Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What Happens During Your Halloweek?

I was going to wait until I had the pictures that I wanted to post, but my camera wasn't working, so I still have to wait until someone else emails them to me. So, here's the entry, and the photos will be forthcoming.

This week was one with a few random things involved, and most of them had nothing to do with Halloween...though some of them did.

Saturday I called my brother Rob and talked about his new baby girl. Aubrey Samantha was born on Oct. 16th, which makes me an aunt...again...for the 18th time. YAY!! (For those of you who know about my family birthday calendar, I was so happy to be able to add a new block!) Rob was never great with all the details, but she was born 7 lbs. 6 oz., I think it was the late afternoon, and she was somewhere between "18 and 20 inches...or something like that," as he said. She is a healthy little girl with really dark black hair, doesn't look too much like her sisters, but she eats a lot. Apparently she eats so much that she takes formula as well as nursing. I can already tell that Rob is impressed with her appetite and is confident that she will be nice and healthy. I think one of the other kids was pretty sick, so hopefully the baby won't catch it, but so far so good.

That evening Mark and I had the evening session of Stake Conference, which was held at the chapel right next to the Boston Temple, so we did a session right before. (We figured that with the interview coming up on Monday- to be discussed below- we needed a little extra Divine help. So we thought that doing a session right before Mark left was only fitting!) We got to be the witness couple too, so that was an extra treat! It was so great to be there with Mark, but we didn't have much time to hang around after the ceremony...we knew that Stake Conference was going to start, but we had no idea what time it really was since we didn't have our phones with us. So we hurried to change and leave. Turns out we only had 5 minutes to get to the Chapel and find a seat before it started. When we arrived, we could see that there was an overflow room that was filling up fast, but Mark was walking me up the aisle to the front of the Chapel. I guess he saw seats that I didn't. Yup, that was the first and probably the ONLY time I will sit up in the Sacrament Prep area in the chapel. It was a great seat because we were able to see almost everyone in the congregation. (When you see tears in other people's eyes, it makes it harder to not cry yourself.) It was a very powerful meeting. Most of the talks were about conversion stories and missionary work, and I am so glad that we were there. The Spirit was so strong through the whole evening!

Sunday we had the other session of Stake Conference, and for the first time ever in the history of our Stake, it was being held within the boundaries of our own Stake. We did not have to venture out to hold it in a different Stake's building. It was actually held in that same Chapel by the Temple, and then broadcast to several other satellite locations where they were able to fit the different wards. It was pretty cool. That was another powerful session, and I really enjoyed it. (I think what I enjoyed the most was the little Nielson twin that came over into our row of seats and played with the hymnbook on my lap for almost an hour. I was so surprised that the book kept her occupied for so long, and she didn't start tearing or crumpling the pages either! She was so cute!)

After Conference, Mark went home teaching while I went visiting teaching. It just so happens that our companions are also married to each other, so going at the same time means that the women bring the kids, but there is no more time being taken away from family time. That night Mark took a flight to Buffalo, NY for his interview at a firm called Hodgson Russ on Monday.

Monday was a normal day for me at work, except I got some viruses on my computer, so it made it hard to really do anything with my computer with all the annoying windows that were popping-up on my screen. Mark had his interview with about 8 different people at the firm, and he felt really good about all the interviews. The Recruiter told him right at first that they had already offered out all the positions they were intending to fill before they even interviewed him. That did not boost his confidence by any means, but he also asked the different partners and associates about that very thing during his interviews. He felt that they were much more optomistic about his prospect of employment. I guess the partners have more of a right to say that they will hire one more Summer Associate than the lady in HR. Mark felt that all the interviews went really well, and the fact that the firm is trying to strategically grow their Chinese practice in definitely in Mark's favor. (How many American law students do you know that speak Mandarin AND spent the summer in China?) So, other than the challenge of them already filling their available spots, Mark felt like they were definitely going to give him the job. As for now, we don't really know, and we're just waiting to find out. There's a possibility now that he would get wait-listed for a position in the NYC office.

Tuesday the IT department was working on my computer for most of the morning and into the afternoon. I thought they were able to finally fix it, but I started getting random pop-ups and then I couldn't access certain websites (such as my hotmail email account or even this blogger site). Overall, I was still able to use the computer, but it was still a hassle. It's ok though because I was working on our costumes for the Ward Halloween party on Wednesday night. The most time-consuming part of the costume was drawing it out and then coloring it in on the white paper. I just sat at my desk and colored with my crayons while IT had taken control of my computer. That night, Mark and I did the finishing touches of the costumes by taping the papers to the cardboard boxes and trying to figure out an effective way to actually wear the cardboard pieces. We decided on fabric straps, and I think that did the trick.

We were up pretty late working on these costumes, but it was a good thing because we had an out-of-town guest arriving that night, and his flight was delayed. (He and his wife contacted the ward asking if there was a place for him to stay while he had interviews at a local school clinic for a couple days, and I offered our spare bedroom.) He was supposed to land around 6:40 PM, and he didn't actually arrive until after 11:00 PM. We suggested that he not even pick up the car he rented because there wouldn't be a place to park it at our apartment, and he would be able to get to the interview via the T very easily. After we picked him up and brought him to our place, we decided to look up exactly where he was going so that I could help him figure out how to get there (because it was REALLY close to where I worked when I was at Tufts University). Turns out, it was a totally different address than what his wife told me. In fact, it was in a totally different town that would take about 95 minutes, with a few transfers, using the public transit system. Driving there would have been only 25 minutes...and it was about 1:05 AM when we discovered this. So...since we already told him to not pick up his rental car, Mark told him to use our car because we weren't going to use it, and at least that one he can park on the street when he gets back without the risk of it getting towed. Oh, the poor guy! What a trip, and it had only begun! He will be staying through Wednesday night and flying back home Thursday evening.

Wednesday at work I was finally able to use my computer without any stupid pop-ups and spyware trying to attack the machine. What a difference it really makes! I also spent most of the day fighting sleep because I had been up really late the night before...but I was so excited for the Halloween Party the Ward was having....and to wear our costumes.

Okay...are you still trying to figure out what we dressed up as? Only one of the most strategic card games played in pairs!!!

(Insert picture 1) (Insert picture 2)

We were a PINOCHLE! Not only that, but a DOUBLE PINOCHLE! (For those of you who don't know the game Pinochle, that's the Queen of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds together. Individually they're not worth anything, but together they can rack up the points. A double pinochle is like 350 points or something.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's All Fun and Games until Somebody...Goes Back to Work!

This past week Mark's parents came for a visit, and we had a blast. We hadn't seen them for over a year, and I just loved being able to take the days off of work to hang out with them. They arrived late Wednesday night, and I took them on a tour of downtown Boston on Thursday. This was not an ordinary tour that you get when being a tourist in Boston. This was a tour of "Where Kat Spends Her Day!" I showed them the office I work in, the benches I sit on to make phone calls during my lunch breaks, and the building where I think our offices are going to be moving to when we get it all finalized. We had lunch at a restaurant that I know the guys at work like but I could never afford, and it was just fun to be with them again.

This was an advertisement we saw for Marshall's shoe sale!

Thursday evening was a BYU football game that we actually got on our cable, so we had several people from our ward who wanted to come to watch it with us. It was fun to have an apartment full of friends AND FAMILY for a BYU game. Too bad the game was such a disappointment! Oh well!
Then on Friday, there wasn't really anything terribly pressing that we HAD to do, so we just stayed in the apartment and watched "Star Wars" movies while I was working on a new quilt. That was pretty fun too. We just waited for Mark to come back from school and enjoyed just relaxing at home. That afternoon we went downtown to look at the trees in the Boston Common.

Looking down at a hill covered in pretty yellow and red leaves, I just had an urge to go rolling down the hill like we did after church as little children. I was so excited and just wanted to roll and roll and Mark joined me.

To tell you the truth, it wasn't as fun as I remember it being. Maybe I'm more tender now, but that hill had lots of hard lumps, and it's wasn't very comfortable. I had to roll down facing the other way too because I got so dizzy I had to try to fix it. I felt almost sick, so I decided that two rolls were enough. But I was still glad to do it and make a memory of it. You gotta live it up every once in a while. After the park we also watched the movie "Eagle Eye" in the nearby theater. Overall we all enjoyed the movie, but the guys expressed their criticism of the plausibility of the technology. I guess that's to be expected.

On Saturday we went to go see the USS Constitution with our neighbors, Heather and Greg Stoutenburg. This was one of the few things on the Freedom Trail that I've only glanced at but never really experienced. It was really fun to just be there and see something new.

We then took the T-Boat (which I didn't even know existed) across the Boston Harbour to eat dinner at Legal Sea Foods. I had never really had some of the types of seafood that they serve there, and I was glad to try something new. Mark's King Crab Legs were really good, but I was disappointed in the dish that I chose. I really should've gone with the garlic shrimp instead of the nutty salmon. I probably would've liked it much more. I don't think that it was really all that bad, but I was definitely not all that impressed.

On Sunday, it was pretty much a normal Sabbath Day. We went to Church, I made a pot roast with potatoes and gravy for dinner. We did, however, drive up to New Hampshire to look at the fall foliage. We don't do that every week, but it was nice to go for a drive and take a few pictures in the changing colors. We also watched a Red Sox game, but what I remember the most is how badly I did not want to go to bed. I was sleepy and I knew that I had to do it, but it meant that when I woke up in the morning, I was going to have to go back to work.

Monday came, and I said my good-byes. I'm pretty sure that I would've been slightly depressed about it all day if Mark hadn't surprised me with a visit during my lunch break. Well, it wasn't a hug surprise because I kinda told him to when I was teasing him in an email...but I didn't expect him to actually stop by. It was a very nice treat that split up my lonely Monday perfectly.

It was so great to be able to visit with Mark's parents. So many of the people I talked to and mentioned the in-laws' visit assumed that I was glad that they were gone now. In-laws get such a bad reputation, but I love my in-laws and was so happy to be with them for a few days. I would've enjoyed to have them stay longer, but that was just not a feasible option. The other night Mark and I were talking about how having them here makes us miss them more. Obviously not while they were here, but seeing them again reminded us of all that we've missed out on in the past 13 months. Mark turned to me and said, "Now I can understand a bit of how you must have felt for your family in Chicago for the past 7 years!" It's true that I miss being with family all the time, but it's also true that no matter where we live when Mark is finished with school, we cannot live by and appease all of our family. Living here in Boston has truly been great for us and our marriage, but being close to family certainly does have its benefits too.

Right now it's just important for us to keep plugging along...keep doing what we think the Lord wants for us to do...keep following the commandments...and everything will be alright. Everyone will be just a plane trip away, no matter where we end up. The next big thing we have to look forward to is going to Chicago for Christmas. I know that's a whole 2 months away still, but I am getting so excited for it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yay for Another Interview

Not too long ago it felt like Mark was having interview after interview, and nothing seemed to come from it. Even the one firm that Mark actually got a call-back interview for has sent him yet another rejection letter. He's been feeling quite discouraged about this job search during the nation-wide economic crisis. There are fewer jobs to be found, and this is the all-important year for the law-student's career too. We were starting to wonder if we were really going to be able to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

We felt like we were in the dark, having done all we could do to get interviews, but 20 interviews and about 100 rejections later, there was still not even a glimpse of what we might do or where we might end up. We still had hope, but it was so faint because we knew our options were running very thin. Since there were only 4 firms left to hear from that had interviewed Mark, we decided that we really needed some Divine Intervention to help us figure out what to do about this whole job search. After much prayer and a few other acts of faith, Mark and I had come to the conclusion that something will come up, but we're just not exactly sure what or when yet.

Then, this morning something very exciting happened. No, he was not offered a job, but he was invited for another second interview. Our hope was bolstered to a new height. (Granted, this is only hope, but it does wonders for the human spirit.) This is for a firm called Hodgson and Russ located in New York. We're not exactly sure if it will be the NYC branch or the Buffalo branch that is interested in Mark, but we're hoping it's the Buffalo one. They have a fairly strong Chinese practice in this firm, and that is really exciting because it's what Mark wants to do the most. It's quite probable that it's why the firm is interested in Mark's Chinese language background. The recruiter assumed that Mark was interested in the NYC branch because of the Chinese Law issue, but Mark explained that he would rather live in a smaller city than a place like NYC. However, if he had to go to NYC in order to be a part of the firm, he was more than willing to go there. Then the recruiter mentioned that the firm is trying to even out their Chinese practice between the two branches, so hopefully Mark will still have a chance to go to Buffalo instead of NYC...we'll see. At this point, we're just hoping that they're truly interested and that he can get a job there...well...really a job anywhere, but this one would be really nice!

Another bit of exciting news: I'm going to be an aunt again within the next few weeks. My brother Rob and his wife Lucia are expecting a baby girl soon. This will most likely be their last (#4) child, but it makes the #17 grandchild for my parents. Wow, can you believe that I have that many nieces and nephews, and that's not counting the 2 on my husband's side. Yay for little babies! Mark and I are still not going to have any children of our own for a little while, but that doesn't mean I can't get excited for the ones that are expecting, like Lucia and our cousin Mindy Dahl.

Monday, October 6, 2008

October Means Conference, Sports, and Fall Festvities

So this past weekend was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mark and I watched it through the Internet, but our friend Rob Snyder lent us a cable so we could hook it up to our big screen TV. It was pretty fun to be able to watch it on the big screen instead of propping the laptop up on a chair. For some reason we couldn't get the sound through the TV, but it was sufficiently loud for our needs. I'm not certain that there was one talk in particular that really spoke to me personally, but I think the one that I remember the best (which probably means it was my favorite) was Pres. Uchtdorf's on hope. Recently I've been feeling a bit worried about whether Mark was going to be able to find a good job for his second summer internship. I know that we have doors that have not completely closed yet, so there is still hope, and this talk reminded me that I need to have hope in the bigger picture. Overall, I think I enjoyed General Conference a bit more this time...not because I felt that I needed to hear what they said more, or that I felt inspired to totally change my life in some way, but because I really did feel the Spirit throughout each session of the conference. I'm actually looking forward to going back and reading those talks again to gain extra insight from them.

In the world of sports, at least the few that we pay attention to in the Boston Dahl House, we were excited to watch the BYU Cougars play USU in Logan, UT, but we were very disappointed in the way that they played. Yes, BYU won the game, but it was just a sloppy game for them overall. They didn't score much after the 1st quarter, and they're lucky that they scored what they did in that quarter because it was not a pretty show after that.

Last night we turned on the score to see how the Red Sox were doing, and they were tied at the bottom of the 11th inning. I'm glad that we didn't stay up watching it to the end because the disappointed talk around the office this morning has been , "I stayed up all the way until 1:30AM just to see them lose! What a waste of time!" So, I guess the Red Sox weren't able to sweep the Angels, but they only need to win one more before they eliminate the Angles and move on to bigger and better games.

Mark and I still seem to go about each day, not doing a whole lot different from the previous day, but we are excited for Fall. Our friends the Snyders invited us over after General Conference to see their new apartment (and so that Christina could show me all her baby stuff- she's so excited and only has 10 weeks left before her baby boy is due). We had a nice time just chatting for friends and eating pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls.

Mark's parents are coming out for a visit next week, and we are TOTALLY looking forward to that. Mark said he wanted to go out for a drive yesterday, but we don't get General Conference on the radio, so we had to stay home in order to watch it. It would've been nice to just go for a drive to see the leaves changing. I hope that there are still pretty views once Mark's parents arrive because I really would like to see the fall colors with them.