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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I Fell Off the Face of the Earth....

Well - I know - I posted on Wednesday morning and then just kind of - fell off the face of the Earth! Actually, I rose above the surface of the Earth on Thursday...but that's getting ahead of myself.

Last week was dominated by our trip to Mississippi for my sister's graduation from pilot training. That's right, we have a real life, living, breathing, actual pilot in our family and long ago I promised I'd fly in a plane she was piloting. I guess I'll have to honor that promise at some point - I'm assuming a simulator "flight" doesn't count, right?

The tickets to Nationals games have started rolling in...
My favorite part of the House of Cards intro - I know, I have problems. 
The beginning of the week seemed like it flew by...it also seemed so hectic. Now, it wasn't actually hectic but I got it in my head that I was bound and determined to finish the fourth season of House of Cards before we left on Thursday morning and I knew Wednesday night wasn't an option, so I tried to cram in five episodes in between cooking supper/getting my hair done/packing/walking the dog (multiple times, obviously) and of course, going to work each day! I managed to finish the fourth season....and get all those other things done too, ha-ha! You know, the actual things of importance. 

Trying to revel in the Spring temperatures while still being "in" the office!
Spring arrived last week; the temperatures hovered around the mid-60's and lower-70's, I dug out all my sandals and decided regardless of the weather I'd wear my sandals and just deal with it, ha-ha! The sun shone, the breeze was pleasantly warm and the skies were an indescribable blue...which made it hard to sit in an office without starting longingly out the window... 

After work on Wednesday I raced home and grabbed Watson up and took him over to Cavalier Kennels - it has become his "home" away from home whenever I travel...he gets excited when we drive up and is always happy to see the girls (and guys) that work there. Granted, he usually thinks he's going to follow me right back out the door when I leave...but he always does great...at least, that's what they tell me!

Reagan Airport in the early morning sunshine!
The only people on the whole plane....
The view(s) from above the Earth...
We went into DC on Wednesday night and stayed at a hotel that offered parking and a shuttle to Reagan; the thought of battling DC traffic can be a headache most any day, but on a week day during the morning commute? No thanks! Our flight left around 9(ish) on Thursday morning and because my Mom is still recovering from a broken foot, we were able to be taken out to the plane first...we actually rode out to the plane with the flight crew and we were well settled in before everyone else boarded! 

The flight was only about half full, so once everyone was on the plane...I scooted across the aisle and had two seats to myself. I passed the hour and forty five minute flight with some music, a crossword puzzle and finishing up a book I'd been reading and we were touching down in Birmingham before I knew it! We met a long time friend for lunch at the Cajun Steamer and I had some absolutely delicious red beans and rice, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and macaroni and cheese! Between the abundance of fried food and the torrential thunderstorm that started shortly after we rolled across the state line into Mississippi...I felt well and truly welcomed back to the Deep South.

Fried food & flood water (not really)
We settled in at Lindsey's house on Thursday afternoon amid some pretty impressive torrential rain...I remember weather like this being pretty normal for good ol Mississippi, but I hadn't heard thunder/seen lightning this impressive in at least two years. Craziness! We had supper at the Mexican restaurant and tried to relax a bit ahead of Friday...a day that was no doubt bound to be hectic with breakfast, graduation, lunch with extended family, squadron activities and a formal dinner...whoosh. I was so happy to crawl into bed on Thursday night and honestly I was wishing I could sleep late on Friday but because of that pesky time difference, I woke up at 5:30 in the morning! My sister was awake also (nerves I'm sure because of the day's activities...) and so with some coffee to bolster me, the morning began. 

Cookies for the "party" - Wings & the state of Nevada! 
Having graduation breakfast with the almost pilot...
The morning started with breakfast at the Columbus Club and of course, there was small talk involved. As there always is when you're seated with random people you've never met before...our only common denominator being that we both had "almost" pilots. The food was fine and I'll confess, I played Candy Crush while a few presentations were made (oops) and after that, it was off to the auditorium for the graduation ceremony itself!

The graduation was short and sweet - those are usually good things in any ceremonial type thing - right? The speaker was excellent and offered words of advice on the future and then one by one, each graduate paraded across the stage and had their shiny silver wings placed on their chest. A dream come true moment for Lindsey, no doubt about it! Once the graduates led us in a rousing verse of the Air Force song, we watched each of the new pilots take part in the breaking of the wings. That's right - they took those shiny new wings and snapped them in two. A tradition that stated a pilot's first pair of wings should be broken in two and one half given to a family member or friend for safe-keeping and the pieces should not be brought back together again until the end of the pilot's life. 

Congratulations...have these shiny wings...you're a pilot!
Now take those shiny new wings....& snap them in half! 
After a quick lunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies with waters and sodas and plenty of hugs from family, we all changed clothes and most of the family headed out. The four of us, joined by my Uncle Greg, my Aunt J'Nett and our family friend Hope joined Lindsey for some squadron activites that included a chance to fly the simulator, look at all the planes Lindsey had done her flying in and tour the squadron. I took so many pictures and there are all below...ha-ha!

Also - I was given a chance to "fly" the simulator alongside Lindsey and they assured me over and over that the thing doesn't actually move...but you could have fooled me! Now, in case you don't know this about me already...I take prescription medication to fly. If I didn't, I'd be the insane person on your flight that yelped, squealed and had a panic attack every time the plane turned...because yes...all of the genes related to the love of all things flying went to ONLY ONE CHILD...and that is not me. Flying the simulator was interesting...terrifying...altogether slightly unsettling...and reaffirmed to me that I did not miss my calling in life. So - there's that. 

Cruising over the Vegas Strip - Captain Natalie at the helm....
Hooray - I didn't crash us!
Proudly posing outside the simulator - I survived! 
What are those things?!? Wings!?!
One of the planes that Lindsey flew in for training...we just casually crawled up on the wing...
Sister Shot! :)
Family photo with the new pilot!
After a brief afternoon nap (I was feeling not so hot) and a quick run to the BX (that's Base Exchange for all you non-military brats, ha!) to get Cold and Flu meds (remember...not feeling hot)...we all had to get fancy for the formal dinner at the Club. So, I curled my hair and then within fifteen minutes of finishing the job remembered why my hair and MS weather do not get along. *sigh* 

I will share a slightly embarrassing tale - in which I took cold and flu medication and then had ONE drink and felt a little...unhinged. Ha! The box said no more than three alcoholic beverages and I'm not one to drink multiple drinks at a time, so I got my Sex on the Beach (ha) and drank it and then we were seated for dinner and I felt...well...a little dizzy. Needless to say, I passed on the glass of chardonnay that was offered because I was not going to be the idiot that fell out of her chair at the fancy graduation formal dinner. Y'all - the food though - so yummy! And our table mates were lovely and the whole thing was just delightful. Especially once some of the food soaked up some of the alcohol/drugs in my system.

I know - I sound like a drunk. I'm sorry. I promise I'm not.

Cheesecake...and tea...and wine (that I didn't drink)
Sister Selfie! 
A toast to the class of 16-06 - new pilots!
The family - all fancy for the formal dinner.
And let me honest with you - the rest of the weekend passed so quickly! It rained almost all weekend and so we were truly pretty lazy on Saturday. The only thing(s) we did on Saturday that didn't involve sitting in the house were getting new phones (yahoo!) at AT&T, making a quick shopping trip into the BX and getting supper at Harvey's - delicious as always! 

We joined Lindsey for Sunday School on Sunday morning and had an absolutely delicious brunch at the Lion Hills Country Club after - the food was wonderful and funnily enough, even armed with a brand new phone, it would seem I took almost no pictures of anything. At all. Like - the first picture I took with my new phone was one I took of Watson...today...which is Tuesday. 

Monday morning we packed Lindsey up for a month long stay in Texas for training, we all grabbed some BBQ together and then Lindsey headed for Texas and we headed for the airport...where our flight was delayed and delayed and delayed. Blegh. Once we finally left Birmingham at almost 8:30, I'd never been more thrilled to finally be on a plane. Granted, that thrill turned into something else when we encountered some turbulence over Tennessee and I was in full on panic mode. I was so glad to see DC...even if it was almost midnight...and I have never been so happy to crawl into my bed...

And - that's all I've got for now! I'll check back in tomorrow with your weekly dose of Watson cuteness! 

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