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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, grandads, stepdads, fur dads, and like-a-dads out there! I hope you have had a fantastic day.

A week ago I traveled down to North Carolina for my father’s big 75th birthday bash. And since his birthday is always so close to Father’s Day, I thought today would be a good day to share pics from my trip.

To start, some idiot decided that a 6:30am flight was a good idea. OK, I am that idiot. But Southwest doesn’t have a lot of flights out of Syracuse every day, so I grabbed what I could get.

My flight to Charlotte, NC was pretty uneventful (the same can not be said of my return flight, but we’ll get to that). Once I had my rental car (I will NEVER rent from Budget out of CLT again, their incompetence know no bounds), I headed west out to the mountains. My destination: Rutherfordton, NC.

It was so good to see my NC family again. It’s been way too long. After lots of hugs from my dad, stepmom, sisters, and brother, I tried to get some from my three nephews, but they were very much not in favor of hugging Auntie Jen at that point. Can’t say as I blame them. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them they probably don’t even remember me. But I was successful in getting a hug from my 2 1/2 year old niece. She gives great hugs! This was my first time getting to meet her, and she’s such a little spitfire! Between my boys and those of my sisters, there are five grandsons in the family, so I was in little girl heaven for the rest of my time there.

Oh, and this is Sonnette. She is my absolute favorite dog in the whole world who doesn’t live with me. She is such a sweetie, and she spent a lot of time at my feet, enjoying pets and belly rubs.

After a night in the extremely reasonably-priced Baymont by Wyndham in nearby Forest City (which had an exceptionally comfortable bed), I returned to the homestead for the main event – the big 75th birthday bash. And even before the cake and presents, there was family fun to be had.

How do you entertain four rambunctious little ones on a beautiful June day? Slip and Slide, of course!

The kids loved it…

…but they weren’t the only ones getting wet!

Even Sonnette got in on the action!

After the excitement of the slip and slide, the birthday boy and his two youngest girls took the opportunity to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

And of course a birthday celebration would not be complete without cake and presents!

My boys got their grandfather this for his birthday – it says, “Grandpa – the man, the myth, the legend.” And given the fact that he grabbed a bungee cord to tie it around his neck and proceeded to do yard work while wearing it…I think he liked it.

I was bummed that I had to leave for home the next day, but I was glad I got the opportunity to spend a couple of days with my family. My dad has had a bunch of health issues the past few years, and you never know how much time you have left with someone. I’m fortunate to still have both of my parents with me, and I am thankful for that every single day. I hope they both know how much I love them.

Now about that flight home I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I was flying from Charlotte to BWI, and check-in and airport security were both a breeze. I thought that was a sign that my day would go smoothly.

I got cocky.

After security I looked up at the departures board to see what gate my flight was leaving from, and my first leg had been delayed about an hour. Not a big deal because I had a two-hour layover ahead of me anyway. Then the texts began coming in from Southwest. My flight from BWI to Syracuse was now also delayed by an hour. Ugh. So my arrival time in Syracuse which was around 11:45pm was now close to 1:00am. Getting up at 6:30 the next morning was not going to be a good time. But I knew it would be fine.

Once we departed Charlotte and got above the clouds, it was sunset time and I got these beautiful pics out my window…

When I landed in Baltimore, things just got worse. Text after text from Southwest, delaying my flight even more. I got some dinner, did some shopping around the terminal, and tried to read a book. But mostly I just wanted to get home.

This is me around 10:30pm, at a time when I should have been boarding my flight. But, in a full circle moment, I was in an airport, exhausted, and regretting many of my life decisions.

And of course I was surrounded by people who only wanted to bitch about the delay. Was I thrilled to still be sitting in the airport? Absolutely not. But I knew, unlike apparently everyone else around me, that pitching a fit about it was not going to make the plane we were waiting for get there any faster. All they were doing was raising the frustration and blood pressure of everyone around them. There was one older man in particular who would JUST. NOT. LET. IT. GO. He harassed every single Southwest employee he came across, and even started in on some of the passengers on other arriving flights.

The plane finally made it, after having been delayed due to weather out of Dallas, and I happened to board right behind this guy and his almost equally annoying wife. I followed them down the jetway and onto the plane and very obviously waited until I was sure they were settled in their seats up front and then made a beeline for the middle section of the plane where they would be out of earshot during the flight (because I could guarantee they were still gonna bitch the whole way to Syracuse). There were a couple of flight attendants mid-cabin who must have seen the venom in my eyes because they gave me an odd look. I told them I just needed to be AWAY from that guy. And they knew exactly who I was talking about. Apparently the folks at the gate had radioed ahead and alerted them about this guy. It’s kinda sad that someone has to be such a jerk that he needs to come with a warning label.

We finally were wheels up exactly three hours after our original departure time, and I was completely beat. It’s a short hop from BWI to Syracuse, but I slept right through it. I was jolted awake when the wheels touched down again.

Pulling into my driveway at around 3:30am, I was tempted to just sleep in my car, but I trudged into the house and fell face-first into bed. Fortunately I have a very kind and understanding boss who encouraged me to get some sleep and come in whenever I was ready.

So yes, my trip home was annoying and miserable, but totally worth it for the precious time I got to spend with my dad and the rest of my family. Hug your loved ones a little tighter today, and spread some love all around.

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