Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Late Birthday Mason!!!!

Spring doesn't officially begin for another 3 weeks or so, but I guess you could say it's already "springing" here in Columbus.  The past few days we have enjoyed beautiful, fairly warm weather, which makes us even more ready to get February behind us so that we can enjoy the outdoors again.  Those who know me know that I do not at all consider myself "outdoorsy".  I don't particularly like to be a "part" of nature (i.e. hiking, fishing, working in the yard) but I do like to passively observe nature (i.e. walking, sitting on a boat, sitting in the yard).  We have slowly, but surely, started spending more time outdoors as the weather gets warmer, and will probably continue until it becomes way too warm, which hopefully won't be 'til late June.

I will start the recap of the last couple of weeks with an update on Chris.  He passed his first couple tests and has about 4 more weeks to go of academics.  He has been studying a good bit, but most of his activities so far have been for physical preparations to start flying.  For instance, he experienced low oxygen to determine what symptoms he has so that if he ever has low oxygen while flying he will be able to pick up on those (Everyone is a little different.  Some people get giggly.  His hands get tingly.).  He has been spun around in chairs to simulate what the g-forces will feel like on his body, he has had some physical tests done and had to perform his physical fitness test.  Here is a picture of him getting fitted in his oxygen mask:

This morning he had to go in at 5 so that they could practice shooting flares in the dark.  We have really enjoyed meeting the other guys in his class.  We have already had a couple of class parties and we have both really enjoyed getting to know everyone.  There was a cookout last Monday, then we bowled Friday and had an afterparty.  I'm looking forward to the bonfire that Autumn and I are throwing in the cul-de-sac between our houses in a couple of weeks, and for the St. Patty's day party that Chris and I are throwing.  Good times ahead!

This past week was incredibly busy for me.  I have been going to Birmingham every week for a month now, so sometimes things at home get a little overwhelming when I have so much to juggle.  It's not entirely new for me.  I know that no matter how hard I try not to be, I am a perpetually busy person.  If I have free time, one way or the other I fill it...even when I don't mean to! Last week we had the class cookout Monday, then I had modeling practice for the fashion show.  Tuesday was the wine tasting.  The guys couldn't commit to going because it was supposed to start at 6 and their schedules said that they wouldn't be out til 6:30.  It turned out that they got out early and the wine tasting started's too bad, because I know Chris would have loved it...but since we had to RSVP in advance, it was a girls-only event.

Casey, Jaime, Autumn, me and Emilee (all spouses) after the tasting.
On Wednesday through Thursday I went to Birmingham to work.  I had to be back by 6 for the mandatory dress rehearsal for the fashion show.  I was so exhausted and overwhelmed when I got back at 5:45 because I was tired from working, the house needed cleaning, I had no idea what to make for dinner and I knew modeling practice would probably last way too long.  At 7:30, it wasn't over, but I told the girl in charge that I had been working out of town and I just had to go home and get some things ready for my parents and sister to come visit over the weekend.  We had already practiced a couple of times, so it was fine for me to leave (turns out I probably could have used the extra practice, but I'll get to that later!)

When I got home, my sweet hubby had already made dinner, and since the weather was fantastic, he had set it all out (complete with candlelight) and had it waiting when I got home.  Seared tuna, sweet potatoes, and rice...and the fact that I didn't have to make it made it taste even better!!

Isn't he dreamy??? :)
Friday was the day of the show.  I was actually pretty nervous since I've never been in a fashion show before! I just knew I was going to trip and fall on the runway...I didn't.  However...I don't think I have a future in modeling, I will just put it that way.  What we were supposed to do was pose at the back of the runway, walk to the front, pose, turn around and walk back, pose, and walk off the stage.  I had this purse I was supposed to be showing off.  After doing the first pose with the purse hanging off my wrist, I was going to throw it onto my shoulder to walk down the runway...well...(haha)....instead of throwing it onto my shoulder, I somehow managed to just throw it completely over my shoulder, behind me, and onto the floor! It was actually pretty funny, but it would have been funnier if it happened to someone else and not me!! In cheerleading I learned that when you mess up, to just keep going! So I walked to the front of the runway, posed (laughing a little the whole time but trying not to laugh too much!)...then when I got back to where I dropped the purse, I just picked it up and posed with it "show and tell" style.  My sister has the whole thing on video...all I can say is...1) I don't think my modeling career is going anywhere and 2) I will not be carrying a purse in the fashion show that I (unfortunately) already signed up for in April!  They are actually selling videos of the entire show to people, which just about makes me want to die, because if anyone actually purchased one then they can watch me drop my purse over and over again haha.  Oh well...that's least it made for a funny story.

I was glad that my parents and sister got to come for the fashion show.  On Saturday, we all went thrifting/cheap store shopping (there are lots of those in Columbus).  We went back to Dirt Cheap and dug through the piles of junk to find some pretty good stuff, like a scale and a silent fan.  We went to the Columbus Riverwalk Park after lunch.  I have been there to run on the running trail before, but I didn't realize how nice of a park it was besides the trail.  There is a really cool old bridge that is open to the public (it's a lawsuit waiting to happen with the holes and rusted rails, but it was still pretty neat), and also a lot of areas for picnics. 

I did a little cooking for dinner... a recipe I found on pinterest for Mexican Stuffed Shells. 

The weather here was simply beautiful on Sunday.  Chris studied some and found that he was already well-prepared for the test he had coming up today, so had a little dog party in our yard complete with champagne and human company as well.  Truly the perfect definition of a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Here are Mason and Dubs later in the evening, completely passed out while Autumn and I watched the Oscars and Chris and Jon worked on their latest batch of beer:

Well, as the title of this post suggests, our wittle baby turned one.  He's growing up so fast!  We feel like pretty bad parents though because we didn't even know when his birthday was until today! During the move, we kind of lost Mason's papers.  That was okay, registering his papers wasn't that big of a deal to us. Except for his birthday was on them! We realized a couple of weeks ago that his birthday was coming up because we knew he was born in February, but didn't remember when.  Today it occurred to me to search my old emails for my correspondence with the breeder, and email her to see if she could tell me when his birthday was.  She responded to me with lots of good information about his birthday, shot dates, where I could go to register him since we lost his papers...she asked to see some pictures of him, which I shared with her, and she also sent me this picture of Mason's daddy so that we could see what his coat may eventually look like!

Isn't he handsome? A little lighter colored than Mason is right now, but I can certainly see the resemblance, as he has a longer snout, like Mason, and looks to be a little bigger, too. 

Anyway, it turns out that Mason's birthday was February 11...I am kind of sad that I missed the opportunity to throw him a little doggie birthday party (yes, I really will look for any excuse to have a party).  I probably would have made him some kind of cake out of rawhide and dogfood.  However, I thought about it and decided that when you're Mason, you get treated like it's your birthday every single day, haha.  And considering as Mason has no idea that he had a birthday, I guess I won't let the guilt get to me too much. 

Here is a (low quality) video from last week of Mason totally exhausted after an intense session of fetch with his favorite ball...I have never seen a dog love anything more than Mason loves that ball!

Tomorrow I head back to Birmingham for a couple of days of work...I will be back in Columbus Friday and then am turning right back around to head to New Orleans for the race! I am so excited about it and just wish that Chris were able to come cheer me on, but his training schedule just won't allow for it. Our little group of girls will have an absolute blast, though, I'm sure, and I can't wait!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's and Countdown to Training!

As usual with holidays, I managed to go "all-out" this Valentine's Day (read: Week) and do plenty of entertaining others, and entertaining myself.  Luckily I actually took some pictures this time. So here goes with what I think is going to be a pretty long post with lots of pictures!

Last Thursday was the February wives social.  Autumn is going to be the student spouse club's new chair-wife (I just completely made that title up, but you know what I mean!), so I know the rest of the socials this year will be great, and hopefully I will be able to help her where I can.  The February social revolved around my new obsession...Pinterest projects! Woohoo! 

Not that I was ever uncomfortable at the wives' socials, I've always enjoyed them...but this was the best one yet, I think for two reasons: First of all, now that Chris is actually about to start training, I have something in common with the other wives and I am also on a similar timeline as the other wives.  This was not the case when we first moved here.  Chris was just on "casual" status, so when the other wives talked about what their husbands were doing, I really didn't have much to contribute.  Second of all, for some reason when I walked in to the February social, I felt like most everyone there was a new face.  It definitely feels better knowing you aren't the "new" one who doesn't know anybody anymore! I keep hearing that you socialize most with the wives of your husband's classmates, so I was really excited to meet another 13-06 (Chris' class #) spouse at the social...who, it turns out, had already been invited to our house (by Chris) for the dinner I was planning on hosting Sunday night! It was great to meet her ahead of time.  She and her husband are from Minnesota and it seems like the four of us are going to be friends.

So I didn't actually take a picture of MY wreath...but it basically looks like this:

We also made cards for our hubbies, which I stuck underneath Chris' keys the next day for him to find when he headed out to meetings.  We had the option of decorating sugar cookies, too, but I didn't make any of those.  Chris and I aren't complete health-nuts, but we try to avoid bringing such temptations into the house!

Chris and I had Valentines Day plans to try out a restaurant we hadn't been to yet, but as y'all know, I am always looking for an excuse to make a fancy meal, so we decided to have Valentines Day, Exhibit A on Friday night. 
This isn't the best quality picture, but this is the hutch at the moment decorated for Valentines.  Those are light-up pink and red hearts on the top and bottom.  I have been agonizing over this area ever since my Christmas decorations came down because I just can't get it how I want it.  I don't like going out and buying something just to "stick" somewhere so that it's not empty when I decorate...I like to stumble upon something lovely that I can't live without and then find a place for it.  I haven't stumbled upon "that thing" yet, but I am on the lookout! Right now I just have some silver bowls filled with fake rubies and white balls to get me through Valentines Day.

Table set for V-day dinner! I should have taken it from the other side so that you could see how the other side of that vase (containing the flowers-still living-that Chris got me at the beach) says "love".

Course #1...Tomato Parmesan soup

Chris' and my V-day present to ourselves...a spiritile that says "When we are two balloons and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person" by Richard Bach.  Kind a goofy quote, but we liked it and found it appropriate.  Richard Bach is the same one who said the famous quote: "If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back, they're yours.  If you they don't, they never were."  The following is a larger passage that our spiritile quote came from, which I think some of my engaged/"en"-love friends will appreciate, and which I find quite appropriate for a Valentines Day post :)

“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.”

*The Meal*...Green beans & Cumin Mashed Sweet Potatoes (from my Paula Deen Magazine, February), and Seared Tuna (from my Southern Lady Magazine, February).

Before they hit the plates, they resided in my lovely themed serving peices

Rasberry Lemon Drops (from Pinterest)

My first attempt at Creme Brulee.  It's brown because I put chocolate in it.  The recipes I found suggested broiling them to crystalize the sugar, but it didn't really work properly and wound up melting the creme part.  It tasted good but it just didn't have the right texture. I am in the market for a torch now!
On Saturday, Autumn and I did some "thrifting" while the guys studied all day.  I didn't buy much, just an old green glass milk jug that I thought would work as a cute vase for some white flowers during March/St. Patty's Day (which I am already planning a party for...can't wait to give the details!) I also made some purchases at this awesome store we discovered in Columbus called "Dirt Cheap".  This is a store where everything has fallen off of trucks and a lot of it is you dig through all the broken trash to find treasures! Tori had told me about these type stores a while back. I'm telling you, it's a hoarder's paradise.  I'm not a hoarder, but I do suffer from "the thrill of the chase", and had a blast digging through all that junk to find a water bottle, light-up easter eggs for my front yard, and a veggie slicer.  Autumn bought an amazing (and expensive) name-brand bread machine for...$30.  Oh my gosh, the deals were incredible! I can't wait to go back.

Saturday night, one of the girls who went to the Academy with Jon and Chris threw a girls' get-together at her house, so we went to that and met a bunch of fun Air Force girls that I hope to hang out with again in the future.  The guys stayed home and brewed beer. 

Sunday was dedicated to getting ready for the fancy-pants dinner party that I've been planning for over a month.  This was the first chance I had to get some of the other married couples (we haven't met all of them) in Chris' pilot class together for a celebration of the guys' soon-to-be accomplishments.  Of course it wasn't necessary to take out silver, crystal, and fine china, all of which must be handwashed...but what's the point in having beautiful things if you don't ever use them?  I think it makes special occasions more "special" when you don't just use your every day stuff.  Now, if I used fine china, crystal, and silver for every dinner, it also wouldn't be as special.  That's why I like to break it out for the big celebrations...and I certainly think that starting pilot training (and Valentine's Day dinner) qualifies!
Drink Tray with my lovely Valentines Day cocktail that I got from Pinterest! It was much more "organized" before people started congregating around it, but you could tell it was being enjoyed by everyone :)
It may be a little hard to tell from the picture, but it had rose petals in cute (and tasty)

Valentine's Day Decor Exhibit #2...I switched things up a bit.Thanks to Autumn for making this cute Valentines Day sign (and helping me with dinner since I was running behind)!! I will be holding onto it for next year...
We had to improvise with the table cloth since it was too short for the table once we added the leaves.  I sent Chris out to Wal-Mart for some last minute things while I was cooking, and we were video-chatting on our iPhones so he could show me all the white table cloth options to pick from. I wish I could do all my shopping that way! :)
Salad and Angel Chicken (yum!) Like my trendy new chalkboard plate? Found it at a thrift store!

Brown rice and roasted broccoli with cherry tomatoes.

And on the end over there...double tomato bruschetta

Everyone cleaned their plates!
All of our guests...From L-R, Jon, Autumn, Casey and Eli, Abigail and Jimmy, and my and Chris' empty seats.  I warned everyone that if they were going to be socializing with me, they needed to be aware of my blog and that I would constantly be taking pictures!

Red Velvet cake with homemade coconut icing, topped with toasted coconut flakes, served up in glasses given to us by Aunt Bette.

 When the dinner (and the Grammy-watching) was over, we were so excited about how much we enjoyed everyone's company and how much we are looking forward to getting to know these people over the next year or so.  Hopefully this will be the first of many dinner parties to come!

Tuesday, Valentines Day, we were excited about trying a new (to us) restaurant in West Point called Cafe Ritz, which is in an old theatre.  The restaurant had good reviews online, and we were looking forward to having a set menu, which is something we really enjoy in restaurants because it allows us the opportunity to try several different things.  The menu was $50 a person, which we thought was fair for 5 courses.  At the last minute, (which I really recommend to anyone who likes to eat out) added about 20 restaurants to our area, including Cafe Ritz, so we bought a $50 gift card for just $4.  We wound up being glad because the restaurant we chose was disappointingly average.  Even though we had reservations, we waited at least 20 minutes at our table before getting any water, and a full hour before our wine was brought out and our orders were taken.  All the food was good, but not great, so we were glad that, using the gift card, we essentially got them at half price.  We got to the restaurant about 6:15 and didn't get out until about 9:45 due to the slow service.  The company was wonderful, of course, but sometimes it puts a damper on things when you go in with high expectations that aren't quite met.  Perhaps after we had spoiled ourselves with all the fancy cooking we did over the weekend, we were doomed to be disappointed! In any case, we were glad to at least try out a new place and get to listen to some music and relax for a few hours on Valentines Day.  Next time we crave a nice date-night meal, we will head back to J. Broussard, which has proven to be our favorite restaurant in the area.

The setting was definitely really nice and unique.  The restaurant is in an old would be a pretty place for a reception.

Even when an experience leaves something to be desired, we still love being together :)

When we got home and got into our bedroom, we were startled to hear this creepy, eerie, scratching sound coming from our wall.  Thinking it was some kind of creature outside, we went out to shine a flashlight, and discovered a rodent trap on our roof.  Apparently someone (I would assume in the rental office) discovered a rodent around our house and didn't feel the need to tell us! I'm pretty certain that it is either in our attic or somehow stuck  (or just living) in our wall.  I just hope and pray it doesn't burrow it's little rodent-self into the house! I have no idea what it is, but it sounds like a fat, nasty raccoon or something! If I see it, I will take a picture, but I certainly hope that I do not.

What else is going on with us? I'm working in Birmingham currently.  I got fitted earlier this week for a fashion show that I will be in at the end of March, and I just signed up to be in another one on April 17.  I can't help being a ham! I know they will be fun.  Also, I just did my last 10-mile run this weekend with an average speed faster than my goal (About 9:30 a mile), so I'm gearing up for my race, which is in just about 2 1/2 weeks!

Chris is studying, studying, studying, and this is just the beginning.  He has been dealing with the IRS claiming that he made $150K in unreported income in 2010 (believe me, we wish he did..but he didn't!) which has been a huge pain so far and just continues to get huger (I know...that's not a word). He is starting training...TOMORROW! It's so hard to believe! The first few weeks will probably be pretty uneventful as far as blogging goes because it is the "academic" phase, which consists of around-the-clock studying and test-taking.  I will keep everyone updated with everything. 

Thanks for reading! xoxox,

The Becks

Thursday, February 9, 2012

He's Back!!

Well, this has been quite the thrilling week for our little family since Chris returned from Colorado last week! He got a strong finish to his training, and did it just in time to avoid some bad winter weather that set into Colorado just after he returned.  I was working in Birmingham last week when he finished up, so I was able to pick him up from the Birmingham airport and we drove straight down to Panama City to spend a few days together before Chris had to report to training on Monday.  Those few days together were just what we needed, and it was actually the first trip we have taken anywhere, just the two of us, since we went on our honeymoon.  The weather was really nice. Even though it was supposed to rain the whole time, it didn't rain at all.  Here are some pictures:

Mason was so exhausted from traveling and all the excitement of his daddy coming home! Speaking of his daddy...doesn't he look the slightest bit creepy popping up in the top left corner of this picture? hehe :) Unfortunately, we had to board Mason for most of the time, but we boarded him at this great place where we could pick him up during the days to take him out with us, and he was only crated while he slept..the rest of the time he got to play with other dogs!
Mason enjoys the scenery at Tyndall Air Force Base beach...that beach is so gorgeous and undisturbed! We love going there.

At this German place in Pier Park.  I am currently having to wear my glasses because I had an allergic reaction in my eyes (in case anyone is wondering).  I actually had to have some glasses overnighted to me in Panama City because the reaction started while I was in Birmingham...just days after I had ordered a new pair from the doctor that hadn't come in yet! I lost my old glasses in Jamaica.  What awful timing, but at least I had them in time for the beach!

We met up with Scott on Friday night, who is stationed at an AFB nearby.
Singing some good ol' karaoke at the local dive.
Me and wittle Mason at the dog-friendly beach in Pier Park...he met two other Pom friends.  Mason loves the sand, but doesn't love the water.

Beautiful beach sunset on the last night!!
My husband is so sweet...he surprised me with this the morning that we left. It's just like our breakfasts were at Sandals! He went out the night before to rent us a movie from RedBox and took forever while I was cooking dinner.  He said that there was a long line at the RedBox, which was partially true, but he had actually gone into Winn Dixie and bought stuff to make breakfast.  He snuck it in the condo and hid the food inside a beer box we had in the fridge.  Then he asked me what time I wanted to wake up, got up before me, and did this.  Such a lucky girl! :)
Since Chris has been back, he has been going through a routine checklist that includes various physicals and meetings before he can start training next Thursday.   Tomorrow night I am making a fabulous Valentines Day meal (at least, I hope it will be fabulous!).  It's early because we are going out to a new restaurant on actual Valentines Day. We don't have any big plans for the weekend, but I will probably work on some of my Pinterest projects on Saturday.  Saturday night I am going to a girl's get-together at this girls house that I actually got to know through Chris and Jon, because she went to the Academy with them.  I am really excited about Sunday, because I'm having a dinner party for some of the other couples in Chris' pilot training class.  Looking forward to getting to know them! I can't wait to post pictures.

On my last post, I was getting ready to host a "girls night".  It went really well and I really enjoyed meeting some new girls! I hope to see some of them again tonight at the wives' club social, where we are making Valentines Day decorations.  Here are some pictures of two of the things I made from Pinterest recipes (unfortunately, I didn't get any "people" pictures...I didn't want to freak out my new friends by telling them I would be posting all about them on my blog, haha)

Strawberry Mojito...wonderful!!! But just about as hard to make as a strawberry pie...which I have never made, but I'm guessing it takes a while!

Bleu Cheese Guacamole...everyone liked this, even the girls who said they don't normally like bleu cheese. 
I volunteered for the Columbus AFB Fashion Show!  I get to wear three outfits and "model" them on the runway.  I am too excited! It should be fun, and I'll probably get to meet some girls that I have some common interests with.

I am looking forward to my next post so that I will be able to share all the cooking I am planning for the weekend, possibly a couple of Pinterest/Decorating projects, and most exciting of all, I will be able to tell y'all all about Chris' first week or so of pilot training! I can't believe it's finally here! Even though I will miss all the free time I am used to Chris having...what can I say?  We have been here in Columbus waiting for this to start for over 6 months now, we are just ready to get this show on the road!