Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Long Overdue Update

Here’s what’s new with us…

Things have been going well for both of us as far as our jobs are concerned. J is still with Learning Tree and very much enjoys it. He will soon be at the tenure level that will allow him additional vacation time each year. My annual employee review was recently and it went well. I think I am going to stick with my current company most likely at least through the end of our current contract (2.5 more years) if not longer, assuming they have additional work assignments for me once this contract is concluded. I’m working on obtaining my SAS Programming Certification which should be a benefit to the company and myself. Outside of my full-time job, I continue to take on small, part-time IT consulting projects through ParJen Consulting (

Outside of work, we enjoy our playtime. J is quite busy with the church softball league. There are numerous practices a week and the games begin Monday. I’m wrapped up in my various Meetup groups planning and attending fun events. Today I led the walking group on a 9.4 bike ride along the C&O canal in DC. The scenery was beautiful. We’ve got a lot of great walks scheduled over the spring and summer as well as some great parties and a tubing trip. The woman’s group has a horseback riding even next month and I’m really looking forward to that. Supper club has our monthly dinners lined up through July and our book club voted last week on the book to read for our May discussion night. A lot of activities and a lot of fun.

Travel plans continue to pile up. Next weekend I’m headed to NYC with a group of girlfriends to see Wicked on Broadway and enjoy the city. Meanwhile, J will be heading south to Yorktown to drop in on his brother’s family. He will get to visit with his mother as she is flying in from NM to see them as well. Mid-May we’re off on another weekend adventure to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. I’d tell you all about where we are going except that I’m keeping it pretty hush-hush as the exact destination is setup as a surprise for J. The week after that (Memorial Day Weekend) we’re hopping into the convertible and driving down to Smoky Mountain National Park. I’m very excited about this trip in particular. It has been several years since I’ve been to the park and J has never had the pleasure of going. I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to arranging a few day or weekend trips during the summer, but the only other trip I’ve confirmed so far is a sun and sand getaway for myself and a group of girlfriends. We’re flying down to Miami in September, staying at Le Fountaine Bleau in south beach, enjoying a sightseeing weekend and then finishing the trip with a 5 day cruise on a Carnival ship out of the port of Miami. We will be docking in Key West and Cozumel, two places I’ve never been. Should be great! Looking beyond September, there’s a fall foliage trip schedule for Columbus Day weekend, a possibility of heading to Alaska sometime during 2009 and a 3 week trip to Morocco in 2010.

On the homefront it has been quite an adventure. The process of renovating after the kitchen fire in January has been a slow and frustrating one. Our contractor was completely inept and we’ve had to follow behind him constantly with a pooper scooper to clean up his messes. At this point, all of the work has been done except the new flooring (Pergo in the dining room; vinyl in the hallway/kitchen), which goes in Tuesday. Summary of work: The entire house downstairs was cleaned with special chemicals to remove the smoke smell and residue, the downstairs and upstairs surfaces (walls, ceilings, baseboards) repainted, the duct system was cleaned professionally, every fabric in the home was taken away and dry cleaned, the carpets in the entire home were professional steam cleaned, the kitchen cabinets and countertops were replaced. That was a lot! The new kitchen looks beautiful and while I’m sad we had the fire, its pretty amazing we got the whole house spiffed up and redone for only the cost of our deductible. Once the floors are in we are going to invite everyone over for a House Burning party (we never had a house warming party when we moved in, and this seemed like a perfect twist on the concept. The menu will consist of smoked foods, melty-delicious appetizers, fondue, and flaming desserts.) Upcoming projects that we are farming out this week include fixing the heat pump unit (it keeps frosting over outside), landscaping the front yard (have a sense of what we like, but no skills or knowledge to make it happen), and trimming the large tree in the front yard (its branches are overgrown and we don’t have the tools or the knowledge on proper trimming and we don’t want to kill our tree).

Our doggies, Jenna and Julia are doing ok. Jenna is getting up there in age (11) and her body is starting to let her down. She gets overheated easily and the number of non-cancerous but in the way growths under/on her skin are increasing. Julia is only 2.7 years old and has tons of energy. She’s being dragged down a bit this week because of a sore on her leg that she won’t stop licking, but otherwise she can go 10+ miles running without even beginning to tire.

So that’s a round up of everything. Our work, our play, our travels, and our beloved pets. Now it’s your turn. I always ask for the same thing at the end of every update, but I don’t always get it – I want to know what’s going on in your life. How are you filling your days? Any travel plans for the summer? What are your thoughts on the upcoming elections? Tell me, tell me….

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