Well, we are essentially packed – we even put away our Harry Potter glasses … medical glasses to adjust for ANY vision changes with one pair of glasses. Too bad they look dorky.

Our sleeping bags go in the Soyuz tomorrow and that should be the last of our packing!

It is time to concentrate on the next task at hand – operating, working and riding in our Soyuz. It is amazing how you can automatically re-prioritize – the next task is upon us so the mind set has to change to leaving ISS safely and landing on earth safely.

To do this we checked out our Soyuz and fired its thrusters to make sure everything was working and had our last training session with our instructors on descent. It is time to start getting ourselves prepared for the journey. This week, I really felt like it was time to change focus. We had some maintenance stuff to do to make sure our ship is in good shape to hand over to Kevin and his crew. They will be here for five weeks as a crew of three, so we wanted to make sure she is in tip-top shape.

With the change of command ceremony on Saturday, our time on the ISS has really come to an end and our focus is on descent. Last time, I landed in the summer in the desert of California in a space shuttle. This time, it will be winter on the steppes of Kazakhstan in a gumdrop shaped capsule! I have a feeling I already know which one will be bumpier… 

Saturday night was the “Change of Command Ceremony!” Like everything up here – it was even fun! I love the fact that we are all up here together from such different places – Yuri from the Ukraine, Aki from Japan, Kevin from Indiana, Oleg from Belarus, Evgeny from Siberia and me from Boston. What a diverse group of people and somehow we all find a common ground and find humor in our daily lives together. Both crews, this one and Expedition 32, have shown that folks from such different lives, perspectives, cultures, religions can easily be really productive when working together. Think of all the possibilities with all the different nationalities, cultures and religions all over the world.

During our ceremony we gave the new crew some gifts to comfort them for the rest of their stay aboard the good ship ISS – Kevin got the Navy command pennant, Oleg got the honorary Magnum PI shirt (Hawaiian shirt!), and Evgeny got the stuffed Gorby to keep his hippopotamus company. I hope they liked them!

Finally, we “zapped” the ship with our crew’s patch. Here, we are putting it on the US segment. It is smartly aligned with 32 other crews that have come before us.

Think about it for a moment:

100 years ago or so, we started flying, Girl Scouts were established and the Oreo cookie was invented;

50 years ago or so, the first Satellite was launched;

25 years ago, Aki graduated from high school, I became legal to drink and Yuri became a pilot;

10 years ago or so, the ISS was manned for the first time – people living in space continually now.

Where will we be in 10, 25, 50 or 100 years from now … it is hard to imagine, but I can’t wait to find out.

In the meantime, it is time to go home to planet Earth. From one Earthling to another, I can’t think of a better planet to be from!

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