We needed this so badly; we didn't even realize how much until we got here.
It's not that New Zealand has been horrible or anything; we're living in a gorgeous house on the water, where Lilly is having the best time at preschool, and we've been able to travel more than a family with a two year old should. It's been hard adjusting to all the little things about New Zealand that are different; because while NZ is very similar to the US than, say, China, everything is still relatively different. Instead of whole milk, it's blue top milk; instead of diapers, it's nappies; instead of driving on the right side on the road on in the left side of the car, it's opposite. So many things are called different names; so many foods are just a little different than expected; so many experiences to get used to. But we have, and we've done a good job at figuring it all out. For the past 7 months it's been such a surreal experience, like Alice in Wonderland, with everything being upside down but yet it kind of became normal after awhile.
Except, it's been just the 3 of us. And most of the time, the 2 of us, with Jon working long hours. Jon's parents came over in August, my dad and nephew came over in October, and my sister and nieces came over last week; but it's been hard being so far from family and friends overall. I especially have missed my mom, who I am so close to (and feel even closer with somehow now that I am emulating our relationship with my own daughter), and who doesn't like flying at all, especially the idea of 2 long flights to get to New Zealand. Having my sister at our house for Christmas and New Year's made me realize even more how homesick I truly am. So, I decided to look into coming in the next month or so; but then realized with work that my schedule was too crazy to be traveling then. And as I sat feeling sorry for myself in Random Foreign Country, I got an idea...
It's not the first time we've done something crazy but it probably takes the cake as being the most outlandish. Sure, we decided at the last minute to surprise our families 5 years ago by just showing up at Thanksgiving when they thought we were in Charlottesville. And a few days after Lilly's first birthday, we decided to leave the next day for Disney World. So we've done this before.
But to book a flight from New Zealand to the US at noon, and get on the flight at 7:15 that night? Yeah, kind of drastic and dramatic but in some ways, kind of easy. We didn't have to worry about making a million plans. Just threw all our clothes in a few suitcases and left. (Assuring with work that it was ok, of course. And amazingly, being home-based, I can work anywhere!)
Oddly enough, while I figured that everything could go wrong with no planning, it actually was the easiest traveling ever with Lilly, not that she's ever been a bad traveler. She watched Hannah Montana and Little Mermaid on her own tv; ate the 2 wonderful airplane meals that are served on the international flight (wonderful in the fact that it's actually decent and free, compared with the big fat nothing that is served domestically these days), and slept 6 hours on the first flight and 3 on the second. 24 hours after we arrived at the Auckland airport, we were in Atlanta hugging our families.
Sure, it seems a little crazy. But the moment I woke up with morning, I felt such a relief to be back home, even if it is just for a week. I haven't been to Atlanta in 18 months, and to be back in my parents' house is amazing - this is where I grew up from the age of 10. And it was definitely feeling surreal last night on 2 hours of sleep and jet lag and having not been here in so long, but today it feels wonderful.
Lilly is having the best time already; hanging out with Grandma and PawPaw until late last night, and playing with NoNo and Grandpa today. As for us... we went to the grocery store this morning and were amazed (literally... you should have seen me running excitedly down the aisle to chase down some Sam Adams Light, Pampers diapers, and half and half).
We've gotten so used to things in NZ that it's strange being here, and remembering how many products there are in the US. Or even just being in my parents' house, and my mom (a true packrat) having Every Possible Thing A Person Can Imagine - from every Sesame Street character, to a child's potty, to extra toothbrushes, to 7 million different types of sweets and snacks. Even Lilly was amazed, wandering through the 3 floors of my parents house like it was some giant playground - and of course every room just happens to have a million different toys for her to play with. If I were ever in a natural disaster, I'd like to stranded at my parents' house - they really have it all. Which is such a contrast to living in New Zealand and a) having much more limited options at the stores and b) not having much anyways b/c we're just there for a year.
So I think it will be a good week back. Just a little bit of "normalcy" (which feels surprisingly unnormal now that we've gotten used to Alice's Wonderland) to get us through the next 5 months in New Zealand. And now... I have to get back to work! (Aren't laptops and vpn's wonderful?)