforest', but ha! no! C. had something much better up his sleeve. At that time a good answer would probably have been the fall of communism, something about the post-Soviet states, or even better, something based on Dr. Blah's highly esoteric and yawn-inspiring papers etc, but no, when asked of any important geographic phenomenon C. said.....

'there's been a lot of fog about'.

Needless to say I don't think any of us is doing anything remotely related to geography in our present careers. In fact the word 'career' might be stretching it a bit for most. And yes, for the record, I said 'rainforest'.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Down Town!

If nothing else ever marks me as a failure (form an orderly queue) it's that just as I was starting my blog, this blog post was written. If I'd have known, I'd have stopped right there. I bow to the blog queen.

Have you ever seen the film Twin Town? If not - rent it NOW, it's chuffing hilarious. They do a brilliant mockery of the song 'Downtown' by Petula Clark, showing downtown Swansea on a Friday night - but Whoopee, I think she takes the crown. Long live Crapham.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

An eerie lull settled over the K household yesterday afternoon as Anna started to feel better, but it was only a temporary ceasefire. Now LK is perched over the loo hanging on for dear life.
Basically just as Anna emerges from a sea of vomit - we knew she was feeling better by her repeated requests for Melmo or Thomas (the Tank Engine), LK starts throwing up.

Lots of fun.

At least LK knows to be sick in the toilet. After six days of Anna with the stomach flu our house smells like a student doss house. There is the unmistakeable waft of puke in the air - but where's it coming from? I've Febreezed the crap out of the place, and washed about fifteen loads of pukey towels, but still it lingers. This happened after my 18th birthday party too, until we found out that someone had been sick underneath my Mum's sewing machine (how?!). Unlike my 18th birthday party I have yet to find bottles of booze stashed in the shrubbery and I'm not left wondering how to get that 'Taboo' stain out of the upholstery.

I had to leave work early yesterday to look after my little vominatrix (LK did not start puking til the evening thank goodness). She seemed bright-ish so I took her down to the beach in the jogger, and I attempted to go for a run. Its been *a while* since I last went running, so it went something like this:-

Me - ooomph, crikey, ragged breathing, plod, plod, plod
Anna - barely discernable whimper
Me, stopping - what's that love, you want to get out? You want Mummy to stop running so you can get out?
Anna - WTF?

I ran about a mile and a half before I had to stop, and my legs are killing me today. At least I'm not vomiting though, although I'm understandably nervous about my chances. I'm like a newly pregnant woman, alert to the slightest signs of nausea, but so far so good. Hooray for me, I get to clean it all up!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Miniature Arse Kicker

In deference to her English heritage:-

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Communication Failure

Anna's had the stomach flu before of course, and last time she gave it to us too, which resulted in a house of horror for two days when none of us could get down the stairs to the kitchen without puking. Good times.

The main difference this time is that she can communicate better, and that's what's so heartbreaking. We've had to limit her fluid intake, as it's one of the reasons she's throwing up so often. Apparently we have to trick her stomach in to thinking there's nothing there by giving her tiny sips every couple of hours. The poor thing is so thirsty she actually strung words together for the first time in her effort to communicate. She said 'Anna yaya pease' - Anna water please.

It seems the cruelest irony, that you spend the first year of their life desperate to get them to talk to you, with words or by sign language, and now that she's able to do both all we seem to say is 'I hear you but no'. It's so unfair. The other day - before the plague hit, she was trying to ask for a cookie. She said cookie repeatedly, until in a fit of desperation she started resorting to sign language too, as if to say 'damn it lady, why can't I get this through to you'. The same was true with the request for water last night. It was a massive milestone for her to be able to use more than one word at a time, and yet I still couldn't give her what she'd asked for. That's the killer.

So now, in a huge reversal from my usual sarcastic, irreverent self, because I'm feeling overly sentimental at that husk of a baby I have sleeping on the bed, here is a list of Anna pronunciations that I would hate to ever forget;

Ya-ya = Water
Shadow = Flower - WTF Anna?
Flamininmoe = Flamingo - good attempt
Ass = Raf - our friend, he's none too happy about this pronunciation
Melmo = Elmo
Show = Baby Einstein
Babbit = Rabbit
Bobot = Robot

Also, if you say 'I love you' she says 'you do?'.

Wow, that was a saccharine post even for me. Sorry everybody.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Photos of Better Times

Here are some photos of Anna playing on 'sandbar' in Santa Barbara, the break where LK learned to surf (who knew there was surf way back then?).

We're knee-deep in vomit right now. Anna has finally passed out, a pale, limp, rag-doll, not even interested in 'Melmo'. While she sleeps I'm going to do fifteen billion loads of puke-stained laundry.

Keep your fingers crossed for us. I hope to God we don't get it too, although as she projectile-vomited all over my face and in to my horror-struck mouth last night, it's not looking good.