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Hello all! We’ve had a very busy last few months, so I apologize for not posting too often. However, lucky for you we have our annual Groundhog Day card and letter for you to read to get you all caught up on our adventures.

GroundhogDay2014Final

Happy Groundhog Day everyone!

It’s that time of year again when giant rodents all over America come out of hibernation and predict the change of seasons for all of us based on the sighting of their own shadow. That also means it’s time for us to reflect on the last twelve months, which have had some ups and downs and big changes in our lives.

Shortly after our last Groundhog Day card, Stacy’s father, Gene Schacherer passed away on February 4. We came home for the funeral and to be with all of our family. There were a lot of sad and happy moments as we reflected on his 69 years of life. There was a very large turnout for the visitation and funeral – a testament to how much of an impact Gene had on everyone who knew him.

In June we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. You can see Stacy with her anniversary flower bouquet on our Groundhog Day card. Also in June we went back to Iowa to celebrate Colby’s brother, Matt’s wedding. Matt and his bride, Amber were married in Altoona, Iowa, Amber’s home town. It was a fun wedding, and a great opportunity to see all of our family again. You can see Colby and his brothers all dressed for the wedding in the top-right picture on the card.

In late June Stacy’s mom, Carmen, and Stacy’s brother, LeRoy and his family came to North Carolina to visit us. We showed them around Raleigh and explored NC State’s campus, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and tried out some great Carolina-style barbecue. We then took a day trip to Wilmington, NC to tour the USS North Carolina battleship and hang out on the beach. We also took a trip to Beaufort, NC to see a different part of the coast. The surf was up while we were there, so we didn’t get to go in the water. However we still got to walk the beach for shells, see some dolphins, tour the Maritime Museum, and tour Fort Macon–a Civil War fort that guarded the Beaufort inlet. When it started to rain we toured the North Carolina Aquarium. It was a busy weekend, but everyone had fun.

In August Stacy returned to Iowa for the centennial celebration of her home town of Wallingford, Iowa. She was home for a week and was happy to see all of the Schacherer clan. Colby stayed in Raleigh so he could continue working on his dissertation. He finished it during the fall semester and successfully defended his dissertation on December 18. Everything is now complete for his PhD except for the official commencement ceremony, which will be held in May 2014. His dissertation is entitled “Dynamics of Phosphorus Release from Wetlands Restored on Agricultural Land”. If you have insomnia and would like to read all 232 pages, let Colby know and he’ll email a link to where you can download it.

In December we packed up our apartment in Raleigh and started our move to Seattle, Washington (more on that in a second). Stacy’s mom and Colby’s dad came down to Raleigh and were incredibly helpful in getting us ready for the move. They stayed for almost a week to help box up our stuff and get our apartment in ship shape (so we could get our deposit back). While they were here, Adam and Marissa Howard very kindly hosted a going away party for us. It was a lot of fun, and made for a great send-off from all of our close friends we’ve made in Raleigh over the last five and a half years. We later shipped our stuff to Seattle in a “U-Pack Relocube”. We had to shed a bunch of our larger items (gas grill, couch, bed, etc.), but we got most of the rest of our stuff in the container. We sold Stacy’s car and drove Colby’s loaded-down Ford Fusion back to the Midwest for the holidays. We stopped in Illinois to celebrate Christmas with Colby’s Mom and her husband, Buck. We then moved on to Estherville to celebrate the holidays with the rest of our families. After the New Year we started the second half of our 2,800 mile drive. We stayed on I90 for two and a half days. It was a beautiful drive, and despite a lot of wind the weather was favorable.

On January 6 Colby started his new position as a “postdoctoral researcher” at the University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is still doing soil and root research, but has switched from studying phosphorus to studying methane-a potent greenhouse gas. He has also switched from Carolina bay wetlands to Alaskan bogs and fens. Colby will be headed up to Fairbanks, Alaska for most of the growing season (June-September) to study methane at a “Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) station”. He is working on some laboratory experiments on campus in Seattle in the meantime. The picture of both of us on the center of the card is on UW’s campus near Colby’s new building.

Seattle is beautiful so far. It’s is actually as warm as or warmer than Raleigh in the winter, and isn’t nearly as rainy as everyone says. It is surprisingly hilly though. We haven’t explored the area too much yet, but we’re working on it. Our new mailing address is 6189 Radford Drive, Apt. 1911, Seattle, WA 98115. We’ll keep our current cell phone numbers and email addresses.

We had to leave our foster dog, Forrester with the Triangle Beagle Rescue when we left Raleigh. We had him for almost two years, and he was featured in our Groundhog Day card/letter last year. We’re missing him, but hopefully he finds a permanent home soon. Our beagle, Maisie is doing well. She handled the road trip to Seattle well (with the help of some meds from the vet). She’s adjusted well to Seattle, and is happy that there is a dog park across the street. The park goes all the way down to a beach on Lake Washington, as shown on the card.

In other news, both of Colby’s grandmas are now in the Good Samaritan nursing home in Estherville, IA. They both have Alzheimer’s, but seemed stable and happy while we were home over the holidays. They both have great men taking care of them too, so they’re in good hands.

That’s it for our news since the last Groundhog Day. If you are interested in visiting Seattle, give us a heads-up. We hope you and yours all the best.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Stacy, Colby, and Maisie

That concludes our Groundhog Day 2014 letter. Now that we’re caught up we’ll try to post more frequently with pictures and stories from our adventures in Washington and Alaska. Thanks for stopping by!

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Hello everyone,

Source: Wikipedia
(c) University of Washington

As all of our friends and family know, I’ve been working on my PhD in soil science at NC State for a while now. I’ll be finishing up in December, so I’ve been in the midst a thorough job search over the summer and the beginning of the fall semester. That job search is officially over now as I have accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Washington Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. I will be working with Dr. Rebecca “Becca” Neumann. I will be working on a project studying methane oxidation in the rhizosphere of wetland plants.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Methane is produced in wetland soils. Plants can act as both a route for methane to move from the soil into the atmosphere, and as a way for oxygen to enter the soil and oxidize the methane in the rhizosphere (the zone of soil immediately surrounding roots). The objective is to put a number on the percentage of methane that’s oxidized in order to refine climate change models. We also want to predict how that number changes with different plant communities, and how those communities might change as the climate warms. The field site is about 40 minutes west of Fairbanks, Alaska. The field site has two types of wetlands – a bog and a fen. It is called the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Station. I’ll be in Alaska for their growing season (June-September), and in Seattle the rest of the time working on laboratory experiments.

I’ve been told the UW campus is really nice. Here’s a flyover I found on YouTube. It’s looking good so far!

My start date is January 6, 2014. The current plan is for me to defend my dissertation in December. We’ll ship our stuff from Raleigh to Seattle via a U’Haul “pod”. We will drive from North Carolina to Iowa for Christmas, then drive from Iowa to Washington after the holidays. My official graduation date will be May 10, 2014, and we will be back in Raleigh for the commencement and hooding ceremony. All of our friends and family will be welcome to attend. There’s a lot to do between now and my start date in January, but in the mean time Stacy is making plans for the move, and I’m working on finishing my dissertation on time.

Stacy is starting her job search now. The company for which she currently works has two hospitals in the Seattle area. She’s looking into transferring within that company for now. I know some of her family was a little sad we weren’t moving back to within driving distance of Wallingford, Iowa. On the bright side though, this is a temporary position that is renewable, so I should be able to work in Seattle for a few years until the perfect position close to home opens up.

The position is exactly the type of postdoctoral research position I was looking for in my job search, so I’m really happy I got it. Stacy and I are both excited to see what the West Coast is like, and we now have an excuse to visit Alaska. I think my brothers are already planning big game hunting trips in Alaska, and Stacy’s siblings are already planning road trips to Seattle. I’ll try to post here a few times between now and the move, but we’re really busy so we’ll see.

Thanks for stopping by,

Colby

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Hello all,

Stacy and I sent out our annual Groundhog Day card and letter last week to family and a few friends. Since I’ve been a little too busy with grad school lately, I haven’t really updated this blog as often as I should, despite there being a lot of big news in the last 12 months. I’ll repost our letter here. Consider this our “catching up on blog posts” post.

The 2013 Moorberg family Groundhog Day card.

The 2013 Moorberg family Groundhog Day card.

Happy Groundhog Day everyone!

It’s that time of year again when giant rodents all over America come out of hibernation and predict the change of seasons for all of us based on the sighting of their own shadow. That also means it’s time for us to reflect on the last year. This last twelve months have been pretty busy for us. Stacy is still working at the hospital. She’s also been busy working on a variety of crochet projects, including some afghans that will be auctioned off to benefit the Relay for Life. Some other notable projects include an afghan wedding gift for Colby’s mom and husband (more on that later), and some bearded stocking hat Christmas presents for Colby and his brothers.

Colby has been busy with school and research. As you read this he’ll be just finishing up with his preliminary exams for his PhD, and will be preparing for the oral exam to become a “PhD candidate”. He’s also been homebrewing in his free time, making a bunch of different styles of beer and hard cider. Some notable recipes include the “10YR Amber Ale” (a soil science inside joke), the “Hot Mess Pale Ale” (included 10 roasted Anaheim peppers that were soaked in tequila prior to fermentation), and the “MoBro American Black Ale” which was brewed during “Movember” (more on that later) and  included five ounces of hand-picked hops from the Department of Soil Science’s hop field trial plot.

For Memorial Day weekend, Stacy’s sister, Brenda and her kids, and sister, Corey came to visit us. It was the kids’ first time to the coast so we took them down to Wilmington, NC. There we visited the USS North Carolina (picture on the card). We also checked out the North Carolina Aquarium, and then headed to the beach so they could swim in the ocean for the first time.

In June we took a trip to the North Carolina Zoo for our fourth anniversary. It was a really fun trip, and one of the best zoos we’ve visited. We also did some traveling out of the state for some big events on Colby’s side of the family. In May we flew to Iowa to see Colby’s brother Matt graduate from Iowa State University with his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy. It was nice to have a break and get back to Iowa at the end of the semester to partake in the celebrations. Congrats to Matt!

In September we flew to Wisconsin to participate in Colby’s mom’s wedding. Ruth married her husband, Buck in the end of September in an outdoor ceremony with the foliage at peak colors. It was a pretty wedding, and a great opportunity to see all of the Green family. Congrats to her and Buck!

In November Colby’s grandmother, Dorothy turned 90 years old. It’s quite the achievement! We couldn’t make it back because Colby still had class, but we were celebrating from afar and over the phone. Also in November, Colby’s dad came down to Raleigh to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. All three of us also had a blast that weekend at a NC State football game (two of the pictures on the card).

There isn’t too much news from Stacy’s side of the family, other than everyone is healthy, especially Stacy’s dad who is now three years cancer-free!

Our beagle, Maisie is doing well. She’s had a new buddy for the last twelve months though. Forrester (the tri-color beagle on the card) is our current foster dog with the Triangle Beagle Rescue, and is our sixth foster dog so far. He is a senior foster dog who is around 11 years old. The older foster dogs don’t usually get adopted too quickly, so we’ve had him for a while. If we still have him by the time Colby finishes his PhD, he just might end up becoming a permanent member of the family.

As usual, we’ve done a lot of cycling this year. We took part in just one charity ride though.  We rode in the inaugural Velo4Yellow bike ride in September which raised money for the Livestrong Foundation. Off of the bike, Colby also organized a team in his department for “Movember”, a charity that raises money and awareness for men’s health issues, testicular and prostate cancer in particular. For “Movember”, each of the participants, referred to as “MoBros”, grow mustaches during the month of November. The team of four MoBros raised over $760! Colby also helped out with his Masonic Lodge’s barbecue fundraisers that sell hundreds of plates of Eastern Carolina style barbecue and brought in over $8,000 for the North Carolina Masonic Home for Children, and the Masonic and Eastern Star Home.

As you can tell, it has been a busy year. During all that, Colby has also been feverishly working on his PhD research. He submitted his first paper for peer review last November, but is still waiting to hear any news on that paper. He’s also currently working on finishing up his three PhD experiments, which will be wrapped up by the end of the spring semester. The plan is for Colby to complete the data analysis and writing as soon as possible, successfully defend his dissertation, complete his PhD, publish his current research, and become gainfully employed by the end of 2013. There’s a lot to do between now and then though, as Colby’s PhD adviser would surely tell you.

We hope all of you are doing well, and we’re always happy to get news from home – whether it is over the phone, in a letter, in an email, or on a Google+ hangout. We’d love to hear from you! If you want to keep up with us, Colby posts occasionally on <colbyandstacy.wordpress.com> with big news, or interesting stories and adventures. Colby also has his soil science blog <colbydigssoil.com>, just in case you want to learn about soil science, or Colby’s research.

 Happy Groundhog Day!

Stacy, Colby, and Maisie

So that’s our news from the last 12 months. As it turns out, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, so he is predicting an early spring. However Sir Walter Wally, the groundhog from the North Carolina Natural Science Museum, did see his shadow, so apparently North Carolina is still a ways away from spring weather. Also, Foursquare offered a Groundhog Day badge.

Happy Groundhog day everyone!

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I think that the discussions I had with my family in the Midwest this week about how Raleigh was snow free (and has been all year) might have jinxed us. We now have snow. The same storm system that caused all of the flooding and mudslides in California, and the power outages in the Texas panhandle has moved into Raleigh. The snow started last night around 7pm bringing an early end to the Soil Science department happy hour at Sammy’s Tap and Grill. After the happy hour I gave a ride home to one of the new graduate students in my department. He is from Kenya and has never seen snow before. We thought he would think seeing snow for the first time is exciting. Unfortunately he could care less.

It was a wet snow – perfect for snowballs though we didn’t start a snowball fight. Sometime early this morning it switched to sleet and it is supposed to be sleeting for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The reported snow accumulation so far is around 4 to 6 inches. RDU, the airport between Raleigh and Durham, has all but shut down with most flights canceled. The Triangle didn’t exactly shut down, though from the video on the local TV news channel nobody is risking a drive unless they had to. Stacy is working her weekend shift this weekend. She took an extra half hour to do her morning commute.

Stacy was really excited about snow. I don’t think I know a grown individual who loves the snow more. You can see her apparent love for the snow in this picture:

Our beagle Maisie seems to have mixed feelings of the snow. She loves to walk in it and smell it, but she will not “go to the bathroom” in snow. She better get used to it because the snow will be around for a few more days I believe.

Earlier this week I added a post about buying our 2006 Ford Fusion. I posted some pictures of the car on this website and on Facebook. My aunt Nancy (who lives in Nebraska) commented that there wasn’t any snow in the picture. My brother Matt was also surprised that there was no snow which is weird to him since he is used to Iowa Januaries. Well, here is a repeat of the same picture I took Thursday.

Then:

Now:

I also shot a picture of our cozy grill which we just covered with the best kind of grill cover – an Iowa State grill cover.

I’m kind of happy that I can’t do anything away from the apartment this weekend. I have a lot of writing to do on my thesis so this should help me stay focused. And, its not that I’m scared to drive in this weather, I’m scared of all the other people who think they can drive in it. Thanks for stopping by, and stay warm!

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We made some Christmas cookies the other day. We actually made cookies two nights in a row but this day was the decorated cookies day. Here is Stacy (right) hard at work. We also busted out the “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” which is surrounded by a pile of gifts, most of which is on  a UPS truck on the way to Iowa right now.

For the Holidays, Stacy ended up having to work at the hospital Christmas eve and Christmas. She did get New Years off though. We are flying home to Iowa via MSP on the 29th of December. We will be in Iowa for New Years, and for the ISU Insight Bowl game against Minnesota. The Moorberg family will be celebrating X-mas on the 1st, and the Schacherers will be celebrating X-mas on the 2nd. Our parents said they got around 18 inches of snow recently in a blizzard so it should be interesting weather while we’re home. Stacy got her wish of snow for our trip home, and then some. We will be heading back to Raleigh on the 4th. It should be a fun trip. It’s too bad we couldn’t be home for Christmas day, but, ya got to work I guess. And since the 25th is historically an arbitrary day anyway, it’s no big deal. We’ll celebrate it as soon as we can.

Several months ago, I mentioned that we have moved. As I was getting pictures of our tree, I thought we better post some pictures of our townhouse now that we are all moved in and settled. Here is the “virtual tour”:

Our Townhouse (ours is the right half of the building)

On the front half we have the patio. Here is the grill we keep on the patio.

The living room and front door

The living room, entertainment center, and bottom of the staircase

The kitchen and dining room area

You’ll notice Maisie at her “observing” spot next to the table. Our bikes are in the back and our fridge is covered with pictures of our nephews, friend’s kids, and wedding invitations/thank yous.

The kitchen (stove and fridge)

The kitchen (the sink, cookbooks, and drying rack)

Now, moving up the stairs:

The stairway (from the top)

The bedroom

The desk in the bedroom

The bedroom (the cedar chest, Maisie’s crate, and the bathroom door in the corner)

The bathroom sink

The “Cy cabinet” above the John

The shower room with the door open to the walk-in closet (the closet opens to the bedroom too)

Through the walk-in closet is the laundry room with a stacked clothes washer and dryer.

The deck

Through the bedroom, there is a door outside leading to this deck. This is the view off the porch facing north.

The deck.

This is the view off of the same deck facing east.

That’s pretty much it for a virtual tour. Our home is “cozy”. It’s a good size for us though. It’s just big enough that we have room, but it’s just small enough that we won’t accumulate stuff for a future move once I’m done with school (around 2013 for now). It is in Hedingham, a golf course development. We rent our place. However, some of our rent does go towards equity should we want to buy a place from the management company that runs Hedingham. It is a nice and quiet community. It is patrolled at night by a security agency and there seems to be a police officer that lives on each block. There is also dog poo stations everywhere since it is a very dog-friendly community. There is also a tennis court, athletic center, indoor BBall court, two swimming pools, and a golf course that we can use for no additional fee. One of the NCSU soil science grad students and her husband also live about eight blocks from us. She and I carpool to work together almost every workday. They are the couple that we went to the Blue Ridge Parkway with that you can read about here.

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This last weekend (first weekend in the new town home) we had a visitor, Matt Taylor. Matt is a long time friend of Colby’s dating back to preschool. In fact Colby’s first childhood memory with a friend (other than his brothers) is when Colby’s mom took Matt and him to bank of the flooded Des Moines River to teach them how to skip rocks on water. Matt currently works for Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Minneapolis, MN. He flew down on Thursday night and returned on Sunday night to make for a nice three day weekend. He thought it was time to see the ocean for the first time and having a friend living in a coastal state was all the excuse he needed.NCSU Bell Tower

During the day on Friday Stacy had to work but Colby took Matt to see the NC capital building, a limestone – southern architecture style building with a copper dome. There was lots of statues, many commemorating past wars, especially the “War of Northern Aggression”  After a short walk around downtown it was off to NCSU to see the campus, Williams Hall (the soil science building), the bell tower, and the greenhouse where Colby’s experiment is going. We also checked out the Yate’s Mill just south of Raleigh. That night we all went to a Durham Bulls game with a friend from Stacy’s work, Brandon, and his brother who recently just returned from his tour in Iraq as a Marine. The Bulls game was a lot of fun, except for the 8th inning game winning rally the Syracuse Chiefs had to win the game. During the game, one of the Bulls hit a home run and, as seen in the 1980’s movie Bull Durham, in the outfield the bull’s eyes light up, tail wags, and smoke blows from the nostrils. Brandon also enjoyed heckling the Chief’s right fielder Kory. The whole game it seemed that the right fielder was having trouble ignoring our group, especially Brandon. Once the Chiefs got ahead though he started heckling back by pretending to toss a souvenir ball into the stands at us and stopping halfway then mocking Brandon’s “husky” stature. The game ended with a fireworks show in center field.

Matt at the OceanOn Saturday we drove four hours south to Charleston, SC to hit the beach and to hang out with Shauna who used to work with Stacy. Charleston was a pretty cool beach town with “low country” restaurants and fish eateries everywhere. Just about all of the vehicles had surf boards on the roof racks. All of the trees had Spanish moss hanging from the branches which made for a cool, southern coastal effect. After a few mixed drinks at Shauna’s we went to Folly Beach. The surf was “abnormally high” according to the locals which made it a little difficult to swim but we had a blast hitting the waves and chilling by our cooler full of cold ones. After our Midwestern skin was sufficiently sunburned we went back to Shauna’s then out again for dinner and drinks downtown. That night Matt and Colby stayed up late and reminisced about the old days and life today in “the real world.”

Sunday we headed back to Raleigh in time for Taylor to get to the Airport in time. It was a fun weekend which couldn’t have been timed better. We needed a break from the recent move and work and Taylor was equally ready for a change of pace. Thanks for coming to visit us Matt! Thanks for letting us crash at your place Saturday Shauna!

Here is the gallery of pics from the weekend.

Here is a link to Facebook with some comments for most of them along with other pictures from this summer.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our new apartment and a rediculous petition circulating Iowa to ban bicycles from county roads in Iowa.

Stacy and Shauna

Matt and Colby at the beach

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