I’m often asked what I’ll miss most once we leave familiar territory and head out into the unknown. There’s the obvious things, my family and friends. Then there’s those little things, the ones you take for granted because you know they’ll always be there. Once you’re without them, you really notice their absence. Now one important thing to mention is that Zim is far more developed than people assume. We can get almost anything there that we get here, so we will not be without our creature comforts. But some things are irreplaceable. Here’s my top 10 of what I’ll miss the most.
- Driving on the right hand side of the road
I’m a bad driver. I know it. Everybody that knows me knows it. I drive too fast, follow too closely and am easily distracted. On top of that, I have no sense of direction. Watching me try to navigate an unknown city looking for the grocery store will be entertaining as I can literally get lost in my own neighborhood. Now add in the fact that I will be on the opposite side of the car on the opposite side of the road and I’m sure my first few solo trips will be YouTube worthy! I’ll be that person that’s going too slow because I’m trying to find the street I’m supposed to turn on, with my windshield wipers on instead of my turn signal, ending every turn on the wrong side of the road cursing the jerks that are honking at me for no reason. Then I’ll be the person constantly giving the courtesy wave because I finally realized what everyone was honking for…this is going to be interesting!
2. My central vacuum system
I hate cleaning. Really, who doesn’t? The central vacuum has made it just a little more bearable though. We have a great attachment for wood and tile floors that does such a great job at picking up all the crumbs and dust that accumulate on a daily basis. The hose is long enough that I can do almost the entire first floor without having to move where it’s plugged in. Between three children (including a baby that just discovered the joy of crumbling up her dinner and throwing it over the side of her highchair) and a husband that doesn’t like to take his boots off when he comes in, it is a god send! And the best part is a toe-kick suction vent at the end of the island in the kitchen. It’s awesome! When I use a broom instead of the vacuum I just sweep the pile over to it, tap it open with my toe and the pile is sucked right in! No having to use a dust pan and playing that fun game with the dust line. You know the one, where you think you’ve swept it all up and then pick up the pan to find that little line. So you move the pan back an inch, sweep up the line, then move it back another inch and sweep it up again. I hate that game!!
3. Online shopping
When I started my new job three years ago, my new co-worker was shocked to learn that I had never purchased anything online. She was quite experienced at it and made it her mission to make sure that I knew the ins and outs of online commerce. She will tell you that I was a quick study! This past Christmas, the only things I purchased in a store were stocking stuffers and gift cards. Everything else was ordered and brought right to my door. No crowded malls with stressed out shoppers pushing their way through the aisles. No driving around parking lots in circles trying to find a spot. It was glorious! I’ve become adept at finding coupon codes for discounts and scoring free shipping. The UPS and FedEx delivery men know me by name, although that’s not something I’m necessarily proud of. And there is nothing quite like the thrill of tracking a package you’ve been waiting for and seeing “Out for Delivery” as the status. Yes, I am one of those people who check the tracking multiple times a day. It is possible to order online in Zim but getting it delivered is tricky. I would most likely have to have it shipped to South Africa and hire someone to drive it up to me, which would be added time and expense. That almost takes away the fun of it. But never fear. In the weeks leading up to a visit to the States, I will get busy ordering all of our favorites so we can bring them back to Zim with us. Hopefully my Mom and Dad won’t mind all the boxes that will be showing up at their door!
4. Four seasons
The weather in Zim is beautiful and the seasons are opposite of the US. So right now, as the 10 day forecast shows highs in the teens and twenties for Iowa, it is forecasted to be in the lower 80s in our future home. That sounds delightful. The climate is much more moderate and while there are “seasons”, I am going to miss having four distinct seasons every year. I love the sparkling snow covered mornings of winter; the new beginnings and freshness of spring; the warm summer nights that are illuminated by fireflies. I am especially sad about not having fall. Fall is definitely my favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, the color of the changing leaves and the anticipation of the winter to come. Plus, I have the best fall decorations for my house. I love bringing out my pumpkin and harvest decor, the house always looks so warm and inviting when it’s up. But with opposite seasons, when do I pull it out? In September, when I normally would? We’ll be approaching summer in Zim and the hottest months of the year. Pumpkins and harvest themed items will seem out of place. Or do I put it up in May, when the weather begins to turn cooler and winter is on the horizon? But you can’t do pumpkins in May! Do you understand my struggle?? And people think I have it so easy…But I do have to say, I am really looking forward to tossing the winter coats, snowpants and boots aside as we board the plane in a few weeks!
5. Seasonal foods
As much as I love the change in the weather each new season brings, I love the special seasonal food just a little bit more! I get very excited when I see that the holiday display has been changed at the grocery store. Cadbury Creme Eggs and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs at Easter, Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s in March, apple cider anything in fall, Egg Nog shakes in winter, and the mother of them all: Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses for Christmas. Oh man! I tend to hoard my favorites and ration them so I don’t run out too quickly. And I am not above hiding them if I have to. Don’t mess with my candy! I will do my best to find replacements in Zim. They have mostly Cadbury for chocolate so I might have luck with the eggs, but I’m not too hopeful for the rest. Luckily, I am very willing to do the research! There are copycat recipes for the Shamrock and Egg Nog shakes on Pinterest, so I might be able to pull those off. And watch out when I come home for a visit. I’ll be stocking up!
5. Central Standard Time Zone
With the amount of technology we have at our fingertips today, the world is a much smaller place than it used to be. But, when you live on the opposite side of the globe from your friends and family, time zones can make communication a little bit trickier. The girls love asking what Ouma and Pupa (Dan’s parents) are doing and they think it’s pretty funny that they are often sleeping when we’re awake. Being 7 or 8 hours ahead of the Midwest depending on where we are with Daylight’s Savings Time will pose some challenges. Every Sunday morning I enjoy a long phone call with my sister, Suzie, who lives in Colorado. We have a few moments of peace before the littles begin demanding breakfast and it has become a favorite part of my weekend. But now, when I’m up in the morning, she’ll be fast asleep. And when she is getting up for the day, it will be 2 or 3 in the afternoon in Zim and we’ll hopefully be out doing something fun. My friend Becky and I often text pictures of outfits back and forth when we can’t decide what to wear in the morning. Becky will be fine because I’ll be wide awake when she’s getting dressed, so I can help her. But I’ll be on my own every morning and Dan is of little help when it comes to picking out clothes…My Wednesday evenings are often spent with my friend, Angie. She’ll come over to escape the testosterone of her 4 boys and enjoy some girl time with a glass of wine. But when I’m ready for a glass of wine at the end of the day, she’ll be sipping a hot cup of coffee. We can FaceTime and drink together, but it’s not quite the same when one is drinking coffee and one is drinking Chardonnay! And then there’s TV! How can my mom and I do our usual live commentary of Dancing With the Stars together when I’ve known for hours who’s been kicked off!! Being on the phone while we watch is one of the best parts of the show! It’s something we’ve dealt with for years with Dan’s family and I haven’t gotten used to it yet. I’m sure in time we’ll find our time zone rhythm but at first it will be really annoying!
6. My Pilates Studio
I was introduced to my pilates studio by my co-worker, Becky about 2 and a half years ago. (You’re going to hear about Becky a lot, she’s the best!!) Total Balance is a full service studio in Vinton, Iowa. Check it out if you are in the area, I promise you will not regret it! http://www.totalbalancelife.com. The studio offers a whole array of classes: Spin, Yoga, Piloxing, Mat Pilates, Boot Camp, Zumba, Barre. There’s even a professional masseuse on the premises! They do it all! I would do the Pilates Reformer 3 times a week and I love it!! It is a great workout that strengthens and tones your muscles. You sweat, you stretch, you get it all. I have been in the best shape I was in since college thanks to the reformer. I even worked out through my entire pregnancy with Leanna. There may very well be Pilates studios in Zim, but they won’t be the same. The owner, Julie, is amazing and I will miss her immensely. (She’s also my hairdresser. Ugh, I wish I could just bring her to Zim with me!!) I typically worked out with the same people each week and they have become some of my greatest friends. Often, the hour-long workouts were like therapy sessions. We’ve shared laughter and tears. (Mostly we shared swearing behind Julie’s back because she was making us work harder than we wanted to!) I know that leaving Total Balance means I will be sadder and jigglier! In an attempt to stay in shape, I have agreed to run a half-marathon in July with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Stay tuned, because the training process will surely make for some entertaining stories!!
7. Standard American Measurement
As a true American, I don’t like the Metric System. It confuses me. Actually, to be perfectly honest, the American system confuses me too. Math and numbers are not my friends. Being thrust into a world that uses the Metric System is terrifying for me. From the weather to the speed limit (see #1 and my driving abilities), it’s all going to be foreign to me and I will be completely lost. For someone who loves to cook as much as I do, it will be an added challenge. I’m used to cups and tablespoon for measurements and now I’m going to have to learn grams and milliliters. Luckily, I packed my measuring cups and spoons so I can cheat!
8. McDonald’s Quarter Pounders
My love of McDonald’s runs deep. I could probably write a whole blog post about it. I have eaten in restaurants around the world and tasted some of the finest foods, but when it comes right down to it, I will always love McDonald’s more than anything else. Nothing makes me happier than a #3 Value Meal. Quarter Pounder, french fries and a Diet Coke. I can taste it right now. Sadly I live about 40 minutes from the nearest location so I am out of luck. While there is no McDonald’s in Zimbabwe, I am aware that I can get it at airports along the way. But have you ever had “foreign” McDonald’s? It’s not right!!! I don’t know what they do to it, but it does not taste the same. So I will have to make do with a last minute McDonald’s stop at O’Hare before we fly out. And I guarantee that will be my first stop the minute I step back on American soil!!
9. Satellite Radio
I have been spoiled with Sirius/XM Radio in my past few vehicles. I have driven at least 45 minutes each way to work for the past 8 years along country roads and having good car music is essential. As I said earlier, I am a bad driver so I can’t be dealing with changing CDs as I drive. Satellite radio has been a life saver. There is something for everyone and the reception doesn’t waiver as we travel. When we were in Zim for Christmas last year we had an 8 hour drive to the fishing camp we were staying at. There was no radio stations and the CD selection in the car we borrowed from Dan’s dad was limited. It made the trip very long. I am really hoping that XM Radio is available in Zim and just no one I know has it. Because I really can’t be changing CDs while driving on the wrong side of the road!
I know how weird this sounds. Who wants to work?? ME!! It has been 34 days since my last day at my job and I miss it terribly. I have discovered that I need a purpose. I need to be doing something that brings value to my life, and packing and cleaning is not it! This is going to sound terrible, but I am not meant to be a stay-at-home-mother. I love my children dearly and would do anything for them, but I am not equipped to be with them day in and day out. I have very little patience and I am lazy. That is a bad combination. I will not be working outside of the home after we move and I am very nervous about it. I will volunteer at the girls’ school and there’s that half-marathon to train for, so I will find a way to fill my day, but it is going to be a huge adjustment for me. (I know how spoiled this sounds, but it’s the truth). I had been blessed to work with the two greatest people on earth for the past three years and I want them back!! My office consisted of myself, my boss and my co-worker. (Becky. I told you that you would hear about her again!) We were such a good team and worked seamlessly with each other, which in an office of only three people can be tricky. When you work with people 40-plus hours per week you become a family and I feel like a part of me is missing without them. Thank goodness for FaceTime! They’ll probably be sick of me after the first few weeks in Zim!
So there you have it. Again, I will miss my family and friends more than anything. But life will be even sadder without my Top 10!
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