Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Awake, My Doves!

Some parents have a problem with their kids waking them up at the crack of dawn. These are usually the kind of disciplined parents who do not have their 2 year old watching Jon Stewart with them at 11pm.

Because of our night-owls (lazy parenting) we have issues getting our two up in the morning. Especially when it's cold, and by cold I mean slap a scarf over that long-sleeve t-shirt you Californians and try and remember which drawer you keep your socks in!

In the past I have used all sorts of cheap tricks to get Anna to wake up in time for school, "Oh look! Three baby guinea pigs!" being a particular favourite. That will definitely grab her attention, but she won't be a happy camper when you try and explain the guinea pigs 'just disappeared.'

LK reported a particularly hard morning today. ­ I'd woken the girls, dressed them, fed them breakfast, made their lunches, he just had to get them out of the door, but apparently "it would be easier to paint the toenails of a wolverine than put shoes on Lucy when she doesn't want them." I thought that captured things perfectly.

In December we have a reprieve though (and not just from NaBloPoMo - ­ thanks for your support Spanna it made my day!). In December we have Advent Calendars!! Anna will leap out of bed at the promise of a tiny chocolate and a new Christmas ornament. OK, so it only accomplishes getting them out of bed, and does nothing for hair-brushing, dressing, breakfasting or for-gods-sake-stop-talking, but it's a help.

Warning ­ advent calendar 'guaranteed get your child out of bed early' program may have an adverse effect on weekends.

Hooray! NaBloPoMo is done!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Comfort Measures

Lucy is a boob-hound. She is obsessed with boobs. If you hold her, or sit next to her it only takes a second for her hand to start snaking under your shirt to find your nipple. It's like hanging out with a fourteen year old boy. It happens so frequently that I don't even notice it these days, only registering a social gaffe when I see the person I'm talking to make the 'oh my God her child has her hand down her blouse and she's not even batting an eyelid' face. It's rather like having a dog that's not allowed on the couch. You swear you say no, but ten minutes later you realize you're not only sharing your seat with a dog, you're stroking it too.

The funny thing is ­ it's not just my boobs she's after. She prefers mine, who wouldn't, but anyone's will do. And I mean anyone. We had to forewarn her current preschool, because a hand rooting around inside your bra can be quite a shock ­ however small and innocent its owner. Then there's the fact that she will quite happily grab LK's nipple or even Anna's. Now that's funny. There they both are, a five year old and a two year old watching TV and Lucy has her hand on Anna's chest.

Obviously it's a comfort thing, and I fully expect it to disappear well before she heads off to college, it's just hysterical that she clearly doesn't know why she's fascinated with the boob.

I can't believe I'm writing all this stuff down as if it's completely normal. I think that sums parenthood up in a nutshell.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We spent the majority of this weekend scrambling to fix up one of our rentals. For a holiday devoted to hearth and home, we spent a depressing amount of time at Home Improvement Centers, closing out Bed Bath & Beyond, and OSH. It's a painful time of year to be shopping for curtains for somebody else's apartment. Sorry Anna we won't be going to the Nutcracker this year, but check out these draperies - only $24.99 a panel!

We had some tenants moving out this weekend, and then, 'oh no, we're not, we decided to stay' but then, 'we can't find a 3rd roommate so we probably are leaving after all'. Do you want to know how much fun it is to find tenants on Thanksgiving weekend? Not that much fun. The upshot was, they're staying, but we agreed to spruce the place up a bit so they could attract decent roommates.

I love watching home makeover shows, but when your budget consists of pixie dust and fairy wings it's pretty depressing. It's also interesting how I consider the most cost-effective improvement to be switching out broken blinds in favour of curtains and LK thinks new outlet covers will really attract the eye. We're both ignoring the salmon pink floor tile in the entry way.

I sighed to my friend Jen, at a brief reprieve at a 6 years old's birthday party. "I mean seriously, curtains will make it look a lot less like a crack house."

"What, and more like a crack home?" She replied.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tis The Season

This has been without doubt the worst year of my life, and it looks like it's going to go out with a bang.

I didn't realize it was possible to live at this level of hyper-anxiety permanently. I wish I could switch off, I wish I could pop a pill, but I refuse to medicate something that is entirely rational, understandable and situational. Instead I am just going to attempt to stop worrying. In essence I am going to take a month off from caring. I am going to let someone else figure out how we're going to get out of this one, or not, we'll just see what happens.

It's not my problem. I am giving up for a month. I am reclaiming my life and my peace of mind.

Maybe I'm broken, maybe I'm free.

Fuck it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Well, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words when you're getting towards the end of NaBloPoMo and running out of steam.

Here's Lucy sleeping whilst sitting up. Practicing for College lectures.

Thanks Jen!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Origin of Thanksgiving

In an attempt to embrace my new culture, I asked Anna what Thanksgiving was all about.

"Well Momma, it actually began in England"

Really? I thought - this is going to be good.

"Well, they had a new King but he was bad and wouldn't let them have their own rules so the pilgrims" - pause for enormity of knowledge of new word to sink in - "they decided to find America. A lot of them got sick on the boat and only a few people made it. When they got here they wrote on a rock, so that they would know how to get back to their King, except they probably didn't want to because he was not good. Anyway they didn't know how to plant and they had no houses so they asked the Indians who got here a bit before them." Exhausted sigh. "Can I watch Dinosaur Train now?"

Me: "But why do we have Thanksgiving Dinner?"

Anna: "I don't know. That was just the First Thanksgiving but it has nothing to do with our Thanksgiving".

Or, we can listen to the Eddie Izzard version, which is definitely my preferred Thanksgiving story:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Games We Play

Now that Anna has reached the grand old age of nearly five and a half, games are becoming more sophisticated. Nothing will spur on a parent more to organize a playdate than having to role-play "I am the Queen of China and you are a villager who comes to give me gifts. No, you're doing it wrong, bow first, then give me the gift, and wear a costume ­ Momma where is your costume?! No! I wear the crown! Lucy can be a tiger. No! She's doing it wrong, Momma, take her out of here, and Momma you need to try that again." She catches my wounded expression. "Well, it was quite good Momma, but I really know you can do better!".

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I don't know where she gets the bossiness, really I don't.

Some of the old favourites are still going strong. Hide and seek is a big hit in this house, or 'hide and go seek' if you're American. Actually 'go seek' would have been a better descriptor for the last couple of years, because Anna's favourite hide-out would be on the bed, not even under the covers. Hiding in plain sight - ­ my little philosopher. Then of course there's Lucy, who beingalmost two, merely covers her eyes and 'disappears' while asking 'Where Sucey?'. It's a barrel of laughs round our house.

We all have our favourite hiding spots. On our property there are two trees in the front yard. Anna loves playing hide and seek between these two trees. Oh the suspense! Which tree! The giggling usually gives it away. I always hide behind the curtains -­ a fact that was duly noted and repeated at every turn. "Coming ready or not!" I would cry and there would be an excited scream of "look behind the curtains!!!!". Anna Frank she is not.

She is getting much better at hiding now, but will occasionally slip up, case in point last night when she said "Momma, let's play hide and seek. I'm really good at it now that the trampoline is out."


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Toy Story Too

Following on from the last post, ‘Doll’ and ‘Bobot’ are ‘Woody’ and ‘Buzz Lightyear’ from Toy Story, and Lucy adores them.

They belonged to our friends Sophie and Kate. Lucy has inherited them. I like to think it’s because, as in the movie, they had moved on from such childish things, and Lucy was the glad recipient. Although I have a feeling Lucy may have strong-armed them away. They are completely and unconditionally loved. They go everywhere with her. Anna was never so attached to toys, so this is new territory for me. “Bobot?” Lucy will cry in the middle of the night “Bobot, are you?” if he’s not within arms reach.

It will break my heart when she finally moves on from these two. I can’t imagine I will find a home for two such scruffy characters, they are literally being loved to death and have already been the recipients of emergency surgery. If you look closely, Bobot still needs a little patching, but having watched Toy Story (a mere three million times), what can I do? What do you do with Buzz and Woody when they're surplus to requirements? You can't garage sale them, you can't donate them to a kids school in case they end up in the dreaded toddler room, you can't keep them in the attic til your kids have kids of their own. That movie has made it clear that you have to find another good home. I may consider a third child just to carry on the franchise.

Toy Story has a lot to answer for.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Toy Story

If any photo summed up my youngest daughter it would be this one:

I love the way, she's going, 'what?'

She is a bit of a kleptomaniac. Perhaps it comes from being a somewhat neglected second child, and that means clinging with absolute desperation to what is exclusively hers. She is obsessed with this ladybird/ladybug swim ring (apologies, I have dualing nationalities). If she sees it, she has to wear it. “Swimming?” she will ask at 8:57pm, as if that’s the most natural thing in the world. “Sucey go swimming?” she says as I try to get everyone out of the door for school. She likes to be prepared. Imagine the horror of being caught at a pool without ladybird.

I used to be one of those childless eye-rollers, the ones who would think, what sap of an adult is letting their toddler wear a flotation device in Trader Joes? Who is the adult in this situation? Who is in control?

The truth is, you pick your battles. She has an iron will, and this lady’s not for turning. Which is why Lucy was wearing a ladybird ring, and clutching ‘Doll’ and ‘Bobot’ as we did some last minute pre-book club grocery shopping. It was a tight fit in that shopping trolley. I joked that she was expecting a flash flood, it was forecast for rain after all. The cashier gave me a look that read ‘lady, get a grip’.

Maybe I forgot to mention that Lucy was also brandishing a toothbrush.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dramatic Chipmunk

LK went to High School with the guy who put this together. After all the recent Citizenship stuff I thought it was about time for a little light relief.

Mrs Foster - I think of you every time I see this. I don't know why.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Welcome To America

My Citizenship Oath Ceremony was very special, an intimate and private moment, just me and 3,000 of my closest friends in an event hall at the Pomona Fairplex:

That's 3,000 applicants who'd all brought their families to share in their special day. Everybody's letter said 'Pomona Fairplex, Building 4, 8am'.

10,000 people all trying to be in one building at 8am on the nose. Of course, no-one realized quite how big the event was, so when you're stuck in traffic trying to get in to the Fairplex, and you're already twenty minutes late for your really important legal proceeding, and you're not sure if you're in the correct queue or accidentally in line for a Monster Truck Rally, you can get a tad anxious.

Did I mention that one of the main reasons I became a citizen was so that I would NEVER have to deal with the INS again?

I obviously wasn't the only one dealing badly with the stress of it all - as we filed like cattle in to the warehouse, Anna pointed out a big lake of 'barf' on the tarmac. Nice. At the entrance to the building we were separated and I waved goodbye to my family. So much for having the girls learn about the Citizenship process. We hadn't planned for that, so I had the spare diapers in my handbag and throughout the next 2 hours LK sent me texts like 'how much longer???' or 'situation critical, she's going to blow!'

We waited an age for everyone to file in - in the meantime we were encouraged to fill out our voter registration paperwork - but, and they repeated this several times 'please do not sign it as you are not citizens yet'.


The proceedings finally kicked off 75 minutes late, and we all stood up to swear our oath. Except, given the logistics of everything, it's very hard to hear someone addressing 10,000 people, so I *may* have failed to speak every line, and I *may* have failed to renounce any allegiance to any foreign prince or potentate. Quite frankly, uttering an oath like that only days after Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton should be unconstitutional. I know where my allegiances truly lie.

Then the Judge gave his own inspirational story of his family's journey to America, and he congratulated us on making a great decision for ourselves and for our families, and said "Isn't America the best country in the world! Isn't it? Let's see those flags - wave those flags!".

This was a Citizenship ceremony, so a little jingoism could be expected. But then....

We were given a recorded video address by Barack Obama, which was great, appropriate, and humbling. He addressed us as 'my fellow Americans' and spoke of the privileges and responsibilities of being a citizen. This was what I was expecting.

What I wasn't anticipating was the music video of 'Proud To Be An American' by Lee Greenwood. As my friend Mooks later said, maybe a short film by Ken Burns, something a little classier? But no, country music, tacky patriotism by Disney. Urgh.

I don't know what I was really expecting from the ceremony. Something a little less industrial, definitely. I don't know why they don't do it on a smaller, more civic level. I know they used to. Perhaps the numbers are too large, the costs too enormous. It certainly was a little overwhelming.

As for me, I didn't think I would feel any different. My friend Jen put it perfectly, it's like marrying a bloke you've been living with for fifteen years, I didn't really expect it to change anything (except I'm waiting for the jury duty summons - any day now....). My friends helped me celebrate; an apple pie, a sweet Obama '08 t-shirt, champagne, and this:

In the end I was surprised though. We drove back up the coast, past a perfect Malibu sunset and it suddenly hit me that I'm American now. I had my Ken Burns moment. This land is my land. I'm not any less British, but I belong here now too. (and lets not dwell on how much debt I've just inherited....)

I think that's going to take a little getting used to, for both of us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Living The Dream

I am hosting Book Club in 3 hours. This is my kitchen.

3 hours, and counting....

** Updated to add: LK put the sink in, but didn't have time to attach it, so, no running water, but at least the place looked good. This is California after all, and as long as something looks the part, it doesn't actually have to have a function (like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). Apparently the pipe had just completely corroded through.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Don't Say

I have so much I want to tell you about the Citizenship process, but I am facing a mountain of work a mile high, so I will tide you over with this gem:

Me: "This foggy morning makes it all seem really autumnal"

Anna: "What's 'autumnal'?"

Me: "Autumn-like, you know, fall."

Anna: "It's foll Momma, not fawl. *sigh*. I think you're forgetting you need to speak American now that youre a citizen."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today I became an American.

I think this photo, with the 'hot dog on a stick' stand behind me sums the occasion up very nicely. Oh, and notice the bizarre shaft of sunlight that's hitting my certificate. Under God after all perhaps?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gettin' Busy

The date for my Oath Ceremony is fast approaching, and I've been forwarded a questionnaire to complete prior to the big day. In the THREE WEEKS since I had my naturalization interview they want to know if:

  • I've married, divorced or been widowed
  • Practiced polygamy
  • Received income from illegal gambling
  • Been a prostitute
  • Procured anyone else for prostitution
  • Been involved in any unlawful commercialized vice
  • Encouraged an alien to illegally enter the US
  • Trafficked drugs or marijuana (why are they separate?)
  • Joined the Communist Party
  • Been a habitual drunkard.
I'm starting to wonder about this country of yours (soon to be mine).

On the other hand my blog would be a damn sight more interesting if even half of those had occurred during NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

This weekend the weather was absolutely glorious. California glorious. When I first moved here and people would say 'wow, the weather's perfect today' I would look at them with blank incomprehension and think - the weather's always perfect. We haven't had sideways sleet, black ice, drizzle, icy showers or gale force winds in years, if ever.

Now that I've lived here long enough, I can discern an exceptional day from a bog-standard brilliant day. Like a sommelier of the weather, I can detect those top notes of sapphire blue skies, a faint whisper of wind, an ever so slight chill in the shade, soft golden sunlight making the winter flowers glow, and finally everything rounded out by a crisp, cool evening.

I took the girls for a walk up to the Mission. We stopped to chat with a neighbour at her rose-covered garden gate - her daughter goes to Anna's Kindergarten and they started planning a playdate for the next day. We strolled through parks, fed the ducks, bumped into an old friend who we have lost to 22 units of college this Semester. On our return the lady at the corner store was toasting the birth of her niece's baby and was giving out candy to all the children.

Perfect. This is why people move to Southern California.

Except (and you sort of knew this was coming didn't you?) this same neighbourhood was rocked by an horrific gang-beating that left our other corner store owner dead 3 weeks ago as he walked home from work. A couple of days later someone was brutally stabbed at 3:30 in the afternoon.

50 yards from our front door.

The first I knew of it was LK and Anna coming back from the movies (Legend of the Guardians - don't do it to yourself, even Anna hated it), they'd had trouble getting to the house because the street was all cordoned off with police tape. There were police cars and ambulances everywhere. There had been reports of a fight, screeching tires, there was blood all over the sidewalk and no sign of the victims. Police were advising everyone to stay indoors.

So of course everyone gathered on the corner to stare.

The police said it was gang related. Why else would the stab victims flee? Gang members never press charges, they have their own courts. They also said we would never see it in the paper or hear it on the news. It happens all the time, they said, except this is a tourist town, so it doesn't really happen, you see.

They were right, nothing was ever reported, no charges were ever filed.

There are two main gangs in Santa Barbara, the Eastsiders and the Westsiders. Original, no? We live on the Eastside. Two of the houses on the street that abuts ours are gang houses. People are coming and going at all hours, cars double-parked and idling, occasional parties that go on all night and erupt in to street fighting. You know, the usual.

Am I scared of living so close to it all? Well yes, obviously. Except to them we don't exist, we are no threat to them, we mean nothing to them. They are Hispanic, but then so are a lot of our really friendly neighbours, the difference is they've chosen to align themselves with a gang. We have not, so we don't exist. In all honesty I think living close to a busy road would be more of a threat to my family. The police said the same is true of pretty much every neighbourhood in this town.

Would I prefer to live across the road from sheep fields like where I grew up? Of course. Except you have to wear wellies all the time. That's not an option right now though, so we carry on here. And honestly, the burglary rate and car theft rate in the gentrified town where I grew up is much higher than here. You pick your poison.

Sometimes I'm scared, but mostly I walk past with my girls in the stroller on the way to get an ice-cream and I pretend that we live in 'Santa Barbara' instead of South Central LA.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mostly Wordless Weekend: Part One

Drinking wine last night around the fire pit. Yes I know it's November, that's why one of us is wearing a scarf.

Socks and a scarf would mean it was December.

And unseasonably cold.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I have the hardest time finding half-decent greetings cards over here. I think I'm looking in the wrong places, because I know you people have a sense of humour - case in point the fact you all now think it's the Democrats who made a mess of the economy. Good one.

My sister-in-law sent me an absolute corker for my birthday:

See what I mean? How funny is that? Well, I mentioned the dearth of really good cards to my sister-in-law, and lo and behold, what do I get in the post from England yesterday? Cards!! Except the problem is I've already broadcast it live on the interweb, so I'll just have to find some techno phobe to send them to.

Thanks Lorna!!!

PS - If anyone has any suggestions for where to pick up really funny cards over here, so I can return the favour to Lorna with a decent birthday card, I'd really appreciate it, thanks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is one of those fake holidays in the US. Fake because the only people who get to officially observe the holiday are Government workers and schools. The rest of us have to patch together childcare and carry on regardless. That's not to say the cause isn't worthwhile, not at all. Lance's Dad is a veteran, so what better way to reward his service than to make him look after his granddaughters for the morning?

Any longer than a morning and there would be casualties, likely on both sides.

"This is no way to treat a Veteran" he grumbled. But of course he loves it. He is a great childminder, he is ever so slightly hard of hearing, and that coupled with Anna's propensity to talk all the time is a great combination. Then there's Lucy. She's up for anyone who's prepared to sit with her and read a book and provide a decent lap to nap in.

The photo is a little grainy, because LK was using a zoom against a bright light - but this is what he found at lunchtime:

Anna playing quietly by herself upstairs, and the other two out for the count downstairs!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Anna is racing right along with this reading/writing malarkey. She's reading Harry Potter at night (heavily assisted) and she even suggested we play hangman - she would pick the word.

Can you guess what it is? The tension was high - only one letter left to guess, and my man was very nearly toast. N _ E M. Four letter word??

I will admit to playing a fair amount of iPhone scrabble (OK, I'm an addict), and this had me stumped.

Anna hates to see people lose. "If you choose a letter at the beginning of the alphabet you may be lucky!" she sang.


She tried harder - perhaps she was being a little obscure? "Momma, if you pick an A you may get a happy ending!!"

Happy ending? This girl has been spending too much time with her father...

Yes, you've guessed it, this was the word:

Naem (name). The reason you don't play hangman with a 5-year old.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

If Chickens Could Swear

Overheard at Anna's school whilst waiting for the Kindergartener's (with minds like snow.....) to return from a field trip.

1st Grader:
"Yeah, well I know a word that's worse than that"
Me, straining to hear
Other Ist Grader: "What?"
1st Grader: "FLUCK!"

I plan to be an early adopter.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Leaf Fishing

You would think that two full days alone in a foreign city with two small children would be daunting, maybe even in a nightmare. It had occurred to me that entertaining them, even with the likes of the San Diego Zoo in my arsenal, would be challenging.

It was so much fun. For the record, spending time with my two tiny ladies is brilliant – they make the best dates. They are just so enthused about everything. I think we were all excited to finally leave Santa Barbara for a few days, but even I couldn’t muster that much excitement about row upon row of elephants. Not so Lucy, "wow" she would say, then "oh, wow" at the next one, then "elephant" with a serious nod, as if to say, ‘dude, what are the chances?’.

Yes, they had their moments, usually on LK’s watch I’m afraid. They did not sleep well. Lucy projectile vomited two out of the three nights, liberally spraying everything in her vicinity. Sorry Hampton Inn! We think it was because she wasn’t sure of her surroundings, didn’t want to fall asleep in a foreign bed, and so kept asking for a ‘bottle’ to seek comfort (much like her father). The fact that we gave her four bottles in the space of two hours may have explained things. She didn’t so much vomit as pop. Then Anna had violent earache on the second night. They’ve both had a cold, so we immediately thought, crap, ear infection. LK confessed he was worried about us finding an urgent care in a foreign city – I was more worried about the chances of them getting out of network billing right (slim). In the end after a night of tearful ‘ouchy’, *sob*, ‘ouchy’ she woke up right as rain. We think maybe it was pool water stuck in her ear, exacerbated by the remains of a cold. Whatever it was, thank god it disappeared as fast as it struck.

Aren’t you noticing a marked decrease in the scintillation factor since I’ve been posting every day??!

And of course, they may be great company, but usually your date on a fun trip to the zoo does not fling herself in to a fountain, necessitating a full strip-down, towel off with a sweatshirt, all the while screaming til they’re puce and stamping their feet at the sheer indignity of it all.

Guess what happened next?

That sort of thing comes with the territory, but the rest more than made up for it. On the second day we were heading for the Natural History Museum (free with our SB Natural History Museum membership). I parked in the Science Museum carpark, right underneath a sign saying ‘Kid City’. "Oh Momma" breathed Anna. "It’s just for kids, five and under. It’s a Kid City."

They had a blast, and I had the best time watching them. It’s true that nothing beats the feeling of making someone else happy. Which is why Anna ending up getting her face painted ($12) at Legoland, $1 extra for glitter – that’s right, a surcharge - your five year old is sitting there, and you’re supposed to say no to glitter? Shame on you Legoland.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Los Angeles to San Diego is a megalopolis, home to 22 million people. For two and a half hours you drive through non-stop urban sprawl, stucco, outlets, and six lanes of traffic. Every five minutes you drive past a McDonalds and a Starbucks, every ten minutes a Target, and every thirty minutes an Ikea. The scenery could be on continuous repeat, like the background in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but you'd never know. Unless you get stuck in traffic, and then you get to sit outside that Discount Sofa World for fifteen minutes, and really get a chance to consider its uniqueness.

I have a new weapon in my co-pilot arsenal though. www.sigalert.com. If you live and drive in Southern California you should definitely get to know it. It gives an instant colour-coded snapshot of the freeway traffic through LA, Orange County, San Diego. Instant flagged alerts of accidents, and visual confirmation of free-flowing alternate routes. Genius.

And that's all I have to say on our 3 hour drive back from Legoland. Well, that and this photo of Anna "I was not napping, I am 5, I do not nap" K.

Back to non-HTML posting tomorrow. Thank God!

Updated to add: we just drove past Anna's best friend, in six lanes of traffic, 120 miles from home. Apparently they recognized us by the British flag on the back of our car. I think the universe knows I'm posting about So Cal faceless anonymity and just gave me a giant cosmic 'you don't know nothing, beotch'.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

San Diego Zoo

Posting to this blog using my phone is about as user-friendly as hand-illustrating every letter in a Gregorian manuscript, so......I bring you thoughts on the San Diego zoo, in brief.

Real life Pandas, surprisingly small
Stuffed pandas, unsurprisingly expensive but unconditionally ADORED by Lucy.
Who knew the world had so many monkeys.
How can you be 37 and never hear of a Takin?
Look at that thing, it's huge!
'Takin care of business' on continuous loop in brain
Nobody wants to look at fossils!
100 degrees in November. WTF.
That tiger looks pissed off.
Girls too excited/exciteable to nap.
Lucy fell in 2 inch deep fountain.
Total immersion
What are the chances?
Brilliant time had by all, even Lucy.
Especially Lucy.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Anna said now that she's five she should be able to pack her own suitcase. We are away from home for three days. She packed:

Two dresses
Two nighties
No knickers
No shoes
One tiara (large, Cinderella)
Two ponies, one unicorn
Multi-coloured heart stickers (for emergencies?
A bald-headed eagle
Assorted small plastic animals (to introduce to their friends at the San Diego zoo)
Small treasure box (for small treasures)
Tiny treasure box (for tiny treasures)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Getting Away

Where do you go on holiday if you live in a world-class vacation destination? If the beach is on your doorstep, temperatures hover in the 80s in November, and you can't get a latte at your local Starbucks without tripping over Hollywood's finest? It would seem that Hawaii, Mexico or Tahoe for skiing is the answer for most Santa Barbarans, although quite frankly the real answer is nowhere. Have you see our house prices? If your property taxes alone are higher than the average American's annual take-home pay, then you'll be spending those five precious vacation days in your tiny home, eating freeze-dried noodles.

Apart from my happily childless friends I don't know of anyone who has been on vacation in the last few years - except to visit far-flung family members that is. Anna even said "when we have the next fire (read wildfire evacuation) can we go back to the Monterey Aquarium? That was fun." Poor child. Which is why we're all so excited to be getting out of town this weekend. LK has to attend a two day seminar for work, and the closest location just happens to be San Diego. I must be hard-up for a holiday when I will consider two days of theme parks alone with two small children a break. I'm excited though. I've never been to San Diego, I've never seen a panda, or a killer whale, or a non-Danish Legoland.

It goes without saying that we can't afford it, but the fates are clearly on our side, because just when I was fretting the cost of the weekend a check arrived from Google Ads from all you lovely people clicking the ads on this website. That and a coupon from my friend Chilly just may mean we can splash out on the San Diego zoo and a small plush panda. Good times.

It's NaBloPoMo so I'll be trying to post whilst down there, but I haven't worked out how to post photos from my phone yet, so you may have to wait till Monday for that photo of me pushing two screaming and over-stimulated children round the world's largest zoo...... I bet you can't wait.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What's Not To Love?

I you ask any kid what they like most about Halloween, they will answer, candy. Getting to wear a costume may rank a distant second, but it seems 90% of the girls I see at our uniform-less California Kindergarten are wearing either a tutu, wings, a tiara or sparkly ruby slippers on a daily basis, so costume may actually be today's ready-to-wear.

Which makes it more than a little odd that Anna collected a big bag of sugary swag on Halloween night, poured her sister's stash in there too, and promptly forgot about it. We never took it home, and it has since been raided by two presumably now-diabetic dogs.

Anna hasn't mentioned it since.

Two full days, not a whisper. I'm the one craving Dots and Almond Joys, she doesn't appear to have noticed.

In fact, she said to me the other day...."Mom, you know why Halloween is so awesome? Because even if the Lakers are on, the Dads still have to spend time with their kids."

It appears that time with her Dad is better than candy. Or he spends far too much time watching the Lakers.

Only 79 regular season games to go!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Separation of Church and Fête

If you can’t recognize the characters behind these costumes, then lucky you for not having succumbed to the brainwashing of kids TV.

If you are able to put names with faces, then I commiserate with you my friend.

For Halloween the K family presented:

  • DJ Lance
  • His sidekick Foofah
  • Merliah (from Barbie A Mermaid Tale)
  • A very dull witch who bought costumes for everyone but herself and seemed to forget that she looks like crap in head to toe black.

I love Halloween over here, and Halloween with two small children is just brilliant fun, and yes I can still say that after cutting out over 100 cardboard bats at Anna’s school on Friday.

Anna shot out of bed on Sunday morning at the prospect of trick-or-treating. She was skipping and pirouetting with anticipation all day, which became a little annoying after, oh, ten minutes.

Unfortunately there is just no way that we could consider trick-of-treating in our neighbourhood as we live in more of a downtown gangland stab-zone rather than a suburban family idyll, (if you think I’m joking because I live in Santa Barbara, stay tuned for future posts about my neighbourhood, and its recent stabbings. Yes, plural.).

Fortunately we have friends in happy nappy valley, and they do still talk to us after being Lucy’s second family for nearly a year and a half - and they also have a fantastic annual Halloween party. Lucy (aka Foofah) broke all our hearts by giving Jen a ten minute clavicle-burrowing hug upon seeing her again – leaving us in no doubt as to which family she actually prefers (the
family with the trampoline).

We were just peeling Lucy from Jen and Anna from the ceiling, ready to venture out in to the melee, when Jen’s daughter returned with a sack of candy and a note that ‘some guy’ had given her in lieu of candy.

Do you want to know what the note said?

It was a printed missive inviting her and her family to come and worship at the local Lutheran church on Sundays where they have sermons aimed at children, songs, crafts, and then coffee and fellowship afterwards!


Separation of Church and Fête.

I understand that Halloween flies directly against many religious beliefs with its celebration of paganism, and worse, NickJr. But if that’s your creed, let if be yours, don’t bring the fight to the children. The note was clearly intended to be read by kids. It’s a good job LK wasn’t on the receiving end of the leaflet as he is not exactly tolerant when it comes to vocal religious nuts, and the image of DJ Lance giving someone a beatdown on Halloween would have stuck in many a Kindergartener’s mind.

In the end we let it go. Besides, if the religious zealot really wanted to sway the minds of the children, they would have done so with a leaflet and candy. If only Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown had the presence of mind to do the same.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy November!

Do you like my beautiful autumnal photo??

Yes, that's right, the clues are in the photo......you can tell the seasons in Southern California by the fact that:

a) There is no lifeguard on duty

b) Lucy is wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt

c) Her shirt references Halloween

How else can you tell it's November?

By the fact that I've signed up for NaBloPoMo. Get ready for a post a day.

Yes that does mean there'll be a lot of photos masquerading as content.....

It's a hard life, but someone's got to write about it.