Tuesday, 4 December 2012

365 Days in New Zealand: A Retrospective

 To commemorate my one year anniversary in Auckland, I have created a mock interview as my own Year in Review. PJ, Pretend Journalist, will be interviewing me for the occasion. Any resemblance to an actual interview, with persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

PJ: Thanks for meeting me here today. First off, you look fabulous who are you wearing?

KW: Sure my pleasure.  It's funny how when you don't work your schedule opens right up. As for my look, I'm wearing Champion. It's Adam's old baseball t-shirt, size XL, circa 1996. I find it really compliments my body right now, and by compliments I mean doesn't touch any part of me and gives me the shapeless, casual look that I'm going for these days.

PJ: What currently inspires you?

KW: Women who can walk without waddling, anyone that's given birth and lived to tell about it, Michael Jackson. I mean have you see Spike Lee's new documentary Bad 25?! Creative. Genius.

PJ: Do you remember where you were when you found out Michael had died?

KW: Of course I do. I was at TJ Maxx in Knoxville with my mom. I had just left San Francisco and was spending some time at home before moving to Atlanta to be with my now husband, Adam.

PJ: Adam, isn't he the reason you ended up moving to a country that has more sheep then people?

KW: Yes, yes he is. A move to New Zealand wasn't something we were looking for but he got recruited by a retailer here and well it's not every day an opportunity like that presents itself to you. Those close to us know what a tough decision it was for us to make, but I can honestly say we haven't regretted it once since taking the plunge.

PJ: What are some of your favorite things about living in New Zealand?

KW: The first thing that comes to mind is the physical beauty and being so close to the water. We were lucky enough to find a place where we can see the ocean from our house and be at the beach in a matter of minutes. It's not just where we live though, there is stunning scenery everywhere you turn. And the great things is, it truly is an underpopulated country so you go to these awesome places and you can actually enjoy them because they aren't crowded with people.

I also love the attitude of Kiwis. It really is a work to live vs. a live to work mentality. From  the automatic 4 weeks of vacation plus 11 National holidays to the emphasis on family, Kiwis have this part of life right. It's extremely refreshing coming from the US. There is also a laid back attitude that permeates the culture. Imagine a place where kids don't where shoes to school and you can't sue someone for causing you injury, well that's New Zealand.

Also, the travel opportunities we have being on this side of the world are amazing. It's extremely easy to travel domestically here plus there are so many places I consider exotic that are New Zealand's closest neighbors.

PJ: What has been most surprising about life in NZ?

KW: The number of stray cats, how many people have personalized license plates,

the lack of central heating, how loud the birds are, how amazing the coffee is, how people don't have screens on windows or doors, how expensive some things are, how antiquated things feel at times from the fashion to business practices, the lack of censorship on tv and radio, how tough Kiwis are weather wise. I'll be in jeans and a sweater and there will be people swimming in the ocean and jogging in a tank top. It happens all the time. Not to mention the weather in general, you truly get 4 seasons in one day. I have never seen anything like it. And the number of rainbows we've seen since moving here is insane - even Double Rainbows!! Also, I'm use to it now but the no shoes thing really blew me away at first.

PJ: How has your day to day life changed since moving?

KW: I drive on the opposite side of the road. My oven is in Celsius, my food labels are in kilojoules. I dry my clothes on a line now.

I don't make coffee at home anymore, I always go the cafe for my trim flat white. I eat a lot more muffins. My Skype rings a lot more than my actual phone. I go to the video store to rent movies. I watch less tv and eat out less.

PJ: What's been hardest about your move?

KW: Not working has definitely been difficult for me at times. There have been days where I thought my brain might atrophy or my heart might break because I was so far removed from the work I love. I left my job in Atlanta prematurely and the clients I was seeing. Doing therapy with people is amazing and creates a special relationship unlike any other. I have really had to look at the big picture and remind myself that just because I'm not practicing now doesn't mean I don't have the rest of my life to do what I love, professionally speaking.

The reality is my current life allows allows me to do a lot of what I love, just not in the professional realm. More in the read 25 books in one year kind of stuff, cook elaborate meals from scratch, take long walks on the beach with my dog, yoga in the middle of the day, and be ready and available to travel at a moment's notice. I don't expect anyone to feel too sorry for me.

However the other really hard part is being away from family and friends. It's hard to miss our niece and nephews growing up and just seeing people that we love on a regular basis. I have met so many nice people here and have felt so incredibly welcomed which has really helped. However at this stage in life it's hard to make and maintain new friendships. I think having a child here will open up a whole new group to us which I'm looking forward to. I appreciate the friends back home that have really made an effort to keep in touch despite the distance. Skype has been a real life saver.

PJ: So sounds like your social life isn't going to make it onto page 6 anytime soon. You must spend a lot of time with Adam, do you still like each other?

KW: Yes thank goodness, most days we still do. Living on the other side of the world has its advantages too. It's actually been nice to start a marriage this way. Because we are so far away we don't have the expectations and obligations of family in the same way you would if you were in the same place. Being just the two of us we really get to do things our way and depend strictly on each other, it can build you or break you and fortunately for us it's been strengthening.

PJ: Whoah I didn't know this interview was going to be so Oprah magazine-ish. Do you have any naked pictures of yourself to lighten things up?

KW: No, I burned all those so that my unborn daughter can never find them and use them in a future fight. So I kept only the pictures of me at church, in organized sports, and in my debutante dress.

PJ: You are going to be a great mother if I do say so myself. So when you think back on the past year what are some of the highlights?

KW: Taking an improv class, volunteering with Refugee Services, starting a blog, finding the best chocolate cake recipe, getting over my fear of bread making, finding a church I get something out of, exploring new places with Adam, and getting my very own bun in the oven. Growing another human is pretty cool stuff.

On the travel front definitely Fiji, Melbourne, Queenstown and the Milford Track on the South Island. And of course going home to the US to visit. As far as more local stuff -  Pohutakawa Coast, Puheke Hill, the Tutukaka Coast and Bay of Islands, Cape Reigna, hiking along the Mangawhai Cliffs and in the Waitakare Ranges, the view from top of Mt. Manganoui, and wine tasting in Hawkes Bay.


PJ: I bet you say some pretty wacky things now that you've lived here for a year. What are some things you find yourself saying that you didn't say before?

KW:  Oh you know stuff like sweet as, she'll be right, good on ya, full on. Pretty soon it's going to be all about bubs, nappies, and prams. It's a funny mix of of very British words plus all the kiwi-isms unique to New Zealand. You mix that with my Southern roots, my time in California, including 3 years at a public high school in Oakland and you get well let's just say that pretty much makes me quadrilingual. Boo-yah.

PJ: And how about food - things you miss or really love that NZ has to offer?

KW: Oh my gosh there are so many food things I miss. I literally have to get family back home to send me half of my baking supplies - semi-sweet chocolate chips, toffee pieces, canned pumpkin, graham crackers. And then in general I really miss good pizza, authentic mexican, bbq, and milkshakes. A milkshake here is literally like a glass of milk - no thank you. I have had Dairy Queen fantasies on more than one occasion. What New Zealand does really well is seafood and ethnic food - lots of great Indian, Thai, Malaysian. In general I find food here to be less processed and more seasonally based, both of which I think are great norms to have. There is also a wonderful cafe culture here so great coffee and fresh, delicious pastries are not hard to find.

PJ: Good stuff. Anything else you want to add about life in New Zealand or your experience here the past year?

KW: It's been quite the ride and so much to look forward to in the year ahead. For those of you that I actually know and would want to stay in our home, please come visit us in 2013!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Final Countdown

4 weeks to go .....

I'm to the point now where I see a woman jogging on the road and am filled with envy. Look at you bouncing freely, you're probably going to go home and have a big glass of wine and then sleep on your stomach - you b*tch! I don't know who started the whole 9 months myth about pregnancy but it's 10 in case anyone was wondering. Whoever it was is a big fat liar and their pants should be on fire.

However, the only thing on fire around here is my dreams. Seriously if Hollywood could see into them, trust me they would be buying the rights. And it's been like this from the beginning. I'm talking sex, murder, and intrigue people. Trust me they are a very interesting place to be. I'd been doubtful before that I could kill mobsters in China Town, but now that I've done it in my dreams I feel confident that 1. I can and 2. I'm ready to be a mother.

One of the funniest dreams I had was shortly after we got cable (Sky TV as it's called here), which was last month by the way. Yes it's true, we did manage to go almost an entire year without it. The lure of college football is what really sent us running into the arms of a satellite dish, ESPN, and me into Kardashian marathons. Which brings me to my dream. I am watching E, which is one of our new stations and see an ad where Kourtney Kardashian says, "It's a girl." That's all it took. Fast forward to that night, and I have a dream (nightmare!) all about how Kourtney has stolen a baby name we are considering and it was on the cover of US Weekly. Of course I now can't use that name because everyone will think we named our baby after a Kardashian. In the dream I was seriously tortured over this. I was relieved to discover after a google search the next morning that my fear was unfounded. Whew!

Weird dreams aside, there are many parts of pregnancy I have really enjoyed. One such thing being baby showers. My friend Adrienne recently threw me a fabulous high tea themed shower where everyone was encouraged to bring a gift to spoil the the mother to be, i.e. ME!

And wear a hat or fascinator:

I didn't even know what a fascinator was before I was having a shower where I needed to wear one, but I gotta say everyone looked fabulous and had a really good time. It's so English over here that it was fun to embrace that part of the culture. Unfortunately, Kate couldn't make it but I know she sends her best and was playing her own version of the clothespin game somewhere that day. It was a lovely occasion and I was so touched by all the people that came to help me celebrate.

Thank goodness for people I actually have the ability to talk to because when it comes to socializing these days I'm usually batting zero. I can't tell you how many times over the past few months I've been in a situation and been like a deer in headlights. Basically, feeling like this:

It's as though my pregnancy came with a personality switch and every time I need to rise to the occasion in a new social situation the switch gets flipped off. I mean usually I can talk to a brick wall, but lately I got nothing. All I can think is dear lord, is this what it's like to be shy?! This is awful. I know I should be saying something, that I should be making conversation, but nothing is coming out.

That's why I'm taking time to savour the quiet, sweet moments. Table for 1 please:

Life can't be all coffee and doughnuts though, there is a lot of prepping and getting ready for baby girl. We started our antenatal classes where we learn all about labor, delivery, and practical parenting stuff. Men even have the opportunity to wear an "empathy suit":

No Adam has not worn it and is focused more on whether he can get laughing gas during delivery. We have met some nice people and since I hadn't really read very much of the what to expect stuff, I'm actually learning a lot.

Besides trying to maintain my sanity as the due date approaches we've gotten to do some much needed non baby related things in the past month too. One of the highlights include a visit from an old colleague of mine from Atlanta, Kathie, and her husband Paul. They stayed with us for a few days and it was so great to have them here. It's almost surreal to see someone from home in this setting because we go for so long without seeing familiar faces. It was a welcome treat and so fun to hear all about the trip around the world they are on.

We recently attended our first NZ Breakers basketball game:

I loved it! They played (and beat) the Townsville Crocs, an Australian team. It's the closest thing New Zealand has to the NBA and in the land of cricket and rugby, it was so awesome to see a real, live, basketball game.  
Another day we hit up NZ Sculpture on the Shore:
I'm also still involved in my volunteer work with the Burmese refugee family. Now that they are more settled we can focus on doing fun stuff together. I took two of the boys to the MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology which I think they enjoyed. Along with the other volunteers on my team, one day we took the family on a picnic and to the park. Adam came along and it was nice that he got to meet them and witness an unfortunate but comical scene.  
So one of the volunteers was travelling with two of the Burmese boys and three of her grandchildren in her car. It had started raining and we were trying to find a covered playgroud so I am following this woman. She pulls up to a school and gets out, I park behind her. She comes to my window, mentioning nothing out of the ordinary, saying she will go in and check it out. Then one by one, all five of the the kids start piling out of her car, each throwing up or bent over coughing. Then we see one of the Burmese boys get out just covered in throw up. Obviously he had gotten sick en route and as is often the case, made others sick around him. 
His mother was in my car and she jumps out ready to wipe him down and then gets out the extra change of clothes she has brought along, ready for such an occasion. I know he is prone to car sickness because he tossed his cookies in my car one of the first days I met him (see July post What Goes Down Must Come Up). The good news is, shortly after everyone was fine and no one seemed to have trouble getting down the brownies I made.
My commitment ends next month and overall it's been a great experience. The family is doing well and I'm impressed at how they've adjusted. The language barrier has been tough, as I would really like to be able to get to know them more. You know as in communicating in the same language kind of way, but I knew that was part of the deal when I signed up. Despite this obstacle, it's been neat to see the rapport established, the warmth conveyed, and discover other ways to connect with people besides verbal language.
Hard to believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. We will be celebrating Turkey Day on Saturday with some other Americans. Our friends and family back home will certainly be in our thoughts. Ya'll have a safe and happy holiday. Gobble Gobble!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Bula Vinaka: Five Fabulous Days in Fiji

Fiji is truly a tropical paradise. Exhibit A:

It's so much more then a water bottle, you know? It was surreal being there. I don't know how many times I must have said, "We're in Fiji!" as if Adam didn't know. It' s been on my dream travel list for a while but moved to the top as soon as I realized we were moving to this part of the world and was actually in the realm of possibility. In case you're a little rusty on your South Pacific Island geography here's a refresher:

I think I sleep better at night knowing my closest neighbors include Tonga and Tahiti. As you can see Fiji is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Fiji is not just one island, it's actually made up of over 300 islands. I've always thought of it as a land full of happy people and fantasy suites, and while that certainly exists the reality is it's a 3rd world country and a place that many wish to leave in hopes of a better life.  

Adam met a Fijian guy before we left for our trip and was excited to get travel tips and the inside scoop, i.e. is the guava juice safe to drink there? But the guy shut down that conversation quickly and was basically like, "I hope I never have to go back to that Godforsaken place." We did get glimpses on the mainland of why he might feel that way, but overall as tourists that was not our experience. However I want to make sure you are not only entertained but learn at least a few facts, kind of like your Fox News of the blogosphere. We were happy to get off the main island and found that the Fiji magic began when we set sail for one of the smaller islands.

Our little slice of heaven, Tokoriki Island, was located an hour by boat from Port Denarau. We took a big boat to meet a very small boat and were rowed safely to the shores of our island escape. I was so excited to get there that I cried upon arrival. It was incredibly beautiful, the water a perfect blue, and the air so warm that I was beside myself. There were lots of lovely things about where we stayed but the best thing hands down was the pool:

It was amazing! You want to see what joy is for a 7 and 1/2 month pregnant woman, here you go:

I pretty much spent my days on this ledge sunning myself and staring out at the ocean, so happy to be in the pool and feel temporarily weightless.

Adam was pretty relaxed too and enjoyed soaking up the views:

Yes, this Italian woman was at the pool every day

As if this wasn't enough, Adam treated me to the unlimited spa package. I can't believe I'm admitting this but I did in fact manage to squeeze in a full body massage every day as well as a facial and a pedicure in the short time that we were there. It was decadent and felt so freaking good as everything is tending to swell and ache at this point. I managed to tear myself away from the spa and the pool to go snorkeling two of the days. A five minute boat ride from Tokoriki is an amazing reef full of all sorts of beautiful fish and marine life. We even saw a starfish that looked just like this:

It was lots of sun and lots of fun. Beachfront bure with hamock- check:


Gorgeous sunsets - check:

Fresh seafood:

Local specialty - kokoda

Spectacular flowers:

Adam rubbing hand sanitizer all over himself thinking it was aloe - check:

We, meaning I,  had a good laugh when I put that little tidbit of information together. It really was a great trip and such a special way to do it up before baby comes. I was the only pregnant woman in a sea of honeymooners, but we were ok with that because honestly felt like a 2nd honeymoon for us.

Happy Happy Birthday this week to my dear husband. My partner in crime, the yin to my yang, the Stedman to my Oprah. Here's looking at the next year and what's to be our biggest adventure yet - parenthood.

Thanks for making my Fiji dreams come true!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Mamma Mia

How is  it already almost October? I tell you the whole seasons being flip flopped really messes with this North American brain. So does the whole driving thing after a month back home. I was surprised I could so easily transition when I came back from the States, but then reality hit day two when I was cruising along and noticed someone in the "wrong" lane coming at me head on. I waited for them to go back to their lane but it wasn't until we came close to colliding that I realized I was on the wrong side of the road. Oops. I love that it took me so long to realize it was my fault not someone else's.

So yes roads and seasons are all different here. We have come out of our Winter and are enjoying our first New Zealand Spring. September brought us our first official visitors. Adam's dad and step mom came over from Atlanta to spend a couple weeks with us and one of the highlights was our trip to the far North. Probably because it looked like this:

It is so raw and rugged up there. We went all the way to Cape Reigna, which is the northernmost part of New Zealand. It was beautiful. The first night we stayed at The Old Oak in Mangonui. It was a great little place. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who had the mentality of, "it doesn't matter where you stay because it's just a place to put your head." But I'm SO not. I am such a sucker for the adorable B&B or the room that makes you not want to get out of bed because the sheets are so freaking awesome. Yes, thank you, I do want a miniature sized bottle of bergamont scented body wash. Will I ever need to use the phone while I am on the toilet? I hope not but I can still get excited that I have the option.

One of the greatest finds up that way was Puheke Hill on the Karikari Peninsula. Hill is an understatement, try extinct volcano. The views you get are amazing. This picture doesn't really do it justice but trust me it is spectacular:

The white sand beaches were as good as it gets:

After a night in Mongonui and a stop at the incredible Te Paki Sand Dunes:

We made our way down the west coast, staying on 90 Mile Beach in Ahipara the next night. On our way home we hit up the largest living Kauri tree in the world, Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest." This tree was massive (trunk girth - 13.77m or 45.2 ft!) and magical.

It was a great trip even though the road on the way back made me want to throw up. I didn't though so another small victory for mankind, but mostly just for the other car passengers.

On the pregnancy front everything was going well until a couple weeks ago when they turned on me. Everyone said they would. It was all fine until all that extra estrogen and progesterone couldn't help themselves and turned me into a blubbering fool for about two weeks. My hormones went wiggity wiggity wack. So much so that I called a hospital two hours away, hysterical after reading an article and tried to visit someone I had never met. The nurse clearly thought I was crazy and I'm pretty sure wanted to redirect my call to the mental health unit. 

This is same the reaction my midwife gave me when I said I still have the occasional glass of wine with dinner, and she then explained to me that normally given that information she would make a "referral." As in Betty Ford type of referral. Well I had to clear that one up real quick and explain I that I had gotten my continents mixed up and of course those people in Europe were crazy and that Kiwis knew better. Whew. Close call. The good news is your midwife can't dump you so she's stuck with her heathen American client. Thank goodness my hormones have balanced back out and I am back to my normal self , i.e only crying at appropriate things like this:

How beautiful is that pie? This is the best pizza we've had since coming to this country, probably because it's made by an American, sorry Kiwis. Locals check out Epolitos' Pizza in One Tree Hill. Yum!

I'm in my 3rd trimester now and glad to be in the final stretch, despite still having 3 months to go. I'm enjoying the antenatal swimming class I joined, although the first couple sessions I couldn't stop laughing. I was so amused by our instructor in tiny spandex yelling instructions at us from the sidelines, with Abba blaring in the background as we kicked and stretched with our big bellies. It's a nice group of ladies and after class we all go to the cafe and have coffee and muffins together. It's a pretty sweet deal.

I'm almost at my cut off for not being able to fly so we are squeezing two trips in before I'm housebound and have to actually prepare for the child I'm bringing into the world. Next weekend we head to Wellington, the "coolest little capital in the world," according to the Internet so it must be true. Then my real travel dreams come true and we head to FIJI! Yes Fiji, I still kinda can't believe we are going there. I am beside myself with excitement. And to think it is only three hours away, seriously closer then Australia. Here is a sneak peak at what we have to look forward to:

As if Fiji wasn't enough, Ellen is finally back on the air after what has felt like the longest summer break ever. Yay Ellen and to making me laugh every single day.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Red, White, and Blue

It's me, your favorite pregnant expat blogger. I have just returned from an amazing trip back to my homeland - USA! Where to begin? So much happened, there were baby showers and funerals, birthday parties and road trips. There was shopping and eating. So much eating.

Here is just a glimpse at the type of foods I ate while I was home. I'm actually surprised I'm still standing or should I say sitting comfortably. Thank goodness for the elastic band know as maternity clothes. This is Adam and me at Fox Brother's BBQ in Atlanta. Mmm I can almost taste the smoked wings now. Imagine trying to get in your favorite American "treats" that you would normally eat over the course of a year, except I ate them over the course of three and a half weeks.

What happens you might wonder, when one hasn't eaten fast food for 8 months and then eats Chick- Fil-a and Five Guys in the same day? I'll save you all from your at home experiments and tell you that it doesn't end pretty. But being the survivor that I am I persevered, and was eating apple fritters in no time.

Speaking of food, I love that before I left I asked my favorite barista at my local coffee shop if he wanted anything from America while I was home. His response, "Well I have always wanted to try a Twinkie, I've seen them in the movies and always wanted to know what they were like." That just tickled me pink. Done and done. I had to break the news that I had never been a Twinkie fan but that  I would definitely bring him one back. Twinkies, along with 150lbs of stuff came back to New Zealand with us. I mentioned I did some shopping right? Most of it was baby related, gifts and hand me downs but ooh I got so much good stuff!

I had two fabulous baby showers thrown for me when I was home, one in Atlanta and one in Knoxville. Thanks to all the fabulous hosts who made it happen. So much fun:

w/ my  Mom

And, how could I forget:

Taylor and Evan Cope

We found out the same day we flew home so it was really fun to be able to tell everyone in person. My niece and nephew know how to do it up. Hope our kid comes out half as cute as these little ones. I wish I could say I was surprised but I had had two girl dreams prior to finding out so I was happy to know that my women's intuition was on point.

As the song goes, First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage. While we were home we got to take a walk down memory lane and eat the top tier of our wedding cake, which my mother had so kindly preserved in her freezer for the past year. I was excited to indulge in this 1st year anniversary tradition and was surprised at how good it still tasted.
This post isn't ending any time soon so this is when you might want to get your own piece of cake, or  grab a cup of tea or a stiff drink. One of of the most notable things that happened during my trip home was the passing of my grandmother, know affectionately as Gran C. Gran C was my Dad's mom and I had the pleasure of visiting with her the day before she died, which was amazingly on her 96th birthday. Here is a shot of us last Easter, before I moved:
What's incredible is that my Dad had originally wanted to make the trip to Murfreesboro on Wednesday, her actually birthday. Well I explained that I was having a baby shower that day and wanted to go the day before, so we ended up going down on Tuesday. After spending the day with her, reminiscing with cousins, and catching up as best we could (she was almost 96 after all!) I headed home. I was awoken the next morning to find out she had passed away.
While she was not in great health, she was not sick, and certainly when I left that day I didn't think she would die hours later. I tell you though, I can't even really be  sad, because when you live literally on the other side of the world and come home once a year, it is nothing short of a miracle that I got to see her.
Adam's sweet grandmother, Rosalie, passed away shortly after we moved here and it was heartbreaking not to be able to go home and be there with his family. So not only did I get to see Gran C, but I also got to attend her funeral in Sparta, Tennessee the small country town where she grew up. To find out more about this extraordinary woman click here:
Obituary For: Mary Kate Cope | Woodfin Funeral Chapels

Post funeral, Adam and I headed up to his family's mountain house in Blue Ridge, GA for some much needed R&R with good friends.

 w/ Kelly and Mary Swanson

It was a quick trip but so fun. We got married up there so it has a special meaning for us. We tubed the Toccoa , which is basically just floating down the river in an inner tube and unlodging yourself when you get stuck on a rock. It is very fun and a must do whenever we go up that way. We also ate at Harvest on Main, which is where we had our rehearsal dinner and is always fun to visit. Mmm fresh local trout:

Before dinner we hit up the The Vine, a great little wine bar. It was a perfect summer night. We sat on the patio and between the bluegrass music, the train in the back, and the company I was brought to tears. Literally.

Adam w/ Kris Swanson

The night ended with Kris, Kyle, and Adam putting on a fireworks show for us. And anyone else that had previously been trying to sleep. One of the highlights of being home in general was just spending time with people that had know me longer then a few months. It's one of the things I really miss about living here. I have met some awesome people in New Zealand, but no matter how great someone is it's hard to replace people you have history with.

With that in mind, my last US stop was San Francisco. Adam went on to Auckland, (someone's gotta work around here) and I headed to the City by the Bay. Talk about history. I lived out there for 8 years and some of my very best friends are still there. Not to mention that I just love that city. Always will.

I got to spend quality time with so many people that I love. Here are just a few shots from the week:

w/ Rachel Holbrook

w/ Nicole Howell Neubert and Mallary Walker

w/ Mal

w/ Caroline Casper

There are lots of fabulous people missing from these pics who I had a great time catching up with as well. My friend Julie from college even drove over 4 hours just to see me for one night. It was an incredible trip home. I have to say a special thank you to Adam's family and mine for going above and beyond to make our trip home so wonderful. And of course Air New Zealand makes the 12 hour flight  feel like a breeze. Wow, I sound like I'm giving an acceptance speech for the international travel award I didn't recieve.

It really does help that we get to fly the good stuff. I actually slept for 9 hours and awoke to warm croissants, fresh fruit, and a hot towel. Seriously it's like a vacation in the sky. Before I knew it I was in Auckland. I found it amusing that when I first got on the plane, the man next to me asked in an unfamiliar accent if I would like to switch seats with him, asking me, quote "do you prefer the middle?"

Really? Do you take me as a fool? Do you know anyone that prefers the middle?? If you are going to ask, which is fine, at least preface it with, "I know this is crazy but..." I kindly said no, I do not prefer the middle and I'm pregnant and requested an aisle so that I could walk around and go to the bathroom a lot. Luckily, he found an empty seat and moved to his own private Idaho.

As great as it was to be home in the US, it was also great to come back to my New Zealand home. I'm more appreciative then ever of the life we have here - the natural beauty, the ease of things, the laid back culture, the just me and my honey on an island in the pacific. And of course that other little thing we have going on:

6 months today!