Saturday, April 28, 2007

More hummingbird photos....

Now this, this is a better camera.

Thanks to LK for some far more successful photography of our resident hummingbird family.....

....and you thought your one-bedroom in Santa Barbara was cramped.....

If anyone knows anything about hummingbirds I'd love to know what type they are. From the very basic research I've done so far, I think it might be an Anna's hummingbird, which is fairly fitting.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Things that have made me laugh recently:-

You either laugh or you cry, so I've had to laugh recently at my huge health insurance rate hike, and the fact that we're flying to the UK in one week and LK still does not have his passport, yet despite these trying times, the following things have genuinely made me laugh out loud and need to be shared:

  • Definitely this and this, there is clearly no point trawling the internet for good stuff when these two excellent writers are already hot on the trail.
  • The fact that Anna likes to eat her hot dogs with peanut butter and her strawberries with ketchup. De-licious.


  • My Mum, who always has a fairly random e-mail sign-off sentence, hitting her zenith with this particular gem; "I have been really busy digging over the soil in the greenhouse, although I had to rescue the resident frog first. I hope the mushroom compost doesn't upset it, it smells a bit pungent. Love Mum."
  • And finally the fact that someone found my blog by googling 'should young boys get a perm an set', or my absolute favourite 'how to stop being a nagging wife'.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Homemade Surfboard

Check this out. Our friend R. had his surfboard stolen a few weeks ago, because contrary to popular opinion, surfers aren't all sunshine and rainbows they're more likely to be 'my waves, my beach, go home and we'll set fire to your car in the parking lot if you don't listen up, dude.' OK, I may be paraphrasing a tad.

R. was royally pissed off, but instead of pouting he decided to make his own surfboard. As you do.

How gorgeous is this?

It's so gorgeous, Anna is just rocking out at the beauty of it all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Snow in Santa Barbara?!

When I woke up yesterday morning there was snow on the mountains. It's April, in Southern California, and there's snow on the foothills. It's extraordinarily beautiful, as you can see by the photos below, which weren't taken today because I have a child now and stuff to do, and I can't just go prancing around taking pictures for you people, OK?

Really though, what's going on with the weather? I don't pay fifteen billion dollars a year in property taxes to have this sort of caper when my Mum is repeatedly calling me to tell me how beautiful it is in North Yorkshire right now. 'Hotter than Tenerife' no less, which must have been the headline on Look North. I can see it now,'Scarborough; hotter than Tenerife, sunshine and chips, why fly south?'

Anyway I digress. I'm sure this is just a late storm, and normal 75ยบ weather will resume shortly, and I'm damn sure that as soon as our plane hits the tarmac at Leeds Bradford Airport in a couple of weeks my delicate Californian daughter is going to be suffused in drizzle and look up at me in horror, her eyes searching mine going 'but why?'.

This could be climate change, but I'm fairly sure I heard someone mention we were having a 'La Nina' year, effectively the opposite of El Nino. Both of which I would love to tell you about, being as how I am a geography graduate and all, but I sort of, ahem, missed that lecture and had to resort to my friend S's lecture notes. I remember typing them up, reading 'El Nino, 50 Thousand Pacific Sea Birds Die! Possible sunspots?' and thinking, hang on a minute, that can't be right, sounds like Miss S dozed off for a few minutes this morning if you ask me, and really, what are the chances of this esoteric geography rubbish ever coming up? Now of course I'm living it. Another one of those sterling decisions I've made in my life, like choosing not to learn Spanish in the sixth form because we were not the type of family that took package holidays to the Canary Islands. Well done, AliBlahBlah, very perceptive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I know, I know....

In my defence, my lack of posting can be explained by the fact that in the upcoming space of 10 days I have my husbands 40th, my MIL's 70th and my Mum's 60th birthdays. What the chuff? What cosmic alignment of financial fuckery is that?

Friday, April 13, 2007


I must be feeling a tad stressed lately.

First of all I start writing my usual harmless blog post about raising a child in a foreign country, only to have it dissolve into a tear-fest about raising a cuckoo (wtf?).

Now I'm apparently sleep-walking too.

I woke up last night at about midnight, presumably because I heard the sprinklers go off. I remember knowing it was the sprinklers, but part of my sleeping brain must have thought it was raining or something bizarre because I marched downstairs to where LK was comfortably drifting off in front of the TV, and hands on hips I asked him whether or not he'd brought the stuff in yet.

"Wrigs you're dreaming" he replied, popping another peanut butter cup into his mouth and casually tossing away the wrapper.

Well that just made me even more upset. The indifference. The litter!

"So you haven't done anything, even after I told you..."

"Wrigs, you're dreaming, go back to bed. What stuff?"

And that's when it hit me. I couldn't think of the stuff. The stuff that had me marching angrily down there in the first place. I had been dreaming. Bugger. Retreat. Retreat.

I was thinking about this whilst at work this morning. Thinking that I'd been sleepwalking, which is fortunately fairly unusual for me, and also thinking that LK could have been a little nicer to me thank you very much. He didn't rush to my aid, worriedly saying 'you're dreaming love, here come back to bed and don't fret', he didn't even seem mildly amused. In fact he seemed quite irritated by my sleepwalking interrupting his telly-watching. Well ex-c-use me!

Then a little later it also occurred to me how it must have felt to him, to finally be getting a bit of peace and quiet from his household of women, only to be told off by an incomprehensible somnambulist for a complete load of bollocks. Nice! I'm even mean to him when I'm asleep. Subconsciously I know he did it, whatever it is, and really does it matter? He's to blame!


Funny story about sprinklers for all of you reading this who won't have to wait until November for the first sniff of rain; when my Mum and Dad first stayed with us in California they were convinced it rained for ten minutes at 2am on the dot every morning. No joke.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Actually this post should be called 'why I need a better camera', but guess who I found staring back at me from my bathroom window?

A hummingbird nest. Sometimes California's hard to hate.

Trust me, there is a hummingbird on a nest in this picture. Although if you stare at it too long you might also see a dinosaur, a waffle-iron and the Shroud of Turin.....

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Parenting Across the Pond

I was on the phone with my Mum the other day when it came up that she didn't know what an owie was. At that moment I realized that while I consider myself a Mum rather than a Mom (oh the horror), I am an American parent.

I kid myself by telling Anna to say ladybird instead of ladybug, zebra instead of zeebra, but in reality I am learning to be a parent in a foreign country, and the parenting vernacular I'm picking up is purely Californian. Obviously a lot of how you parent comes from what you already know, and how you were brought up, but I'm realizing a lot of it also comes from observation, picking up phrases and actions you see being used by the parents around you. As such, I've started saying 'owie' and 'good job' (bleurgh) and 'time out' without really knowing or remembering what the English equivalent is. Although I do have a sneaking suspicion that the British equivalent for 'owie' is 'walk it off'.

If I was an English parent I would say 'you've been very naughty' instead of 'honey can we talk about why you felt the need to express your anger with permanent marker '. I would say 'I'm really cross' instead of 'I'm really mad'. I do say 'you make me mad', but I mean it in the English sense which is 'you're driving me round the bend, I'm up to here with chuffing Melmo'. I feel stupidly panicked that I can't recall how to parent in English. We're going home for a visit in a few weeks and I'm going to have to stop myself from obsessively listening in on English parents talking to their children, trying to absorb their figures of speech so that I can fake it when I get back to the States.

You don't lose your accent or your pronunciation when you're an ex-pat, you lose your words, your phrases, your idioms. I hear things on BBC America and think 'wait a minute, I used to say that, what have I replaced it with and why don't I say it anymore?'. I now start most of my sentences with 'so' whereas I used to end them all with 'right', I fall short of saying 'so he was all, and I was all' but I'm sure it's just another five years away. I'm writing a book about an English girl who travels to America and I'm finding it hard to give her an English 'voice'.

Anna will have playdates, she will go to pre-school and kindergarten not nursery and primary school. She will eat 'string cheese' and 'PB&Js' instead of prawn cocktail crisps and cheese and pickle sandwiches, she will have 'recess' and 'extra credit' and then later will have to decide how to deal with 'cheerleading', 'homecoming', or 'sororities', all of which turn me cold. The American Revolution will mean more to her than just imperial overstretch. The idea that Anna is going to grow up with a foreign accent, in a foreign culture is stupidly terrifying, as if she's not going to be my daughter. It's almost like I'm sitting on a giant cuckoo's egg, one that's eventually going to hatch and say 'dude, we have like, totally nothing in common, and I like can't even unnerstand you, and can you like, not talk anymore OK?'.

It hurts and it's stupid. I see the future and I feel like I'm already losing my connection to her when we've only just started.

Walk it off Mrs. K!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Car Shopping for the Mainstream

We spent most of last weekend car shopping, because our Fix Or Repair Daily was having it's guts checked in the garage. Again.

Clearly we look like we don't have two pennies to rub together (true) because we didn't get the hard sell once. We're looking for a used Toyota Highlander, leather, for about $40. Strangely we didn't find one. We did see lots and lots of Highlanders though. In fact, parental note, do not put your squirming toddler down in a dealership crammed with tightly-packed SUVs because very soon you'll realize that you can hear her, you just can't see her, and how the chuff do you find a two-foot-high two-year-old in a maze of cars? Don't yell 'Anna, chocolate' because then she'll think, 'hey great, chocolate, ermmm, where the chuff are my parents, *small panicked breath* 'Momma Momma' (escalating in panic), 'where's my chocolate' *panicked wail*. Do get on your hands and knees amongst the oil-stains in those white jeans that you thought would make you look like a wealthy potential customer, and try and spot the tiny striped leggings zig-zagging haphazardly through the tires. Then lie there and guide your husband with armed-forces precision directions like 'she's by the beige car, to the left of the champagne car heading towards the off-white car’. Good times.

Interesting aside (no, really). I used to work for a production company and we handled voice-overs for Toyota ads. I know, you're gripping the edge of your seats aren't you....., well you should know that it's just about impossible to get a Southern California voice-over to not say 'Tayoda' instead of Toyota. Try it you surfer-dudes you. You'll say it right the first time, but the third time it comes up, Tayoda I guarantee it. We had to write it out phonetically on a piece of paper and wave it in front of them.

Toyota also listed their Camry-buyers in their in-house memos as 'vanilla'. Nice. I'm sure Highlanders are listed as 'mainstream choice for dull suburbanites fighting the mini-van image'. Sold!

We didn’t buy anything because:

  1. We don’t have any money
  2. LK entered every dealership saying ‘we’re just looking, not buying, I’m not going to be rushed in to this’ - because we have one car in the shop, he’s biking to work and the other two-door twenty year old car has a multitude of warning lights flashing and we’re just fine for transportation please, we’re here to look not touch thankyou very much, we’re just fine putting a 25lb toddler in a car seat with no rear doors thankyou Mr. Chiropractor.
  3. None of the ‘green-tag, 0% financing, $1500 cash back, special reduction zone, this weekend only sales seemed to apply to us. Farging bastages.
  4. The Found On Road Dead only cost a few hundred to fix not a few thousand so lets just keep it til it gets really interesting. Russian roulette anyone? Sounds like fun.

I’d like a new car though. I’ll be working LK with my wily wiles so I suppose you'll be seeing me in that 1990 Honda Accord for many years to come.....

Cable TV

A weekend of Gray's Anatomy on the telly, homemade Maitinis and this:

I can't believe I've spent thirty-hmm years being terrified of cable. It just looks so complicated, and you needed 'equipment' too, a cable needle no less. I'm totally gobsmacked to find out it's so easy, OK, don't look too closely, because there are a couple of stitches out of whack, but please I can do this without taking my eyes off the telly, and that's what it's all about people. Surely one of the best things about knitting is that you're still technically doing something whilst watching the telly. You can convince yourself that you're not just a big couch potato, because you're 'getting stuff done'. Plus, you have your hands full, so you can't plough through an entire packet of crisps while you're doing it. Of course LK's idea of 'having your hands full' whilst watching the telly is a lot less productive.

It's starting to make me wonder what else is possible? What else have I dismissed out of hand as being too complicated that's actually a piece of cake? Windsurfing? Water skiing? Twins?