One year later!

Today marks our one year anniversary since moving to Tulsa. We can hardly believe it! In many ways it seems longer and in others like it's not been that long at all. We have been through all four seasons and for two Californians used to basically one season all year long, that was very interesting.

I am friendly with my coworkers but I don't talk to or see any of them outside of work. And aside from my friend that I met on the internet long before moving here I still haven't made any friends here. That's been difficult. And something I desperately want to change. I am at a loss, really. I am outgoing and friendly but I guess I just don't find myself in situations where I am meeting other women my age with similar outlooks on life. So my goal is to change that. Not sure how just yet, but it's my goal.

J has befriended some coworkers, but none that he hangs out with outside of work. Not that he has the time between two jobs and school. School is full-time for him starting next week. We're hoping he gets a tuition waiver based upon merit. He has been accepting into the CNA program, so our fingers are crossed. We should know in a couple of weeks either way.

Other than that, we're just taking it easy this summer and trying to beat the heat! Mom is still in CA and might be there for most of June. I have some travels for work...DC in mid-June and Detroit at the end of July. I also plan to start yoga at a local studio. J will be busy with work and school but hopes to get out to Vegas at some point to see his dad and stepmom. I also hope we can do a couple of overnight getaways locally. There are some neat places within a day's drive from here. Depends upon our schedules and if gas prices skyrocket. Since the week before Memorial Day they're already up $0.30/gal. We also plan to check out some local happenings like summer festivals, concerts and farmer's markerts. We have tickets to see comedienne Kathy Griffin in July. Here's looking forward to a wonderful summer!

Happy Birthday J!

J's birthday celebration was low-key, but lovely. I awoke at the crack of dawn (my regular waking time, oddly enough) and got up with the doggies. I know I was only gone 6 days, but I sweat Luigi has grown! By 10 a.m. J was getting up and I was dozing off on the couch. I did manage to ask him what he'd like to do for the day.

We decided upon seeing "Angels and Demons" followed by dinner at Mahagony Steak House. It was warm and we actually had the a/c cranked up all day. We also remembered that it was Memorial Day weekend last year when we drove out here! May 28th will officially be our one year anniversary of being in Tulsa! My how the time does fly.

"Angels and Demons" was good although we both agreed that we liked the book better. We had listened to it on CD while driving to Vegas about 6 years ago. We got home just in time to change clothes for dinner.

Dinner was fantastic...we both had filet mignon and shared an order of asparagus, wine sauteed mushrooms and gratin potatoes (with a delicious smoked cheddar). Dessert was a decadent 4 layer carrot cake that we got to go along with their berry basket which is mixed berries marinated in orange liquor and served with a vanilla pudding/whipped cream topping in a caramelized tuille basket. YUMMY!

Today the celebration continues...we plan to check out the Farmer's Market and go for a walk along the river. I still feel a little jet lagged, but again, awoke at my normal 4:30 a.m. wake time this morning, so hopefully, I am catching up to myself. Here's hoping it doesn't get too hot before we make our way out this morning. One a side note, I did notice that gas prices have crept up to over two dollars a gallon. Ah! Greedy oil profits just in time for summer. Nice. Not.

Home Sweet Home!

Today is my husband's 32nd birthday. I made it home from abroad just in time to celebrate. Yesterday, May 21, 2009 goes on record as one of the longest days of my life, literally.

We checked out of the hotel at 2 p.m. and took a cab to the airport. We tried to check-in at the international terminal at the airport as the woman over the phone had told my colleague to do: "take your itinerary to the new airline carrier's desk and they'll have all of your information." Not. As if it could be as simple as that.

After much run around, three different service desks between two companies, we finally made our way through travel security and to the international gate. By this time it was 5:00 p.m. and we were hungry. Our only option? Burger King! In a foreign country no less! I instantly regretted not having had lunch at the hotel before departing. I never eat fast food. So this was a double disappointment for me. I ordered the least offensive item on the menu... chicken tenders with BBQ sauce and made the most of it.

We killed time by shopping around a bit (only one eatery in the terminal but TONS of shops!) and were thrilled to load onto the plane at 7:00 p.m. Less than thrilling was that it was completely packed (having since acquired additional passengers from our originally booked Quantas flight) and I was relegated to the center seat in the center of the plane!

Never in my life have I sat in the center seat. In 30 years of travel! At 5'9" and on the amazonian side of female proportions, this was sight to be seen, I am sure. Not to mention that my colleague to my right and the unknown stranger on my left immediately sacked out leaving me essentially trapped in the middle for the duration of the 12 hour flight! The seat in front of me reclined so sharply and violently (at least 80 degrees) that the mini-LCD screen that was embedded in the back of it nearly clipped me in the nose!

Misery definitely was re-defined for me in that 12 hours. For a moment I almost entertained an anxiety attack. This must of been some odd repayment of the extraordinary trip over! I didn't sleep at all on this trip home and the movie menu was the only thing that kept me sane. I watched "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Other Boleyn Girl" and read OK! Magazine which a nice young lady in the terminal finished and offered to me.

The airplane meals came and went and were uneventful aside from the fact that smell of them almost got the best of me. IWhat is it about airline food that has to stink so badly? It was not appetizing in the least, so I stuck to the dry roll with a bit of cheese and the juice offered. The rest went untouched. Thankfully I had tucked some dried fruit and nut mix into my carry-on and with the act of a Chinese contortionist I managed to retrieve to from the space beneath the seat in front of me.

We arrived at LAX 11 hours and 45 minutes after our departure from Auckland. It felt so much longer because of the horrendous seating arrangement, but as I said, I was glad to have even secured a seat on this flight home. Note to self: next time, be sure to fly Quantas! I am totally bummed because I don't even earn miles on the Air New Zealand flight! I am going to have my travel agent call Quantas and see if they'll honor the miles (they are part of the One World Alliance which shares miles with American Airlines) since they're the ones who had to bump us. I can only hope to have some sort of reward after enduring that flight!

Despite my makeshift piece of luggage lugging 5 bottles of wine, we cleared customs rather swiftly. The only delay was trying to find that box, which someone had pulled off the carousel and conveniently forgot to place it back on again! UGH! Why do people do that?

We made our way to the Domestic terminal and found a palatable lunch along the way. For an International hub, LAX is not very user friendly. Being there made me so much more grateful for the layout, tram and dining options at DFW. We boarded the plane for our 4 p.m. departure back towards the middle of the country. We arrived at DFW at 9:00 p.m. and loaded onto the short flight home to Tulsa at 10:00 p.m., where we touched down at 11:05 p.m. May 21, 2009 was a 36 hour day! My exhaustion was instantly overcome by elation and in no time I could spot my dear hubby waiting for me just behind the security gates.

We got home just before midnight and fell into bed soon after that. Home just in time for my sweetheart's 32nd birthday. I was glad to be in my own bed, next to my man.

Homeward Bound

We leave Auckland today and even though we depart at 7:30 p.m. we're scheduled to arrive in Tulsa around 11:00 p.m. Traveling across the international date line always makes for an interesting itinerary!

Our trip home should be interesting. My colleague received a call today from Quantas informing her that our plane was severely delayed. They re-booked us onto a flight to LAX on New Zealand Air. This means that all of our connections in the U.S. have been re-booked as well. Something tells me that our journey home may not be as smooth as the one over here. At first they didn't even have me on the list as traveling with her! Thank goodness she squared it all away and also that she had her cell phone with her on this trip. Otherwise, there us no telling what may have happened. At this point I am just grateful she got the call and was able to find us a way home, otherwise we'd have to stay here another night. Tomorrow is J's 32nd birthday and I really want to be home in time to celebrate with him!

We have a late check-out and I am killing time. I had a good breakfast and was nervous about packing five bottles of wine in my suitcase (four I bought at the winery the other day and the other was a gift from our hostess) I ventured out and found a packaging store that sells styrofoam cases that are molded to hold wine bottles. I also got a box, some styrofoam peanuts and packing tape. I packed it all up and fashioned a carrying handle with some of the tape. Here's hoping it gets through customs and TSA without any hassle. I also stopped by the gift shop and picked up two Paua Shell earring/necklace for mom and one for me.

Paua is a type of abalone that only grows in the waters around New Zealand, so I thought that would be a nice souvenir from this trip. I'll give the wine to J for his birthday...he can add it to his little collection. That is, if it makes it home in one piece. Same could be said for myself, I guess. Wish me luck!


Today we toured the convention area here at SkyCity as well as saw the accommodations in the other hotel. All was lovely and I do hope that we chose this venue for our 2010 event. It was pouring down rain this morning and we were lucky that we never had to venture outdoors in it.

By the afternoon, our tour was finished. We said goodbye to our hostess who needed to head home for work. My colleague and I decided to get some rest and meet back up for dinner that evening in the complex's rotating restaurant, Orbit.

You take a glass bottomed and sided elevator to the top of SkyCity Tower and it goes straight to the top to the restaurant. The restaurant slowly rotates as you dine so you get a 360 degree view of the entire region. It was nightfall and the city lights twinkled all below us. I ordered the steak with sweet potato and spinach and she had the pork which came on a bed of polenta. Everything was tasty and the ambiance was well worth it. For any visitor to Auckland, I'd say dining at Orbit is a must-do. Next time, I hope to have lunch there and see the city views by day.

Local Flavor

Wine tasting was good (I did sample a trio of reds that were delicious!) and had an awesome eggs benedict. I ended up purchasing two bottles of pinot noir and two of the sparkling rose. Here's hoping I can get them safely home! I also tried a was pretty tasty. Sort of looks like a plum tomato but tastes more like a passion fruit or something. Very interesting.

We came back from our tour and walked around a bit. I purchased magnets for my niece and nephew...a tradition I started several years back when I was still on the road for singing. Where ever I visit, I pick up two magnets that depict the country, state or city and give them to my niece and nephew. They have quite the collection...from Thailand to Hawaii to Oklahoma and now, New Zealand.

Around 6 p.m. I was already feeling sleepy but wanted to force myself to try to stay up until at least 9 p.m. I didn't want to doze off and then be up at the crack of dawn! No such luck! I completely skipped dinner (raided the minibar for a little snack) and dozed off by 8:00 p.m.! Next thing I knew it was 5 a.m. and I was awake!

I met my colleague downstairs for breakfast. We tried the breakfast buffet, which was okay, but basically the typical fare you'd find at any hotel-casino buffet. The eggs kind of scared me! I did, however, enjoy some tasty yogurt with fruit and nuts.

We had our first meeting today at 9 a.m. at a nearby venue. Afterwards our lovely hostess took us on a driving tour. We stopped at New Market, the cities shopping destination (they have Westfield Malls here) and had lunch in the food court. I sampled a bento lunch with sushi and chicken terriyaki. My colleague played it safe with fare from McDonalds. After lunch, we drove around and up to a lookout of the entire metro called One Tree Hill. It was sort of like Auckland's version of Twin Peaks in San Francisco. It was clear and we could see for miles in every direction. Afterwards, we drove by some of the cities local beaches, which are slips of sand just that border the little neighborhoods. The entire area sort of reminds me of San Diego actually.

On a side note...being the bargain traveler that I am, I asked our hostess about the nearest Pacific Islands as potential getaway destinations. She said that tickets to Fiji from here are super cheap! Like $600/pp. for flights and week's stay. So I will definitely be looking into that for after the conference here in November 2010. It will be the start of summer by then and what a time for a tropical island getaway!

Greetings from halfway around the globe!

It turns out that we got upgraded into the 5 star hotel which comes with free internet access in their business center! WOOT!

My room has an amazing view of the city and an awesome bathroom with a soaking tub. I just arrived about 6 hours ago, took a long bath and feel human again. The flight was better than expected, it had such low capacity that my colleague and I each had our own row of three seats and could stretch out and sleep. I actually slept for about 8 hours.

I also caught "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "Marley and Me", the later made me tear up just as the lights came on in the cabin for breakfast! It was such a touching story and made me value our little puggies so much! I dread the day that Regina or Luigi's time on earth has come. I cannot bear to think about it. I just hope that they both live long and happy lives. Thankfully, pugs can live 15+ years, so we have many more days of loving them.

It's weird to me that it's already Monday, 05/18...05/17/2009 will never have existed for me. Bizarre! It's quite lovely here despite winter being right around the corner for the Kiwis...the sun is shining, temps are in the 60's and white, wispy clouds in the sky. I have meetings tomorrow and the next day, so today we're going to check out some touristy things and have lunch at a winery. There's also tons to do here in the SkyCity complex, so I am sure when I am not in meetings I'll get my taste of that as well. More to come. I am snapping photos and will upload them upon my return to Tulsa.


I am getting ready to head to Auckland for the week for work. We're planning an event for 2010 and therefore we're going need to go check out potential sites for it. It will be a quick trip...departing May 16 and home on May 21. Nearly two days of that time will be for air travel! I am so trying to mentally prepare for that! Not to mention the 17 hour time difference! Other than meetings, I have no idea what else we'll be doing. We're staying at the SkyCity Hotel which has this amazing tower...the Sky Tower:

And this is the view:

Click here to view full size

The Sky Tower has two options for adrenaline junkies. SkyJump which is a bungy jump off the outside of it and SkyWalk which is a walk along the top of it! Neither of which I will be doing. I will, however, plan to dine at the Orbit Revolving Restaurant which rotates for a 180 degree view of the city while you're dining.

While we're there the hotel is also hosting the NZ International Comedy Festival, so maybe I'll check that out. Another interesting item at the hotel is Puppetry of the Penis: The Ancient Art Of Genital Origami. WTF is that? Actually, it's what you think it is. Nude men manipulating their man junk into shapes of all sorts! I have actually heard of this before...when it was in NYC:

Come and see the famous Hamburger, the Wristwatch and the Windsurfer, just to name a few… you're NUTS if you miss it! A hilarious night out for all to enjoy!!

I am no prude, but I will not be attending this event. Perish the thought! Staring at a bunch of penises contorted into all sorts of ungodly shapes doesn't appeal to me in the least.

On a side note, it's winter in NZ. So even though I just packed up all my cold weather clothing I will have to dig out a few sweaters and my boots to bring to the other side of the world where it's cold and damp these days. No doubt, upon my return it will be hot and humid here! I will be home just in time for J's 32nd birthday on May 22. And it's Memorial Day weekend, the official start to summer!

Happy Mother's Day!

This weekend was pretty laid back. Mom headed to CA for two weeks on Friday. My uncle was married yesterday and the family was all there to celebrate. It was hard to see the pics posted on my Cousin' Facebook account today...especially the photo of my mom, brothers, and sister-in-law. It brought home the fact that I wasn't there. I was missing from the family photo. I felt bad, because I actually burst into tears and it was just as J had arrived home from his morning shift and was getting ready for his second one.

He's been working like a dog lately...14-16 hours a day. I hope that he can quit one of the jobs soon. He really needs to since school will be full-time starting in June. The added income is great and we'll need to readjust our expenses a bit, but it will be worth it. Plus, I just got my annual raise, so I think it will be doable. J is has been invited to apply for a full scholarship. He just found out yesterday and the deadline is Thursday! He has tomorrow off and will fill out the application and make sure it gets in before then. If he gets it that would incredible! We'd not have to pay tuition at all! Wish us luck, please?

With mom out-of-town and J working doubles all weekend, I have been home alone with all of the furbabies. I have been catching up on sleep and housework. I have also been thinking of all of the mothers in my life....from mine and J's to our friends who are new mommies and those who've been at it a while. Today is a day to honor all women...our mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and sister-friends... and mother earth as well.


Fellow Tulsan, Cindy of Cindy's Clipboard has awarded this blog a little warm fuzzy! Apparently, she had stumbled across our blog via the Blog Oklahoma Ring. How cool! I know that there are a few locals reading my rambles, but I had no idea that they were award-worthy. Thanks Cindy! I love reading about all of your travel adventures and look forward to more of your daily musings!

When I started this blog is was meant to be a diary of sorts, capturing this transition of ours-- from life as we knew it in California to our brand new life in Oklahoma. It was also a way for us to post our little happenings for friends and family to read whenever they felt like it. It's been nearly a year!

Honestly, I don't know how many family and friends follow us by blog, especially now that we're all on Facebook. That said, I have a whole new group of readers via the blogesphere, and that's pretty cool! So...the rules of receiving this award are:

1) accept the award
2) post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
3) pass the award to 5 other blogs that you enjoy following. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And here are my five:

Surviving Oz - Cali girl living and loving Down Under.
Passion and Paradise - Midwestern newlyweds experiencing life in Hawaii.
Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats - California native cooking up a storm in Texas.
The Odyssey - Two American newlyweds living it up in Athens, Greece.
Transatlantic Blonde - American woman having a rockin' good time in Glasgow, Scotland.

Notice a theme? I am in very good company! Maybe our next move should be overseas?!? Wouldn't that be an adventure?

A-Z...All about me

I borrowed this from JME's World...thought it would be fun to post here!

A-Z...All about me:

Accent: Californian? I don't know...I guess some folks detect it. I don't think it's that strong though.

Breakfast or no breakfast: Yes! I've got to start the day with at least some toast or something in my tummy.

Chore I don’t care for: Cleaning the bathroom.

Dog or Cat: Both...two dogs and a cat.

Electronics: Desperately need a new laptop! Would love a new flat screen TV too. We're a little behind the times.

Favorite Perfume: Michael Kors Island:Hawaii

Gold or Silver: Silver/Platinum/White Gold

Handbag I carry most often: Red! I have a few, but they're all red!

Insomnia: Sometimes, but not lately.

Job Title: Director of Education/Executive Team Member

Kids: Not yet

Living Arrangements: Hubby, mommy and furbabies

Most Admirable Trait: Eternal optimist.

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Wandering away when in public. I cannot tell you how many times I sent my mother into a panic trying to find me in the mall or grocery store nor how many times I remember hearing my name called over the loud speaker.

Overnight hospital stays: Not since I was born.

Phobias: Bugs, tornados and thunderstorms

Quote: "Fake it 'til you make it!"

Reason to smile: J and I have the day off tomorrow...together!

Siblings: Seven! A twin brother, younger brother, step-sister, step-brother, adopted sister and two adopted brothers.

Time I wake up: 4:45 a.m.

Unusual Talent or Skill: I am very loud, especially when singing!

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Lima beans

Worst Habit: Impatience

X-rays: Teeth for sure. MRI for knee in 1991. Random xrays for ankles and wrists.

Yummy Stuff: Pineapple, Sushi, Thai Food, Moroccan food and any lemon dessert!

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Giraffes and Zebras. J loves the hippos, of course!'s cold and damp!

Okay, so last week it was sweltering and we had all of our fans going and the AC running. Today, it's downright chilly. I even ran the heater this morning! Just when I've stripped the bed of its flannel sheets and packed away my sweaters I am thinking maybe I made those moves too soon. It is May after all! I knew it'd still be rainy, but cold? I wonder if/when I'll ever get used to the weather here.

On a side note, in a couple of weeks I am off to Auckland, New Zealand for work. We'll have meetings and hotel site visits for an education event I am planning there for November 2010. Well in November, it's summer there. In May? Winter. According to my cyberfriend, Lisa in Oz, Auckland is uber cold this time of year. As I told her I was anticipating 60's and tropical. She said to expect 60's and cold! New Zealand is so far south of the equator it's near Antartica, so it gets downright cold there. Again, I've obviously stored my sweaters a bit prematurely.