Turns out we're packing for THREE!

In case you missed it, there are some big things happening in the Reddy household!  First, we are ending our five year tour of the South (Virginia, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina!) and moving to Iwakuni, Japan!
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We cannot wait for the opportunity to live abroad and our days have been crazy getting ready for this major move.  Not only packing for the two of us but....
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Packing for THREE!  That's right, not only are we moving overseas in a few weeks but our baby world traveler is arriving in August!  It is such a wild time and we are SO excited for all of the adventures to come!

MCAS Beaufort Chili Cookoff

As soon as we moved to Beaufort, I started hearing about Chili Cookoff.  Everyone raved about what a fun time it was and talked about how 501 (Rob's squadron) had won the last two years in a row.  Silly me - I thought chili cookoff was actually about chili ;)  Turns out, it is just as much of a blast as everyone said but the chili is a farce!
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Chili Cookoff is a 20+ year tradition in Beaufort.  Each squadron is giving a tent and a space in a giant field near the Officers Club on base.  It is up to that squadron to come up with their theme, including costumes, signature drinks, decorations, skit presentation for the judges, and chili.  Similar to sorority recruitment, themes are top secret and submitted to the MAG for approval so that no one has overlapping themes.  This year, there was everything from "People of Wal-Mart" to "Margaritaville".  Because VMFAT-501 is an F-35 squadron, we have a bunch of British F-35 pilots training here.  With this in mind, 501 went with the theme Revolutionary War theme and it turned out epic!  The guys spent weeks building a huge replica ship as the entrance to our tent, we had a liquor luge with "Boston Tea Party" shots, and our signature drink, The Snakebite, was historically accurate.  Everyone was responsible for their own costumes and they turned out hilarious!
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The evening of Chili Cookoff, everyone shows up in their costumes, drinks and socializes, and checks out everyone else's themes. The judges go to each squadron where they are presented with a little skit overviewing the theme, as well as our chili and signature drink. I'm a little biased but 501 crushed it! The judges came in to a hilarious skit explaining our drink, signed our Declaration of Independence, ate some chili and then headed outside to the real surprise. The squadron lined the door with a sparkler exit and as an American flag was waved from the top of the ship, a full fireworks display began lighting up the sky above our tent. It was amazing! All of the sudden, a full sized piano was lifted to the center of all the tents and as one last song was played, the piano was set on fire. Needless to say, all eyes were on us!
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After the judges spent some time in each tent, they made their final decisions and announced the winners for several categories: Best Drink, Best Chili, Beat Theme, and Overall Winner (Ultimate Grand Supreme!). Drumroll please...501 won best overall AGAIN for the third year in a row!! After lots of celebrating, we spent the rest of the night bopping around from tent to tent to see our friends in other squadrons and check out their spreads. The night was a blast (and I was totally sober!). We won't be here next year but I can't wait to see how they top this one!
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Thanks to Tina for a bunch of these pictures!

Holiday Travels to Pittsburgh and Austin

A little late for a holiday recap but with so much traveling, I feel like I just got my suitcases unpacked ;)  We spent Christmas this year in Pittsburgh with my family which was wonderful!  We got to see their new house, my brother and his fiancee flew in from Arizona, and it was the first time we all woke up together on Christmas morning since before I got married.
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We had dinner on Christmas Eve at Stations Square and my parents surprised us with Christmas Day tickets to the Steelers game.  We did a traditional Christmas morning before decking ourselves in black and yellow and meeting up with the rest of our extended family to tailgate before the game.  We had blast and the fact that the Steelers won at the very end made the day even better!  
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christmas steelers tailgate
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We spent New Years in Austin, Texas with Rob's sister Erin and her boyfriend.  Austin was on my travel bucket list and worked out perfectly as a midway point between San Diego and South Carolina to meet up.  We ate our weight in breakfast tacos, rang in the New Year on 6th Street, and fell in love with the city.  
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all inclusive new years eve austin texas
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Christmas Cards

I am a sucker for Christmas music on the radio and decorated storefronts.  I love seeing presents under the tree and drinking hot chocolate.  But if I'm being totally honest, one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is a mailbox full of cards and seeing them displayed around the house all season long!
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Growing up, it was an unspoken rule that we couldn't open up the cards each night until everyone was home.  We would wait impatiently, guessing who they were from and what updates they might contain.  It sounds silly but Rob and I have totally taken on this tradition without realizing!  Seeing cards roll in from all over the country makes me feel overwhelmingly grateful for the people in our lives.  They may be far away but holiday cards always seem to make that distance seem just a bit closer. 

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This year, I was so excited to pair up with Tiny Prints for our Christmas card.  I take my cards seriously so I love how they have so many different holiday card options.  Of course, I thought this "laughing all the way" one summed us up perfectly!  And while I normally take hours to carefully address all of my cards, I have to confess how much the free address printing option was a lifesaver this year.  I am in love with how the envelopes turned out and now all of the addresses are saved in my account for next year.  Well, except all my sweet military friends who move between now and then ;)  
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This year will bring our sixth move in five years of marriage.  We are always saying goodbye to old friends and making new ones.  Every Christmas may look different for us but Christmas cards are thankfully one tradition that will never change.

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