We leave Australia in only 2 more days. Mostly I’ve been feeling happy, because I’ve really missed family and friends, but of course all the things I will really miss have started to pop up too. Some of the things I will miss the most:
1. Patak’s Butter Chicken – Oh.My.Gosh. This stuff is amazing! Our whole family adores it – you buy the paste and add ingredients to make this Indian chicken dish called Butter Chicken. It is out of this world. The recipe calls for butter. And cream. And boy is it good. I’m totally bringing home as much as I can in my suitcase.
2. The Opera House – Every time I see it, especially if I haven’t looked at it in awhile, I feel lighter inside. It is just so beautiful. I especially love seeing it from the side, as we ride the train back over the bridge from the city.
3. Bangkok Sidewalk Thai Restaurant – Discovered this place when my parents were here, by ordering takeout on their last night here. Changed my life. No way to bring this stuff home in my suitcase, or else I would.
4. All the playgroups during the week – I found that the closest playgroup doesn’t usually even charge people – they just have tons of toys and cars and baby dolls with strollers and seesaws for the kids to play with, and Naomi always loves it. We have somewhere to go every day of the week, all are within 5 minutes walking distance, and most days it doesn’t cost. I’ll really miss that!
5. Our local playgrounds – There are 2 playgrounds we take Naomi to the most – one is 5 minutes away, one is about 10. She likes the further one better because it has swings and is next to a big field that’s popular among dog owners. It’s also next to a big neighborhood garden, which is so neat. At home we have several playgrounds within walking distance – at least 15 minutes, though. And most of them are honestly kind of trashy – not as in poor quality (though some of them are that too), but as in lots of trash on the ground.
6. Darling Harbour Playground – This place is amazing. I need to write a post about it – water park, zipline… we love this place. It’s a 20-minute ferry ride away, so when we go we go for the whole morning, but it’s fantastic. I’ll really miss that.
7. The Zoo – Such a great zoo, especially the gorillas! I’m so glad we got season passes so we could go there as much as possible. It was somewhat hard to get to (an hour each way, with ferry transfers and stuff), but that’s easier than it is to get to the San Diego Zoo from our house in CA. :)
8. Our elevator – I don’t really like the elevator in our apartment building, because it still tries to get me each time, getting stuck about 60% of the time, or leaving a 10-inch gap between its floor and the hallway floor by misaligning itself when it opens its doors. But. If I can’t live on the ground floor it’s super nice to have an elevator to take up and down. Not really looking forward to the stairs we take to get up to our front door at home…
9. The swimming pool – I will really miss having only a 10-ish minute walk to the indoor swimming pool here. It means that a 30-minute workout can really mean only being away from home for about an hour rather than 2 hours at home (because of the 20-minute drive on either end back in CA). I also like getting to swim indoors – no sun exposure (thus no need for sunscreen!), plus when doing the backstroke it’s so nice to have lines to follow on the ceiling! I hate getting tangled up in lane lines back home when I’m trying to just guess what direction “straight” is!
10. Riding the train solo – Last month I started seeing a physiotherapist for my back (which has helped a lot). It was the first time I’d really gotten out of the house by myself and I loved it! I always looked forward to those appointments – especially if they happened at rush hour – because I loved to observe all the different kinds of people on the trains. It was fascinating. I will miss being able to just hop on a train and see so many interesting kinds of people. Los Angeles’ metro system also puts you around pretty interesting kinds of people, but it’s a lot further from where we live.
11. Free laundry! At home we pay an arm and a leg for our community laundry machines – it’s been so nice to have our own machines here.
Things I will NOT miss:
1. Hearing the yells and hoots of teenage boys during lunch hour from the courtyard of the boys’ school next door.
2. The smell of cigarettes that still occasionally haunts our apartment. Yuck.
3. All the extreme hills surrounding our house. Especially when we have to walk everywhere.
4. Paying $16 for 5 bananas. That just wasn’t right. I saw the price per kilo and knew they were big bananas but there was no scale and I was in a hurry so I just grabbed the bunch and gagged over the receipt later. Australian banana plantations getting wiped out in the storms earlier this year just were not good timing with our visit.
5. The olive oil here tastes weird – distressingly strong. That is so random but such a bummer when it’s the only kind of oil you have in which to cook (I later got some canola too, and now mix them).
This is also making me think of all the things I’m looking forward to when we get home:
1. Our friends! I so so miss our friends, and miss Naomi’s friends. She has definitely adjusted to being here and is doing much better with her anxiety than when our first month here, but it’s obvious that she hasn’t really connected with any kids here. I know everyone says 1-year olds only “parallel play,” and aren’t really capable of playing with others, but Naomi definitely felt more free around her friends back home (most of them are older kids, but she really responded to them being kind to her and just loved buzzing around when they were all playing). I can see here that she’s just now becoming more comfortable at the playgroups, but it’s always a new group of kids every time we go. And she still talks about all her friends back home by name, so I know she misses them.
As for me, it’s been tough to stay connected with my friends due to the time difference. I’m so grateful for Skype and Facebook and Google Voice, because it has allowed me to stay MUCH more connected than I would have been otherwise. But mornings are usually busy here – usually I try to get Naomi out of the house. Then we’re home by noon and by then it’s already like 6 pm in California, so I only have about 3 hours in which to call anyone. That sounds like a lot of time but when I’m also trying to get dinner made (during nap time), it doesn’t always work that way. Plus, evenings are when I most want to connect with my loved ones, and can’t do that here because it’s the middle of the night there. And there’s just nothing like being nearby. So I think it will be really nice to be back in our community.
2. Our family! Wow do I miss our family. I’m so glad we’ve been able to Skype several times with Daniel’s parents, and talk to my parents and sister+family on the phone, but it’s not the same. (And of course it was AWESOME having my parents come visit! But then they had to leave… :( )I’m so so so glad we will be home for the holidays – I can’t begin to think what it would be like to have Christmas over here. I know we’d adjust and all, but I’m really looking forward to being with family.
3. Our church! We received a wonderful gift from God when we came to Sydney, when Daniel’s boss picked an apartment that “happened” to be a 5-minute walk from an Anglican church. We decided to pick that church and stick with it, rather than checking out others, and I’m very glad we did. I think I might have made only one real connection here if it weren’t for that church and all the really welcoming young moms who reached out to me and included me, and I’m so grateful for that. I loved having people I could trust around my child, I loved getting to go to a midweek Bible study, and I loved the few times we got to take communion (they don’t do the high church thing of taking communion each week, to my regret). But. I reeeeeeeally miss our church. I miss the people, I miss the building, I miss the beloved crucifix behind the altar. I especially miss taking communion, and I miss really getting to relax in a worship service because of how much fun I know my child is having in the nursery (as opposed to, here wondering if she’s crying and having separation anxiety). I also miss something silly: at coffee hour at our church back in CA there are usually doughnuts or some goodie, but there is also fruit and bagels with PB or cream cheese. AND the tables are normal height so toddlers can’t just snatch things! I know it’s not a bad thing in itself but it has annoyed me to no end that the coffee hour here in Sydney WITHOUT FAIL has at least 4 kinds of really rich cake sitting out on a very low table, plus cookies and other sweets. Of course Naomi gets frantic for these things, it’s right before lunch, she’s never satisfied with just one, it’s right before naptime so she gets a sugar high… etc. I’ll be glad to have the kind of stuff at coffee hour that I’m used to. :)
4. Disneyland! Naomi is finally old enough to appreciate it, and I can’t wait to take her next month with my family.
5. Friends and family! I really really miss them. :)
6. Cheddar cheese! …when it does not have to fall under the category of either “mature” or “tasty.”
7. All California dairy products – My mom noticed this too: something is up with Australian dairy products. The cheese tastes different, the butter tastes different, the eggs taste different, the chicken tastes different. I’ve gotten pretty used to it, but it’s more like I tolerate it. I can’t wait to get back to California’s cheese, butter, milk and chicken!
8. Eating out for reasonable prices. Enough said.
Some of the things I hope to “bring” home with me –
1. I’d love to walk to places more. I really liked that about our life here in Sydney (although it will be super nice to at least have the option of taking a car if the weather is bad), and although I did walk a fair bit for errands in CA before coming to Sydney, I’d like to do it even more now, if I can. We have a Target AND a Vons within about a 10-20 minute walk of our house, so I’d like to make more use of that walking opportunity.
2. Definitely going to stick some Patak’s Butter Chicken paste in my suitcase.
3. I remembered how much I love swimming. Although I used to swim laps often, since Naomi was born I have hardly gone at all (mostly because it’s so much work to get to and from the pool I use in CA). But now that I’ve gotten back into swimming more regularly, since our pool here in Sydney is so close, I realize how important it is for me to do. I feel so much better, stronger and healthier, and I really enjoy being in the water.
4. A deeper appreciation for the friends and family so close to us. So many people don’t have family close to them, and especially with a young child this is particularly meaningful to me. I don’t think I appreciated it as much before we came here. Kids Naomi’s age change so much and so fast, and I’m so glad that our family gets to see that when they are pretty close by. I’m also so grateful that Naomi has such loving and close relationships with her grandparents on both sides, and I really want to nourish that. They are wonderful people and I want her to know them! It’s also so wonderful to have friends that I really enjoy and – as a young parent – whose parenting styles I really respect and admire. It’s tough to be a young parent – you are shaping this little life in so many ways, and it can be very lonely because it’s a very demanding job. The other parents around you end up being such an influence on you, and I’m so grateful to have people around me who are parents I want to be like. That is a huge blessing, and I don’t receive it flippantly.
5. Less reliance on toys for Naomi’s entertainment. We didn’t bring many toys or books with us to Australia. We did check out library books to extend our collection, and we always pick up little “toys” here and there in the form of used containers or boxes that she likes to play with, but as far as toys she really didn’t have that many while we here. And it was no big deal! She did ask to watch videos of her friends and cousins on Facebook at LEAST 4 times a day, and asks to use the iPad at least as much if not more (so that’s a struggle), but for the most part I realized that we really don’t NEED all the toys that I used to think we needed for her. I’d always heard that – buying kids more toys doesn’t make them happier it just makes them want even more toys – but I guess it was really good for me to actually experience the truth of that. It meant I had to be more proactive about getting out of the house with her, but that was good for both of us!
6. Bible study – I’m not sure how feasible this will be, due to the wider geographic spread between me and all my mom friends back home (as compared to here in Sydney), but I really enjoyed the midweek Bible study here. It was a women’s Bible study and they provided free child care during it. I would love to start something like that up back home. I also know that most of my mom friends are busy with homeschooling, and may not be able to participate in something like this (plus I’d have to figure out the child care part of it), but I miss being in the Word with others more.