Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cow Court

"Moo point?" 
"Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It doesn't matter...It's moo."

How can you hear the word, "moot" and not think of this classic Friends quote? You can't. So, clearly, when I went to write a post about my Moot Court experience, this is where my mind wandered.

Each year at Creighton, all second year students are enrolled in Legal Research and Writing III. Our final grade for the class is from an appellate brief we write based on a mock problem and court record. Then, everyone has to compete in a moot court competition where you present oral arguments on the issues addressed in your brief. Jen and I were partners for the competition.

It was such a whirlwind of an experience! We took the competition round-by-round, and were so grateful and overwhelmed each time we advanced.

Exciting news came on Saturday, October 27, when Jen and I found out we were advancing to the final round against our good friends, Toby and Nate. Toby is a third member of our study group and Nate serves as the Elders Quorum President in our ward, so we work closely. It was a relief knowing that we could enter the final round and come out genuinely happy about any outcome. 

Of course, the happiest outcome would have been to walk away with a "W." The round is still a bit of a blur, as we were arguing in front of an audience full of our peers and, more intimidatingly, in front of actual federal judges. 

The questions were hard, my words felt stumbly, and I have never felt the sense of accomplishment that overcame me when Judge Laurie Smith Camp announced Jen and me the winners. A second wave of shock followed when I was awarded outstanding oralist. 

It was a long and hard 8 days, but I felt carried through it by so much love and support. And maybe I'll regret saying this in two months, but the lower grades I'll receive this semester from such split focus will probably even be worth it :)

Well wishes from friends and family throughout the week made me feel loved and like my family was able to experience our success with me.

 The cash prize was also exciting.

Zipsie was thoroughly neglected the entire week, so my first purchase with my winnings was a new fancy pheasant toy for her. She destroyed it in approximately 3 minutes, but I'm sure she felt so loved and special while doing so :)

We also invested in matching wallets that are utterly beautiful. 

Aside from a lot of prayers and a little preparation, my main secret to success in law school lies in this ring. It belonged to my maternal grandmother, and my mom has had it for as long as I can remember. Shortly before I moved to Omaha, I was speaking in church with my mom and dad. As we sat on the stand during the opening hymn and announcements, I was distracted so I took the ring off my mom's finger and tried it on. She leaned over and said, "You can keep it." I protested at first, knowing the immense sentimental value of a ring that belonged to her mother. Then she said, "That way I'll always be with you in Nebraska." I cried, of course. I'm welling up again even as I write it. It meant the world to me. That ring has accompanied me to every final, every round of last year's negotiation competition, every round of moot court, every round of our current client counseling competition, and any day that just feels especially lonely. Competing in the final round without my family there to see was hard, but I had the ring. And just like always, it came through for me. I had Kate take this picture so my mom would know. 

Words can't express how blessed I feel. Not just because of winning the competition or the outpouring of love and support I received throughout it, but because I felt myself move closer to my potential as a result of this experience. I saw progress after each round. I felt the Lord stretching my talents and strengthening my weaknesses. I realized for the first time that I really might be good at the practical aspects of the law, reaffirming my feeling that I'm where I'm supposed to be. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

October in Omaha

It's Fall Break! Sadly, I'm not home for the break this year. I have a lot of catching-up to do in school and at work, so I'm sticking around Omaha. Regardless, it's been nice. It was nice to watch football on Saturday without accompanying guilt that I should be studying. It was nice to open a book (that was not required) and start reading, even though I probably won't finish it any time soon. It was also nice to wake up without an alarm this morning, stay in PJs, and make my own plan for the day. Part of that plan is updating the blog, so here I am!

Despite the craziness of this semester, I've managed to enjoy Omaha quite a bit.

I got a new straightener. It was on sale and one of the best purchases I've ever made.

 I went to the symphony. It was Beethoven's 1, 2, and 3 and it was incredible.

 I've fallen in love with brunch. There's a place in the Old Market called WheatFields, and it's a new favorite. 

It's really fall! The best (and worst) thing about Omaha is the weather. We really get to experience all four seasons. The hot is hot and the cold is COLD, but we also get the beautiful in-between. I've loved watching the leaves change gradually, matching the weather. 

I saw Legally Blonde put on by the Community Playhouse here. I was very impressed with the quality of the show. It also really made me miss choreographing for The Empress. 

The Women's Law Student Association at Creighton has struggled in recent years. Creighton has an embarrassingly low female population that hovers around 35% (the national average is above 50%). I feel lucky to be on the WLSA board again this year, this time along with some of my best friends. Amy (center) is our Vice President and has worked miracles to implement a mentoring program, matching up female law students with female practicing attorneys. We kicked off the program this month, and we're excited to see where it goes. We fully anticipate making WLSA and this mentor program something that sets Creighton apart and encourages more female applicants in the future. As you can probably tell from my long-windedness, I'm really excited about this group. (P.S. You should follow us on Twitter)

In other news...

We received our problem for the regional negotiations competition. Sadly, we will not be going to Boston. Instead, we'll be rocking it in Milwaukee the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

David is coming! He'll fly in for the Penn State-Nebraska game next month. SO EXCITED.

I miss my family. (Probably doesn't count as news, does it?)

Shockingly, I have not yet won $1 million playing McDonald's Monopoly. My medium Dr. Pepper and I will try again today. 

I'm not ready for the election. Everyone keeps saying how they can't wait for the campaigning to end, but I'm not ready for that. For the first time in my life, I can't figure out who I want to vote for. It's weird and unsettling. I hate the political chatter on Facebook and Twitter as much as anyone, but I could stand to be annoyed just a little while longer. 

Zipsie is anxiously counting down the days until her 3rd birthday. Less than two months!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Some things never change

I'm reading in my dad's journal (he gave a copy of one of his journals to all of us kids). I came across an entry from February 9, 1986, putting me at 1 month and 1 day old. I marvel at the fact that he could have just as easily been writing about my 26-year-old self:

"Wendy is really a very special baby--our only complaint is that she sleeps most of the day & prefers to be awake from midnite to about 5am. Wendy almost never throws up; is very good around the noisy children, doesn't mind being poked & played with; smiles often (especially for Cindy); has a hearty appetite; sleeps so soundly that she even snores; is everything we thought she would be."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The East Coast keeps calling my name...

When I think about traveling, it's always within the continental United States. I want to spend my life anywhere on the East coast, in Seattle, visiting California, driving to Las Vegas. I never spend time thinking about traveling outside the country, because there is so much I want to see here.

For years, Boston has been at the top of my list of where I want to go next. Well guess what! That might just happen...

You might recall that last year, I made our school's negotiations team. Our regional competition is scheduled for Minneapolis, and we've known that for months. However, we only recently learned that our coach had a conflict with the date of our regional and would be requesting to transfer us to a different competition date. While we were bummed that we'd miss out on hitting up the Mall of America, we hoped we'd end up somewhere equally exciting.

Tonight our professor told us that "somewhere" will likely be BOSTON.

I couldn't be more thrilled.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Short and Sweet

I needed a change...

I'm thrilled with how it turned out. I asked mY friend, Katie, for a stYlist recommendation here in Omaha. She recommended Nicole at Mod Studio. It was a leap of faith, since Talisa (mY friend in Utah) is the onlY person that has touched my hair in Years. It worked out perfectlY, though. Nicole did a great job, and it's a relief to know there's someone in Omaha that can take care of mY hair between trips home to Utah.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Summer

The interesting thing about being in a small singles ward is that my calling includes some random but enjoyable jobs, like planning activities. Our Bishop really wants us to have a combined activity every month (I think he thinks it will help people get married), so along with the EQP in our ward, I threw together a little farewell to summer "campout" with stargazing and marshmallow roasting. 

One of my counselors recommended Two Rivers State Park as a place we could go for the activity. The only problem is they don't take reservations for their day use areas, and when I called to get information on the park the man I spoke with indicated that their group picnic areas fill up quickly on Saturdays. He recommended we get there early. The activity wasn't set to start until 7pm, and I was worried about not having a spot, so I made plans with Jen and Glori to spend the day at the park in order to keep a spot reserved for the ward activity. Toby was even able to meet up with us for part of the night. 

We had a great afternoon full of good conversation, hanging out, and playing card games. 

Glori brought her dog, Callie, to the park so Zipsie would have company
Glori taught us how to play Poker, and we bet with Cheez-its. The pathetic pile in the back is mine. The one up close is Jen's

Jen mentioned that she never really climbed trees when she was younger, and she decided it was never too late to start 
The ward got to the park as the sun was setting. We had a great turnout, and I think everyone had a good time
Zipsie and I started our day at 9am when we began running errands. She was over-stimulated all day with the sights and smells of being outdoors. When we finally arrived home a little before midnight, she was completely tuckered out
While Jen and I battled guilt all day from ignoring the homework we had brought to the park with us, we acknowledged at the end of the night that as we get deeper into this crazy semester, we'll be very limited on our chances to relax and just enjoy the weekend. I'm glad we took the time to do that today. (Of course, as I enter yet another week of this semester further behind in my coursework than I want to be, I might start doubting the wisdom of that decision.) Regardless, right now I'm extremely grateful for a fun Saturday with friends!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day on the Lake

A group of us had plans to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our first official law school hang out by having a Labor Day bbq, just like we did last year. At first I was upset when one-by-one people started to cancel, leaving only Matt, Jen, and me (my married friends Matt and Jen--not my brother and sister) to hang out. However, we ended up having a wonderful evening. Matt grilled some burgers for us, and then we went out to Carter Lake to fish. My experience with fishing before now was when, for Matt's 5th birthday, our family went to a stocked pond and caught our limit. It was a much more relaxing experience this time around. 
I drive past Carter Lake every time I go to the airport, and I never realized how pretty it is.
Not surprisingly, Jen is a natural.
Here she is with catch 1 of 3 (No, neither Matt nor I caught anything)
Look closely and you can see part of the Omaha skyline through the clearing on the right. I can't believe this place is right outside downtown!
Jen and me
Difficult to take a picture of yourself fishing. This is the best I could do, and this is right before the biggest excitement I had all night, when my line got tangled with a guy fishing next to me.
I was so grateful Jen and Matt were okay with me bringing Zipsie. She had a blast!
We kept fishing until it was totally dark and then headed home.
How was your Labor Day? Did you do anything fun or try anything new?

For Aunt Kathy

My summer was so crazy and the last month completely got away from me. For those of you who don't know, I was able to go home the end of July and go through the Bountiful temple. It was an amazing experience, and with Matt surprising me with his trip home, it was the first time the Brown family was all together since Christmas. 

The fun didn't end when I left Utah this time. Jen let her oldest make the drive with me, as she and the rest of the family would be driving through Omaha a couple days later.
Potter and me, heading to Nebraska
The Madsen bus has arrived!
8 people in a studio apartment
Don't we look cozy?
A few days after Jen's family left Omaha, I flew into Pittsburgh. Then I drove down to Washington, D.C. to meet them. The drive was beautiful. Let's just say the 5 hours was a piece of cake, and if western Nebraska and Wyoming looked anything like this, my parents would have to put up with me a lot more.
We visited an Amish bakery in Annapolis where we tried a variety of goodies. Among them were these heavenly peanut butter-filled donuts.
I thoroughly love Washington, D.C. and it was a treat to go back. It was even more incredible being surrounded by all the little munchkins that I love.
After Annapolis, we headed into the city and visited the Air and Space Museum. 

The Wright Bros. exhibit was awesome.
But I found the WWI exhibit much more fascinating.
Bugs and Jedi by a fallen soldier display
I spent every minute I could with Princess, of course.

Suffice it to say the boys found more enjoyment out of this museum than the girls
So we remedied that by leaving the boys and taking the girls on a carousel :)
Then we waited for them on the mall.

I was amazed by Jen and Heath's patience on the trip. This is a shot I grabbed of them doing scripture study one day. This family amazes me. 
On Sunday we got to visit Arlington, which I had never seen before.
Standing at Kennedy's grave, reading his words with the Washington Monument in view was a special experience for me. 

The spirit and reverence I felt looking over  these graves is one I've never before experienced. 

Even Rosebud seemed to realize the significance of where we were. 
My favorite place in the world. 
Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we saw a rainbow over the Washington Monument (seen faintly above the trees on the left side of this picture).
I gave Jen a hard time when, after a day of walking, she made us walk across the Potomac. I have to admit, though: it was beautiful.  
Exactly what I was looking for for dinner!
When I headed back up Pittsburgh to meet Jess and David I ran into some awesome fog. 
I got to see this cutie, who I had been missing for 7 months!
Got to meet my aunt and uncle's cute new dog, Rascal. I couldn't help but think he and Zipsie would be great friends!
On Thursday, August 9, I finally made it into State College. Man, this place feels like home. 

Meeting at Spring Creek park for lunch sure brought back memories!
Meeting our new sister-in-law, Lauren, at the rehearsal dinner. (I don't have any pictures from the wedding, unfortunately. But it was beautiful)
Visiting graves. Here's Bugs understanding his namesake a little better. 

After returning home from Pennsylvania and driving out to Utah for Adiel's wedding, Zipsie and I were finally reunited! A big thanks to Jess and Jamie for taking care of her for me!
Sorry for the abbreviated recap of my August, but my Aunt Kathy wouldn't stop giving me a hard time at the wedding about my failure to blog lately. So here you go, Aunt Kathy. This one's for you! :)