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Monday, February 9, 2015

Adjusting

So, we've been back in the US of A for 11.5 days. Admittedly, it still feels like vacation. Certainly the worst accommodation I've ever had on vacation but even so...it hasn't fully sunk in that we are not going back to Sweden in 2 weeks. I'm quite content with being with back in California and love the area where we are renovating our new home. After a day of working hard on house stuff, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful swimming pool and jacuzzi. We dashed up to the pool for a quick swim and a nice soak in the jacuzzi and I tell ya, it's pretty idyllic. The night sky twinkles with thousands of stars that we can actually see due to the darkness of the desert. Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets are part of every day and I've started taking advantage of the fitness classes on offer at our club. We haven't found the time to get our golf game going but that will come in due time. I truly love this area and feel so thankful to have the chance to live here again.
Of course, all of the goodness in being here is counterbalanced with the deep sense of loss I feel in my parents not being here. Not a day goes by where I don't think about how delighted they would be that we are here. My dad would be loving following the renovation. We miss them, plain and simple.
As for other adjustments...I'm enjoying the cheaper retails opportunities, especially as we shop 'til we drop to get our new house up to speed. The grocery store hasn't been super overwhelming and I think that is in part because due to a tiny fridge and limited storage, I'm still kind of shopping like I did in Europe. Smaller loads. Going to the store more often. Being able to use the grill and sit on our patio is truly a bonus.
It's weird to be in the car every time we need to run an errand. We can't walk anywhere. The bank, the grocery store, and everything else we need are all at least 3 miles from our house. The amount of traffic that California has is also staggering. And people drive really fast!
Sundays are the most difficult and different days for us. We need to start the somewhat challenging yet also interesting task of visiting churches as lay people. We have been listening to the podcasts from Immanuel International and it's been comforting to connect with our church family in Stockholm in some ideological way but of course, we miss being with them! Life would be perfect if everyone could just re-locate to California!
We joined Costco and that made us feel like true Americans! We haven't bought anything there yet, but wandered around last Saturday enjoying all the food samples! Much to my delight, Palm Springs passed an ordinance doing away with one time use plastic bags and now charge for grocery bags. This cuts back on plastic waste in a significant way and since we were already used to this practice in Europe, we are very happy to see this effort toward reducing trash. Recycling efforts still have a long way to go compared to the ease with which we could do it in Stockholm, but we do see more and more positive changes.
I'm still up to my ears with paperwork on various and sundry items, including my father's 2014 taxes. I have a huge pile of "needs attention" mail that I need to dig through. I bought stamps the other day and actually still have no idea how much a U.S. postage stamp costs. I heard the customer in front of me order a roll of stamps so I followed suit. I've written the date wrong a few times, with the day first. We have no cell phone, clearly, the only people on earth without a cell phone. And I'll dedicate an entirely different blog to navigating the health care issue. I'm definitely missing the ease of our life in Stockholm where we didn't have too many extra expenses, beyond our taxes. And Tanner needs a license! We had no idea dogs had to get licensed in the U.S. We are trying to get California driving licenses and finally have an appointment on February 22. Gives us time to brush up on the rules of the road on this side of the pond! So there are a million details right now that we need to pay attention to. The days fly by and I wonder where the time goes.
Having Tanner with us is pure delight. He's great company and seems to be adjusting to his new lifestyle pretty well. He loves hanging in the backyard, basking in the sunshine. He has also figured out that hanging out on the chaise lounge is a good way to pass the afternoon! 
I'm thankful for the fruit trees in our yard and enjoyed a beautiful pink grapefruit for breakfast yesterday. 
We met a couple of kids who live on our block. We were out walking Tanner and they wanted to meet him! They were so cute and it was fun to interact with some kids again. Maybe they will let us play football or baseball with them in the street!
Truth be told, I'm thankful for so many different things right now even though I wish our close friends were able to share this with us.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it definitely still feels like vacation so the reality of actually living here hasn't really sunk in. I'm sure as time goes by, there will be more and more things that I feel very strange about! For now, the adventure of renovating a house and basking in the warmth of a mild climate are doing my heart good which really helps when my heart hurts a bit from missing our loved ones.