I am calling this Part 1, because I get to go home for another visit in just a couple of weeks over Labor Day weekend...looking forward to that one too :) One of my best friends, Jesse, is getting married that weekend, and I bought a plane ticket to go home for that...and she scheduled her Bachelorette Party for two weeks before the wedding, which worked out great, because I had a 3-day-weekend this past weekend and was off Friday! Jesse was nice enough to offer to pay for my plane ticket for her wedding, but I really wanted to buy it myself - so she agreed, and offered to buy my plane ticket to come home for her Bachelorette Party instead. I felt really bad to ask her to pay for that, but there was no way I could afford two plane tickets so close together when I have been watching our pennies very tightly in order to get the truck paid off...so we compromised :) She and her husband-to-be were very generous and paid for my one-way flight home for the weekend, and I had built up enough airline miles for a one-way flight home...so I only had to pay $5 in taxes. It saved us both some money, and made it where I could come celebrate with her, so I think it was a good compromise :) It worked out really nicely, because Friday also happened to be my sister's birthday, so I got to celebrate with her too!
I found a good deal on a flight from Orange County, CA to Tulsa. In case you weren't aware, airfare is outrageous right now...and flying out of the airports near Ridgecrest are even more outrageous. Google told me that the John Wayne Airport was 135 miles and a 3 hour and 1 minute drive from my house. I figured the significantly cheaper airfare was worth the drive and the gas money to get down there. I was very blessed by my better half's cousin, Bo...he has an aunt in Long Beach (about 15 miles from the OC Airport), and he called her and asked if I could stay the night with her Thursday night because my flight was at 6:45am Friday morning. She was such a sweet little old lady, and kindly agreed and let me stay :) So Thursday evening, I left work, swung by my house and picked up my bags, kissed my 4-legged children (I always hate having to leave them behind :( ...) and made the 2 hour and 45 minutes drive down to Long Beach. Shorter than I expected :) I went to bed pretty soon after dinner because I had set my alarm for 3:45am the next morning so I could leave by 4:15am. I had heard horror stories about freeway traffic in that part of California, so being that it was my first time to a new airport, I wanted to play it safe. Ended up being a little too safe, because it only took me 20 minutes to get to the parking lot at the airport, and then just a few more to unload the car and have a nice shuttle driver take me to the terminal. So I was there super early, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?
A very nice skycap got my bags for me immediately when I exited the shuttle, got me checked in and gave me my boarding pass. I felt horrible, because I had just given my last dollar bill to the shuttle driver as a tip, so I had nothing to give him, and he was super friendly and helpful. So I asked him where I could find an ATM, went downstairs by the baggage claim, withdrew some money, got change, and went back and gave him 3 bucks. He was so surprised and told me thank you and actually gave me a hug! To me, it was not a big deal at all...to him, it made his morning, and possibly his day. It kinda made me wonder how poorly he gets treated by most of the people he helps... :(
After that, I made my way through security and had a long wait before my plane started boarding. So I took the opportunity to read a little bit of my most recent iPad purchase, Confessions of a Military Wife. I had purchased the Kindle edition from Amazon.com for a mere $8.69, and let me tell you, so far, it has been worth every penny.
If you are a relatively new military wife, or are dating or engaged to a soldier, sailor or airman, I highly recommend this read. Although I must add this disclaimer: If you read it in a public place like an airport terminal or airplane, be prepared for lots of weird looks when you are trying to stifle the uncontrollable laughter coming from within you. It's pretty darn funny :)
I finally boarded my 6:45am Southwest flight to Phoenix where I had about an hour and a half layover. I read more of my book. And eventually I made it to Tulsa. My birthday sister and brother-in-law picked me up and we headed to Claremore to pick up the kiddos. I have the most adorable niece and nephew...and can hardly believe how fast they are growing up! It makes me sad that I have to miss so much of their lives. I hate the idea of them thinking of Aunt Lauren as someone who wasn't around often when they were growing up :( But it was great to see them! After picking them up from school, we dropped the boys off at the house, and the girls went to visit my other sister at work so they could try on their bridesmaids dresses. Brooklynn insisted on going because she "LOVES dresses!" It was cute :) Unfortunately, my $30 bridesmaids dresses are not going to work out after all...my oldest sister is 5'8", and it was a bit too short for her (and my) taste. So...back to the drawing board on that... :P
After that, we went back to Sarah's house and I got ready for Jesse's Bachelorette Party. Lucky for me, her dinner party was at On the Border in Tulsa, which is literally right across the street from the mall. I had bought the dresses on July 19th from the Charlotte Russe website, so I BARELY made my 30 day window that I could return the dresses for a full refund. I made a quick detour to the mall, returned the dresses for everything except the shipping, bought Jesse one more gift on my way out the door, and headed to the dinner party! We ate dinner, played a few games and Jesse opened her shower gifts :)
|The Bachelorette :)|
After dinner, we made our way to the Hard Rock Casino to go to Friction to dance the night away. We got there a bit early, and Friction was kinda dead, so we found a table near the bar to hang out until the dance floor picked up. I tried to tell Jesse that now that WE had arrived, we WERE the party...but we sat for a bit anyways...
|Me and the Bachelorette, once the party finally got started :)|
|All we are missing is my better half ;)|
After that, I headed to the parking lot to get in the truck my sister let me borrow for the weekend. As I was walking out around 1:30am, I passed a couple that was on their way in and clearly in a good mood from the alcohol...and the man says, "You're leaving too early! You even have your dancing shoes!" So I, carrying my heels in my hand because they had done a number on my feet, holler back at him in my best southern accent, "My feet are tired!" I had been in Oklahoma for a whopping 11 hours, and my country girl vibe was already sneaking out in true fashion...
I went back to my sister's house, we stayed up way too late visiting and finally went to bed around 3:30am. This made 7:45am came really early...We got up and around, loaded the car with ice chests and camping gear, and headed to go float the river with my whole family for my sister's birthday celebration! I, unfortunately, did not get to stay and camp after floating, but my sister, brother-in-law and the kiddos did. After I almost got into a huge fight with the guy behind the counter who insisted I was wrong about his fine print, we finally got to use our Groupons. I don't know what is with customer service these days...or the lack thereof...but whatever happend to the customer is always right? The fine print for the $11 Groupon clearly stated, "Limit one per three people." As anybody with a brain would assume, I took this to mean I can use the Groupon, and up to two other people have to pay full price. So by default, if we had a group of 4 people, we should get to use 2 Groupons: one for the first set of three, and one for the 4th person. But rude man behind the counter told me multiple times that I was "terribly wrong" and that I HAD to have 3 people to be able to use every Groupon. In other words, I had to have 6 people in order to use 2 Groupons. I call this false advertising. It said "limit 1 per 3 people,"...NOT..."MUST have 3 people in order to use 1 coupon." After arguing with him for a bit, getting really frustrated that he had the nerve to tell me I couldn't read, I finally decided he wasn't worth my time and walked away. Thankfully, there was a nice girl behind the counter that ended up allowing us to use all of our Groupons after all (we had 14 people, 3 of which were children that only had to pay $7.50/child to float anyways, and 6 Groupons). If it weren't for her, I may have never gone back to Arrowhead to float...ever again.
Anyways, after that ordeal and a long wait for my sister and her family to get checked into their campsite and get the ice chests packed for the float trip, we finally made it to the river :) Minus a few immature incidents, it was a good time overall. I had a good time with my family and was happy that I got to spend some time with them :)
|My niece, Brooklyn...a.k.a. my little diva ;)|
|We docked the boats and let the kids get plenty of play time in :)|
|Me with the birthday girl :)|
After eating nothing but a donut, a small sandwich, some doritos, a piece of cake and a few chewy chocolate chip cookies throughout the entire day, I had nearly sent my body into shock and was craving something with substance, so I stopped by Arby's for some late night chicken strips on my way home. I ended up only eating one and a half of them because I was too tired to function...haha. I made it back to Claremore around 10:30 and stayed the night with my mom so she could take me to the airport for my 6:00am flight the next morning. Bless her :)
All in all, I had a great weekend with my family and my dear friend. I was sad to leave. BUT it makes me happy knowing that I get to go back in less than two weeks for another visit, only this one will be for five days and four nights because it's a holiday weekend! ...Stay tuned for Part 2 - the wedding and the annual family camping/lake trip! :)