Then they all left.

Where has time gone? The months passed in a flash. No time for typing. No time for reading or thinking. Only time to enjoying the last few months with the youngest of my babies – technically it was the summer so I was enjoying time with all three – by enjoying I mean saving what is left of my hearing from their incessant whining and bitching and arguing….BREATHE!!!

However littlest is now in school with the other two. That’s one drop off, one pick up, three lunches, one free mama. A friend sent me The Holderness Family “In the Tub” back to school celebration video, I don’t know about everyone else but it’s a pretty accurate portrayal of my life just now.

I’m not 100% sure that I’m truly celebrating though. I quite enjoyed the time I had with the little lady. Drawing, standing on Lego and spending endless hours looking for the piece of a puzzle that seems to be missing. Then there is shopping with a 3ft monster that stops every 20 seconds to point out every product that has a 50%+ sugar content and letting me know she must consume said products at that very moment or this shopping trip could go really bad. I also enjoyed walking up to the check out in Trader Joes and hearing a little voice scream that we did not find the toy octopus hidden in the store therefor rendering us unable to receive the lollipop from the person behind the register, then walking back around the whole store looking the damn stuffed toy. Yes, I will miss all of that.

The first day of real freedom came the second day of school. The actual first day is really just a pretend day where you show up for a photo and a chat. Day two: I drop off, I wave, throw some kisses then I was out of there. In the space of two hours I had managed to have a cuppa with friends, put petrol in the car, shop(in two different shops) and put all the shopping away. Then I threw some laundry in the machine and made another cuppa. Now I’m no Kitsune (is that the right magical being? the one that bends time!) From drop off at 8 to 10 that’s only two hours. How is it possible I completed all of these tasks so quickly? There was only one thing to be done or I would surly die of boredom or have to have another child and this shop is closed…I took to HBOnow, Yip after being left happily in the dark for so many years saying I would just never ever be a part of the madness, I gave in. I just let myself go, with my fresh made cuppa tea and a handful of those sugar snacks that I can’t eat around the kids, I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones. UGH, I should never have given in. Now, just a few weeks into school  I’m so close to finishing the 3rd season. My brain has even started working in a way that I reply to text messages like I am actually in the show. Here’s an example

B: I’m looking forward to meeting you. See you tonight.

Me: As am I, do enjoy the rest of this day. (Say this with a slightly royal accent, cause that’s what’s in my head)

Now yes, it was only short but normally I’d send a little emoji and a “catch ya later” but no GoT has twisted my grey matter.

I’d also like to say that the text was from my husband’s friend’s wife that I’d never met before, it was not some sordid Tinder hook up.

So what I’m wondering is: Does this happen to everyone? Am I so bored with my new found freedom that the only conceivable thing I can think of to do is to watch 7 seasons of Game of Thrones as if it were going to suddenly become unavailable on any viewing platform? and here’s the big and real question…Am I procrastinating?

I know it’s my time now, time to find my feet, time to rediscover the person I was or am. Time which really disappeared 10 years ago along with ability to naturally produce Elastin and collagen. Friends say to me”It’s been a long tough year take a few weeks or months whatever you need just to relax and enjoy, really think about life and where it is headed” Nothing wrong with taking time to reflect, right? But does my real reflection come while watching people being beheaded and hoping that one day I may have a dragon too. I’m thinking, nope! But I’m headed back to that next episode………..

 

 

 

 

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Frightened Heart.

I have it pretty easy when it comes to the bedtime routine. Yes, I repeat myself endlessly and sometimes have to step out the room to count to ten. However, it’s guaranteed that between the hours of seven and eight my mini me’s will be in bed and quiet. But something changed a few weeks ago, the littlest one become scared of something and was constantly get up or screaming “Mummy” from beneath her sheets. To say it got my back up a little would be an understatement, she was really cutting into my adult time. I have some classy (crappy) TV to watch. Does she not understand I’ve been with her all day and need to tune out?! It’s not like she’s alone in the room, there are two other kids there….she is not alone!

I finally caved in and decided that I would stay in the room, but with no contact – don’t want this to become a thing, right? So I lay on the floor doing some yoga, a little plank here and there, stretching myself all over the place. Until that moment where I would look at her from the corner of my eye to check she was asleep, then I would bolt out the room straight to the sofa via the kettle.

But it hit me, she’s scared, she’s little, she’s mine, and I’m the one who makes her safe. What the hell was I doing? She needs me!

She needs me fully present, laying next to her. I don’t go off the clock, that’s not what being a mum is all about. I ease her frightened heart, her overactive brain and it is me who will quell the nightmares. I give her peace from the scary monsters that could jump out from beneath her bed(and they might due to my lack of cleaning skills!)

This is not about me, how did I even make it about me?

This is about her needing comfort, I should be dropping everything to embrace that embrace. Will it really make much difference to my life if I watch one less episode of Buffy? Or will it make a real difference in hers if I am holding her, stroking her hair and making her feel loved?

There is only a small period in their lives that they will actually need me to do this, so why am I fighting it?

When you first give birth, you stare at the little squished up thing every minute of the day, wishing you could bottle every single second. Every smile, every smell – well maybe not every smell! You think that it will never end. Then suddenly without any warning you’re sighing at the moment they wander into the living room when they should be in bed.

I know there are all the theories on self soothing and the old ladies telling you not to spoil them. But can you really spoil a child with love and attention? or is this just total crap so that we can get on with our own lives, leaving them to become a hardened mess.

When they were babies, I always went in for the bed sharing, I practiced baby led weaning. Wore them in a sling until my back was giving way. Taking parts of my parenting from the continuum concept and enjoying all the moments I could. What changed?

ME!

Tonight, I lay with the littlest. Stroking her hair and listening to her breath becoming deeper, staring at her beautiful skin and watching her eyes blink slowly until they were so heavy that she couldn’t open them. I didn’t stop there, the other two were still awake, the eldest reading and the beautiful boy just looking into space. I sat next to his bed and repeated my actions, stroking his hair and wondering where my little boy went. I rubbed my nose against his, he looked up at me and smiled then fell into a deep sleep. I moved onto the big girl, clambering up into her bunk. While she was still reading, I gave her a foot and leg massage as she gets growing pains. She put her book down, cuddled into me and told me how much she loved me before closing her eyes.

This is so much better then any damn TV series. What was I thinking? I have three children who have gone to sleep knowing that in a world with so many unknowns, they can always count on me!

I stayed an extra five minutes just to hold the moment close.

 

 

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!

Old Friends, New Friends.

The truth is that when you get to a certain age, making great friends becomes harder. Moving to another country, mid-thirties with three kids is certainly not the best idea for anyone’s social calendar. But then you make friends with someone quite special and you known that it is totally possible.

The past couple of months I have been hanging out with a gorgeous ozzy gal who makes me laugh like I’m a little kid again. This is great…apart from the fact that she is going back to England (where she actually lives) in a couple of days. We have had such fun. Mostly at her house with all our kids running about. Although a couple of times we have managed a night out – one at a 70’s bar which had a roller booting couple dancing on a bar roof. Another in a Greek restaurant, with dancing waiters (who made us dance too). Both nights we drank and talked, and talked and drank some more. It is not often you meet someone you click with instantly. Someone who gets your silly jokes and giggles along with you. I will miss her so much (but will be looking for her replacement!).

So I’m back to thinking about my girlfriends in London…what are they up to? Have they been for tapas lately? Or to Borough Wines? How was that 40th birthday party I missed? I feel both envious of the fun they will be having together and happy that the ones that met through me are still getting together. I wonder if it is like in a film, where they look to an empty chair and sigh saying “oh, we do miss Laura. It’s just not the same around here” The reality is they are super busy ladies with families and jobs. When they find time for a night out they will be sitting laughing and drinking as it should be.

The next glass of wine I have, I shall stop for a moment to think of how lucky I am to know such wonderful, driven and quite frankly adorable women. All of whom are totally mad in their own unique way.

I like that thought that we all have a load of friends out there that we have not yet discovered.

Old friends, even new friends are just that, Friends – no matter what the distance.

Just (do it to yourself)

Today I decided after weeks of debating to cut Phoenix’s hair.

Summer was off sick from school. Jacob went foraging at Ralph’s for the items on a list that I had handed him. Popcorn, sweeties, cheese. All the things I needed for a day stuck in the apartment with three kids. As it hit mid-afternoon everyone was getting a little tired. The paper volcano Summer and I had been making for science week was not entertaining anymore.

So this was it, the moment I had been waiting for. I powered up the Wii, clicked on youtube and picked a film that we had not watched before.

I don’t know why, but with every task I need to do, my brain doesn’t seem to realise up until launch moment that I do not have the correct tools to do the job. Yesterday I was stood on a chair with a curtain pole, screws and a spirit level before it clicked that I don’t have my electric screwdriver. It’s in the frickin shipping container.

Today was no different. Phoenix was in position, which with our lack of, well… anything, meant him sitting on the kids table and I just ran around him like the hunchback of notre dame. I had scissors at the ready but no comb. I have a comb. I’ve always had a comb…oh, no comb…with a little quick thinking I remembered that deep within a toiletries bag was a nit comb. So this became my hair cutting comb (not recommended).

As those first few strands fell to the floor I start singing Radiohead’s Just (do it to yourself) in my head. I realised why I shouldn’t cut my kids’ hair. A realisation I have every time but being a thrifty Scot it goes against my instinct to spend cash on kids haircuts. Phoenix’s head was swinging around everywhere, picture the exorcist scene but with me trying to clamp his head in place. The scissors were cutting up anything they could find, I was basically gouging out hollows in his hair which meant it was getting shorter and shorter.

All the while Silver was scraping chairs across the floor to sit next to me, declaring it was her turn. I managed to finish the hair cut with only one huge tantrum from Phoenix. He walked away half cut (haha). Telling me that he was itchy and wanted a bath. “NOW”. I coaxed him back onto the table and he underwent the last of the ‘do’ with promise of sweeties and a bath overflowing with bubbles.

The film ended before the haircut.

We kept our eyes locked on each other as I fumbled with the wii controller. Me wondering if he was going to stay sitting on his arse. Him wondering if he could make a run for it. I won! Go me!

So with a new program on I finish up. Rather happy with the result as long as I don’t turn the light up too high… bloody brilliant.

After the bath it still looked pretty good.

Wonder what Jacob will say when he gets in….

Sunday, Sunday.

Yesterday was one of those challenging days, the kind where you think you have things under control but actually…nope. All manner of shit is waiting. We’ve had a long day from getting up oh so early. Saying goodbye to Jacob who is away to London for a few days. Then going to the neighbour’s house who have three kids the same age. Also shopping and Laundry. Pretty much a normal Sunday. I left the kids in the living room while I made a start cooking dinner. The normal shouting started, Phoenix was annoying Summer, Phoenix was annoying Silver, Silver was sitting too near Phoenix, yadda yadda yadda. I would walk through every so often to calm the whatever situation was going on. I then found Phoenix with a pair of kids scissors, cutting Silvers hair. she was quite happily sitting there, shouting ‘hair, hair’.

As I type this, I have just pulled another small clump of hair from the sofa. I wonder if she would have been bald if I had left them any longer. I think I may have to hide the scissors from now on. Actually how do children scissors cut hair? Surely this should be one of the requirements for kids scissors – ‘does not cut hair’. I mean, they can hardly cut paper but hair, totally easy!

We moved onto the normal bedtime routine once we finished dinner. The kids have a special routine reserved for me. Jacob gets away scot free, reads a book, kisses them, then walks out the room. I however get the full pantomime. Jumping up and down, screaming, clothes being pulled off, nappies being thrown around. All the while I’m ready to snap, blood is boiling, veins pumping. What will be my next move? I’ve already taken away two of the three bedtime books and made some threats about taking sleepy toys away. I actually don’t have a next move, I’m not going to get them up to put them on the naughty step. These kids have totally trumped me. Oh what would super-nanny do? Why didn’t I pay more attention to those programs?

What I wouldn’t give to be my husband right now. An eleven hour flight with no one climbing on my head, screaming in my ears, or pulling my hair. You wait for so long to hear that magic word – “mummy”. But then they get to 3 and you wish they had only learned to say “daddy”. Over and over and over.

‘Mummy, can you open this box?’

‘Mummy, I’m thirsty’

‘Mummy, I want a snail as a pet’

‘Mummy, I’ve had a poo, and I’m finished’

‘Daddy…oh, I mean Mummy’