Our first American summer is here and it is whizzing past right before our eyes. The thought of 11/12 weeks off in the middle of the year can be daunting but given we arrived here in August and only had a couple of weeks before the kids had to start a new school we were ready for it. Plus, we had friends & family lined up to stay so we knew it would be a busy summer. But, some seven weeks in–half-way through–it’s becoming ridiculous and needs to slow down before we blink and miss it.
What happened to being bored and having “nothing to do”? What happened to catching up on my Blog and getting time to enhance it and work on new and fun things? What happened to regretting not taking advantage of the one trillion camps there are on offer?
This one time at Band Camp
When we first arrived and the kids started at their new school there was a lot of talk about Camp and a lot of emphasis on “sleep-away” Camp. It was my daughter’s dream to go to Camp. (Didn’t we all dream of going away to camp as we grew up watching American movies when all the kids got to go to Camp? OK I did).
As the year went on it became clearer that we’d have friends come to visit so going off to Camp wouldn’t be a thing in the kids immediate future. Neither were really perturbed and given we haven’t grown up with a Camp culture–to us summer holidays are all about the beach and going away as a family–we weren’t either.
But in hindsight I feel like I’ve let the team down. Not my team but this Blog. I mean who comes to live in LA with two camp-aged kids and doesn’t research them, how much they are, who goes, for how long and what really goes on (are they really like the movies?).
So I had a little look on the website at one camp my daughter wanted to go on. Ironically for a cool $8,550 each I could send both my kids back to Australia and New Zealand (not the Camp the kids wanted to go on) to do all the things we do during our summer holidays while I stay here and … well I’m not sure what I’d do … refurb my Blog?
Sounds great if both parents work but I don’t really need to take advantage of Camp. Ironically, when you look at the promotional video it shows Sydney and Manly at their spectacular best and doesn’t necessarily show that it’s winter there. And, I know as well as you do (my Aussie readers) that it’s been a cold and miserable winter. Imagine surf lessons on Manly Beach when it’s blowing a gale and bucketing down?
Having said that the girls (and boys) that go away to traditional sleepaway camp here in the US love it. And if I’d bothered to research it earlier then I would see that they have a special wakeboarding program that my son would love as he misses it so much. Maybe next year …?
Seeing LA from my friends’ eyes
We had “mom & friends” camp (ie staying home) with one of my closest friends here at the start of summer. They were in the US for five weeks and did the most amazing things. To say it was a trip of a lifetime was an understatement.
Apart from having them around to see what life is like for us (and share our experiences first hand) for an extended period it was great to see LA and the US from their perspective.
So, here are five things I noticed they noticed about being in the US.
- The service is so good it’s going to be hard to go back to apathy.
- Everyone is just so nice and friendly (and noticeably so) and it’s actually really nice and not sickly terrible. (But tipping–and thinking about it–sucks)
- There is so much to do and see here you need more than a couple of years to get through your bucket list (which, keeps on growing–that’s my addition). And, there is so much to do that no wonder many Americans don’t feel the need to discover what the rest of the world has to offer.
- Hollywood and Beverly Hills are like one big movie set. Not as in everything looks so familiar (even though it does) but that it seems bigger and more schmick than it is in real life. The Hollywood Walk of Fame for example the stars seem so much more shiny and new not that there are people everywhere with not much room between each star and someone’s spilt ice-cream on Michael Jackson. Oh, and that Rodeo Drive isn’t actually that long.
(Celebs don’t really shop on Rodeo Drive that much unless they’re looking for publicity which is exactly what we caught when we were there–a guy from the Hunger Games walking up and down with an unknown hat-wearing girl as paps and adoring fans chased him.)
- That we’re very lucky with the quality of food in Australia. My friend couldn’t get over the fact that a wedge salad was served in some of the best restaurants in the US and it’s essentially a wedge of iceberg lettuce! It’s true and if you’re lucky it’s served with a fancy ranch dressing.
And, by way of a PS you can dine at my favourite West Hollywood restaurant and see paps and big-time celebs: Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock AND Keanu Reeves in fact. And, there may or may not have been an exchange between my girlfriend & Keanu at the bar that didn’t include her introducing us. Sigh).
Like me they imagined their overseas “trip-of-a-lifetime-holiday” to be exploring Europe but we put a spanner in those works. If ever I had a choice I’d choose Europe over America because I thought it had more to offer. While I still love Europe I have (and they do) a great appreciation for all the US has to offer.
The Annual Health Check
With summer comes the annual health check in preparation for the kids starting the new school year. Each year the kids start a new school year we’re required to take them to the pediatrician (kids here go to a pede Dr not a GP) and get the royal once-over. For our school this check-up must be between April and August so if you’ve been getting a check-up on their birthday which falls in March then you have go back and go through the whole process all over again.
The kids could not see the point in this check up at all–especially that it was interrupting their precious holiday time . I haven’t got the bill yet (I’m wondering if I should be scared) but I think the concept of the health check is a good thing.
They take the kids’ height and weight, assess their hearing and eye sight, check on their immunisations, do a glucose and cholesterol test, take their blood pressure and have a good look at their file to see how they’re tracking (and have been tracking) throughout their little lives. (Actually maybe I need to be very scared about that bill!)
Actually it’s more than civilised here–a medical assistant or nurse takes your vitals, runs many of the tests, does the admin to double-check vaccinations then the doctor steps in and reviews everything, gives them a physical check-up and lets you know how they’re “performing”.
I think we need more of that in Australia. It seems to me to be a great preventative approach to keeping track of the kids’ wellness. For some reason our school has a strict policy on doing these tests (others not so apparently) but for whatever reason my kids are being kept track of while we’re here in the US.
Usual programming will re-commence in ratings season
Given we’re out of ratings season here in the US and all the new shows and highly anticipated next seasons are starting back in September I’ve been a bit quiet too. I promise to post more regularly once school is back.
In the meantime I’m researching holiday ideas and destinations for you so check in on those. Coming up I’ll post on Yosemite, continue my review on Beverly Hills Hotels, extend the review area and talk about Disneyland, Universal Studios and shopping in LA.
xx It Started in LA xx