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So thankful for the cross and the empty tomb! Such good news is reason to celebrate each year at Easter. This year we made a trip to Raleigh to visit family and spend some special time together.

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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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Tire-d

Last spring, I managed to annihilate two tires on my new car within about three weeks. I ran over a nail one week; it ended up too close to the sidewall, so I had to get an entirely new tire for an otherwise minor patch job. Then, less than three weeks later, I ran over a weight used to balance tires, and it completely obliterated the tread beyond repair. Same tire, too…just three weeks old, and had to be replaced.

Surely you would think my bad luck with tires was used up in those unlikely incidents. Unfortunately, I got to experience tire dejavu twice again this summer.

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Bart and I spent Thanksgiving down in Raleigh (where else?) with family last week. Since his sister is due with her second in January, she won’t be able to travel over Christmas, so we decided to all meet there for Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday festivities.
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On the morning of November 10, 2012, Bart and I saw the sun rise one last time from our driveway in Erie, Colorado as we got in our cars and began the three day, 1700 mile trek to our new home in Washington, D.C. Two years used to seem like an eternity, but I still feel “new” to my job, our church, and the area in general even 24 months after our relocation. Nevertheless, a lot has happened for Bart and me since we began this new chapter in 2012.

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It was astounding how many visitors we had when we first moved to Washington, but I was even more astounded by how few we had after we bought our house last year. We now have a lovely guest suite with a private bath downstairs and have had practically no guests all year to enjoy it! Even when we hosted Bart’s sister and our niece last spring, we stayed in the guest room while they could take a couple of rooms upstairs. However, in October we have been making up for lost time in the guest department. From weekend visits from friends and family to having someone dog-sit while we were out of town, we’ve hosted quite a number of folks in rapid succession at Hotel Taylor the last few weeks.
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It is absolutely pouring this morning. My drive into work was even more stressful than those I had to do in ice and snow this winter; I had my windshield wipers on full-blast the entire way, and that wasn’t overkill. Water was pouring off overpasses, and the curbs in town were rushing rivers of water. Fortunately, I made it to work safely, if a little soggy. I don’t have a lot of years of local experience to compare this one to, but it seems that this spring is extraordinarily wet. This isn’t the first crazy downpour I’ve seen since March, and I’m willing to bet it won’t be the last.
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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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Last week was the peak bloom time of Washington DC’s famous cherry blossoms. These cherry trees, given as a gift to the US from Japan in 1912, bloom every spring and draw massive crowds of admirers to the city. While there are many blooming trees, the most famous are those surrounding the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. Though the trees typically bloom in the early part of April, peak bloom date isn’t accurately estimated until a few weeks beforehand, as it can vary quite dramatically depending on the weather during early spring. This makes it particularly challenging to plan a trip to DC in advance to coincide with peak bloom, but that doesn’t deter millions of visitors from taking a gamble on timing and planning spring trips to the city in hopes of catching the blooms at just the right time. This influx of visitors causes added chaos on top of the normal insanity of DC traffic. However, for us locals, even though we have to deal with the added commotion, we have the luxury of swinging by the Tidal Basin to catch the blooms at precisely the perfect time.

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We were slow to get into the local Craigslist after we moved to DC, but moving to our new house has evidently opened a new chapter of steals and deals.

The day before we moved from the rental to the new house, Bart and I sold our Kirby vacuum cleaner to a couple with two mastiffs (aka 200-lb dogs). They definitely needed the suction power more than we do (we only have one room of carpet in our house). I was a motivated seller for the vacuum as I didn’t want to move it, so I listed it at a very competitive price. Initially, I got a handful of interested parties wondering if I’d do 50% less on my already bargain basement price. Um, no? I got emails from people with very poor English (and let me just say, you can be a native English speaker and have very poor English) and could barely understand what they were trying to say. I got emails asking if “the item” was still available; sorry, but my policy is to not deal with any bot or scammer who won’t call my item by name in the listing. But rather than pounce on the first sketchy email, I waited patiently, and sure enough, a reasonable person finally contacted me about it. Having that extra cash in our pocket was helpful for some initial purchases for the house.

Like, for instance, something off Craigslist.

Since we have two large outdoor living spaces and had sold all our outdoor furniture before we moved, we knew we’d be needing some tables and chairs and such in the near future. Bart was on the ball looking for patio furniture on Craigslist and saw a listing for a whole pile of chairs and tables for $100, which, if you’ve priced outdoor furniture lately, you know is a huge steal. The cushions were a little worn, but for that price we could still easily replace them and come out ahead. So we voluntarily made a trip west of town in the middle of rush-hour traffic to pick them up. Totally worth it.

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We decided to place them in our screened-in porch for now, as they will be covered from the elements during the winter and might get a little more use on pleasant days. But we’ll see what the future holds for them.

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Meanwhile, I can look for new cushions or get motivated to sew my own. I’m an okay seamstress, but that’s a big task!

Oh, and my little pansy pot doesn’t have to sit on the floor anymore.

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Have you scored any awesome deals lately?

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