Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's My Party

I always get a little anxious when it's time to plan the girls' birthdays. Treading that fine line between what they want and what we can manage. Anna's 6th birthday is the perfect example. She wanted a massive party, at a park, with everyone from her preschool to be invited. Except she also goes to Kindergarten, but she didn't want to invite any of her Kindergarten classmates. I suppose she's known her preschool buddies longer, but for a start, that was odd. Also, several key players that she wanted to invite had already had their birthdays earlier in the year without Anna. I think she's happily oblivious to this, but I'm not. I hurt for her. Then we had an issue with her wanting two key guests, her best friends, but they both had conflicts on the weekends either side of her birthday. It was turning in to a logistical nightmare, and I was starting to hyperventilate.

We ended up compromising, and thought small and early. We bumped her party up by a week so everyone could come. We invited three of her closest hang-out friends. We're doing a sleepover tonight and they are currently having mani-pedis at a local salon for the bargain price of $13 a child. That's in my price range (although, being the anxious sort I'm now wondering if $13 in Korean-American is actually $30....).

Meanwhile I am busy crafting another fabulously bad homemade cake (why do they never come out of the pan in one piece for me??!!), decorating the house and enjoying some quiet while Lucy naps. We have pizza, games, and a movie for tonight's entertainment. After their manicure/pedicures, LK is taking them to the Polo Club to see the horses and have 'tea' on the main veranda. A packed program - hopefully they all crash out by 10pm!!

I think Anna is happy with her economy-sized party. I suspect the main reason she wanted an Annapalooza party was to score huge numbers of presents. I think she'll have much more fun having girl time with her best friends. It's hard when they get older and they spend all year crafting the perfect party in their head. After we hijacked her giant park-party she wasn't going to leave anything to chance, so when I said I'd be making her cake this afternoon - she went so far as to dash off a quick drawing, so I could bake one to her specifications.

In case it's not perfectly clear, she wanted blue icing, strawberries around the edge, and the black blob 'represents something amazing in the middle'. *Sigh*

This is what I came up with. It's uncanny isn't it?? If uncanny means a culinary horror.

I really hope I don't have to eat any.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sweet Dreams

A hundred thousand years ago, when I first moved to Santa Barbara, I had an Italian boyfriend. He taught me many things. I'm sure you're thinking, lucky girl, but honestly what I remember most is that he always presented me with a bunch of flowers when he picked me up for a date. First of all - how lovely is that? Well played Italy. He said I should put them by the side of my bed, that his Grandma swore that the scent of sweet flowers would bring sweet dreams.

What a line.

A few days later I met LK at a party and it was ciao fiori, hello surfer boy.

I remember that one day he bought me a bunch of the most beautiful, fragrant sweetpeas from the Farmers Market. I loved the idea that he'd been thinking of our date when he was shopping that morning. He was probably thinking, I'll tell her that line of my Grandmas and that will get us talking about bed.

Anyhow, that was a lifetime ago, yet I can't help but love sweetpeas, and when I saw them at the Farmers Market this morning, I couldn't resist. They are a bunch of summer, last almost as long as a fling with an Italian, and three bunches for $5 buys you a lot of sweet dreams....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

With Age Comes Wisdom

"Now that I am going to be six I am thinking I could be married and I think I should marry Oliver. Not because we play and have fun together but because he is taller than me, because he is already six, and because he is handsome, and well, beautiful."

I'm thinking many marriages have been built on less.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

While I Wasn't Sleeping

Migraines are such a waste of time.

I have lost one day out of each of the last couple of weekends, which considering I have three days weekends won't make you feel too sorry for me. I woke up feeling so thoroughly rotten on Friday that I had couldn't drag myself out of bed and take Anna to school. That sounds dramatic in a Victorian woman-with-the-vapours kind of way, but the nausea and the pulsing headache were far worse than any self-inflicted student hangover I've ever experienced.

Not being able to get out of bed and look after the girls was a first (LK had left obscenely early due to our urgent need. to. make. money). Anna was obviously thrilled with the idea of missing class as I croaked and slow-breathed my way through the call to her school. As I gripped the sides of the bed, trying through a combination of measured breathing and mind control to not throw up my migraine medication, she bounced on my right chirruping, "I get to be Absinthe! I get to be Absinthe!"

Anna was my little Florence Nightingale. She took care of Lucy by putting 'Shaun the Sheep' on repeat downtairs, and she fed her a banana and cereal. Later, she crept up to the side of our bed, kissed me on my forehead and asked if I would like a glass of water.

As the pain gradually subsided, followed non-too-swiftly by the nausea, I started to wonder what the house would look like. We've safety-proofed as much as possible, and Anna is very conscious of her sister's welfare (she's a dyed-in-the-wool snitch). But, a soon-to-be-6 year old is not the best judge of whether a 2 year olds 'play' is 'appropriate'.

I got off very lightly. In the space of a morning almost every toy was unpacked and strewn about, cereal had run amok, and Lucy had been 'artistic' with the toothpaste:

I was very lucky. We were all very lucky - at least I think we were, after all there may still be as yet undiscovered surprises, like the blue crayon in the dishwasher that I only discovered after the full wash cycle, and even then I spent a moment thinking, wait, when did we get willow pattern?

As if to prove the size of the bullet that was dodged, the very next afternoon we were sitting as a family watching Harry Potter. Lucy was hidden between the wall and the armchair - her favourite hiding 'nook'. All was peaceful, all was quiet.

Too quiet.

The first I knew of it Lance was yelling 'Lucy, oh goddammit!'. An ENTIRE brand new bottle of zinc oxide factor 50 sunscreen spread liberally all over her, the armchair, the curtains and the carpet. We need not worry about our upholstery ever getting sun-damanged as that shit is never coming off.

And just to prove that I can laugh about it all, now, I am borrowing this from BrambleScat, I liked her post about migraines as I'm sure you will too, and I had to laugh at the 'footballers migraine':

I'm sure lots of Blackpool supporters experienced exactly the same thing just this morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A is for Alligator

When a five year old announces they want to write their own encyclopedia, your first reaction is probably to ask them if they've been outside too long in the sun, or if they're absolutely sure they know what an encyclopedia is. This was Anna though, and when it comes to academics, the girl means business.

She wanted to write an Animal Encyclopedia - a page for each letter, and three animals to a page. I did not expect us to get much past E is for Elephant, but here we are at V and we are rapidly approaching the 'Zooble purchase' (don't ask) which I had promised for a completed project.

I think the inspiration was a lovely book bought for Anna by my friend Jen called 'My Very Own Name' where her name is spelled out by animals who each bring along a letter. She loves that book.

She has had a lot of fun with this project, and Lord knows she is getting more out of it than she is at school. For each letter we google pictures of animals, and she suggests a sentence describing the creature. Each sentence is completely her own thoughts - and I have some favourites such as 'An alligator can sneak up on you' and 'Dogs have wet noses'. Some letters have been challenging. 'I' was a toughie, and we resorted to googling 'animals beginning with i' which is how we came to be sitting there wondering what to write about an ice fish (answer - 'an icefish is very hard to find').

We had the same trouble this weekend with 'v'. Vulture was an obvious pick, vole was considered but rejected, Anna usually picks fierce over fluffy, velociraptor was discounted because it's extinct, then we saw 'vixen'. Perfect.

So there I was, my five year old perched on my lap, while I googled 'vixen photos'.


"Oh shit" I said as 100 variations of Madame Spankalot appeared on our screen.

"Silly computer" Anna said "we said vixen and it thought we said rock star!"

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mothers Day Present

I went in to Mothers Day with the intention of bleeding it dry - of cramming three uncelebrated years into one. Not quite the spirit of the occasion I'm sure you'll agree.

I had a lovely day which set me straight. A bunch of pink tea roses from my love - a bouquet that he'd been offered a hefty sum for the night before when leaving a tennis game and a fellow player realized he was Mothers Day gift-less! I had hand drawn hummingbirds from Anna, cryptic squiggles from Lucy, and a necklace spirited up from Anna that I think I need to thank Mooks for.

On Sunday morning we set off down the road to the beach, and I luxuriated in the feel of soft warm sand beneath my bare feet. A cruise ship had arrived, so big it dominated the horizon. Like the moon it followed us all over town. It was an added blessing to know that we were having a Sunday morning coffee stroll on our secret beach, and 1,000 people had paid for the privilege of Mothers Day in our town.

These were all lovely things - but a lesson learned was truly my favourite Mothers Day gift:

Anna finally conquered the monkey bars at the playground!

A lot of things have come easily to my oldest daughter; she has been an effortless reader, a sponge for information, a freakishly gifted retainer of facts - but she is not a natural athlete. Unfortunately she takes after me in this regard. She even found crawling a challenge and opted to move straight to walking. Perhaps that's why the left-right left-right motion on the monkey bars proved such a challenge. She hated not being able to do it, going from frustration, to defeat, to defiance "I do not like monkey bars, I do not need to do monkey bars!'. I felt for her - I don't think I ever made it up the rope climb at school.

On Saturday, with tongue stuck resolutely out, she swung from one end to the other. I don't know what persuaded her to give it a go - maybe because the playground was deserted except for us. She reached the end, and gave a grin that said she'd just about conquered the world. It was the greatest feeling - for both of us. It sounds absurd to say this about a five-year old, but this has been years in coming. I was just so chuffing proud of her. Best Mothers Day present ever. I have it all on video, and would post it here, except she's wearing a very short skirt, there is a lot of flailing, and well, knickers. It might ruin the majesty of the moment.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mother Load

I think I'm going to organize my own Mothers Day this year.

I am two for five when it comes to Mothers Days. Two years ago we were evacuated due to the Jesusita WildFire, which meant the breakfast in bed, card, bunch of flowers routine was cancelled as we spent the day driving back to our smoked out house and trying to reassemble our lives. Twice I've been in the UK during American Mothers Days, and despite heavy hints to the contrary, LK does not consider a Mothers Day to exist outside its country of origin. I will admit it is hard to remember a day without the media tapping you on the shoulder and dragging your guilt-ridden carcass to the shops. Last year LK played golf with my brother on Mothers Day. But - don't feel too sorry for me, I did remember to send my Mum a card and a gift this year, but completely forget to honour the day with a Mothers Day phone call. We chatted by Skype, but I completely blanked that it was Mothering Sunday the day of.

This year, I think I'm going to put myself in charge. I've had six years of partial sleep and vomit, nosedrip, food and poop on my clothes. I have paid my dues, I am pencilling in a Mothers Day. I am sure LK will remember this year, but I'm not sure what that will entail. Case in point, he called me last week at work to say he would be coming to pick me up from the office, he was bringing the girls, and he had a treat for me. Not a surprise, you understand, a treat. I've been putting in some long hours at work this year, and it had been a very trying day. I was ready for a treat. I wondered what it could be - dinner, a movie?

What I was not expecting was to walk up to the car and to be handed a gym bag with running trousers, t-shirt (absurdly tight), jog bra and shoes. We were going running! Surprise!

I ended up having a great time - this was part of our run route after all:

But that is why I'm definitely going to reign in the surprises this Sunday and organize some treats of my own.

Monday, May 02, 2011


A huge sigh of relief that it's over. I'm sure you're thinking I'm referring to the wedding, but actually no - and how could I be over Will and Kate when there's still gems like this to entertain us:

No, the reason I'm breathing easier is because April is finally over - otherwise known in this family as eventapalooza. In the space of thirty days we have 4 birthdays and 2 Mothers Days (one American, one British, so two separate Sundays). We both come from fairly small families, so this is quite a significant cluster. The same happens in September, which I am bracing for. We are a family of Virgos and Tauruses - make of that what you will. Good job Anna and Lucy were born outside the vortex and shook things up a bit. Well done me.

Anyway, presents have been bought, cards selected (or arm-twisted into creation by my two serf-lets), things have been wrapped, addressed and sent winging around the globe. Isn't it interesting how little time it takes in a marriage for it to go from; "what do you think my Mom would like for her birthday" to "what did we get my Mom for her birthday" to "did you remember my Mom's birthday?" Interesting, but I'm sounding a tad waspish and victimy, so I'll swiftly move on.

To the topic of me getting a surprise present - a Versatile blogging award from the lovely radmegan, who actually wrote something so nice about my blog I blushed, under my perma-Cal tan. Not a bad way to start a week. Here it is in all its glory:

The rules of the game are that I have to share seven things about myself, which crikey moses sounds like an awful lot even for such a self-obsessed blogger as me. Then I have to refer back to my bloggee award benefactress, done, and finally link to seven other blogs I like. Yikes, nap time! OK, so brace yourself for seven random things:

  1. I only give presents that I'd like to receive myself, and I usually put far too much thought into the process. Seriously people it's that easy - you can always just send my gifts right back to me and I'd be thrilled. It HAS happened. Unbelievable but true. 
  2. I have never dyed my hair but I'm getting vain and depressed at how dark it's become post Lucy (oh, Lucy, it's a good job you're cute because you have RUINED me) - anyhoo, I am now resorting to lemoning my hair whenever I go out and exercise.
  3. It's a really bad idea to sweat with lemon in your hair because it drips in to your eyes and stings like a mofo.
  4. I have been blogging for nearly five years, and have almost stopped numerous times, but YOU have always lifted me up, cheered me up and made me carry on. So thankyou. I would already have forgotten most of the mindlessly charming and silly things the girls have done if it wasn't for this blog and the people who read it.
  5. I am not a little pissed off that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown weren't invited to the Royal Wedding. If the Royals are supposed to be staunchly apolitical whilst helping themselves to a big chunk from the taxpayer then they need to behave apolitically. 
  6. I cannot say 'meditate' without thinking I might accidentally say 'masturbate' so that rules out Buddhism for me. 
  7. I can do an Australian accent but not an American accent and I have no idea why.

Now I need to enjoy myself and surf the web to find 7 bloggers to refer too. Feel free to volunteer yourselves otherwise I will pick my usual suspects on the right hand side of this blog WHO ARE ALL BRILLIANT.