Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas In Quotes

The first two quotes come from my Mum, who is a mine of blogability. We were shopping for a gift for Anna. I gave her Anna's wish list and we headed to the toy shop. I pointed to the ridiculously overpriced plastic pegasus, the object of Anna's longing. "Well, I just don't think there's anything practical about a pegasus" said my Mum, shaking her head. Instead, Anna got a new back-pack, with horses on it. Much more useful. (Anna loves it by the way, and it means one less plastic horse for me to tread on at night).

Second quote, more of an anecdote really, from my Mum. She was reminiscing to Anna and Lucy about the Christmas stockings she and her sisters got when they were growing up. "We always had nuts and oranges in ours. Of course, after we'd opened our stockings, we had to put everything back on the fruit bowl."

Thirdly, do you know what a pillow pet is? If not - lucky you, your brain has not been colonized by a frenzy of under-5s marketing. Pillow pets are horrifically plush animals that unfold to form a pillow. They come in a variety of anthropomorphic shapes; ladybug (with giant smiley face), puppy, bumble bee (again with the smiley face), and of course, unicorn. Santa delivered Anna a unicorn pillow pet and Lucy a ladybug. Upon opening hers, Anna squealed, hugged her sister and cried "Oh Lucy, all our dreams have come true." I have to admit I teared up. My Mum laughed.

The next quote comes from LK. I cooked a full British Christmas dinner; turkey, bacon, sprouts, roast potatoes, Christmas pud - you name it. Our family has a tradition of cooking sausages around the turkey, you basically leave them there to cook in the turkey fat and they become gorgeously crispy calorie-bombs. LK devoured them and declared 'I'm not sure you can still call them sausages, but man, these meat croutons are awesome'.

And finally, after opening two presents, Lucy curled up contentedly with her giant smiley face ladybug and said she'd had enough of opening presents. She'd got what she wanted, thus the joy of more surprises could not possibly outweigh the effort of opening more packages. She can be a peculiar one. Anna was more than happy to step in to the breach, offering to open all of Lucy's remaining parcels, and oh my God did Lucy ever pep up again when she saw this:

Look who joined the party. Bobot and Doll found themselves a lady-friend, Jessie the cowgirl from Toy Story. Lucy was beside herself.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!

The seemingly impossible Christmas photo with both girls smiling and (almost) looking at the camera was achieved with a bribe of ice-cream. If only the same could be done with a mortgage company ;)

From the bottom of my heart, thankyou for reading - your comments have got me through a tough year and they are much appreciated. Wishing you all a brilliant 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rising Damp

It's called the Pineapple Express when the jet stream funnels all the tropical moisture from Hawaii straight to the California coast. What is feels like is 5 days and counting of non-stop rain. Contrary to popular belief, it does not rain like this in England. You can have five days of rain, but there are usually brief sunny spells, or a pause for some gloomy but dry intervals. This feels like a monsoon, as if someone turned on a tap and left the room. California is not prepared, evidenced as much by the truly eclectic rain-gear people are wearing as much as the mudslides and overflowing creeks. It bears repeating California - Uggs are NOT rainboots. Our office waiting room smells like wet sheep.

The girls are loving it, puddles, umbrellas and wellies are a real novelty. For my parents - not so much. They are resigned to the weather, saying with their customary cheeriness 'well at least it's not cold and wet'. It takes a lot to say that when you spend enormous sums to leave England for 'sunny' California. I feel bad for them, that their lounging by the outdoor pool and their beach walks are traded in for jigsaws and colouring, I feel like I've got them over here on false pretenses - I always feel bad when California under-performs weather-wise.

Still, they are enjoying the girls and O.M.G. Anna and Lucy are lapping up all the attention. They are like organ grinder monkeys, pirouetting and chirruping at the slightest glance their way. Lucy is managing to let the facade drop occasionally, and my Mum and Dad have been privy to one or two of her 'Lucifer' moments when, for example, she got a Christmas ornament in her advent calendar and not a chocolate and she threw the offending bauble at the tree and then thew herself down on the floor (where we left her).

I don't know where she gets it from, she is such a 'Little Miss'. Hilarious.

By the way, for those of you starved of a little Christmas spirit this year, borrow a 5-year old. Anna is in a frenzy of excitement; no surface remains undecorated, no Christmas movie un-watched, no carol remains unsung. She is a paper chain factory. A one-woman Christmas pep-rally. If I wasn't all amped up on spiced apple cider I would be exhausted.

I think it's going to be a good Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Xmas....

My parents have just flown in for Christmas, so of course our perfect weather has been replaced by a solid week of rain:

For those of you who are neck-deep in the snowy North I apologize, but really, rain? California, you didn't have to make them feel quite so at home.

In the meantime, while I revel in some unheard of babysitting and free time, here are some photos of the girls that didn't quite make it in to the Christmas album. Sand-throwing must be the Santa Barbara equivalent of a snowball fight....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Faith Healer

Overheard in a medical practice waiting room as a doctor is walking his patient out:

Doctor: "It is very important to get out of the house and stay social, even if it's just going to the shops. It doesn't have to be an organized activity, although those do often have the highest cognitive benefit."

Elderly Patient: "Well, I'm a very Christian woman, doctor, the Lord is my guide and if he feels I should do something then he tells me. He directs my life, I'm just along for the ride"

Doctor: "In that case I think you're going to be easier to treat than I'd thought!"

Friday, December 03, 2010


Tonight we're going to a very swanky Christmas party at LK's work. I haven't been for five years, mostly because we can never find a babysitter at this time of year, and even if we can, I've either been massively pregnant or one of the girls has been sick.

Needless to say, this hasn't been a year of champagne-swilling glad-ragging for us, so my collection of appropriate evening wear has dwindled. When I was in College I had several go-to outfits, the strappy black, the short cream, the lacy black, the deep green velvet with the eye-popping split. Those were the days.

Now I have work clothes, sweat pants and pajamas, and quite frankly it's hard to tell them apart sometimes.

I stupidly left things to the last minute believing I had two dresses in my arsenal. There was no way I was going to be spending money on a new outfit when both our computer and our car are in a race for catastrophic failure so I dusted off the two contenders lingering at the back of Lucy's wardrobe. Literally dusted them off. First, a fitted, beaded number which is sexy in a kind of Washington DC fundraiser kind of way (think Ann Taylor stuffed shirt) and secondly a floaty tiered black skirt with camisole top first worn for my SECOND wedding anniversary (we're on #13 now).

What has happened to my life????!!! What has happened to sexy? To flirty? To clothes that have to be dry-cleaned??

I tried them on.


Firstly let me say I know I've had two children in the last five years, and that there have been a few alterations to my general geography (think urban sprawl), but I put on the slinky beaded number believing all would be well and was confronted with a black pudding bursting out of its casing. I had chicken cutlets between my arms and my boobs. Every time I breathed in I was risking a rupture or a sequin hurtling across the room.

Anna gasped and said "Oh Momma can you wear that when you pick me up from school?".

I went to plan B. This was my bull-pen pitcher, my cast-iron guarantee of a safety net. You see, the last time I wore it, was at the same Christmas party six years ago - and I doubt anyone in the crowd we will be hanging out with tonight has even stayed married that long and so that's a guarantee no-one will recognize it, but more importantly, the last time I wore it I was nearly 16 weeks pregnant.

I'll spare you the details but suffice to say it doesn't fit. Not even close. Too much Ali, too little Blah Blah.


My wardrobe for tonight's affair now consists of a pair of newly purchased tights (I splashed out) and a skirt with an elasticated waist. No top.

I'm sure LK will be thrilled.