Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Cats Under the Porch

First off, let me say we do NOT need more cats. Four is more than enough. Some would say four more than needed.

That said, we seem to have a single mom and her kitten living under the porch. The kitten is downright adorable, and the mom is pretty cute, too. We first saw the kitten about a month ago. It literally was hanging on the side door one day. It had been trying to climb the door to play with our cats on the inside! Since then, he has been a regular fixture on every porch of the house. Like all kittens, he is so playful and fun. However, he's very skittish - he won't let us anywhere near.

His mama has started surfacing as well. She is often found laying on the porch in the evening, just watching the kitten play and run. She's getting more accustomed to seeing us and doesn't run right away. Tonight I finally got a picture of the two of them on the porch. The kitten has grown quite a bit since we first saw him.

Now, like I said, we most definitely do NOT need more cats. I can barely keep up with the four we do have. But this little family is so cute...and they seem to really want to come into the house...

Stay tuned...

Day Trip to the Outer Banks

I finally got to see Rob this weekend...but unfortunately, JUST for the weekend. He came home yesterday morning, and leaves again tomorrow morning. A quick 48 hours together! This is getting a little old.

We did make the most of the weekend, however. Yesterday we did a lot of errands and also bought a new outdoor dining set (in preparation for a planned wine party in July!) Today we took a day trip down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Despite having lived in this area for 3 years (on this tour...not to mention the 2 previous times we lived here), I had never been to the Outer Banks. For some reason, I had this idea in my mind that it was difficult to get there, lots of traffic, not much to I never made the effort. Boy, that was dumb! We got there very quickly today (hour and a half?) and had a fabulous day. The Outer Banks are beautiful, and a tad more classy than most beach areas. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a restaurant right on the water in the city of Duck, and then did a little shopping and just driving around to admire the fantastic beach houses. We both got a bit sunburned from leaving the top down on the car all day, but overall it was just a great day. We will definitely be going back when Rob returns in a few weeks!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to all the service members out there - both those who are still with us and those who are not. Being in the military is heroic, selfless, patriotic, brave...and I hope that everyone pauses today to thank the service members in their lives. They fight so that we may know peace and security. Appropriately enough, Rob is out to sea right now, so I've spent the day alone. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I'm looking forward to his return on that he can go back out to sea again on Monday! Ah, the life of a military family. :)
Have you thanked a service member today?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Peru Gets Canceled

While I was in London, I got some very disappointing news - the mission to Peru with which I was supposed to particpate got canceled due to the outbreak of swine flu. Ironically, there have been no instances of the flu in Peru...and the government wants to keep it that way! So the mission was postponed indefinitely.

It was a major disappointment, but not unexpected. And truthfully, it probably works out better. I would have left a couple days after returning from London, which I think would have killed me! Also, Rob was originally planning on coming with me. He was going to spend a couple days on the mission, then when the mission was over we were going to go on to Machu Picchu for an experience of a lifetime. However, as happens so often, the Navy got in our way. The ship's schedule changed and he had to go out to sea to do flight deck certifications and other tests on the mighty Bush. Since his trip was already canceled, it didn't hurt as bad when mine got nixed!

On the bright side, I am tentatively scheduled to go on a mission to Fortaleza, Brazil in September. If things work out right (big "if"), Rob will probably try to meet me in Brazil for a few days and then we might try to take a week's vacation somewhere in South America. Maybe Buenos Aires or the wine country of Chile. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to the US...and to blogging

Yeah, I fell off the bandwagon again. But this time I have an excuse - I spent almost a month in London working with the UK office of Operation Smile! I left for London on April 22 with the intention of only be there for 10 days, but I got extended twice and ended up staying for almost 4 weeks. It was an absolutely amazing experience to have - to feel almost like I was living and working there rather than just visiting.

The reason I went over was due to the launch of a Direct Response campaign that incorporated both 60-second TV spots and newspaper ads. Being a very small office (2 full-time employees and a few part-timers), they really didn't have a database specialist or a plan for how to track the (hopeful) influx of donations that the campaign would bring in. In the past they've relied mainly on special events to raise money, so this was a brand new endeavour. Enter me. I went over to analyze their current database solution (a nightmare), help get the call centre set up to sent us data, and try to come up with some procedures for entering and acknowledging the gifts in a timely manner.

The tiny little London office!

It certainly wasn't easy, but I really enjoyed the challenge. It was refreshing to do something different for once; it's not always easy to sit at a desk and do the same thing day in and day out. It was something that I really needed. It brought a new perspective to my job, and actually helped my self-confidence quite a bit because I was able to go in and really make a difference in a pretty short period of time. And I can't say enough about the folks who work in the office. They're incredibly dedicated, but also tons of fun. I feel like I made some very good new friends.

Luckily for me, Rob was able to come visit me while I was there...not just once, but twice! He came for two long weekends. He's absolutely nuts, but I love him for it! The first time he came we stayed in London for the weekend and did the typical touristy stuff...and shopped...a lot. The second time he came, we took a train to Cardiff and spent the weekend there. By then it was actually nice to get out of London and see another part of the UK. Neither of us had ever been to Wales before, so it was a great time.

All in all, it was one of the best experiences that has ever happened to me. I feel silly admitting this, but I actually started to cry on the plane home because I wasn't ready to leave London yet! It just confirms what I already knew - I definitely have to live overseas at some point! And soon...I'm not getting any younger!

If you want to see more pictures, I have two albums on my Facebook page (you don't have to be a member to see the pics):

If you're curious about the UK Foundation of Operation Smile, here is a link to their website: