Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Plague Upon Your Home

Wow, nothing puts the idea of a third child on hold like the entire family falling ill. We've had runny noses, sore throats, diarrhea, diarrhea with blood, more blood than diarrhea and teething. All of which has meant that neither Anna nor Lucy has been capable of sleeping by themselves for more than an hour at a time in the last few days. I just looked at myself in the mirror and got a mug shot in return. A meth addict mug shot. I look done in.

I'm finally hopeful we're on the mend. Lucy took the brunt, poor thing. She started off with teething - her first top tooth, which meant two days of non stop unexplained mithering. I love her dearly, but the sound of an unhappy baby for days on end can bring you to your knees. It's a cruel fact that when they need you the most, when they're in pain and uncomfortable they are completely useless at communicating their needs. You feel like yelling what? WHAT?, when the Tylenol, the soothing, the back rubs, the bath, everything fails. 48 hours later you feel completely rotten as that tooth appears and their teary face screams "see, see what I was dealing with". Then as if to really rub it in she began sneezing, and shooting out foamy green poop. I really hope you're not eating dinner whilst reading this. Our 'experience' as parents allowed us to take the poop shoot in our stride. That sentence doesn't read right does it? Anyway, we were calm, we increased her fluids, checked her temperature, slapped the butt lotion on and took her to the beach; all the usual things.

All of sudden, what seemed like a run of the mill case of diarrhea (I'll have you know that I've written that word so often lately that for the first time in my life I can write it without having to spell check it first,...) transformed into blood-streaked poop foam and then mostly blood, every ten minutes. Things happen fast with small children, and you don't want to overreact but also you don't want to sleep on the job. We didn't know what to do. We were making dinner, it was cocktail hour.

I decided that unexplained rectal bleeding - try googling that and concluding your child will live - merited an after-hours doctor phone call. He basically said 'there's a lot of it about, slap some cream on her butt and keep her hydrated'. I felt such a fool. To make matters worse, Lucy was fine in between bouts of agonizing foam pooping and I was still reeling from getting 6 out of 10 on this 'when should you take your baby to the doctor quiz'. We concluded she was either:

a) suffering from an irritated bowel/rectum due to fighting a virus
b) had a urinary tract infection
c) had a bowel obstruction and was going to explode in a matter of minutes
d) all of the above

I think it was a). She seems brighter this afternoon. Poop-watch '09 shows a dwindling of foam and less BRIGHT! RED! BLOOD! Plus she's happily chewing on a barbie. This parenting lark is hard work.

I only want to hear comments from people who scored worse than me on the baby to the doctor quiz. Unless you're my childminder of course.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Just Rain People

I wanted to add to yesterday's alarmist post, it's just rain people, calm down. Me included. The UK grinds to a halt when it snows and Santa Barbara twitters about the first big Pacific storm of the year as if it's an ice storm, or a hurricane, or a Nor'Easter instead of a couple of days of heavy rain. We have a climate here. We don't have 'weather'. It's a phenomenon and people are completely thrown by it. It was the headline news. Patients canceled appointments, children were sent home with notes from school, people squelched around town in sodden Uggs searching for umbrellas.

Then LK phoned with the words 'everyone's OK but....'. You see, it's not just rain. It's the first big rain of the year, leaching months of oil to the surface of the roads. People don't have the benefit of wet traction tires or the experience of driving in the wet. LK had been south bound on the freeway with both girls in the back of the car when the woman in front of him braked too suddenly, hydroplaned, swerved out of control and starting spinning, pirouetting towards him in terrifying slow motion. Fortunately he is the most level-headed driver I have ever met. Thank God more like. He didn't oversteer and cause our car to slide out or even worse, flip. He gently moved over to the other lane and consequently the out of control car only clipped the back of ours on it's way in to the centre divider. Everyone was fine. Everyone was insured.

We got so lucky. My whole life was in that car. I was at home revelling in the peace and quiet of an empty house. Ironically. When they finally returned and I'd hugged everyone to within an inch of their lives, Anna looked at me with serious four-year old eyes and said 'Dada said FUCK!'.

I'll bet he did.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here Comes The Rain Again

I didn't make it to every lecture at College. For some reason it was much harder to get up for a 12 noon lecture than a 9am one. I know, it was a tough few years.

My fellow geographers and I would trade notes on any missed lectures, so our studies wouldn't suffer you understand. I recall one frigid East Anglian morning as I dozed at my desk, my toaster at my feet was my only source of heat. In blasts S. brandishing the most outlandish lecture notes I'd ever seen, and trust me, we'd had our fair share of early agricultural maize dispersal maps and post-modern polemics. Apparently S. had sat through an hour about a global climatological phenomenon called an El Nino in which 5O THOUSAND SEABIRDS DIED!! SUN SPOTS?! Her emphasis. As I re-typed the notes in to my trusty Marks and Spencer word processor and pressed save I thought ­thank God I stayed in bed and nursed my hangover on that one. Didn't miss anything there. Goodbye El Nino, won't be seeing you again.

Great decision that. On a par with me deciding not to learn Spanish in the sixth form because 'I couldn't see myself visiting Spain that much in the future'. I'm a right little clairvoyant.

It's just starting to rain as I write this. The beginning of my second El Nino in California. The first was in 1998 when we were first married. It rained so much a mudslide tore through my husband's place of work. He works outside so when it rains he doesn't work. We were newly married though and surviving on love and freeze-dried noodles. We didn't care. Now we have two hungry mouths to feed, two even hungrier mortgages and we have relocated to the bottom of a hill denuded of all vegetation by recent wildfires. This is going to be great.

El Ninos are predictably unpredictable. They happen in cycles of 2-7 years, much like my kitchen floor cleaning. A lot of research is being done in to their causes. SUN SPOTS! Scream S's notes. One sign here in Southern California is warm ocean water. If you've ever watched Baywatch and lived in So Cal you will know that every time David Hasselhof threw himself in to the surf they had to bleep him saying FUCK ME THAT'S COLD. Pamela probably had fake boobs to provide some extra insulation. Our water comes direct from Alaska. Do not pass go. Do not pick up any heat. None. That's why we use wetsuits in August and laugh at the perplexed looks on the faces of the MidWestern tourists. Right now the water is 68º, almost 10º higher than usual. Everyone
is talking about this being the bouncing 12lb newborn El Nino with no epidural.

Now I really miss rain. I miss cloudy days and cuddling up on the sofa watching a good movie. It's so hard to do that here with gorgeous blue skies chastising your idleness. Santa Barbara doesn't do drizzle. The Pacific storms slam in to our mountains and the rain pours in torrents back to the ocean, turning streets in to rivers and burn areas in to mudslides. It's primeval, humbling, and not a little scary when you're responsible for the roof over your head and the heads of several tenants.

A massive storm system is poised off the coast right now, the light rain of five minutes ago has turned in to a downpour. LK is probably looking in to getting expanded cable. I'm going to put the worrying on hold and plan on a luxurious soak in the tub with a glass of whiskey while I listen to the rain cascading down tonight.

First let me turn off the sprinklers....

Friday, October 02, 2009

What Not To Not Wear

On Mondays LK watches both girls. It's his favourite day of the week, however exhausting. Every Monday at noon he picks me up from work and we all go for a quick lunch somewhere. He gets a little help with the kids and I get to flee the Monday madness at work.

Last Monday we headed to our favourite cheap and cheerful café. For once, I was pleasantly surprised by what Anna was wearing. What is it with men dressing their kids? Sometimes the outfits sported by my daughters are so outlandish, so bizarre that it looks like a thrift store has vomited on them. A colour-blind thrift store. It's occurred to me that he may be doing it to wind me up. "That's a pyjama top" I'll hiss, or "For God's sake, those aren't leggings, those are tights, and why is she wearing a swim suit over them?!" Anna will take it one step further so sometimes there will be fairy wings or plastic princess high heels involved too.

Last Monday Anna was wearing a simple flowery dress with a coordinating t-shirt underneath. Her hair looked like she'd been electrocuted but on the whole she was presentable. As she stood by our table, twirling away 'practicing' her ballet with violent arabesques and pirouettes I gave myself a little bit of a talking to. Maybe I was being too 'matchy-matchy' anyway, requiring a coordinating outfit and neatly plaited hair. What did it really matter, she was four for God's sake. As long as she thought she was beautiful (twirl), as long as she was comfortable (grand jeté) as long as she was wearing knickers.......

.....which of course she wasn't.

I've never seen LK move so fast.