Monday, August 31, 2015

Sad goodbyes

Lady P starts Montessori full time this week. It's an exciting new chapter in her life, filled with access to bead sorting, counting sticks, and a far wider range of craft materials than we have at home. We are excited to have a little more flexibility in our child care (longer hours, if we want them) and at a lower cost.

But it does mean saying goodbye to our wonderful nanny. Dani took care of Lady P from her first birthday, when she was still in nappies and wasn't walking, and helped her develop into the chatty, running, jumping, well-mannered, potty-trained funny girl she is today.  As well as teaching her the basics of good behaviour, and some obscure Portugese words ('pedunculu' for grape stalk, for example), she also showered Lady P with an abundance of love, kisses and cuddles.

Hopefully we will see her from time to time. It would be a shame if she disappeared entirely from Lady P's life. But if we do see her, it'll be for a couple of hours at most. It won't be like it has been, where she's essentially sharing our house with us five days a week - toothbrush in the bathroom, strange egg concoction in the fridge, and so on. No longer can we just let Lady P run wild in PJs till Dani arrived to take care of business. No longer will I have someone to gossip with as I fix myself lunch. Many tears were shed on her last day (not by Lady P, mind you, who is either oblivious or heartless).

It's only been a week, but the memory of her is already fading - and Lady P's Portugese vocabulary is shrinking by the day. She has already forgotten 'pedunculu', for example.

We will miss Dani. A lot. The closing of a chapter - no matter how exciting the next chapter - is often sad.

But there is a silver lining. One thing I will not miss. It's the way she used to put the coasters in this fanned formation, every single day.

The first thing I did after she left each day was re-organise these guys into a simple stack. I won't ever have to do that again. So, while we'll miss Dani enormously, there is that consolation at least.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

High class problems

Beach life isn't easy all of the time, you know. As we settle in, we have become aware of a couple of major drawbacks of our bright and sunny new home.

First of all, our living room is so bright that we're worried the sunlight will fade our sofas and our lovingly refinished floors. At about 10am we drop the shades on the south-facing french doors, and from noon we draw the curtains on the west-facing windows. So for most of the day our living space is shaded and faintly funereal.
The grown-up living room on a glorious sunny day

The family room: suns out; shades down

You almost wouldn't know the sky outside is bright bright blue
The other bummer is that our lovely royal palm trees are, it turns out, touching the power lines. At least, when the sea breeze catches them. Which it does most of time, creating a lovely rustling sound and the potential to set the trees and presumably our timber framed house alight.
Ah, the wind in the palm trees...

...and the imminent risk of fire
We were advised to take the trees out, but we love them far too much. Instead I guess we'll have them trimmed back, which might make them look a bit bald and/or lopsided till they outgrow the power lines (or Hermosa Beach finally puts them underground).

Doesn't your heart just break for us?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Happily housebound

It was a scorching hot weekend in the South Bay, and anyone with any sense was at the beach, watching volleyball tournaments, surfing, or enjoying the beach concerts.

Alas, not us. Excursions were strictly limited to Best Buy, IKEA and Triangle Hardware. We did manage a quick yomp down to the pier for a coffee and Lady P's requisite 15 minutes of sand play. But other than that we were all about the house.

On Saturday TLOML installed SONOS while I hung curtains. And on Sunday he wall-mounted the TV and strung up lights on the deck while I reorganized the cupboards in in the garage.
Cupboard categories include 'replenish kitchen sink', 'laundry',' specialist cleaning' 'lightbulbs' and, of course, 'BBQ and car stuff' (aka 'I don't know what this is').

One could argue that it wasn't strictly necessary for me to take everything out of those cupboards and put it back in in a slightly different order. But I needed something to do while TLOML took care of A/V and Lady P napped. And I'd already baked cookies.

One could also argue that Hermosa Beach does not need any more overhead power lines, or indeed, overhead cables of any kind. But we wanted to enhance the ambience on our deck. So we went ahead and mounted strings of lights, and now we love it out there even more. It reminds us of being in a relaxed, friendly, possibly slightly cockamamie bar, in a busy beach town somewhere hot. Surely the ideal vibe.

Despite being housebound we weren't complete hermits. We hosted our first proper dinner in the house, for our dear Manhattan Beach friends. Our old neighbours (the friendship survives!) swung by, and we had some sunset drinks and snacks on the deck with other friends. And at the end of it all, although we looked enviously at other people's beach pics on Facebook, we sat on the deck, under our pretty lights, and toasted with a gin and tonic to the completion of our house move.

Yes, that's really it. All new home improvement projects are officially done. Anything that is left falls strictly under the 'everyday maintenance' category, or stuff we'll do it when we get round to it. I suppose we'll have to wait for the next not-hot, not-beachy weekend to tackle those. That could be a while. Meanwhile, we can relax, and enjoy the house (and the beach).

Monday, August 10, 2015

An education

Lady P's formal education has begun. Two days a week, for now, she is attending a local pre school. More specifically, the Aloha Summer Camp at our local Montessori.

The timing was rotten, with her first two weeks straddling the weekend we moved house. But apart from a torrent of tears on the morning of day one, she has taken to it like a duck to water. Or, like a sociable, smart little girl to a friendly, interesting environment.

We found it rather more difficult. The preparation was tough: I had to pack a disaster kit, in the event of an earthquake I suppose, which made my stomach lurch. 
Processed food, a flannel and a Night Garden book. Sob.
And dropping her off the first couple of times was not easy. 'What is she saying to that teacher?' I wondered, and briefly considered grabbing her, taking her home and watching her closely all day.

I restrained myself. She is having a great time, and far be it for me to interfere with that. She runs into the classroom in the morning shouting 'Good morning!', announces 'I want to sit here and do this', and then does exactly that. From what I see there's a lot of moving small objects from one receptacle to another by various means. The fabric flowers to be transported with a dustpan and brush. The ice-cream scoop and the orange balls. The little silver jug full of coloured rocks. They know just how to entertain a 2-and-a-half year old, those Montessori peddlers.

TLOML and I are delighted she's having a good time. Over the coming weeks we will, sadly, say goodbye to our wonderful nanny and usher in a full time education for Lady P.

But perhaps 'education' is too strong a word. I share below the recipe for coconut juice, proudly advertised as their Hawaiian cooking class. Perhaps I should have managed my expectations for what a 2-3 year old can cook. Still, juice?!

 This is from a worksheet of Hawaiian numbers she brought home. I diligently went through them with her, pointing with my fingers as I counted 'one... two.. Elua, two'.
Then I got to this one. The picture for ten. It has twelve creatures on it. Sloppy work, Montessori!

Again, I guess I need to lower my expectations. Lady P is, after all, there to play and have fun. Thank goodness, as I'm not sure the academic program will be winning any prizes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

What a difference a lick of paint makes

We’ve been busy moving house this past week. It was our shortest move ever – just ¾ mile down the road from the much loved Sugar Cube into our shiny, new house. Shiny and new because we had a little cosmetic work done before we moved in.

We just refinished the floors, and had the whole place repainted. so it really was only cosmetic, but what a difference it made to the way the house looks and feels. Most of all, we made it our own.

We flipped the dark kitchen and dining room into something altogether lighter, brighter, and vaguely Skandi looking. With the bonus of American appliances, natch. Oh, and my upcycled table of course. 

Someone else's dining room

Someone else's kitchen

Our kitchen/ diner

We turned the 1980s law library into a cheery workspace befitting a SoCal beach lover and his Brit bookworm.

Someone else's home office


And in Lady P’s room we created a sunny homage to the Sugar Cube, complete with a scaled down front door.
Lady P's 'little house'
The Sugar Cube, seen through palms
We painted pretty much every inch of the rest of the house white, which makes it feel clean and fresh and new. And ours.

We do miss our rambling back garden but are consoled by sunset drinks on the deck. Lady P has done some naked sliding into the paddling pool on the astro turf, and planted some chard seeds, so I feel that she isn’t too badly off either.

One week in and we are almost unpacked. We are still waiting for our new king mattress to arrive so we can move into the mater, and we have the small matter of 40 pieces of art to hang, but other than that I’d say we’re home. And this time, it’s for the long term. It’s a very very nice feeling.