Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Did The Earth Move For You?

We had another earthquake in Santa Barbara this morning. A 5.4, fortunately centred nearly 200 miles away near Pomona. It was just a knee-trembler for us. In my *vast* experience of earthquakes there seem to be two distinct types, the 'shaker' and the 'roller'. This one was a roller; suddenly my office seemed to pitch and roll very gently, as if we were suddenly transplanted on board an ocean liner (well, a girl can dream). If I wasn't sitting at my desk I would have thought 'hmm, when was the last time I ate - feeling a little light-headed'. One look at the potted plant on my filing cabinet suddenly coming to life like a Triffid made me think otherwise though. Well, that and my assistant running in from next day going 'fucking hell did you feel that?' Perfect etiquette in front of our waiting room full of elderly patients, all no doubt in for vertigo who were probably thinking 'welcome to my world young lady'.

It was all over in a flash, like most things that end with a bloke saying 'did the earth move for you'. A quick google of 'recent earthquakes' confirmed this:

Moments later people were pretending they hadn't just been blindly running between door jambs trying to pick the most structurally sound, and instead started pontificating on the theme of 'small earthquakes are good because they relieve pressure'. Not content with this, I googled a bit further and found this:

There is a 99 percent chance of California experiencing a quake of magnitude 6.7 or larger within the next 30 years, according to the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, the California Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center and published in Science Daily in April.

I'm sorry what? A 99% chance in the next 30 years. When was the article published???. Plane ticket for the UK right here please! I have been wondering lately whether a 1 in 4000 chance of a baby with Downs was acceptable odds (a different post entirely). A 99 out of 100 chance of a massive earthquake, 'the big one' within my lifetime? Sweet dreams everyone!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

16 Weeks

16 weeks pregnant with Anna

16 weeks pregnant with creature #2

Can you spot the difference? That's right - I'm considerably more tanned this time round!!

Thanks for all your comments on this post. I have decided to repeat the pregnancy photo essay with creature #2, you were right, it does seem the only fair way.

Clearly I have no shame.

Don't worry though, it is still safe to eat food while surfing the web, I will not be broadcasting my belly on a week basis.

It appears that I'm about 3-4 weeks further along in terms of showing than last time. Case in point, my 19 week photo from last time, compared to 16 weeks this time:

Oh who am I kidding, there is clearly much more lard in photo #2, and I'm definitely 'carrying lower' (read stomach muscles not even pretending to put up a fight). But do I care? No. I am strutting this belly round like a poor man's Angelina Jolie and I don't even flinch when Anna says 'I saved a spot for you Momma, for you and your big butt'.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Bloody Utah

It was a great trip. No pun intended. We didn't win the jackpot, but when Anna went face-first into the gravel at Cedar Breaks National Park (moments after the photo below was taken) and ended up not needing stitches, I felt like we'd won the lottery.

I'm sure if we had a 3 year old boy visits to the ER would be second nature, but Anna has never done anything worse than scrape up her knees or poop a barrette, so this was a new experience.

I kept telling myself that head wounds bleed a lot, but that still doesn't prepare you for the moment when your hands are dripping with your child's blood. Plus, we had nothing in the car to take care of it, no antiseptic, no band-aids, only beef jerky and M&Ms.

Excellent parenting!

We patched her up as best we could, and within about 3 minutes she'd stopped crying and was starting to specify what colour M&Ms she wanted. While the bleeding had all but stopped though, the wound looked like the petulant mouth of a Hollywood movie star and we knew it would need putting back together. We headed out of the wilderness and well over an hour later ended up at the fantastic hospital in St George Utah. Brand spanking new, and we were the only people there. Not so implausible when you consider that driving through St. George there are no signs to the hospital?! WTF St. George. You were inviting us to any number of fast food restaurants, places to fill up with gas and get a comfy bed for the night, but emergency services? Nada. After driving through the entire town we had to pull off and ask for directions at a gas station. A little less alarming if your 3 year old is happily asleep in the back of the car, head wound gently weeping , but not so great in a true emergency. Come on St. George Hospital, splash out on a sign!

Anna was a star. She was happily oblivious to the weeping gash above her right eye, probably because she couldn't see it, and we were careful to keep our blood-stained clothing away from her. Of the 5 medical professionals we saw (welcome to a hospital in the United States) the only one who didn't question her footwear was the registration nurse, and then probably because she was also wearing crocs. We must have been asked at least four times if 'those were the shoes she had been hiking in'. A little unfair considering we were actually on a road trip and had only popped out of the car at a 'look-out point' to take a photo. *Whatever*. Apparently, crocs aren't considered suitable hiking attire. Imagine that.

Throughout the entire procedure I sat there with a grin as frozen as a 50 year old air hostess and LK kept shooting me covert glances that read 'if you freak out or freak her out you're leaving you know that don't you'. I managed to keep my maternal and pregnant hormones in check through giant force of will but the entire time I felt like excusing myself to go and have a massive cry. Nerves of steel, me. Meanwhile Anna is having a whale of time saying 'this bed has paper on it, that's silly' and 'can we go back outside and get those Skittles from that machine. I looovvee Skittles'. The docs kept asking if she'd lost consciousness but Ms. K. performed like her usual precocious self and when asked her name said 'Anna Rose, A-N-N-A'. Many points on the Glasgow coma scale I think you'll find.

The end result was her forehead glued back together and stern warnings not to get the wound wet for 5 days, which was a little sad as one of the highlights of the trip, the pool and lazy river at the MGM Grand in Vegas was yet to come. So in true Vegas style we kitted our daughter out like a chuffing freak in two waterproof band-aids, shower cap (oh yes), a sun hat, armbands and ladybird water ring. She looked like a moron:

.....but a good time was had by all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


In the past week I have;

  • Screamed abuse at my husband (whose eyebrows almost shot off his head with the speed of their upward trajectory),

  • I have been painfully blunt with my mother-in-law (never, ever a good thing)

  • I have reprimanded staff at my office with the choice words 'I'm so disappointed in both of you, you're both being ridiculously childish'. They are in their early 50s and early 60s respectively. Brilliant, Ali, *well done*.
I am wound so tight that I wake up every single night at 3am and construct arguments and flight plans in my head until I pass out again at 5am.

People have been kind enough to blame my sudden, terrifying outbursts on pregnancy hormones, but I think we all really know that that's not the truth. I feel like I'm about to lose my mind.

The sad thing is, our current situation is one that could leave me counting my blessings. Looking at my long-suffering husband, brilliant child and baseball-sized child-to-be and I could reflect that I have all I will ever really need. Except that's the problem. I'm scared to death that not only is this mess we find ourselves in sapping my will to fight, it's also leaving me a nastier person. Someone I don't want to be. Someone who thinks the bottom line is the bottom line. I am failing to cope in an insecure world and I don't like myself for it.

There are no easy solutions, and I hate whiny posts, so we're going on a road trip. That great American cure-all. We are attempting to replicate our abortive 10th anniversary trip from last year. Vegas for a couple of nights followed by LK's family cabin in Utah. A long weekend of escapism.

If we hit the jackpot the drinks are on me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Follow Through

I'm notoriously bad at this, so here's my attempt at actually following through on some things:


Good news, it's mostly out. Despite the heatwave that seems to be raging throughout the rest of the state we have been socked in with our traditional summer fog. Never has a town been so excited to see our usual 'June Gloom'.

The coverage on the fire has been worse than useless. In the first couple of days we had one or two 'reverse 911 calls' where the authorities call your home to give you an update on evacuation orders, necessary precautions etc. That was useful, but not so much when the power is out and the phones are down. We have an old-fashioned non-electric phone somewhere but trying to find that in the dark in the attic with a candle? Not going to happen. The TV channels were regurgitating the same old information from 12+ hours ago (not very useful when it comes to something that moves like, well, wildfire....) and most of Santa Barbara went about it's business trying to ignore the giant gorilla hovering in the background.

We were never under any real threat from the fire as it happens. Despite it's apparent proximity and the 60-100ft flames making it look much closer than reality we had nothing more than some poor air quality and a flurry of ash making it look like 'Cuhmissmass' in July per Anna.

On the plus side. Firemen!! Over the weekend the town was absolutely crawling with them, you couldn't reach a coffee shop without tripping over a pack of grubby yet charming out of town firefighters. No bad thing. Hard to hide the toddler, the wedding ring and the baby bump but you know I tried....


Just when you thought it was safe to return to these waters...I'm going to start talking about the foetus again. I'm starting to show and a couple of people have done the comedy 'I know I'm going to regret asking this, but are you, possibly, I mean, you're usually on the slimmer side, so' etc etc. I like to watch them squirm. I'm generally giving it away by subconsciously caressing my stomach at every given opportunity. Mother Nature is working her wily ways and almost despite myself I'm giving creature #2 a gentle pat every, oh, 3 seconds or so. I swear I don't even realize I'm doing it. I'm not that affected honest.

I'd been feeling better until suddenly out of the blue on Tuesday I started throwing up like a cholera victim. (Do they throw up or just leak bodily fluids? If only I had the time and energy to research..). Poor old Anna got to witness the entire display with eyes like dinner plates while I gently urged her to please (urrgghh) go downstairs (urrggghhhh!) to Dada (bleurrrgghh). This is the first and only time I've thrown up this pregnancy. I only threw up once last time too so hopefully I'm done.


Currently at home from school with a nasty cold which I can feel heading my way considering how many times she's sneezed up my nose in the last 24 hours. Something about her feeling poorly makes her want to squash her little mucous-ridden face next to mine and share my breath for an entire night.

So that's all folks. No flambe'd K household. Baby still plumping and growing. Toddler sneezing and watching Go Diego Go.

Why don't more people read this blog?!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Surprise Ingredient

I'm starting to feel human again. Anything that smells more pungent than boiled water is no longer abhorrent to me. At the time I thought I was doing OK, just a little off colour, a little sensitive to smell, that was all. Now that I'm feeling better I realize just how out of whack my system was. For example, I can now open the fridge without experiencing an overwhelming wave of nausea. I can go five minutes without reaching for dry crackers. Excellent progress. My diet has now progressed beyond plain pasta with cheese on top. I am able to contemplate chicken, even red meat without breaking into a sweat.

As usual though, it takes a family member to bring me grinding to a halt.

We went to LK's Dad's last night for dinner. His Dad is an amazing cook. Resolutely refusing to enter the kitchen during his entire 20 year marriage to LK's Mum, he overnight transformed into a dedicated and creative gourmet. Much to her chagrin I'm sure.

It's not entirely easy being his daughter-in-law, when you go over for dinner and are presented with a handcrafted cioppino, clams freshly dug that morning, just the right amount of saffron infusing the sauce. Makes it a little difficult to reciprocate with 'that chicken recipe' I do. Or possibly 'that thing involving salmon'. Anyway. Despite his very teutonic heritage he is a remarkable cook (and I can say that, because us Brits aren't exactly known for our culinary history either....).

Sometimes though he can err on the side of dude, what the fuck were you thinking.

Take last night. Homemade ribs boiled in apple juice then charcoal grilled with his own special sauce. On the side we had a beet salad. His latest creation. Now I love beetroot. Pickled beetroot was somewhat of a staple at our house. In fact my brother had an unfortunate incident with a surfeit of beetroot and some purple wee as I recall.... So I was game for beet salad.

'I want to see if you guys can guess the secret ingredient' LK's Dad smirked. We'd already failed to guess the secret addition of turmeric to the garlic bread (the vivid yellow colour should have been our first clue). We all took a big bite to see if we could guess.

Can you guess? What the secret ingredient in his beet salad was?

Pickled Herring!!!

I was surprised!!

Not exactly what my newly recovered appetite was yearning for I have to say. Two weeks ago I think I would have curled up a died.

Don't you think that's a bit odd? I know the northern Europeans have a predilection for things pickled and fishy - even in the north of England you can get a 'roll mop' at almost any supermarket. Not that I have of course.

I'm plotting my revenge. I'm thinking of having them over for dinner next week, cooking up a quick something for dessert, like maybe a chocolate mousse, and slipping a sly anchovy into the mix.


Friday, July 04, 2008

For Once This Is Not About The Baby...

Last year when wildfires threatened our home, I packed our 'grab-n-go' box and found $600 in my travel wallet that I'd forgotten about from our trip to the UK a few months earlier. Nice one! No such luck this time. I am acutely aware of the state of our finances, to the very penny picked up off the street. So aware, that I'm a little disappointed that this weekend's fire isn't a tad closer to our house.

I'm only half joking.

We went out to a concert last night (as you do, if a major wildfire threatens to engulf your town - and as you can see we weren't the only ones), the fire looming in the background, and we discussed what we'd pack.

We decided on:

The Hard Drive (a close second)
Passports/ID cards/Birth Certificates etc
Deed to the apartment building
Insurance policy
The jewelery that I wear every day.

I would have been sad to leave our bed behind (it belonged to LK's grandparents, funky carved wood from the 1950s), but LK reassured me he could easily handcraft another one from memory (?!).

That was IT.

The rest is just stuff. Replaceable stuff. Rather humbling and freeing actually.

I'm sure it would be very different if (when?) the fire is 500 yards from our house instead of 5-10 miles but still it was amazing how short our list was and how completely in agreement we were on our choices.

Whoops, I forgot the guinea pig. Sorry Louis.

The fish is on his own.

Right now the fire is 10% contained and despite the massive infernos raging in Big Sur the Goleta fire is ranked #1 in terms of emergent threat because of its proximity to a major urban area (us). The TV crew were oddly jubilant about that fact on last night's emergency broadcast.

I was nervous last night as the fire hit a sub-station and our power went out. It was also alarming to see the DC-10s lumbering across the sky this morning to dump water on the fire. I will also be worried tonight as the sundowner winds pick up and we discover which direction the fire will spread. The firefighters do an amazing job, but faced with wind, fire is an unstoppable force. About 20 years ago the Painted Cave Fire tore through Santa Barbara with the force and sound of a freight train. It was so powerful it jumped six lanes of freeway and burned all the way to the ocean. There are no guarantees that won't happen again. It is also rather alarming to note that there is one road in to Santa Barbara and one road out (now that the 154 is closed due to the fire). It will be hard to swim with a hard-drive. The guinea pig will be on his own. The fish will be fine.

So tonight, as we stand on a friend's balcony watching the 4th of July fireworks (amazingly still going ahead - a little inappropriate perhaps?!), we will be looking over our shoulder at the more impressive display behind us and keeping our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Belly Shots

Those days when a belly shot involved my navel and alcohol are sadly long gone (oh who am I kidding, we never did that in the College library...).

When I was pregnant with Anna I took a photo of my ever-growing belly every Saturday morning. Or rather LK did, with varying degrees of reluctance.

I started at 4 months because there were no real changes before then. Here's the final progression with the last shot at 40 weeks. Despite the gargantuan size of the final belly I think I'm honestly more terrified at the array of casual clothing detailed in the shots. Must strive for more tasteful apparel this pregnancy. In my defence the heinous red pyjama bottoms in photo #2 were my attempt to celebrate Christmas. I will burn them I promise.....

I'm in two minds about whether to do it again this time (the photos, not the pregnancy). At 12 weeks plus I'm already approaching the 17 week mark from last time. One month ahead of the game - clearly my stomach muscles are not as excited about this pregnancy as I am. On the other hand, I don't want to deprive creature #2 of it's own moment in the sun (literally in the sun as the florid sunburn in the second to last photo shows).

What do you think? Should I restart at week 16 for continuity's sake? Should I, for the love of God cover the damn thing up as you're trying to start the day and are now feeling nauseous?