Refereeing the World

While refereeing a particularly brutal game of Shopkins Bingo. I had to keep reminding my children to be graceful in winning and graceful in losing. Never taunt your opponent, never call anyone names and never, ever hit out in anger.

I don’t like cheaters and I find gloating a very unattractive quality. Especially adults who do these thing to children. What are they teaching them? Yes, I get that a lot of people do this in jest and don’t get me wrong i’m a sarcastic little bitch at times. Especially with my own siblings and husband, as they are with me too. But being all grown up now makes things a little easier Tone of voice can be easily felt, as can the cheeky smiles be seen.

My eldest brother used to (actually maybe still does) take great pleasure in taunting me for my weird ways. For example, when in my teens I had varying hair colours (still do) but obviously being younger there were some really, really, wrong ones – Bleach blond with blue streaks is so not me! Perm over bleach, who knew it fries your hair and means you have to shave it off? not me! Around the age of…say…16 when the crazy hormones and  major self-consciousness has really kicked in my brother comes in to the living-room with a very please look on his face. In his hand he clutched a booklet that he had taken some time to create. The booklet in question was called ‘Laura’s Locks. It had a number of pages with a photo of me on each, looking like I had been attacked by a pack of hairdressing hyenas. Each page came with some sarcastic caption to make me feel fantastic. As you have guessed these pieces of paper set my bitch look on fire (I get that from my mum!) lasers shot out of my eyes, instantly killing him. Or maybe that is just what I wanted to happen at the time. In actually fact I just gave him evil looks, said something stupid in a whiny voice and stomped off in a huff.

(I’ve totally rambled off topic to state that my brother was mean and I was the victim of sibling torture!*)

My thoughts while trying to teach my children about fair play and good sportsmanship led me to thinking about the upcoming presidential election. I watch sometimes with my jaw dropped at how truly childish, mean and selfish Donald Trump acts. I’m not overly informed politically. Even less so since moving to America, where the news is utter nonsense. But I know Trumped up little shit bag when I see one.

Take a trip back 60 or so years and you can imagine him being every parents nightmare play date. You can actually see the terrified look upon anyone and everyone’s face when they hear the words”would you look after my little Donald, it’ll only be for an hour or two!” – Run, run for the fecking hills. Although I’m sure he had nannies and plenty of hookers to play with from a very young age.

My mind is littered with visions where Trump, Cameron and Putin (to name a few) play roulette with the worlds future.

I think to myself on a daily bases ‘for the love of humanity, don’t vote for him’

*(I gave as good as I got and now we are the best of friends)

 

Car Park Robbery

A new restaurant opened up in front of our apartment block a few months ago. We have been watching them renovate the place since we moved in, over a year ago. The day after they opened a team of ten or so people turned up to rip up the car park and resurface it. The work started at 7 am…7 am I sat bolt up right from my beautiful slumber to the sound of metal being scraped along tarmac. Think nails on the blackboard times a million. This lasted the whole day, the next day large lorries turn up with tarmac and large roller machines (much to the excitement of the kids). And bosh, job done! 26 car lot complete in two days. Super quick huh?!

The evening after, opening hours and a valet service turns up to take cars from customers and park them so they don’t have to. Now, here is my issue. It’s a 26 car lot. People are paying $5-$6 to let a man park their car between one or 20 meters from the entrance of the lot. They are also then waiting in line to have this unnecessary paid luxury forced upon them. Every time a car comes into the lot I have to use every bone in my body to restrain myself from screaming “free street parking, FREE STREET PAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRKIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGG”

Have they gone mad? It seems like a big scam to me. Not even a clever one. Just one that everyone here has accepted, it’s car park robbery, or parking lot robbery. Does everyone one here need to feel special and valet parking is one of the ways to meet these self inflicted standards.

Being true to my Scottish self. I won’t pay for parking. I’ll park ten blocks away and walk for 20 minutes to avoid this unnecessary evil. I sometimes even use PUBLIC TRANSPORT…really naughty words to typical Los Angelenos.

A while ago I suggest to someone that we take the bus along the road (a 10 minutes journey) to avoid paying a $20 parking charge that the establishment we were going to charges…the bus costs $1.75 so for the two of us that is a $16.50 saving. That’s a few drinks, a family outing to Menchies, a burger for one. So many possibilities with that $16.50. The person in question looked at me as though I had actually gone mad and said “well I’ve never been on the bus so, let’s just drive”

Why do people fear the public transport system here? The buses are fine, the trains are super quick. Let’s ride public Folks!

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.

 

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.

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!!!

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.

Out of touch

I’ve not read a trash mag for so many years. Today while doing a spot of shopping I decided to give one a go. Mainly because I read on the front cover that Chris Martin was getting back together with J Law. I didn’t even know they were gay. I stood wondering if Jude Law and Chris Martin would make a good couple…I guess I could see it. But I do wonder how Gwyneth took the news of her ex. Hey, If they are all happy then why the hell not, huh!

Okay. So, it turns out I am more out of touch than I thought.

Once I had unpacked my shopping and made my cup of tea. I sat my pop culture ignorant ass down and flicked through the pages of my new mag. I realised that I had heard of around 3% of the people on those shiny pages. And yip, J Law was indeed Jennifer Lawrence, Jude and Chris remain hetrosexual…I actually felt slightly deflated by this news. I know I had totally made it up in my own head but I also had them down as a pretty cute couple.

Really, when did I become so out of touch!

…I guess when the whole x-factor/big brother lifestyle come about and it made me puke a little. No one needed to actually have a talent. It was just a race to see who would have sex live on telly first. Yeah, some of them could sing or dance a little but ultimately the ones that win these programs are the ones that can be molded and abused by the powers that be. I didn’t really want to watch or hear about a bunch of performing monkeys.

Since moving to L.A the whole paparazzi thing freaks me out too. I know the celebs need those photographers and photographers need the celebs. Vicious circle and all that. But often, while walking home from Summer’s school we often see ‘the pap hiding behind cars with their big ass camera lenses trying to get a shot that will make them a few dollars. What freaks me out though is that they are watching a kids play area. They are trying to get the best shot of some celebrities kid. As you may be aware, I have no idea how the whole celebrity thing works but. Hey. Asshole.

Leave them kids alone!

Hysterical blindness

Silver has just discovered the mega tantrum. Yes. She is two and a half. But it has been pretty much plain sailing so far. Little tantrums here and there. Now…whoosh. There she goes. She screams with such ferocity that it makes my ears pop.

While trying to get ready for a rare night out, little lovely Silver decided that she was not going to go to bed. Or rather that she will go to bed, as long as it was on top of Phoenix while emptying her water cup on the pillow – Nope, not going to happen!

So the tantrum starts. First the ear splitting shriek then onto low gurning with every breath. Her little face was red and she swings from the bedroom door handle – both feet up, making the most of her childlike upper body strength.

What can I do when I look into my child’s eyes to calm her down and yet I don’t exist? She couldn’t see anymore. Hysterical blindness has set in.

Wait…Just, wait. I sit down on the bed, pick up my make-up bag and keep getting ready. The screaming subsides to groaning noises but with some coughs added in for good measure. Her throat is probably as dry as a popcorn fart.

After another five minutes. She walks across and sits her ass next to me. Smiles and says “Water, Mummy”. Then gets into bed and closes her eyes.

That’s it. She has forgotten all about it. She has moved on. Maybe she realised half way through screaming that she didn’t actually know why she was screaming. But added an extra couple of minutes of grunting, to give herself time to maybe remember,or just to make it look more effective.

I do sometimes wish that I could deal with my problems in this way. I bet I would feel so amazingly relaxed if I just swung from the door frame screaming and crying for ten minutes…then moved the hell on.

Spring Break

School is such a buzzkill. I know that in reality we can’t have an eternal Spring break and that actually I would probably go totally insane having all three kids with me all the time, but this week has been sort of magical. Even though Jacob has been missing for some of it, we totally made up for it at the weekend.

Our Easter week started with a bang. That bang being a friend (Rebecca) and her two kids arriving from London. Summer and Rebecca’s eldest were in the same class in London so they were super excited to see each other and talk about who was a bit naughty back in her old class and who was the funniest person ever.

Our apartment is not really the best for having seven people staying in it but we made it work. I now quite like the idea of having a wife or living in a commune. Seriously things just got done. We worked well around dinner, cleaned up after with such synchronicity that in next to no time we had all the kids in bed asleep and were sitting out on the balcony with a cocktail. Not once did I have to ask for anything to get done, it was just done. Beautiful!

We started the week with a trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is also my first trip to one of the local museums. Summer went here on a school trip a few weeks ago so she was really happy to show us around. In true London style we got on a couple of buses to make our way there. Not really sure why everyone uses their cars all the time here as it was super easy, although I’m sure it would be hell getting out to the beach on a bus…must google that!

The outside of the museum was pretty amazing, lots of room for the kids to run around. Inside the various buildings were photographs, paintings, sculptures…everything you would expect from a Museum of Art. It was not the most child friendly of museums, lots of marshalls around telling off the children for being too loud or fast. One fella said that art was not interactive and also not for children.. Not sure I agree with that one! However, they did have a children’s area where the kids could paint for a while and we could relax a little.

The next day we decided to go to Universal Studios. We had originally said we should go to Disney but it takes 15 min on the bus to Universal compared to a two hour drive to Disney, so it was kind of a no brainer with five kids in tow. We arrived at the park nice and early to make the most of the day. The older children wanted to go on all the rides, while the younger kids either couldn’t or wouldn’t. So Rebecca took the older kids while I took my young ones for a walk around. After a while of walking, Phoenix, Silver and I decided to take the studio tour. It could not be that frightening, right?! Hmm. Turns out that after 15 minutes of sitting on a train looking at various famous street sets you enter a dark tunnel. Then – in 4D – dinosaurs start attacking the train, spraying water and rocking the carriage back and forth. Phoenix and Silver both start screaming and shaking uncontrollably, fighting over who is going to be closest to me. I hung my head in shame for taking them on the tour…I could see the glares from the old biddies!

Next up was the famous animals show. I double checked with a steward that there was nothing remotely scary in this show. Apart from a few pigeons flying over head we were totally safe. Phoenix and Silver loved it, especially when one of the dogs from Beverly Hills Chihuahua came on stage. Oh, what a treat that was!!!

Then lunch and a run about in the water fountains and onto the next show, Waterworld. Seriously amazing. I love this stuff. Explosions and water flying everywhere. A crappy plot line. It’s so cheesy and fabulous…next time I’m going on my own and sitting in the splash area!

We caught a couple more shows and then it was time to head home with five tired kids –  and two even more tired Mums.

The rest for the week was filled up with kids arguing, winding each other up, then laughing and chatting. Kids are so amazing, I do wish I could wear my emotions on my sleeve the way they do.
Poor Jacob arrives home, tired and Jetlagged and I get him straight back into family life. Best way to get over the lag I say!

I had the weekend planned. It is Easter and we must find somewhere amazingly American to do an Easter egg hunt. Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark was going to be the place. So with a picnic packed we headed over to the land of oversized egg baskets. We hunted for sweetie filled eggs in a hay covered field and avoided the rather creepy looking Easter bunny. Really, what more could you want. Well, a little less sun, as being deep in the valley it was baking. We were baking. Being the pasty Brits we are (with the exception of Jacob) I was slightly fearful of us looking like “Brits on holiday” – you know, the lobster look. We did manage the whole day, taking a sun break in the hillbilly ranch style cafe and seeking trees to hide under. It was a perfect way to spend a family Saturday.

Easter Sunday arrived and we were going to a friend’s potluck lunch. I baked my Spanish Omelette just in time. The kids were all ready and off we went. Not really knowing what to expect as the friend (Tiffany) who invited us is really a new friend. Jacob and I actually met her the day before we got married in Vegas a couple of years ago. She was a gorgeous maitre d at the Paradise Cove in Malibu. She gave us her email and lots of advice on the different areas in L.A to live with kids. But on an actual day to day friendship level she is pretty new. Turning up at her house in North Hollywood for Easter Sunday was so fun. Her family and friends are just as amazing as she is. All gorgeous and welcoming. I felt like I had known some of them for years!

The Kids played outside. Summer playing catch, Phoenix running around with a boy his age trying out skateboards and Silver became the doorman for the day (or door person – don’t want to be sexist).

The Holidays are always so special, but this is our first one in Los Angeles so maybe that’s why it was extra special. Or maybe it was the friends visiting from the U.K or even the new friends making us feel welcome. What ever the magic factor was I don’t want it to end. Maybe I should home school. Maybe I should try unschooling, maybe I should go set that alarm.