Friday, November 22, 2013

Eight Things I Will Miss About Southern California

As our last few weeks in Long Beach come quickly to a close, I have been reflecting on things that I will miss about living here.  Here is a list of some of the things, in no particular order.

'Avocado' photo (c) 2009, Jaanus Silla - license:
1. Avocados - I was introduced to the yummy goodness of avocados about a year before moving to California.  Since we have moved, we definitely eat them even more because they are cheaper here and sometimes we are even fortunate enough to have people share them from their backyard trees (if we were going to live here long term, I would most definitely get a backyard avocado tree!) Unfortunately, even here, at 50 cents to $1 per small avocado (and more for large) they feel like a bit of a splurge, and it will be more so when we move.  So, I know we aren't saying good bye to all avocados, but most likely goodbye to eating them on a regular basis.

2. Anchor Community Church - As I mentioned before, our four years in Long Beach have been some of the hardest years of our lives.  It seems like just as one trial is being resolved, we are blind sided by another.  The one bright spot of our time here has been our church.  I love the theological discussions amongst the members of our community group.  I love talking about God and his majesty and our desires to see others know him.  I love all the fun hangouts and parties that are always happening, that everyone in church is invited to (our church is small enough that for most parties and hang outs, pretty much the whole church is invited).  I love that I know everyone at church and significant things about their lives.  I love that I have seen people grow in significant ways in our past four years here.  I love how our church has really come around all six of our foster children and loved on them like their own.  I love that whenever we have had a need (a ride to/from the airport, help with moving, babysitting) we have had no problems finding someone from Anchor to help out.  I love our church.

Thank you, Anchor.  We really appreciate you and will miss you!

3. Trader Joe's - My first encounter with Trader Joe's was in Ohio.  A friend of mine went on and on about how great the store was and how great their prices were.  I checked it out, but found the drive too far and the prices not that great.  Fast forward three years to living in California.  I didn't go to TJ's much at first, but after we moved so close to one (15 minute walk away, 5 minute drive) I go at least 1-2x per week.  I have discovered that at Trader Joe's their specialty foods are not a great price, but a lot of their staples (things like pasta, cheese, milk, some meats, some produce) are really good prices, especially because all of their products are GMO free and artificial flavoring/coloring/preservative free. At other stores you usually have to pay a premium for these type of products (added benefit is that I don't have to read labels to figure out if the products have these things in them).  Even the weeks that I am most on top of my meal planning, I often forget an item or two that I need for a certain meal until last minute.  I love that I can walk to TJ's, pick it up, stop by the park with the kiddos for a bit and be home again within an hour and a half.

Right after we decided to move, one of the first things I looked up was whether Bloomington has a TJ's (I thought there might be somewhat of a chance, because of the university in town), but alas the closest one is in Indianapolis.  I am already mentally anticipating monthly or so one hour drives to get to my beloved TJ's.  Oh how I will miss it being around the corner.

4. Walking - Trader Joe's and the park aren't the only place we walk to.  We are fortunate to live stratiegically placed around tons of useful places to walk.  There are six grocery stores within walking distance of our house, three parks, a library, a Target, a Big Lots, a post office, and our church.  Not only is walking healthy, it also saves on gas and is easier than wrestling kiddos into carseats.  Its also a great way for an introvert like me to sort of feel like I'm getting some alone time, as I walk and pray and think.  In addition to having things so close, the good weather here makes it easy to walk almost any time of year.
'Walk' photo (c) 2009, Peter Blanchard - license:

5.  Year round good weather - The good weather here was one of the reasons that Alex always wanted to live in Cali before we moved. I love that I have been to outdoor weddings and birthday parties in November, December, January.  I love that you rarely have to worry about the weather when you plan some sort of activity.   And I do think that we have gotten a bit spoiled.  I almost take it for granted that I can take the kiddos to the park in the middle of January.  And that we only turn on our AC for maybe a week or two all summer.

Ironically, this is also something I wont miss about Southern California... as a gardener, I really would like it to rain more.  I also often miss the seasonal changes, especially fall.  And occasionally, I even get bored of the fact that the majority of the days during the year are sunny and in the 70's.  But I also know that I will miss it when I'm gone.  Especially when I can't work out outside any more!

6.  Bootcamp - The good weather also lends itself to another one of my favorite things about living here... bootcamp.  Bootcamp has been going on since before Esther was born.  Basically, twice a week I get together with other moms from the area for a workout/playdate.  They come to our house, and us moms work out for about an hour on our back patio while our kiddos play in the yard (or often running around us on the patio while we work out, despite our best efforts to convince them that the yard is more fun :) ).  I love that it keeps me on track with working out regularly, and that I don't feel like working out is taking time away that I should be spending with the kiddos, because they get to play with their friends.  I love seeing other moms on a regular basis and getting to chat about life and mommyhood.

7.  Natural minded Mamas - Being healthy and naturally minded is really trendy in Southern California, but its something that I have always valued deeply even since before moving here.  So it is convenient and helpful that since living here I have found many like-minded people, especially other Mamas.  I love that I have never felt out of place for breastfeeding, and that most of my friends, like me, have breast fed their children into toddlerhood.  I love that I have friends who also cure everything with essential oils, seek out the best deals on organic foods, spend hours in the kitchen in order to serve nutrient dense homemade meals, have babies without medicine (and sometimes even - gasp - at home!) and question the CDC childhood vaccination schedule.

8.  Year round growing season and backyard fruit - I love that when I am making hummus, or guacamole, or any other recipe calling for lemon juice, I just walk to my back yard and grab a lemon.  Its actually pretty amazing to me, and we've had a lemon tree for over three years now.  There is a really high percentage of people in Southern California who have backyard fruit trees.  I'm guessing that its because of the weather that the trees do especially well here.  Most fruit trees produce way more than the owners can eat, so we have benefitted by receive other people's extra pomegranates (in fact, I'd never even had a pomegranate until we moved here!), grapefruit, oranges, avocados, lemons, limes, apples and peaches (and have given away a number of our lemons, even from our small tree).

Relatedly, I will also miss the year round growing season.  I have only gotten into gardening the past two years or so, and haven't even fully taken advantage of growing each season.  But last winter, we were getting tomatoes well into February until I finally just tore out our plants (by that time, they were taking for-ev-er to ripen because of the colder weather).  Fresh homegrown tomatoes in February!

There is much to look forward to, but also much to mourn as we say goodbye.  These things will all be missed greatly when we move on to our next stage of life!

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