Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Utah

We had a wonderful 4 days in Utah for our Thanksgiving celebrations. The most exciting moments were the baby blessings, big feast, and seeing everyone again. My particular favorite was seeing Aaron and Kristin again and their 2 boys. It's been about 2 whole years!

Although the "big events" were quite nice, my most enjoyable moments were the hours between 6:00 am to 10:00 am. These were the hours when the kids woke up and forced their parents to get up, and since everyone was still groggy and waking up, we just sat and talked and played with the kids. It seemed very quotidian and made me feel close to my siblings.

Being with them made me also realize how distant Maryland is going to seem. But I have no regrets about our decision.

Playing Guitar Hero is a Baillio tradition now, thanks to my genius. I introduced it to my family a couple Christmases ago, and now everyone is gaga over it. My dad even bought a PS2 and all the games. So we rock out every time we get together. Playing board games is a Barrand tradition, and this trip was no exception. We spent a nice half-day with them on Friday and ate some delicious food and played some raucous games. Dave, Bryce and I rocked it at Heroscape. It was very fun, and good to get back into it. Celeste and I were a little burnt out. Celeste played Empire Builder and WON! She actually beat her dad, which doesn't happen a lot. So it was a great week, and tons of fun. We very much look forward to Christmas with Mom and Dad Baillio and the new year with the Barrands in Costa Rica!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Life

So we've been in some turmoil this week. It's a good kind of turmoil, but it's turmoil nonetheless. We were really excited that after all my interviews (which were quite numerous), I finally scored a job offer. This was in China Lake. We had already been fretting having to make a decision, and thought things would just be easier if no one else made us an offer. But, we were super fortunate to have another company make us an offer! So, here we are with the pros and cons of life. Getting to choose: PRO! Having to choose between 2 great things: CON!

So we've been making our pros and cons of the jobs, and praying and fasting. Today was our capstone day. And we feel good about our decision.

Maryland starts at higher wages, and is a better job overall. It is a great starting job and opens the door for career opportunities in the future. China Lake is definitely closer to family and is in an area full of members. It has the friends and family network that makes home life great.

It was a very difficult decision, but we're choosing Maryland. We're giving it a day or so to sink in and to be sure, but that's our decision. We couldn't be happier! We know it is gonna be another big adventure for our family, just like moving here to Illinois has been.

Other news this week: Brooklyn started nursery today! She absolutely loved it. I took her and she practically ran the whole way there. She knew we were going to the room full of toys and fun. She did really great too. I think she's hooked! It was a big day for Celeste too, who finally got to sit through Sunday School and pay attention. Brad didn't notice the difference since he's teaching the Sunbeams anyways. Also, I am getting super close to finishing my thesis work. I actually accomplished what we agreed upon at the start of the semester, but now I'm supposed to add another chunk onto it. The timing is terrible, (AHHH!), but I'm hopeful I can get it all together before I start work. Forget about December graduation, but at least I'll get my work done before starting my new job.

So this week is a big one, as we have another ultrasound on Tuesday, my sister is due this week, I've gotta crunch down on my work, and Thanksgiving vacation is next week! And we're all too excited to see my family again! We're all gonna be there! Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Job Travels

So last week was a crazy one for me. I went to Maryland for a job interview on Monday. And then I went to California for a job interview on Friday. In total, I was traveling/away for almost 4 full days out of 7. Crazy.

The Maryland job is located in Westminster, a small country town. Driving there I really liked the area. Hilly with lots of fields and trees, all in their resplendent fall glory. I was there interviewing with General Dynamics Robotics Systems. The job interview was a lot shorter than I expected. But that wasn't a big deal. I had a panel interview and I thought it went pretty well. The work sounds about my level and it is fun robotics work. A big plus is that the weather isn't as atrocious in Maryland as it is here in Illinois. I'm still waiting to hear back from them.

I went to Ridgecrest, California on Thursday. Interview on Friday. The area is practically a desert. It reminded me of Moab, UT. But it was a wonderful sight to see the mountains stretching the horizon. I sure missed those. China Lake is the naval base where NAVAIR employs all the best engineers to develop weapons for the Navy. They mostly design missiles and rockets for aircraft and warships. The interview was not much of an interview. It was more of a full-day presentation of a bunch of cool projects they are working on. The hiring manager that invited me out was a member of the Church, so it was nice to get that input about the area. All in all, it sounds like a good job with amazing benefits. Maybe not as involved in robotics, but still interesting stuff. And since some of the missiles are "smart", there might be a little robotics overlap after all. The day went well, and an offer is on its way. I'm grateful I at least got one!

To wrap up the job hunt, the NJ job (Lockheed) turned me down. They had a more qualified candidate. I have to say I'm not surprised. Even while I was there, I felt like I needed much more experience to fit in there. So no big deal. After going to MD and CA, I liked the benefits and atmosphere better.

Also, there were a couple San Francisco jobs that fell through too. Not the right fit, or not enough experience. Not too sad there either since San Fran would have been crazy expensive.

We are just patiently awaiting a response from MD. Once we get that we will be able to make our decision. Right now, we are both fully satisfied with going to China Lake. It will be a great area, closest to family, and great benefits.

The final battle for me: FINISH MY THESIS!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Woes

Get ready for a Socialist America.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


We had a smashing "chili cook-off / trunk-or-treat" at the church for Halloween. It was great. It's one of the few times we see these straight-laced Mormon folks go wild. Everyone generally goes all-out in choosing a themed costume for the family. We went as Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell. The chili was delicious, especially the Sweet and Spicy. My fav!

And this year's haul was astounding. Brooklyn was struggling to carry her bucket around by the end. Last year it was too cold so most people ditched the trunk-or-treat. But this year PLENTY of people got into the spirit. I must say, having a new car with a hatch back makes the trunk-or-treat portion so much nicer. I got to sit down and pass out candy and set up some spooky decorations.

For a night-cap, we went to the Thorpe's house to watch Dark Water. It was one part scary, two parts lame. But that's ok. It was fun to at least try to be scared for Halloween.