December, December.

December.

I love December, Well, I love November too.

Dinovember straight into putting up the Christmas tree, what’s not to love.

Last Christmas (2014) was all a bit rushed. We moved to L.A from London on the 28th December so our flat was bare. Apart from a few pieces of furniture and a Christmas tree which was hastily binned on the 26th. Friends were coming in and out taking pieces of kitchen ware that we were not able to pack. We were sleeping on Mattresses on the floor as we had sold all the bed frames and we had five suitcases which we had to fit everything into. All of the kids presents were either edible or things that they would colour on the flight. Looking back on it, it all seems very disorganised and totally haphazard but we done it.

Now a year on with no move in sight. There was no rush. No stress to pack up. So, I got my Christmas crazy on. The kids and I made decorations. We took trips to see Christmas lights. We watched only Christmas films for the whole month  (apart from Frozen, once). I downloaded cheesy Christmas Albums to sing along to everyday. The radio in the car was changed to a Christmas station and I enjoyed every moment of it!

We were lucky to have visitors from the UK. A family from Summer’s old school came to stay. We had so much fun. The kids playing around in the apartment. Taking a trip to the beach and having walks in the canyons. Us mums had a night out and a night in (painting nails while drinking cocktails…not a great idea!) They were here for ten days and left just before Christmas day but I considered hiding their passports and keeping them here for longer.

My brother decided a couple of days before Christmas that he would take a last minute flight out to see us for a couple of weeks. He would be here just in time for Christmas dinner. Not in time to help prepare dinner but perfect for eating it!

On Christmas eve we were in a dilemma as to what to do. My first instinct was to drive somewhere with real snow and play around. Then I though the Pasadena Christmas parade truck would be fun. but in the end we opted to go to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown L.A for their free Christmas concert. It is a televised show in a beautiful old theater where the public come along, grab a seat, watch choirs, dance groups and other musical acts. It’s a totally open door policy so we were able to leave when the kids decided to squirm.

When the big day finally arrived the kids received gifts that they could keep and play with for more than 48 hours. I was delighted to have their new toys lying around in the living room for days. Actually, some of the presents replaced things that they lost in the move. I can stop my motherly guilt about last year now…I’ve been carrying that for way too long!

As the days passed and new year came around. We had a ‘party like it was 1999’ or actually we danced around in the house, in the dark, with glow sticks. What kid (or adult) doesn’t like that huh! I then struggled to stay awake until the bells (or midnight if you’re not Scottish!)

Our yearly planning lists did make an appearance though. We looked back to see what we accomplish in 2015? What did we not accomplish? and more importantly what do we want on the 2016 list? I find these list really difficult to make, my little mind goes blank. However, I like that it sticks to the fridge and I have to look at them fairly often. Physiologically it must seep into my brain just from its presence. Maybe we get more done. Who knows? but I do like the tradition of sitting taking about what we want from the next 365 days.

I’ve started my typical January habit of reminiscing about life gone by. The hazy memory of the past where everything seems a little more golden but actually it was the same as it is now. It’s just that the real memory has faded and left me with something that resembles the truth. I am now looking at the 2016 list and repeating my mantra.

Always forward, Never back.

 

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I lost a bum.

I know that my kids are still young but today I realised that I lost a bum to wipe. I do not know when this happened. I can’t pin point a day. It happened gradually through time. It’s not like wiping poop is my favourite past time but it’s something that all mums and dads have to do. Life is just like that…you pop out a little shit, they poop out a little shit. It’s the great circle of life.

As my youngest was singing the Quistgaard family anthem …”Mummy, I’ve had a poo poo and I’m finished” I realised that I have not done the wiping deed on the eldest for quite some time. I know she is nearly eight but she liked the comfort of having me help. When I was not there then it was not a problem but if I was anywhere in the vicinity then it was all on me.

I do understand that most people are happy when they don’t need to sit in a bathroom waiting for someone else to finish their business but it got me thinking that this was a step toward adulthood. I can now put a big tick next to ‘personal hygiene’ on my mothering chart…(you know the one that no one gives you, so you have to make it up along the way!)

I feel so proud but also sad that slowly slowly the little baby girl that rushed into the world is not a little baby anymore. She is growing and becoming a little lady. One who wipes her own arse behind a closed door.

Flushing…that’s still reserved for me though!

Good Bye Old Friend.

I have been lucky. I have lived nearly 35 years without having anyone pass away. Yes, my Grandparents, and I miss them dearly. My granddad with his twinkly blue eyes and my beautiful Grannie who laughed a lot.  But I mean friends, people of my generation. People that are not supposed to die. The People that I am supposed to grow old and grey with. Everyone has them, you know, the friends that you shared amazing moments with but life took you in different directions. The friends that put a big smile on your face when an email pops up and you haven’t spoken to them in a while.

Today I was not feeling so lucky. I woke up this morning to an email that an old friend, Laura, from back in Scotland had left us.

Laura was continually handed the shitty stick with her health but yet that girl never seemed to bat an eyelid. She took all knocks in her stride and stuck the finger up to the reaper. I actually thought that she may be invincible.

Tears have been filling my eyes at the smallest of tasks today. Making porridge and thinking “Laura will never make porridge again”.  Then while out getting a Christmas tree, I couldn’t help but think that if only she could have had one more Christmas…

I have been sitting at this computer for hours now struggling to find the words that fit how I and many others felt for this completely remarkable human being.

Laura, thank you for just being. It really was a joy to have known you, even from a distance you had the ability to make me smile. Your memory, although tainted with sadness just now will ebb and turn back into smiles again.

Sleep well lassie!

 

Failed…Sorry!

 

I’ve failed to write anything for such a long time now.

The reason…well……

My lovely husband got me a new computer for my birthday. It worked great. I started this blog, LaLaLa. Everything was seemingly normal in LadyQuist Land. However, the computer then asked me if I wanted to update to Windows 10. “Sure thing” I thought, who doesn’t want to be updated to the latest version of, well, anything? I can almost hear the wise technologically advanced human beings laughing at me. Now the computer in question will not log on to the damn internet. It’s slower then a commodore 64 and I have put it on time out. At present I am using my old computer which has been gathering dust in a cupboard. I do still fear the heat that it generates may cause finger tip burns. But I will persevere. Maybe having no finger prints will help when I become a criminal mastermind! A completely organic criminal mastermind, can’t be messing up because of crazy gadgets though. So more Cat woman than Lady Bond.

What’s been happening around here? My Mum came to visit for six weeks. Total delight having her here. She is such a lovely granny. Now that she has gone, Phoenix has been asking for her to either move here or for him to move into her house. I have noticed that many families around here have a granny annex in their garden. I think that when we come to buying a house we need to take this into consideration. It’ll probably be more of a shed in the garden then a lovely two bed apartment nestled between the fruit trees but I’m sure she won’t mind! Right?

We had our first American Halloween. People go all out. Streets get closed down and all the houses have amazing decorations. Huge houses that you can normally only see the tops of from outside their huge security fences open up and welcome all children and adults alike. Some people hire DJ’s to blast out tunes while the kids are going house to house collecting as many sweets as they possibly can fit into their bags.

Down the road there is a place called Boney Island. During the year it is just a normal house that a guy called Rick Polizzi owns. He was the animation producer on The Simpsons so already getting the thumbs up from me. The story goes that when his two daughters were young he couldn’t find anything that he thought was suitable for them. So he decided to create his own very special Halloween house. Now his kids are grown and he still keeps it going. We took a stroll down there one spooky school evening, not really knowing what to expect. I mean, it is just someone’s garden right! Well there is a four floor tree house, a water and light show to amaze all the young ones. Talking spiders that fall down to you from trees, singing plants, flying skeletons and candles that go out by the power of a young mind. Every inch of the garden is well thought out with the wicked and wonderful. It really was a Halloween dream come true. Apparently it gets 25,000 visitors every year now. Which is totally crazy. His wife must be a super tolerant lady. I mean could you imagine 25,000 people walking through your garden every October. To my disappointment the night after we went Dave Grohl was there. Totally for the best though as if I were there on the same day as him, I probably would have caused Jacob a fair bit of embarrassment.

Leaving the past behind and moving to the present…

This week the kids are off school. It’s Thanksgiving week. Having never had a Thanksgiving we don’t really know the protocol. Is everything closed? Is there a parade? Should we just be sitting in the house eating and giving thanks?

Luckily, one of the mums from Phoenix’s Kindergarten has come to the rescue and invited us to her family house in the hills. I guess this is what we will be giving thanks for. The open hearted people of L.A. The folks that are never too busy for a chat and the fact we have been here for less than a year and have met some people that we can call friends.

Maybe I can report back how this went if my computer doesn’t blow up!

Socks

Sometimes you have to take a big step back and really look at your life. What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Do you fail to see the little things that you should be grateful for because the daily grind starts working it’s magic cogs?

Yes. I’m thankful that I have a happy, healthy family. I’m thankful that we had a dream of moving a far and we followed it. I’m thankful that Jacob works his ass off so that I can spend everyday working my ass off looking after the kids rather than in some job I would resent. But those are the big things. What about the little daily things that make a smile appear or disappear.

Socks…I hate socks! Wearing them. Washing them. Pairing them. Having a constant flow of odd socks.

Since moving, we don’t really wear the devils mitten. No more having to deal with the evils of weak elastic. Making, what you thought in the house was a functioning sock turn into the one piece of clothing that is not just invading your foot arch but every corner of your brain. Step, by step.

Then there are toe seams, why…just why?! There are no words to explain my discontent for those nasty little toe crushing lines.

So, I’m grateful for sunshine, warmth, sandals and nail polish.

101 Fail.

I signed up, through WordPress, to do a blogger’s course. It’s called Bloggers101. The idea is that it will make you better at writing, better at giving the facts and engaging with people. I thought this would be a great idea, especially as I lack time management when it comes to getting things down on the page. Hence the reason that I have been neglecting the blog. They send you a small project to do everyday for two weeks. Giving you something to write and post about. Little by little, you get better and better. Sounds good, huh?!

I was sitting last night thinking it seems to be a long time since I signed up for that ‘101’ so I had a little look through my emails. Lo and behold in some unknown folder there was a week’s work of assignments.

Jeezy, I’m a week behind. Does this mean that I am out of it? Should I bother starting? When will I even have the time? All these other people have been enjoying seven whole days of forum discussions about their completed assignments and until that moment it was an unknown place to me.

Why would Gmail hide such emails from me? Why are they not just there, slap, bang in front of me? Why do they deem certain mail unimportant and put them in the naughty folder? Did I do this to myself? Have I failed to put some setting on or turn some setting off on my account? Have I done something to piss ‘them’ off, or has WordPress done something to piss ‘them’ off?

Either way, I feel like I am being punished by ‘them’. Maybe it is because I opened a Hotmail account all those years ago.

Medical Mayhem

It’s nearly three weeks into the ten week summer holiday and I’m sitting on my balcony, listening to the sound of kids across the street playing on their skateboards. Their trucks grinding along the side of the curb. The sun is beaming down on them. Honk of car horns from Ventura Boulevard. It all seems so very California. My lot are happily at zoo with Jacob. All except Summer. She has an ear infection which means spending the day with me in the house watching endless episodes of Jessie – that’s the reason I’m on the balcony!

I have a hundred and one things to do. Well a hundred and two if you include this blog (which I have been neglecting) I should really be making this time minus two children about getting ready for our shipment coming. Yip, our bloody stuff is in port. It is in the USA and within the next couple of weeks will be delivered to our home. By delivered I mean brought to the apartment block and if we live higher than the ground floor (which we do) we will be charged extra for it to be brought inside. I have decided that I would rather bribe all of our new, friendly, noisy, happy neighbours with beer than pay anymore to a company that has taken six months to get our stuff to us. So I will be knocking on their doors and asking for help.

Let me move on to Summer’s ear infection. Bear in mind that a couple of months ago I too had an ear infection. I was prescribed antibiotics, A 10 day treatment to the cost of $9. Now for the same antibiotics but in liquid form for Summer cost $40, down from $75 with some pharmacy discount. She also has a slightly red eye. Not like crazy pink eye or anything but the doc said she needed eye drops which would cost a whopping $300. I have opted out of this over prescribed expensive nonsense. I got all NHS on them and said “let’s just watch it for a couple of days and see what happens”. Sure enough within one day the eye had healed itself. Damn money making corporate doctors.

However, the doc did do a full medical on her, not just looking in her ear like they would in the UK. He also found that she has a little heart murmur. Which is pretty normal in growing children but also something that can be checked and monitored if it continues. This has never and would never be picked up on in England. Given that a our old GP in London would speak to us for a matter of seconds, then send us packing.

From doctors to dentists. My filling popped out, and I had to go get it fixed. I was recommended a place nearby, by a great neighbour.

I walk in to the surgery and fill out a mountain of paperwork. I am then taken to a room where I am given about 20 x-rays by a nurse. So that the actual dentist can just walk in and see everything. Personally, I think this is a bit over the top but given that everyone here has amazing pearly whites then I’m willing to go with it. I then wait for the dentist to comes in and she recommends a treatment plan. My new treatment plan looks like this –

Get crown fitted

Two wisdom teeth extractions.

An implant.

Braces

I explain that I just want a filling but they insist a crown is necessary and they can do it at a discounted cash price of $950…Eh, Bargain, right, emm!!!

I never thought that my teeth were that bad. Yeah, a little squint at the bottom and yes an implant would be great for the missing one at the back – I had a bad dentist when I was 18. He thought it is easier to take the offending tooth out that I broke while munching on a pork chop. Rather than actually repairing it. Total NHS asshole!

So, what do I do? I’ve have thought about getting all the procedures that she recommended. But I also believe that they were not really necessary. They are just aesthetics after all!

I seem to have mentioned the NHS a few times now. I guess there are pro’s and con’s to both systems. In the US, medical treatment is overpriced and the medicine has a higher markup percentage than a cup of tea in the UK. But they seem to go the extra mile here. I guess they have to, to be able to charge such bank busting prices. The jury is still out on which system I think is better. Maybe neither. Maybe a combination of both. Maybe nurses, doctors, dentists, (the list could go on) in the UK should be paid more – then they might give more of a shit. Maybe people’s taxes here in the US should go towards the American people and offer them free or affordable health care.

We can dream!!!

Quirk or Crazy!

Jacob always laughs at me and my craziness when it comes to my annoyance with certain words and phrases. I really do have to fight the urge not to punch someone in the face when they utter words I deem annoying. Jacob manages to work them into a conversation, and laughs, thinking he is super funny. Yip. Haha. Super. Super, funny dear husband!

Since he has been on tour, he has managed to work them into our whatsapp conversations. Even with 5,437 miles between us (yes, I googled that distance!) I am readying that hot poker.

I may regret announcing these words, as I know that most people I am close to really like to piss me off. Quirk or crazy? who knows. But it is surely entertaining to some folk. These “friends” will take great pleasure in saying them everytime we talk, meet or text.

Don’t judge me, just know, I may need help. I guess Los Angeles is a great place to be when in need of a good therapist.

Here are a few examples:

Touch base…’I’ll touch base with you later’. Really? Can you not just call me!

Espresso…when it is pronounced expresso…ugh, seriously people!

Douchebag…Why is someone a Vagina wash?

Buffer…’We have a buffer of cash, just in case’. Okay, I have no idea why this makes me want to put forks in people’s eyes. IT JUST DOES!

I think four is enough to begin with. I do also realise that I am slightly insane. I may end up a lonely little cat lady. I really can’t be the only one with these idiosyncracies. Ahh, the word idiosyncracy is making my eye twitch!

Jacob, come home and save me from myself!

De-loused

I’ve basically been neglecting this blog and any social networking for the past five weeks – my mum has been visiting. She is such a lovely lady and always comes to my rescue when Jacob is on tour. This time though, it was a five week visit. No quick train ride down to London from Fife anymore. Nope, a long 11 hours on a plane is needed. Mum, doesn’t like flying. So I appreciate that she has had to man up and get her ass on a plane just for me to get a hair cut and join a Pilates class…Thanks mum!

So, since I last picked up the laptop there has been an epidemic at school. One that, judging by the reaction of parents – it was as bad as Ebola outbreak. The dreaded infestation of lice.

One morning at drop off, I walked up to a group of mums looking highly freaked out.

“Everything okay?” I said. I got these replies….

“There’s lice in the class”

“Seven Children”

“Oh, no. What will we do?”

Being a sarcastic arse, I burst out laughing and said “oh, yeah, eeeek, nits. Whatever will we do. Call the Doctor!”

So I really thought their reactions were a joke. Turns out, it was not a joke and in fact they are crazy mofos about a wee scabby nit. I heard one mother shrieking  “oh, my gosh. It’s so unsanitary” While another spoke of their first ‘traumatizing’ experience with lice when their child was younger.

One lovely mum, removed anything and everything made of material from the class room to boil wash it. But there was a long stare and conversation about the carpet. What was to be done about it?

Nits to me, is a normal childhood problem. They are more of an annoyance than anything. If you treat them naturally, it takes forever and who wants to go around their whole family with that little nit comb hearing the screams of pain as you scrape it across each scalp in turn. But if you take the chemical route, well, you’re putting chemicals on your kid.

Some inventive people have found a great way to make some cash out of these freaked out parents. Salons with names like ‘The Magic Nit Pick’ and ‘Hairwizards’ are dotted around. Where people drive to with the whole family and pay $100 per person to get De-Loused. De-Loused at the Combatorium if you will. Yeah, yeah, I know I added a B for all those Mars Volta fans. Nearly bald fathers, sitting in chairs while the nit nurse is hysterically laughing, riding that gravy train.

I’m not really sure what to think of peoples’ reaction to these nasty nits. Am I too relaxed about it? Are they too uptight? Will I feel differently when I have to deal with them? Summer has the longest hair so I’m sure one day they will catch on. Lets hope I’m still that sarcastic cow when it does happen or that’ll be $500 out the window for all us Quists.

Twinkle light fear.

I like to think that I am pretty easy going with regards to noisy neighbours. Having been a music loving party gal. I lived for loud music. I played my tunes loud and bass even louder. Now the situation is a little different.

My kids are the loud ones. They split eardrums at 100ft and I am so apologetic to those nearby.  But they are kids, right!?

I always say ‘at least the noise will stop at around 7:30’. Bedtime. Peacetime. Beer time.

The block that we have moved into is a lovely little complex with 10 apartments. There are a range people living here – A couple of families. An amazing older couple at the other end of the hall. A sweet little lady that speaks no English. The partiers and a whole lot of dogs.

The complex wraps around a little swimming pool and communal space. People are happy to sit out together and have a chat. It’s a really friendly atmosphere.

It all sounds so exotic compared to the grey of my old victorian converted flat but this place is not perfect. The palm trees in the grounds need trimmed and I’m actually told that they are a fire hazard in the summer heat. But us Scots have not had to deal with a whole load of palm tree so I really don’t know so much about that!

The pool cleaning days and complex cleaning days seem to be a little mixed up – the pool guy will come on, say a Tuesday and it’ll then look all lovely and sparkly with no crap floating in it then the next day the complex cleaner will come with his leaf blower and blow all the surrounding shit back into the pool. It all seems really strange.

Having always lived in close vicinity to others, I’m used to seeing and hearing all sorts of stuff that I really could have done without. Once I watched a man poop in an envelope in the back of his 4×4. I’ve witnessed a young fella chase another fella down the street with an axe. And lay in my bed listening to helicopters hovering above the house while people were looting and setting cars on fire near by (London Riots).

Right now though I have developed “twinkle light fear”. This is when my next door neighbours puts their twinkle lights on and sit directly outside my bedroom window on an evening. They turn on the lights a while before they actually go and sit there. It’s like they are giving me an hour’s notice to maybe go set up my bed in another room. It’s not so bad when there’s only two of them. But when a party situation arises, well let’s just say that we don’t have double glazing…or indeed windows that close properly. I can hear and smell everything. There are certain things that you do not want to hear people doing and other times when I think to myself “god, how can they sit there and talk such crap” – Then I remember that Marijuana is legal here (for medical use of course). The sweet aroma is often in the air when I’m drifting off to sleep. It is there when I wake up too. Seriously these guys must be smoking all night long. I don’t think they actually sleep, which is weird as they are so stoned all the time Shouldn’t it be more chilled, munchies then sleep?

Luckily they are all very sweet.

Placid, sweet, stoned, but noisy neighbours with twinkle lights.