Thursday morning Daniel needed to do some work so Naomi and I walked 5 minutes to a park we’d seen a few days before. It was interesting to be around the toddler/mom/park scene in Australia. Pretty much the same as the toddler/mom/park scene in America, except for the curly accent, and the fact that they’re very friendly, especially toward Americans (not sure why they’re so into us, as most of the rest of the world generally resents us, or at least is mildly disdainful, in my experience.) Naomi had a wonderful time racing around the park, shrieking, climbing on a small ropes course, going “Up! Down!” on the see-saw with Mommy and even petting a big black dog. We’ve been back to this park several times since.
We came home for lunch and a nap, and not halfway thru the nap I was wishing I’d zipped her home earlier to start the nap, as someone in the unit above us decided to drill their way to the other side of the world, but upped the ante by starting on the 4th floor of our building rather than starting on the ground floor. I myself had just laid down for a nap, and gave it a dedicated 10 minutes more before giving up, which sadly indicates how tired I was, rather than my forbearance. Of course Naomi woke up screaming, and while Daniel attended to her I went upstairs to try and ascertain when peace and quiet might be restored to us. Surprisingly, when I reached the 4th floor, the noise was still coming from above. So I went up to the 5th floor and knocked on the door out of which the noise was coming. An older man answered the door with a compassionate, “I’ve woken the baby haven’t I?” I was somewhat taken aback by how kind he was, as he explained that he was demolishing all the tile in the shower and bathroom, and would be working through the next day (Friday), but he assured me that that didn’t mean it was over then. After that, the builders would come. Perfect. I thanked him and as he apolgized again, saying he had kids and knew how hard it was when naps are disturbed, I told him I knew he was just doing his job.
Nap time being over, we decided to head to Ikea to pick up a few things. Our apartment comes “fully fitted” as the British say, but it’s fitted for adults not toddlers, so there were a few more things we needed (plus Daniel needed to get some work-related things like a desk). So we headed to the train station. We bought tickets and were told which platform to go to, arriving just in time for the train to pull away. Again. (This was probably the 3rd time in a row this had happened to us in the last few days.) However, it turned out that the train we’d been instructed to take was actually not as direct as a different train about 15 minutes later, so it was actually a good mistake.
Naomi had a great time on the train. Since the ride was a good half hour, we went upstairs on the train, and at each station she enjoyed looking down at all the “buh-buh” (people), and describing them to us (were they sitting? wearing hats? eating? were they babies or mommies or daddies? For the record, we are working on teaching her that men and women are not all mommies and daddies, but she’s skeptical.)
We arrived at our stop and the adventure continued as we weren’t sure which way the Ikea was. Thankfully Daniel is good at telling directions from where the sun is (even in the southern hemisphere in winter), and we headed the right direction. I noticed how beautifully golden and clear the evening light was on the eucalyptus trees lining our path, and realized that if we have direct sunlight here (ie. if it’s not overcast or raining) it always looks that way. It is another thing that really nourishes my soul. I really like how clean Sydney is (as compared to another Southern California metropolis I call home…).
We entered the mall and a quick diaper check rerouted us to a “parents room” located where the bathrooms were. Once the glass doors slid open with the push of a button, our jaws dropped at how elaborate and comfortable it was (and we have since seen a few others around Sydney! This city is VERY kid-friendly … and nursing-mom-friendly, and toddler-friendly…) There was a miniature gated playground, with a kids music video playing on a TV above. There were multiple stalls marked “breastfeeding rooms” with big comfy armchairs, coat hooks and tables. There was a toddler toilet bathroom, which had an adult-sized toilet and sink, as well as toddler-sized ones. There were several counters for changing diapers, with free disposable changing pads, and pictures painted on the ceiling above each station, facing the right direction for the baby to see (unfortunately these counters are a bit short for Naomi, and her legs hang off and she doesn’t like them). There was a microwave and small kitchen for heating up and preparing bottles or baby food. This place was legit.
(In fact, we’ve been back to Ikea again since then, and when Naomi was having a hard time I just took her to the Parents Room to play while Daniel shopped.)
Clean diaper in place, we proceeded onward toward Ikea. On the way, we passed a large food court. I must admit that, since leaving downtown Sydney, fast food and restaurant prices seem slightly more reasonable. Still very steep, but not obscene like in the business district (which is I suppose true of most downtown areas).
Ikea looked just like it does in every country – their familiar (if blaring) blue and yellow was quite comforting. Even more comforting were their prices – pretty comparable to the stores in the US. Of course, when we got dinner, we paid the usual $0.99 for a cinnamon roll, only to find that it was about a quarter of the size of the ones back home, with only a few teeny drops of icing, and hard as a cookie. Not quite the same. Shopping was stressful though, as this Ikea was probably 3 times bigger than the one we’re used to at home (which is itself mammoth), and with an overtired toddler whose nap had been cut short, it was hard to find everything we needed. (Note: Daniel doesn’t agree that it was any bigger than our home store. I stand by my original estimation. The place was huge.) I had to turn on tunnel vision to focus on getting what we needed while keeping Naomi as happy as possible, and ignoring all the other people around us and worrying about what they thought (if you know me, this is hard for me).
We finally made it to check-out (after a very productive pause in the “As Is” section to pick up a few extra things). Naomi was running in circles both physically and vocally, so she and I played on a pushcart while Daniel used his spatial reasoning skillz to fit all of our many purchases into his pack.
We were all set to go, and began to walk away from the shopping cart we’d been using, when I realized I was supposed to be pushing something. The stroller! With the diaper bag and all my credit cards and other important things in it. I had no idea when we’d left it behind. I backtracked… and backtracked… and backtracked some more all the way back to linens, where we must have been over an hour ago, and there was the stroller. (Thank goodness!)
We finally made our way toward the mall exit… when we saw a sign for Target. Target?! Really?
We followed the sign and saw the familiar red and white bull’s eye, except the font wasn’t quite right and it had a period at the end of the word: “Target.” Okay.
We went inside and were able to find a few more things we’d been unable to find at Ikea, most notably a bathtub for Naomi (as this place only has a shower with no tub and Naomi refuses to shower).
So in the end, on the train ride home we both looked ridiculous: Daniel with a backpack about as big as himself, and me with my bathtub. We got a lot of smiles on the way back to the train station.