Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chris Finishes T-6s!

I know I have been so terrible lately with the blog! And email.  And texts.  And phone calls.  And email.  I'm sorry everyone.  I know everyone has probably been very angry with me! Maybe you can at least be happy when you think about WHY I have been so bad.

I am no longer sitting in front of a computer screen 9 hours a day, with my cell phone sitting on the desk in front of me.  Most of you probably know I've never been technology's biggest fan anyway. I just don't tend to stay on the computer much if I don't have to.  Lately, I've been out and about a lot.  I leave Columbus most days for work around 8 or 9am.  I go to my office and prepare for class...I'm in front of my computer there, but I'm busy busy busy! I always get to the office just in time to have the perfect amount of time I need to get ready for class that day.  Sometimes I need 3 hours, sometimes I just need one.  I leave my phone in my purse and normally don't even look at it until I leave campus.  I get back most afternoons between 2:30 and 3:30.  I go work out, cook dinner, do errands, clean the house, play with Mason...whatever needs to get done.  Rarely do I look at a computer screen after I leave the office.  I love it so much and I'm such a happy girl! But I know this is no excuse for being hard to keep in touch with, so I'm going to try harder!

ANYWAY, as you can tell, I am loving my new job! It's hard to believe that I'm actually finishing this short mini-mester tomorrow.  It will be nice that I am getting paid next week, too.  Unfortunately, this could be the last substantial paycheck I get for a while.  I found out yesterday that I will only be teaching one class this fall.  Since I get paid per class this year (next year, I will start getting a salary/stipend), this is not a good thing for our finances.  We are trying to see places where we can cut back.  Unfortunately, with football season coming up and many of our tickets already purchased, this may not be easy.  My PhD advisor is trying to make sure I get 3 classes in the Spring, so hopefully this fall will be the only time we are really strapped for cash.  I am going to try to get a part time job on campus, so hopefully that will help, too.  However, I do believe it's true what they say, "money can't buy happiness".  Even though I may not be making very much, I do enjoy teaching and I can't wait to start taking classes this fall.  I know Chris is probably enjoying home-cooked meals every night, in a clean kitchen, by a wife who has been working out about 2 hours a day! Haha.  Maybe he enjoyed my old paycheck a bit more, but he is, of course, being very supportive and he's happy that I'm happy.

We had some more bummer news yesterday.  Our loan applications to USAA and Navy Federal for the condo were both turned down, due to the property that the condo is in being 51% investor owned.  Unfortunately, it seems that banks don't want to lend to people who want to buy properties like this.  We are very upset.  Our real estate agent says that he has another couple who is facing this problem, and has been checking at the local banks to see if anyone will do a loan for it.  Unfortunately, he hasn't had any luck yet...and even if he does, we doubt the terms will be what we were hoping for. It's time to make the decision of where we will go from here.  I know we don't want to "throw away" any more money than we currently do on renting every month.  At the same time, my commute costs several hundred dollars a month, and the drive really isn't a very good one.  I ran over something the other day and lost all the air in my tire on the way home.  I have never seen any accidents on the commute, so that's a good thing, but neither Chris nor I want me driving 2.5 hours a day for the next 5 years. Hopefully we will come up with an affordable solution soon.

Chris and I have both been very busy the past few weeks.  Three weekends ago, 3 of my best girlfriends (Hannah, Lauren, and Lauren Emily) came to Columbus for a "girls weekend".  Sara wasn't able to come because she had to work.  We thought Chris would be gone to his cross-country flight that weekend, but it wound up getting pushed back a weekend.  The girls had already made plans, so he had the honor of spending girls weekend with us! Haha.  He mostly stayed at Jon and Autumn's house, which was perfect, because Autumn was gone to a wedding that weekend.  That way, he got lots of guy time, while I got my girl time.  It was kind of funny, almost like Chris was my "boyfriend", I would cook lunch for the girls, call him to see if he wanted to come over and eat, and he and Jon would come eat, then go back to Jon's to watch soccer or something.  Later, we would go to the pool, I would call Chris to see if he wanted to come, and he and Jon and Ralph would come to the pool with us, but we would be chatting in our girls group, and they would be chatting in their guys group.  It was a good weekend for both of us, and it always makes me feel good when people are willing to come to Columbus, Mississippi (which, let's face it, isn't the most exciting OR convenient place) just to see us.  It was the perfect weekend for visitors, because there was an assignment night that Friday night.  The girls and went to the assignment and watched our next door neighbor's class get assigned their planes and next bases.  Then, later on, we went to the newly assigned class's celebration party.  Unfortunately, we didn't take many pictures! But here is one of us at the party.

Two weekends ago, Chris went on his cross-country flight.  There were several pilots and instructor pilots who went together in a "caravan"-type thing.  He had SUCH a blast!  Friday, they flew to Texarkana, where they refueled and ate some dinner, then flew to Little Rock for the night.  Chris had a really good time in Little Rock, where they went out together as a group and did a little mild partying.  He said he thinks Little Rock would actually be a pretty fun place to be based.  There is an Air Force base there that people call "The Rock", and I have heard that it is a fun one to be at.  The next day, they flew to St. Louis, where they got to go to a baseball game, eat a good meal and go out again as a group.  He flew home on Sunday. Sadly, he only took one picture...but here it is! It is the St. Louis Cardinals stadium.

I went to Atlanta over the weekend to visit my friend, Lauren Emily (who had just come to Columbus the week before!).  The plan was originally for Chris and me to both go, but since his cross country trip got moved, he was unable to join us.  Sara came to Atlanta for the weekend too, so I wound up getting a second girls weekend in a row! For those of you who don't know, I just love Atlanta and would love to move there once our time in the Air Force is done.  There is so much to do there, and such a great culture.  My only complaint is that it's not close enough to the ocean...but I guess it will be a while before we have to make any decisions about where we want to live "permanently", so maybe Atlanta will have an ocean by then! Haha. Anyway.  Such a great weekend shopping, eating out, going out, and going to Sweetwater...all the things you are supposed to do when in Atlanta! Fortunately, Lauren Emily and Sara took the reigns on picture taking, so we actually got some cute ones.   I got to spend some great quality time with Tori, one of my best friend who was also my roommate and bridesmaid, as well.  Tori lives in Atlanta, and I have been to visit her before, too...a few months ago when Chris was in Colorado.  I miss her like crazy so it was awesome to see her! We also had lunch at a great tapas place on the way out of Atlanta, and Rachel was able to stop by.  Rachel was also one of my bridesmaids, and I hadn't seen her in almost a year, so it was great to catch up! I lived with both Tori and Rachel in Atlanta while we were interning...we had such a good time, and even though they both live in Atlanta full-time now, while I live in Columbus, I just feel lucky that I live close enough to visit!

Lauren Emily and her fiance, Matt, me, Sara, and Tori at Sweetwater

Lauren Emily, Sara, me, Tori, and Rachel after Sunday lunch

Last weekend, I got even MORE girl-time, but, this time, Chris got in on the fun, too.  His friend/college roommate/groomsman, Scott, came to visit him (us), and Sara --my friend/college roommate/bridesmaid came to visit me (us).  Sara missed the girls weekend two weeks beforehand.  She's a nurse and has a crazy schedule...but she was able to make it up for a weekend, and it just so happened that Scott was coming up that same weekend.  We had such a good time squeezing into the house was like the party never ended! Ha.  Here are some pictures.

We spent some time out at the pool on Saturday.

Saturday evening, we decided to grill out instead of going out to eat.  We ate this delicious meal!

Fresh baked bread from our bread machine with an olive oil dip, caprese...

grilled asparagus, twice baked and mashed cauliflower...

And of course, delicious steak...seasoned and grilled to perfection by Lt. Chris Beck! haha
Just a picture of a group outing to local dive, the Marina, Saturday night...That's Scott, on the right, and Chris' buddy, Ralph, on the left.  Of course those two sweaty, but still glamourous (haha) girls in the middle are Sara and me.

So I know you may be thinking that I am looking forward to a quiet weekend at home with my husband...and I am! BUT...first I have one more girls weekend! I know, I know! I guess as long as 90% of my friends are all teachers, the summers will always be busy! I'm so excited because, when we all got out of college, we decided to make a real effort to always get together for an annual beach trip.  We have officially, as hard as it was to coordinate all of our schedules, planned the second annual beach trip.  Last year, we did it right after graduation at Martin's condo in Panama City.  This year, we are doing it at Lauren's family's condo....on the last possible weekend before school starts back for everyone.  And now that I'm basically a schedule fits right in! Lucky for me, school doesn't start back as early in college! After I give my final exam tomorrow, I'm headed straight down to Orange Beach for 5 days of laying like a vegetable in the sun (with my sunscreen on, of course).'s back to Columbus where I hope to spend the next few weekends relaxing with Chris, preparing for school to start...and getting ready for FOOTBALL! Woo! We are looking forward to continue experimenting in the kitchen...and on the grill.  Here are some pictures of some of our latest culinary projects...

Ralph gave us some fish filets that his friend caught in the gulf.  Chris found a recipe for it in his new favorite read, Men's Health magazine.  We chopped up some vegetables like red peppers and tomatoes as well as some lemon and parsley, and took pretty much everything out of our spice cabinet...along with some olive oil, jalapenos, you get the idea.  We put the filets in tin foil with the vegetables, lemon, and olive oil and each chose our own spices and additional toppings...then wrapped up everything in the tin foil, and Chris grilled it for a little while.  All the moisture was held in the tin foil.  These turned out DELICIOUS! Yay for Chris! Rarely does he chose a recipe to try, but he did really well on this one.  Both of our fish filets turned out totally different, but they were both delicious. We will be trying this again. Hopefully, while I am at the beach this weekend, I can pick up some fresh fish while I'm there.

A couple of nights ago, we tried grilling some ribs, which were on sale at the commissary.  Chris prepared the dry rub, marinated, and grilled the ribs while I took care of the sides.  They were really delicious! Next time, we are going to marinate them all day and then cook them slowly over a few hours. 

As for Chris, he will probably do a lot of relaxing this weekend since he, as of today, is officially DONE with T-6s! Yesterday marked his fourth and final check ride in the T-6.  He passed with flying colors, with a grade of 4E...the "E" standing for "Excellent", and the "4" standing for just 4 downgrades! Believe me, you can have LOTS more than that. This check ride was to grade him on his use of instruments. Obviously, there are times when a pilot cannot rely on his view to when it's night time, or the weather is bad.  So they use their instruments.  Instruments are pretty complicated and require lots of studying and practice to get the hang of.  Naturally, I'm very proud of Chris for doing so well on his check ride!

Today, as kind of his "capstone" in T-6s, Chris did what's called an "out-and-back"...he flew (with his instructor) down to Gulfport, where they grabbed some lunch, and then flew back.  So now he's officially done! He has to turn in his preference for T-38s or T-1s by Friday...he is still deciding which he will put first.  Then, next Friday (August 10) is Track Select.  We will find out if he will be taking the T-38 "track" or the T-1 one.  If he chooses T-1s, it is basically a given that he will be on the T-1 track.  If he chooses T-38s, it could go either way, and will largely have to do with his class rank, how many people in his class want to fly T-38s, and how many T-38s that Uncle Sam decides to "drop" that week. Hopes and prayers that Chris makes the best choice for us, whatever that is....and that Uncle Sam does, too!

That is just about all I have to share at this point. Except for one thing...I want to solicit more votes for Mason in his calendar contest with the Lee County Humane Society! The website is and Mason is #48.  The voting does go on for a while, until September, in fact.  The votes are $1 each, and they, of course, go to a wonderful cause and are tax deductible! So keep your receipt! Mason appreciates your support...and so do we!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!

I can't believe I have neglected to do any blogging in almost three weeks! Actually...yes I can.  There has been a lot going on in the past three weeks.  I finished my job at Cadence and started at Alabama.  We took a trip to Auburn, a trip to Memphis, and had our first anniversary! Chris passed his formation check ride and is finally off of formal release.  And Mason is in the running for the 2013 Lee County Humane Society calendar! That is the short synopsis of what has been happening with us.  Read on if you want the long version!

Before getting into the events I just want to ask you that if you read this blog...pReTtY PLeAsE go vote for Mason in the Lee County Humane Society calendar contest!! He will be so excited if he wins one of the 13 picture spots and so will we! :)  Votes are $1 each...and they go to a great cause! All you animal lovers out there, I know you would love to make a few tax-deductible donations... here is the site...

Your support is very much appreciated! I decided on the picture to submit by the feedback from the blog... Mason is #48!

Let's see, where to begin? I guess I will just go in chronological order. Here are a couple of pictures from the weekend of June 23.

With Jon and Autumn at Bin 612, a restaurant in Starkville.  Thanks a lot, Chris, for messing up the picture!

Serious pilots

With Nancy in our floppy hats at the pool

We made lime + mint sherbert in our ice cream machine.  It was delish!

My last week of working at Cadence was pretty easy and uneventful.  I finished on Friday, June 29. June 30 was the big birthday party in Auburn to celebrate Chris, Sr's 60th and Aunt Bette's 90th birthdays.  We had such a blast at the party visiting with family! It was very kind of Tammy to organize it, and everyone had fun.
With Warren

With my parents

Ladies picture!
Guys picture...missing Chris Sr. and Warren, though!

Sunday, I cooked lunch for my family to celebrate Father's Day with my dad. I made green beans with cherry tomatoes, Boursin potatoes, and chicken with sour cream sauce.  Mostly Paula Deen recipes...Daddy always likes those!

Monday, it was time to report for duty in Tuscaloosa! I got my office...okay, no more office for me! I now have a cubicle in a room shared with other Ph.D. students.  It's nice not to be so isolated! I made some copies and basically just gathered a bunch of materials for class starting Thursday.  

Tuesday and Wednesday, I stayed in Columbus.  Wednesday, of course, was the Fourth of July.  One of my old coworkers from Cadence invited us to his sister-in-law and brother's cookout at the pool at his grandmother's house, which is one of Columbus' historic antebellum homes.  We were so excited about the opportunity to make some new friends! We had such a great time.  Many of the people there were Auburn grads.  They were all our age, but none of them are in the military...  it's great to "mix it up" sometimes. I definitely plan on giving some of the girls I met a call whenever we spend another weekend in Columbus.  It would be fun to get together with any of those couples again. I brought a's called "Twinkie Delight", but don't let the common sounding name fool you into thinking it's not delicious! Even though the recipe just called for strawberries, I decided to be more patriotic: 

Thursday was the big day! My first day teaching.  I am teaching senior auditing.  I was pretty nervous, but it turns out there was nothing to be nervous about.  Obviously I know everything I need to know to be able to teach a class of that level, but I was still nervous that something would go wrong. Luckily it did not! I think my students like me, and I like them.  The class is only a month since it is a summer "mini-mester".  It's already 1/4 of the way through, and the first test is Friday. 

Here is the building where I will be residing for the next 4-5 years! Actually, my office is in a building next door, but it's not much to look at. This is the building where all the non-Ph.D. student's offices are, as well as our accounting office.  For those who are familiar with Auburn, it's amazing to me how similar Alabama's business building looks to Lowder! Like if you took away Lowder's gold dome and added columns and stairs to the front, this is what it would look like.

Over the weekend, we took a little anniversary trip to Memphis.  This trip was very spur-of-the-moment.  I made our reservations online the Monday night beforehand via Travelocity's "Top Secret Hotel", where you book a hotel knowing only the price, number of "stars" it has, and general location.  I've had really good experiences using both this and Priceline negotiator, so we tried it in Memphis and wound up staying in the Crowne Plaza in downtown Memphis for less than $100 a night.  It was the most satisfied I have been with a hotel in a while, so that part was really enjoyable! We enjoyed our visit, although...due, partly, to lack of planning...we kind of got there and didn't really know what to do! So we enjoyed a relaxing weekend consisting of eating at a couple of nice restaurants and visiting Ghost River Brewing Company.  

The highlight of the trip was probably our dinner at a restaurant called Flight on Saturday night.  What a fantastic experience! Everything on the menu (almost) is served in "flights" of 3.  We didn't choose a flight appetizer (although they had them, we got the charcuterie), but we got a flight of salads/soup consisting of a watermelon and feta salad, a green salad with candied pecans, and an incredible lobster bisque.  We ordered two flights of white wines to complement our appetizer and salads.  The flights came with a piece of paper describing the wine and were expertly matched to be great for tasting one after the other.  Actually, this restaurant boasted one of the top 50 wine lists in the country. Anyway, we ordered an extra portion for our flight of entrees, and wound up with four, which we split between us.  Everything was SO delicious! Of course, we ordered two flights of red wines with our entrees, and compared notes on which ones we each liked the best and least.  We couldn't resist ourselves, and wound up ordering a flight of desserts too, and dessert wines! (Don't worry, the hotel had a shuttle to drive us back! haha).  Moral of the not leave Memphis without visiting this restaurant, even if it's just for a flight of wine and appetizers!!

Hanging out downtown

At Ghost River Brewing Company

Waiting on our appetizer at Flight

My flight of whites
We were going to go see Graceland but the tickets were $30 a pop! Maybe next time...

Monday...July 9, our anniversary! Can you believe it's been a year? We sure had a hard time believing it.  But when we look back, it's hard to believe we squeezed so much into a year! It's been a wonderful year.  It started with the best wedding and honeymoon either of us could ever have dreamed of.  And I'm sure it's only the beginning of many years of happiness.  

For our anniversary, I made a meal out of the Bride and Groom cookbook given to us by Nancileigh and Matt not long after we got engaged. It has a lot of fancier recipes in it, and I found the perfect ones for an anniversary.  We used many of our wedding gifts. We also ate the top tier of our cake, which has been frozen all year! It was still delicious! We watched our wedding video...both of us teared up a little... and we looked through our wedding album, which we received just days earlier, for the first time.  It was a wonderful anniversary! Here are some pictures:
Appetizer...roasted heads of garlic, goat cheese garnished with parsley, and smoked salmon.

Blackberry champagne spritzers garnished with raspberries.  The silver tray was given to Chris' grandfather on his 25th anniversary with Carolyn Beck, by Chris' parents (Tammy and Chris Sr.).  The champagne glasses are the same ones we used for toasting at our wedding!

The table set for our anniversary, with our sterling silverware given to us by Aunt Bette.

Filets mignon in a creamy sauce.

Cherry tomatoes gratin

Couscous with leeks

Our candlelit dinner! The wine came from our Nashville trip last October...we bought it from Arrington vineyards especially for our anniversary! It was GREAT.

Cutting our wedding cake! I paid a lot more attention to how it tasted the second time around, and it was really good...even after having been frozen for a year!

 Chris has been up to the usual in pilot training.  He is currently learning about instruments, so besides his night-flying week a couple of weeks ago, he also wears a vision restricting hood while flying so that he has to rely on his instruments instead of looking out the window to fly the plane.  During night flying week (my last week of working at Cadence), I barely saw him because he went in from about 11am-10pm or so.  He passed his formations check ride.  He will have his instruments check ride in a few weeks. Today he finally got off of formal release! This means that he is no longer required to stay at work for 12 hours! He will eventually have to go back to formal release once he begins either T-1's or T-38's.  But, for now, it will certainly be nice to spend more time together as my days are much shorter (about 8-2:30) and his will be, too! 

He is getting ready for what is called a cross-country flight in the next couple of weeks, where he will fly all weekend to several different airports.  He is responsible to plan the route.  He hopes to do some touch-and-goes in Auburn.  He also had some other stops planned, but we will wait to share those until we know whether they will be possible.  The runways/airports have to be approved to land the T-6s...of course, there are other considerations, such as air traffic and the condition of the runway, etc. 

I am starting a cookbook club that I am really excited about! A few other couples have decided to join.  I chose the first cookbook, which is called "A New Turn in the South".  This is how it works...the hostess (I will be first) chooses a cookbook she is unfamiliar with and makes an entree out of the cookbook, exactly to the recipe.  No modifications, because we want to test how good the cookbook really is.  Then, the cookbook is passed around to the other couples, who are all assigned a course/side item to make out of the cookbook.  Then we have a dinner party at the hostess's house...the next month we will rotate it to another house and another cookbook! The first one is going to be July 28.  I am looking forward to doing some entertaining, as well as hopefully trying out some fun new recipes and getting to know some other couples!

ALRIGHT! don't think I missed anything as far as our activities over the last few weeks! Here are a couple more pictures...

I wish I had a bathroom where this toilet seat that we saw in Memphis would be appropriate!

Next to the Pet Nanny, where Mason stayed while we were in Memphis, there was a corn field.  We thought it would be funny to have him fetch his ball in it.

We started out our first year of marriage by purchasing a car and ended it by purchasing a condo.  I guess we will probably go a little smaller-scale this year...but we decided to start the second year of marriage by becoming proud bicycle owners! Aren't they lovely? I'm training for a triathlon that's next month, so I will be taking mine for a spin bright and early tomorrow morning!