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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Well, baby is due on Sunday but theoretically could come any day now. Did you hear that, baby? Any day now. The second pregnancy has been relatively uneventful but definitely more tiring with a 15-month-old involved. I’m so thankful my parents have been here for almost two weeks now to help out as we await the arrival; while Bart has been super amazing as usual, we could never have managed this well on our own.

I could say a lot about pregnancy and all the thoughts and emotions associated with it or described the unique aspects of this one, but as we count down the final days I thought I would keep it relatively light by reflecting on some of the questions and comments I have received over the last few months. Most are pretty benign or guileless, even if they get annoying in their frequency or short-sightedness.

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Four-day weekend

Today was our first (and hopefully only) snow day of the winter. A big front came through last night dumping about five inches of snow at our house and closing the government for the day. Since yesterday was Presidents’ Day, that meant I had an impromptu four-day weekend. I might have enjoyed it more if it hadn’t been so cold, but hey, I’ll take it.
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This week, my coworkers and I had a meeting for work in Ottawa, Canada. I was only gone a couple of nights and returned yesterday, but I really enjoyed seeing the other national capitol up north.
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Grab your permission slip and a sack lunch, because it’s time for a field trip!

In the last few weeks, my group at work has taken two trips to visit other research labs in the DC area. Visiting the lab of a fellow researcher is pretty standard practice in physics. If you’re in town for a meeting, you might call up someone you knew in grad school or who is doing work related to yours and stop by and chat about their work. You usually learn something new about a different topic and also trade advice and tips on the gritty details of experimental physics. There are plenty of research establishments in the DC area doing work that’s tangentially related to ours, so when some recent opportunities to go visit a couple of labs arose, our group decided to pay them a visit.
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Back in February, I took an initial stab at doing my taxes. I fired up the online software, imported some information from last year, and got most of the way through my federal return before realizing I was missing a few papers. I’d already had enough of taxes by that point, so I saved my work and kicked it to the curb for three or four weeks. This week I decided it was time to finally get it done, so I fired it back up and have been hacking away at it again.
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Today is the 183rd birthday of the US Naval Observatory. Founded in 1830, it’s original mission was the repair of navigational instruments, which included chronographs and early time standards. Today, the observatory’s principle mission remains the same: providing precise time, earth orientation, and astrometry services for the nation.

At the USNO, we like any excuse to celebrate and eat cake in our famed library (shown above in the blog header, in case you ever wondered what that was). So today we’ll be having birthday cake in honor of this illustrious anniversary.

You can read more about the observatory and it’s founding here and here.

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Believe it or not, this week marks one year since we woke up, put our suitcases and the dog in our cars, and turned our backs on the Rocky Mountains. We arrived in Maryland exactly one year ago today, literally and figuratively in the dark. Twelve months, two states, and two houses later, I still wouldn’t say that we’re totally settled here, but being in our own house seems to have closed the chapter on a year of transition.

I don’t think I anticipated how difficult the first year here would be from a personal standpoint. I knew there would be challenges with fighting traffic, getting lost, finding grocery stores, meeting people, joining a church, and learning my job. But surprisingly, I struggled with feeling like I was wasting my time and lacking purpose in life when we didn’t have any friends or anything we were involved in and just sat around the house looking at real estate listings on the internet all the time. At times, I felt despondent, unmotivated, and a little sad. Bart reminded me that this was not a truthful way to look at this time. It wasn’t time wasted, but it was a season of rest and rejuvenation so we would be ready to begin again with those things when that time came. And, of course, he has been right about that. In due time, things like finding a house, meeting people, and getting involved have fallen into place. We aren’t completely back up to speed, but we’re accelerating in that direction, and it seems like every week we see new opportunities around us.

It never hurts to look back and see that we have actually done a lot in our first year here. You don’t often have such a period free of obligations to explore a new place and have new experiences, so we tried to take advantage of it. Looking back over the last year, here are some of the most notable things we’ve experienced:

  • Visited twelve different states along the Eastern Seaboard and New England. When was the last time I visited twelve states in one year? Probably never.
  • Now that I think about it, we should also include the seven other states we drove through when moving here, and two more we hit on a trip back home in April. That’s an incredible 42% of the United States.
  • Bought a house. This is typically not something you do every day, and given how many months it took us to find this one, it definitely isn’t an insignificant accomplishment.
  • Hosted our first dinner party. That happened this last weekend, in fact.
  • Weathered a presidential inauguration, sequestration, furloughs, shutdowns, and a gubernatorial election in a state where we missed the voter registration deadline by two days. And there have been numerous other little quirks we’ve experienced living in Federal City.
  • Had seventeen separate house guests stay with us, some multiple times. I can think of maybe 10 overnight guests that we had in Colorado the entire eight years I lived there.
  • Waited at the DMV twice. Remind me to never move states or buy a new car or anything else that requires a trip to the DMV ever again.
  • Both of us had jury duty in Montgomery County. And now we’re back at the top of the list in a new one.
  • Driven past or walked on a beach three times. Not something we could accomplish in Colorado or Arkansas.
  • Visited many monuments and museums on a whim that most people have to go on vacation to see.
  • There were also a few things we didn’t do that we expected to do, mostly because finding a house was a real time-sucker for the nicest six months of the year. But we look forward to having time to do these and more now that we’re not in the market for a home. Of course, I hear that home improvement projects take up weekends, too. Good thing we don’t have a list of dozens of things we’d like to do to the house…or something. ;p

  • Go to Gettysburg. I was 100% positive we would do this sometime in our first year, but it never happened. It’s definitely going to, though.
  • Go to Mount Vernon. Granted, we now live about ten miles from it, and we’ve heard it’s awesome during the holidays. I’m motivated to make this happen before the year is out.
  • Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. We almost did this on our trip to New England over the Fourth of July weekend, but we passed, opting to go during the off season this winter. We like excuses to head to upstate New York.
  • Go to New York City. We ran out of non-house hunting weekends in the summer. Depending on the weather and our travel plans around the holidays and first of the year, this might have to wait until next spring or summer.
  • Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in Shenandoah National Park. This would have been awesome to do three weeks ago, but if you recall, we bought a house three weeks ago. But I hear Shenandoah is beautiful all year round.
  • That’s a quick snapshot of our first year in Washington, DC. I guess we can’t consider ourselves “new” to the area anymore, but I still feel pretty green most of the time. But we’ve still got a lot of living to do here as long as we live here, be in a few years or the rest of our lives. I appreciate your accompanying me on this journey and hope you have enjoyed the blog so far. I intend to keep sharing our adventures with you, both with exploring the DC area and the East Coast as well as fixing up our new house. I hope you’ll continue to join me as we start Year Two in Washington!

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    Today marks eleven months since our move from Colorado to Washington, DC. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year.  Eleven months gets overshadowed by the impending one-year mark, but there’s still a lot to commemorate. Our biggest achievement has, by far, been buying (or almost buying, as we haven’t closed yet) a house. However, we’ve still accomplished many things, fun or otherwise, while here.

    So far in 11 months I/we have:

    • Had dinner with actual friends from church.
    • Played a violin special during the offertory last Sunday.
    • Gone to an event for a local charity.
    • Weathered both furloughs and a government shutdown.
    • Listed two items for sale on Craigslist.

    We have not:

    • Officially closed on the house.
    • Sold anything on Craigslist.

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    As a federal employee, the last eight days have been interesting, to say the least. I was actually recalled to work, as my position falls under a new bill that provides services for the Armed Forces during this time. While I’m certainly thankful to not be spinning my wheels, it’s still frustrating to see so many others doing so. While I certainly have my thoughts about the matter, expounding on my views of the situation is beyond the scope of this blog post, but as a person with a sensitive spirit and a desire for peace and not conflict, I can generally say of the situation that my hope is for a swift resolution for the common good.

    While all this uncertainty persists inside the Beltway, the contract on our house just a few miles away is quickly drawing to its conclusion. In a mere eight days, we are set to close. It has been interesting to reflect on this transaction, especially compared to the purchase of our first home. I remember feeling excitement and anticipation during the whole contract period with the first house. This time, there was a flurry of paperwork for about two weeks at the very beginning, but after that, except for packing, I feel like I almost forgot we were buying a house. Just in the last three days, however, it began to shift back to oh-yes-it’s-happening mode. It’s finally close enough that we can now book our moving truck, set up new utilities, pack most of our stuff, and attend to the final paperwork.

    Naturally, with one’s first house, there is all kinds of naive excitement about how to design and decorate your new place to make it your own home. Amidst all the paperwork and checklists, we eagerly picked out paint colors and made lists of things we wanted to do to the house. While I’m technically doing all these same things now, it is with a much more subdued, mature, and thoughtful demeanor (does that mean I’m getting old? Wait, don’t answer that). We won’t be rushing into the house with paintbrush and screwdriver in hand like we did last time; instead, we plan to move in and get settled before making too many changes. The house itself is different in many ways from our first one, and I believe it requires more thoughtfulness and foresight to decide where we want to go with it. Since it doesn’t need major renovations, we don’t have much to immediately tend to and have the luxury of focusing on the overall feel of the place, turning it into our own home.

    One thing that didn’t exist when we bought our first home was Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest, how I have conflicting feelings about thee. While it’s inspiring and addictive to see pictures of high-end decor, there comes a point in ever Pinner’s life when she realizes that her home is never going to be like the great designer showcases featured everywhere she clicks. Even Bart, who isn’t on Pinterest all that often, commented yesterday while perusing decor ideas with me, “nobody’s house actually looks like this.” My paradigm also shifted after finally being under contract on a house and mentally trying to apply Pinterest ideas to that specific space. While I might love photos of a modern, industrial style, my 1960’s ranch is never going to be a soaring loft in an old warehouse.

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    My recently remodeled, traditional galley kitchen is never going to be a giant farmhouse kitchen with a pantry and expansive center island. So, while Pinterest can indeed provide inspiration, one has to be careful to set her expectations appropriately. (For what it’s worth, you can probably say the same thing about every area of Pinterest; cooking, fashion, parenting, weddings, fitness, etc.)

    Another source of inspiration for me, be it good or bad, has been DIY blogs. While researching questions about updating older homes, I stumbled upon this vast sub-genre of web information. We are DIY addicts, and we did a large number of projects in our previous home. It’s been a year since we moved, and reading these blogs has me itching to get our hammers and paintbrushes back out. Again, what one person does with his home isn’t exactly what needs to happen in mine, but generally the information and can-do spirit is very inspiring for our new blank canvas.

    So, instead of letting the internet bum me out about the things I can’t change about the house, I’ve decided to let it inspire and motivate me instead. I look forward to embracing the truly unique features of this house and boldly accepting the challenges of fitting a modern lifestyle into a home that was built before flat-screen TVs and personal computers.

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    It’s hard not to blog about the 1000 lb gorilla in the room, so here goes: as of today the government is shut down, and I’m furloughed yet again. However, this time I don’t know how long it will last. It could be just a day or two (most likely), but it could drag on for weeks like it did the last time in the 90’s. In the meantime, I’ll just be chilling at home, taking one day at a time, sleeping in and packing and cooking and crocheting and hanging out with my awesome husband and a cuddly dog. So, that’s that. All the righteous indignation I might be able to dredge up would be pretty useless, so I’m channeling my energy elsewhere.

    However you slice it, it’s still October, and that means it’s now my most favorite month of the entire year. It seems that I’ve been doomed to have it overshadowed by packing and moving for two years running, and we’re throwing in a government shutdown this year; however, I won’t let that stop me from enjoying it. In between the cardboard boxes and paperwork, I plan on making yummy fall food, eating too many candy pumpkins, taking pictures of changing leaves, and blowing out my birthday candles at the end of the month. Who knows? We might even host our first visitors to our new home before the month is out. Whatever this October brings, I’m thankful that I’m alive and able to enjoy it.

    Psalm 2

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