Hong Kong was great but after a long 8 hour flight, a 6 hour layover in Sydney and then another 14 hour flight, we finally made it to California for the first of two weeks that we would spend there. This was the first time in over 2 years that Andrew had been back to California as well so I was even more excited than usual. As an expat I am always torn between using annual leave to go back to the states or to go on a holiday somewhere new. It’s always a bit of a battle because I want to do both but even with four weeks of leave per year in Australia, it never feels like enough. Even though I’d probably love to visit Europe or lay on some amazing beach somewhere every few months, I do miss family, friends and the food and shopping that California has to offer so I suppose there could be worse places to have to travel home to. ūüôā Even the weather was amazing (no surprise there) and I was able to enjoy Cali sunshine which helped alleviate some of the initial sadness I felt about leaving the end of one winter in Sydney to enter the beginning of another in the US. ¬†Sitting by the pool in early November was fantastic. It reminded me of why I miss CA weather so badly. It’s still one of the biggest things I long for after 5 years abroad.

Our 2 week CA trip was split up by a week long jaunt over to New York and DC but I’ll write about that in my next post. So for now, here are a few of the highlights from California.

Shopping! Oh how I miss shopping in the states and Christmas shopping and seeing all the sales and decorations was simply the best. When I walk into Target I feel like I am entering Disneyland for big kids. My eyes light up and a smile jumps onto my face and I feel so at home. But with the good comes the bad. The worst part about shopping for me is my terrible inability to make a decision. When I’m in a grocery store buying food for lunch or at the mall trying to pick out a baby gift I have this nagging ¬†fear that I’ll pick the wrong thing or that I’ll forget something and won’t have a chance to buy it again for 6 months when I head over on another trip. I can bring back 3 bottles of alcohol to Australia each time I travel- but how the heck do I choose just 3? Which ones am I out of? Damn I can’t remember, I should have checked before I got here. What drinks will I want to drink over the next 5 months? Ahhh my brain goes into decision making meltdown. It causes me serious stress because I feel like I have this limited amount of time to buy EVERYTHING I’ve been dreaming about for the last 6 months and it is way too much pressure! I just wish I had a US Target here 24×7. It would make everything better.

Baby catch ups are always fun. A few of my mommy girlfriends and I headed to the park for a picnic and everyone was looking lovely as always. I love seeing all my girlfriends that I miss terribly and it’s so fun to see how their little ones are growing into the sweetest ¬†munchkins. Shannon said she thought this may be the trip where I announce a pregnancy. Sorry to burst your bubble Shannon but not just yet for us.

We got to check out our new condo that we purchased in October. It’s awesome and after the 8 months of hell and¬†absolute¬†debacle of trying to actually get a loan to buy it, it was fantastic to actually have keys in hand for us to check it out in person. We even took a dip in the pool while we were there.

Jen’s 32nd birthday party was super fun but very dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Unfortunately, six people from the party ended up with the stomach flu within the next 48 hours. Worst of all (for me at least) is that Andrew caught a bad case of it the morning of Thanksgiving. Our whole reason for going to California in November was to celebrate Thanksgiving and the poor guy didn’t get to eat one bite of the delicious food all day. Somehow, even though I was exposed to Andrew breathing his sick germs in my face all night and the other 5 people at the party (plus a few who had it the week before), I managed to avoid catching it. Ben’s girlfriend Sally wasn’t so lucky and it ended up kicking in for her right in the middle of our night flight to Sydney the day after Thanksgiving. She then proceeded to pass it on to Ben and her sister and grandma. I dodged a massive bullet with that one.

Thanksgiving with the family was tainted a bit by the fact that poor Andrew was miserable all day but the rest of us really enjoyed it. Ben and Sally joined us and Sally got her first ever taste of pumpkin pie. I even had egg nog… it’s been way too long since I’ve had egg nog. It was really nice to be back for a holiday with all the family.


And yes… we did this.

We just couldn’t resist when they were two for $7 bucks! Those suckers are $12 EACH here. Did I mention we bought all that AND a box of brownie mix at about 9pm on a week night? Yes, we looked like massively high stoners.4

There were also plenty of dinners, drinks, movies, catch ups and nights of relaxing to be had. I had such a good time.

Coming home to Sydney is always hard after I’ve been back to California. I usually have about a week where I’m just a bit blue and sad about leaving all my family and friends. Then the sadness passes and I’m back to normal and all is right in the world. Well this time it took a bit longer to snap out of my funk. I’m not sure if it’s because we took a longer trip than usual, if it was because we came back to the Christmas season which is also a hard time of year for me or if coming back to a hellish week at work was a rude shock to the system. Whatever it was, it wasn’t easy to get through- but I did, like I always do. Maybe, just maybe, one day it will get easier.

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