I'm still busy getting our lives sorted out. So much seems to revolve around buying small, trivial but useful objects for the house, or doing bureaucratic things related to school or bills or some such.
On Monday I headed downtown to deliver our crucial second proof of address to the school district. They had made me sign an affidavit when we enrolled the girls stating that I really did live where I said I did and would be perjuring myself if I didn't and agreed to serve a life sentence of hard labour if I didn't provide the second piece of proof within 30 days. I may slightly exaggerate but being British I of course adhered strictly to the letter of the law. And of course they looked mildly surprised to see me which leads me to suspect other people didn't take the perjury business quite as seriously as I did.
After that I went shopping to buy a winter coat and an assortment of hats and gloves for the girls. I think I may need a large badge saying "I'm British, please don't greet me, just ignore me" because I often find the incredibly friendly and helpful staff in shops a bit much. Some poor girl has been hired by Gap just to say hello as you enter the shop and to proclaim loudly any special offers in my case directed at my fast disappearing back as I head quickly off into a dark corner of the shop to get away. Perhaps I'm just having a bad week, but I do find myself wondering whether the people (and lord knows it is almost everyone) who ask me "how are you doing" really want to know. What is the correct response to this question because I never seem to have a ready reply. Actually thinking about it, I've never been terribly good at this kind of thing but the Americans do load their language with these good wishes and questions about your welfare and on days when I am tired and just feeling a bit misanthropic, it's all a bit much.
Other not very notable highlights are that I made quince jelly from some quinces I found at the Bi-rite Market. The canning section of Cole Hardware came up trumps and I suspect that canning or preserving as I know it is bigger over here than in the UK. I managed to get the jelly to set without a thermometer and I think it tastes pretty good. So we shall have some with the goose at Christmas.
I also found a lovely cake shop in the Mission - Dianda's Italian American Pastry Co.. They do huge cream covered cakes, pandoro, cream filled pastry horns. So far I've tried the pastry horns which were delicious and not overly sweet. It's another place that is sort of on the way home from school. It's a good thing the girls have to walk as all this ice cream and cake and cookies will make puddings of them both (and me!).
This week was the Fiesta Latina at the school. As this is public school, no religion is on show so no nativity play. Instead we had songs and music, from Latin America, with lots of dancing from the children. Lottie loved being on stage and sang her heart out with her class mates even if she didn't do the actions. There's a strong human rights streak running through the school that they attend so the final section of the show was devoted to a song about a picket line for agricultural workers and ended with the children shouting "the people united will never be defeated" in Spanish. Uplifting.
We had our latest encounter with healthcare which this time involved actual doctors and nurses rather than insurance call centre staff. So no daft questions about pregnancy. The girls needed jabs - ones you don't get in the UK but are advisable to have here. Emilia is cool as a cucumber throughout the process. Lottie is not. The noise was awful. She was not remotely amused. The whole surgery if not the whole of neighbourhood could tell. All serves to make you feel like a complete sod of a parent. The doctor and nurse were lovely about it.
Of course you can't help comparing the surgery with what you are used to back home. It was very familiar really - a little disorganised, busy, and without the more high tech things that the UK has these days - no computer in the room to look up and enter records into automatically which my GP has in Wales. Also you definitely have to wait longer once you are at the doctors here than at home. Both times at two different surgeries we've spent ages waiting to be called and a lot of time hanging around after that too. And of course you have to pay. We have insurance but it is still 20 dollars per patient per visit from us. I suppose I was expecting the actual health care experience to be glossier here because it is private but actually it isn't.
Which brings us to today, when we bought our Christmas tree. It's a bit bigger than planned which meant the girls and I had to walk home, while it sat on the back seat (saloon/sedan cars are very popular over here but rubbish!). Also it makes our decorations look rather spartan and I need to get more lights as the string I bought is very short indeed. Still, it smells lovely and may help to get Tom and I in the mood for the festive season, because right now we have had it up to here with shopping and can't quite believe it's December, time has gone so fast.