Christmas, help!

As the kids get older I find it harder to think of Christmas presents for them. Our apartment is not massive so I really have to think about space, also I don’t like just buying things for the sake of buying. I want to get them gifts that will mean something to them and they will use. I just don’t know what those things are.

My first thought was bikes, Summer is the only one that can ride without stabilizers which I find totally ridiculous but I guess moving to the city where the sidewalks suck and everyone drives, it never calls for cycling much.

Really, I think I would just like to get them a couple of little things each and then spend the big money taking them somewhere exciting. An experience to remember! But Christmas for kids has turned into a shit show of plastic and paper, with the excitement of opening gifts then throwing them aside. Do they really need another box of shopkins or  more toy cars or whatever fad gift is relevant this year?

I’ve been wondering a safe way to teach them about the value of giving, that is a much nicer and more fulfilling way to spend Christmas than receiving an abundance of toys. I’d really like to head down to a soup kitchen or something but I don’t know about having a four year old in that environment is any good or even a thing that is allowed. Also I know that everyone wants to help at this time of year and we would be better doing a homeless charity when volunteers are low mid year. I guess google will be my friend when investigating this.

So how do you all choose Christmas presents? How do you differentiate between what they really want and what they REALLY want? My kids tend to look at catalogues that we get through the door and pick about 10 things on each page. Telling me how cool it is and how they absolutely need a chocolate making kit or they may not survive Christmas. Jeezy, were we all this greedy as kids?

I still remember my favourite present as a kid. I don’t really remember my age, maybe six or seven. I was overjoyed with a cardboard sweet shop that had real sweets. I sat for hours weighing out sweets for everyone that they were not allowed to eat, because then I’d have none left to play with. The sweet shop could not have cost for then a couple of quid, but boy did my mum do well that year! Now it’s about spending as much as you possibly can on the kids. Everyone posts to Instagram and Facebook with their massive piles of presents under the tree on Christmas eve. I feel a bit like it is keeping up with the Joneses and I just couldn’t give a crap about that. I would rather impress my kids with time and an experience.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Since I started writing this blog post, Jacob and I have decided that we are going to go away for Christmas. The kids will get a few little presents as we can’t carry that much then a larger one between them when we get back. While away we will show them the craziness and man made eyesore that is Las Vegas, then move on to Lake Mead in the hope that we can teach them about how Vegas may be fun but it is draining this lake dry. I will come armed with information about what conservation ideas are around and see if they can think of any. From there we’ll move on to the Grand Canyon because who doesn’t want to see metamorphic rock…this will take some good explaining, I’m sure! Then to the Joshua tree for a little hiking and peace. Being a thrifty chick I want to do all this on a budget. Google has already told me a lot of exciting free things to do while on the trip but if anyone has anymore ideas then hit me up. I really want to show these kids everything!

 

 

Advertisements

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)

 

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.

 

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!

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!

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.

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!