First, Mark had applied for a PIP (Public Interest Project) Grant of $4000 and was placed as #2 on the waiting list. One of the requirements to qualify for the grant was to have an un-paid (or at least very low-paid...I think) internship for a public practice for the summer. All of the people who were awarded the grant had to have a job lined-up by the end of classes. Mark already has his internship with the Middlesex County DA's office, so he's already set for that part. Well, there were apparently enough students who did not have that job, so Monday we heard that they awarded Mark one of those grants instead! So, we will be getting a little extra money this summer, which is very exciting since we were really hoping for that grant! He worked really hard, even spent his own money to donate items, and spent several hours volunteering in order to qualify.
Secondly, I know some people (including our parents, and maybe some of my siblings) may roll their eyes at us when I tell them about this next bit of news, but with that said, I hope you realize that I already understand the cons against what I'm about to tell you. (Does that make it sound really scary, or what? =P )
This past weekend, Mark and I designed and "purchased" a custom-made 7.1 surround sound home theater system. A friend from our ward, Phil Liddiard, is going to custom build it to our specifications, and it is going to be the top of the line quality for a small fraction of retail price. Phil is able to do all of this for cost of parts, and he's really excited to do it for us. He's done a few systems already for friends and family in Utah which he was pretty proud of. He is at the Berkelee College of Music in a sound production/engineering program...so the sound is a big deal to him. The little details of sound in music and in movies that he hears are things that most of us don't even recognize; so when he says it's going to sound amazing, you take his word for it!! He knows his stuff! He came over with several sketches of different types of systems, price ranges of what they would cost, rankings of which systems would be better than others, and we're getting the entire system (center channels, side towers, subwoofer, a receiver, and 4 side/back channels) all for what would retail as the price of maybe only one good subwoofer or 2 of the other speakers. He's even doing a custom finish on them just the way we want it to look.
Normally we wouldn't be spending this kind of money right now, but we're only going to have a "Phil" for so long, and this is really something that we would end up purchasing at some point in our lives. So why should we wait to do it just to spend well over 3 times the amount we're spending now? Phil even said, "I wasn't expecting you guys to go all out, but you're going to have the best system I ever built! It's going to sound phenomenal!" We told Phil that we were just hoping to have it done some time around Christmas, but he said, "Oh, well I was planning on having it installed around Memorial Day Weekend!" Yeah...so our Christmas will be coming early this year, but I'm going to stick to my guns and not buy Christmas presents this year for Mark and myself. We did that last year, and I think we can do it again. Besides, this is going to be the best Christmas present ever! How do I expect to top this? (Now that we've committed this much money into it, sooner or later I'm going to have to crack and let Mark actually buy a Blu-ray player...and it most likely won't be the cheapest one we can get either! *sighs* )