As of late, about 90% of conversations in our house begin with, "when we go home..." followed by "I want to/I'm going to/ let's...." fill in the blank.
Here's what we are looking forward to:
Why? For the sole sake of washing and sanitizing nasty sippy cups. I've scoured and scrubbed with soap for two years, only to have to throw out half of our cups from residue I just can't clean out. The microwave sterilizing bags help, but they are no substitute for the sanitary cycle on a dishwasher.
2. A four or five burner stovetop.
Why? We've been surviving on two gas burners that are tough to balance pots on. We often have to cook in sections, or precook a portion of a meal before hand to free up a burner.
3. New vehicles. His & Hers.
Why? Do I really need to explain? We're full blooded Californians, we drive everywhere. We've both spent a good number of hours perusing craigslist and carmax to peek inside cars we have interest in. But oh em gee, are cars ever expensive? I don't think you can get anything decent for under $35k now. We are in for a shock, I'm sure.
4. Separate washer and dryer.
Why? Right now, it takes a full day between an hour washing, a three hour drying cycle and then hang drying moist "dry" clothes in 100% humidity. Things just don't dry here during the summer. Nick and Sal are having to put up with crunchy t shirts and skivvies since our dryer doesn't seem to get the job done. I look forward to washing and drying in less than two hours, as well as being able to wash a load while the previous one is drying.
5. Family time.
Why? We miss our families (and friends). We look forward to the retirement of (grand)parents and spending time with them, showing our kids what life with freedom is really like. Running through backyards, watching the boats come in, eating sandy PB&J sandwiches, etc. we don't have anything here that we really look forward to, other than eating. Which leads me to my next can't-wait-for....
6. Our treadmill.
Why? The weather in Wuxi is either too hot, too cold or too unsafe to exercise in. We've got friends who brave it out, but they aren't thin skinned Californians like us. We'll both log some miles on it each day--NZ before work, and me during nap times. I miss exercising regularly.
7. Reading labels on food.
Why? It's going to be nice to know what we are feeding ourselves and our kids. The imported jars/packages we buy here have a super adhesive sticker ALWAYS covering the nutritional facts of packages that we would otherwise be able to read.
8. Buying quality clothing, toys and appliances.
Why? I told NZ that I feel like we have been shopping at the dollar store for the last two years. Nothing lasts, everything breaks, and although cheap--nothing is good quality. I'd like a toaster that doesn't burn toast, a Teflon pan that doesn't lose its coating with the first batch of eggs we cook and a freaking cement mixer truck that won't lose its cab every time my son picks it up.
9. Internet freedom and a DVR.
Why? We pay for the fastest speed internet available in China, yet we have never had more than 80% efficiency from it, despite switching wireless routers and having a tech guy out twice. NZ rarely gets through a Netflix show without losing connection midway, not to reconnect until the following night. It can take a couple of days to watch a show. DVR's don't exist here unless you fashion your own. I'm going to love having full access to blogger, facebook, youtube and gmail.
That being said, these deserve the hashtag #firstworldproblems.
We have most definitely formed a new and deeper appreciation for everything we have access to in the states. We have adapted to our minimal lifestyle here, and it has put into perspective what we really loved about the states.
It's not the name brands, or what's popular...it's the simple things that made day to day life easier for us. We both miss being able to wake up and hop on the treadmill while watching DVR'd shows, then showering in water that smells clean, followed by perfectly toasted toast and driving to work in our own cars. Although life was technically more complicated when we lived in the USA, so many of those things also provided freedom in a way we never knew we would miss it.
Perhaps in a year from now, when we are back and settled, I'll feel differently and reminisce about how we lived on so little while overseas.
The grass is always greener, right?
Time will only tell.