Thursday, July 14, 2011

Potty Training Can Be Painful

I can't believe we're back at this. I remember, all too vividly what it was like when we were potty training Anna. Going from place to place with that tiny little diaper-less bottom, like a grenade with the pin pulled.

Now it's Lucy's turn. Quite frankly, I think Lucy's diaper is the only thing keeping her trousers up these days. She has the bum and legs of a heroin addict, even her leggings flap in the breeze. But she's hit two and half, she's dry overnight, she hides when she poops. She's ready. Except she doesn't believe she is. When her eyes are teary with the strain, when her eyebrows are pink and she shuffles off for some 'pivacy' we ask her if she wouldn't rather use the toilet. "No I NOT!" She yells. We've tried bribery. "No! Go way!" she yells. We bought some very fetching tiny Dora knickers - also a failure, but for different reasons:

Anna (age 6): "Dad, why did you give me Lucy's Dora knickers to wear to school today. They are WAY too small and really uncomfortable".
LK: "Wait, Lucy has knickers now too? How am I supposed to know that?"
Me: "Anna, why on earth did you still put them on (and how?!)"
Anna: "Errr"

Potty training - it's hard on the entire family.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Independence Spirit

My 15th Independence Day was my first as an American, and also the first experience of July 4th for my Mum and Dad. Reason enough to celebrate. We decked the girls out in matching red, white and blue outfits courtesy of their American Nani, then we fed them ice creams so that their regalia quickly became red, white and dairy. My daughters are anarchists, after all.

Then we headed downtown to witness a most peculiar July 4th parade. Santa Barbara has lots of parades, the most notable being, Solstice (everyone gets their hippy on and struts State Street in ski boots, body paint and pasties), and Fiesta (which is Spanish, you understand, not Mexican - Good God No). The July 4th parade had no real cohesion and it was all a bit odd really. There was a youth band from Oxnard, the mayor in a t-shirt on a golf cart, a collection of Corvettes, Girls Inc in matching t-shirts, a local autobody and detail shop throwing candy, and three or four civil war buffs firing real muskets. Damn those things were loud. A battlefield must have been a nightmare place for a migraine sufferer. Seemed like a great excuse to nip in to the new H&M while the crowds were lining the streets.

The highlight of July 4th is of course, fireworks. Fireworks are a little like dolphins - it's always a bit of a thrill to see them. We are lucky enough to be able to see the harbor fireworks from our bedroom window. Which is nice, as we don't have to go down to the beachfront and deal with the gang stabbings crowds.

One of my favourite photos of Anna was just after her first birthday, wrapped in a post-bath towel, watching the July 4th fireworks:

You can see her thinking - what the chuff??

I wanted to get the same shot of the girls this year. We had all the lights off, so I just pointed the camera and prayed. They were certainly enjoying themselves, there were 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and "I think I shall call that one the gumball machine" from Anna, and "my favourite fireworks is red" from Lucy.

This is the photo I took:

Anarchy is in her blood.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Princely Polo

The other day one of our elderly patients asked if I would be seeing the Royals come to the Polo Club. "It's the social event of the season" she added. She obviously hasn't heard of our 'build your own taco' nights.

California was all of a twitter about the Royal visit - although it was clearly a steep learning curve, with our local TV station announcing that the 'Dutch and Duchess of Cambridge' would be flying in.

We weren't about to be paying $400 for a ticket in the cheap seats just to see Prince William and Catherine. We considered $4,000 a ticket (lunch included) to be a little steep also, even if the lunch was to be catered by Giada de Laurentiis. However, we do have a lot of kind and generous friends, who happen to live right on the doorstep of the action.

The 'cheap seats' were on the left of the field, the VIP seats were on the right. One of our friends who had bought a ticket for the cheap seats commented that it was like 'The Old South' in terms of segregation - except with free-flowing champagne and canap├ęs. I think she may need to re-visit that period of American history for another look.

That is Prince William in the #4 jersey balanced over my right shoulder. I am wearing clothes, honest - no-one wants to see this Momma streaking. In fact I'm sporting a very tasteful $30 H&M Maxi dress courtesy of my Mum, and some rather fetching gladiator sandals I got at a garage sale. Nothing but the best for Wills & Kate!

Stick with me, the photos get better.

I've watched a fair few polo games over the years, courtesy of LK's job. It's a pretty exhilarating sport. Having ponies thundering past chasing a rock-hard polo ball is quite an experience - and one I decided that a wandering 6 yr old and a rambunctious 2 yr old could probably defer. I didn't want to cause a diplomatic incident after all.

Prince William scored quite a few goals - as the other players seemed to magically part like the Red Sea whenever he approached the goal posts - or so it seemed to me. He was really chatty and smiley though - and responded with a grin and a wave at me bouncing around like a nut job waving my British flags....

Sadly we missed seeing much of Kate. Apparently she had been seen hanging out with Will and the ponies prior to the game, but at that point we were still hiking our way in to the polo grounds because we weren't allowed to drive in. Sadly we were too far away to see her presenting Will with the winner's trophy, but - just when we thought all was lost, they drove right by in a swanky black Audi on their way to the helicopter. The windows were all blacked out at the back of the car, but as they drove by, Kate rolled down her window and they both gave us a wave - Will is even leaning over to wave. That's a class act if you ask me, and my squeak of joy probably had dogs howling in San Francisco.

It was a great day.

Sunday, July 03, 2011


I always feel that if I haven't posted for a couple of weeks I should follow it up with something worthwhile.

Sorry, that won't be happening. I have a sliver of time in which to get my thoughts down, so this will have to do.

I will admit that I've been toying with the idea of wrapping up AliBlahBlah. Five years is a long time. My life is getting crazy, my migraines are caused by stress, they are happening with increasing, debilitating frequency, and I'm really having to try to cut back on my to do list. Plus there is a lot going on right now that I'm not sure I can write about, and will definitely struggle to put a positive spin on.

On the other hand, I agree that you are not done with blogging as long as you are still composing posts in your head, and that's still going on, so I'm at a crossroads. Plus, William and Kate are coming HERE! next weekend, and not only that, they will be hanging out at my husband's place of work and we may have wangled ourselves a psuedo invite - and how can an Expat blogger pass up that juicy morsel?

In the meantime, on this 4th of July weekend, my first as a bone fide Amercun, I bring you an odd difference between the two countries. Flag-worship.

We were at a party recently with a giant Amercun flag waving in the breeze. Tis the season after all. Lucy is a tomboy in every sense of the word, and her new game is called 'ka-cha!' which is basically her running around karate-chopping thin air and making elaborately fierce poses. We need to teach her to yell "bow to your sensei!!" then the entertainment would be complete.

This is what happened: Lucy was running around ka-cha!ing and - maybe on purpose, maybe by accident - she 'ka-cha'd' the Stars and Stripes (which was hanging a bold 10 inches from the ground).

All hell let loose.

She was reprimanded by EVERY American present - except me. They were kind but firm, the American flag was sacrosanct, and had to be treated with respect, it represented the country and all who sailed in her. Meanwhile I'm thinking 'are you kidding me, she's two, please hold the civics lesson until she can use a toilet unassisted.'

I don't think there is anything in the British non-constitution that is held so reverently. The monarchy, the flag (of which there are many), even tea - they are all treated with a healthy disrespect. While these things are taken seriously, they are not followed zealously or overtly. The reaction to Lucy hong-kong-phoeeying the flag was really surprising to me - even after 15 years of living here. LK took both girls to one side and gave them a talking to. He later told me he was brought up to believe that if the flag accidentally touched the ground it would have to be burnt. Really? Even he would not be nudged on the position that Lucy needed to be told, in no uncertain terms, that what she had done was wrong.


After having gone through my Naturalization, and all it entailed, I do know why the flag is important to the concept of Nationhood. It stands for the country in more of a way than a head of State can. It represents the country, the unification of the separate States. We The People etc etc. Except this is also a country that prides itself on 'question authority' (you see it on every other bumper sticker shouting at you from the freeway). Maybe that's just California - but again, maybe that's why I'm surprised.

I think I still have some Naturalizing to do.