Things I Will Miss…

Posted by on October 25, 2011

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.

17 Responses to Things I Will Miss…

  1. doro

    It has been so much to read about your time in Sydney! I have loved living vicariously through you!

    I have bought several different Patak’s products in Little India. I bet that you could find the butter chicken around here. We should take the babes and go to the Indian Grocery when you get back.

    Have a safe trip home!

  2. Katie

    That sounds great Dorothy! :) And I’m so glad to hear Patak’s is available in CA!

  3. Calva

    Appreciate your reflections and what things meant to you – how it has changed your thinking and the growth you have experienced through your travels there. But I am anxious for you to get home!! All the babies are growing up too fast!!

  4. betsy

    dear Katie! we will welcome you home with open arms!

  5. Katie

    Thanks Betsy & Calva :) :)

  6. Pamela O.

    Like the others have said, we are so excited to have you back home too! I think it’s terrific that you and Daniel have so thoroughly experienced Australia and all it has to offer but I can’t wait to hang out with you again. I also can’t wait to see Naomi and Shiloh play! Shiloh’s face lights up any time we mention Naomi’s name! :)

  7. sharon smith

    I’m sad you are leaving cause I just learned about you being in Australia and enjoyed reading your blog! Glad to hear you get to go home and see family. Sounds like you will look back at your time in Sydney with fondness. I miss seeing the Opera House too. I remember hearing the Kookaburra in the mornings, seeing red roofs of the Sydney buidlings as the plane came in for a landing, and eating their meat pies. Never got to liking the vegemite – too salty for me. Happy travels! Hooroo!

    • Katie

      Yes, Sharon – I will miss hearing the kookaburra! Daniel liked the meat pies more than I did, and I agree that vegemite is not really my thing!

  8. Nana

    The yells and hoots of the middle school boys next door are one of my FAVORITE memories of our visit. They are so adorable and innocent in their grey wool suits, white shirts, ties and floppy hair. I wanted to explore the downtown section across the harbor more, and the people who work there. The Australians seem to have an understanding and appreciation for green parks, and know to break up the hardscape with the relief of green more than here in So California.

    When I tell people about our fantabulous trip to Sydney, I am continually struck by the wholesomeness of the people there, and their enthusiasm for . . . everything. The clean fresh harbor air was wonderful too; living next to the harbor was a very life-giving experience. The intimacy of neighborhood life where I watched people walk home from work in their suits with their dry cleaning and groceries in their arms and a relaxed smile on their facees, is charming. LOVED their zoo, and yes the gorrillas most.

    Your pictures above of your wonderful home church (I love it too), and Naomi with her sweet little friends kind of choked me up. We miss our little Peckham family the most, though. Our family isn’t complete without you. Love you, honey . . . Mom

    • Katie

      The St. Aloysius boys were certainly gentlemen when we met them on the street – helping me carry N’s stroller down stairs, etc, it’s just that teenage boys at play are simply LOUD and I’m not used to it in my own living room! :) :) I loved reading some of your favorite memories from Sydney, and we can’t wait to see you guys soon!

  9. diane petersen

    We have a GREAT butter chicken paste here that we LOVE. It’s a local product that is sold in select grocery stores. You just add cream and the chicken and it is restaurant quality. I haven’t tried Pataks (we have that here too) but I can’t imagine anything being better than this stuff.

    • Katie

      Diane – Daniel kept telling me that I should try a different brand of butter chicken and I was too stubborn to risk it not turning it out as good. ;) But it’s good to hear tell of another good brand, and that there is hope! :)

  10. Nem

    Wow! I can’t believe it’s already time for you to come back. Feels like you just left for Sydney! Sounds like you guys have a good experience overall there. But yes, there is no place like home! :)

    That butter chicken sounds amazing! (I’ll have to hunt it down in Little India like Doro mentioned above)
    We should get some Thai food when you guys get back.

    P.S. Does returning to CA mean no more blogging?

    • Katie

      Absolutely Nem – we’ll have to hit up Renu Nakorn and Little India! Re: blogging, I’m just not a skilled enough writer to make normal daily life interesting enough to read about on a blog :) . BUT since I got pretty behind with some of the blog posts I began here, we will keep posting some after we get back, to finish up some of the places and experiences we want to remember.

  11. Aunt Donna

    I so enjoyed reading your blog today. It makes me want to see you all! Maybe in 2012 we can get there.

    You might want to communicate with Melissa. She helped to organize a co-op (?), in homes preschool with Noelles friends. They have done some fun field trips through the summer and crafty things other times. Both Melissa and Noelle enjoy it.

    Have a safe trip home!

    • Katie

      Thanks Aunt Donna! That’s great about Melissa’s co-op. I hope we can see you next year too. We’re so excited that Uncle Don will be out this Christmas – if your suggestion of 2012 would include New Year’s maybe we could all be together! ;)

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