Thursday, August 27, 2015


I wish I could have transcripts of all of Daisy's prayers and all she says each day.  She is the cutest thing.  She usually blesses that God can love us, and tells everything she knows, "I know we shouldn't eat too much cheese...", etc.

I caught a couple recently:

"My life is telling me I shouldn't be scared of the dark anymore.  My life is my bones deep inside.  I can't hear them, but I can hear them in my head- just soft, like a whisper... telling me to not be scared of the dark."

When we brought our new car home and showed it to her she said, "How did you carry it out of the store?"

"We just drove it out."

"You got to drive in the store?!"

She and the boys all love watching the Rescue Bots on Netflicks.  She will tell me all about each character and she laughs at the jokes when she tells them to me.

And lastly, today driving home from the library she said, "Mom, a girl at the library said hi to me and I said hi to her! So that is true love.  I wonder how old she is.  If I ask her she might say 4, 5, 6, 7,... I don't know!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And so it begins... Fall soccer 2015.  Practices four nights a week, games on Saturdays.  Good thing we love it.  I am thrilled with the good coaches the boys have this year.   If anyone wants to visit in September or October, we'd love to have you come see them play.

A couple weeks ago our van seemed to lose acceleration power.  We took it in and are so thankful to have such honest mechanics up here we can trust.  They diagnosed it as a transmission problem that they couldn't solve, but also told us we had various other problems (oil leaks, brakes, etc.).  They said to worry about the transmission first though.  So we took it to their recommended transmission guy, and he said it was completely going out and we'd need a new transmission (at least $5000).  We bought the car for $10,000 and it had lasted about 4 years and was nearing 200,000 miles so we knew it wasn't worth it.  Transmission guy didn't blame us and didn't charge us a thing, bless him.

We were hoping our van would last two more years, but it seems we are never going to be debt free.  We got approved for a loan, and got a great deal on a 2014 Sienna with very few miles on it and they even took our useless car as trade in for $2000.  We feel very blessed.  They said the Toyota parts are always valuable and that if it had been such-and-such other makes and models, it would have been worthless.

And it happens to be red!  I like it!  I was also feeling thankful that it didn't break down when we were still doing school, or swim and water polo.  It waited until we were mostly sitting around enjoying the last days of summer vacation with hardly any obligations.  Tender mercies indeed. 

Daisy had her first filling.  I just happened upon a blog called wellnessmama where she talks about foods and homemade toothpaste to never get cavities again, and actually heal current cavities.  But it was too late to cancel our appointment and try it.  Daisy told me she did not need me to stay with her, that she wasn't scared and that she was very brave.  And she was!  But I went with her anyway, just in case.  She's only five!  This is the girl who asks for shots when she goes to the doctor.  (?!) Here she is standing bravely for an xray and sitting bravely for her cavity.  It was tiny.  No shots needed.

And here she is at her dance class!  It's going to be a fun class this year!  Lots of friends for her and mom friends for me.

We have been getting ready for school in a major way, getting rid of half the things we own as we clean and organize.  It's been great.  

In doing so, I happened upon this book.  Mom and Dad Mullen gave the kids this book a couple years ago for Christmas and if you read the letter below you will understand it was a huge undertaking and very special book that has long since been out of print.  So, afraid my kids would destroy it, I put it up somewhere for safe keeping.  Confession:  With all our cleaning, I just found it.  I don't think we'd even read it once.  

Well, thankfully, I found it now!  We love it!!!!  It is so fun, and the pictures have so much detail you can just look at them forever.  I still keep it put up high, but every night Leia and Charles and Evan ask me to read it.  "There's Caroline!", Charlie says.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

Sam's birthday was getting to go to Six Flags, but we finally had our small party here.  He got this transformer, his birthday spanks, and root beer floats.  Happy 11th Sam!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Celebrations in August

Just got back from a quick weekend trip to California to see Steph and T's new baby, the beautiful Junie Bean!  At five weeks she's as big as my babies are when they're born!  ...and Steph can actually feed her because A) she has milk, and B) she has boobs.  Mine are just impostors.  I am jealous and I'm not going to lie about it.  I got back at them by not helping at night at all.

It felt like I was doing a mini girl's camp because I prepared food for a week's worth of meals for them before going.  I packed each dish in tupperware, and froze it solid, then packed it all together in a suitcase and took it with me for them to have a break from making meals occasionally.

Bean Curry, Mushroom-Beef Stroganoff, Marinara Meatballs, Teriyaki-Turkey Meatballs with veggies, Chicken Tikka Masala, Brazilian Feijoada (black beans and sausage), all to be served over rice or something.  Plus a big container of Mormon crack.

It mostly made it.  About half the containers were broken even through we wrapped the whole thing in a thick blanket.  We need a hard shell suitcase.  But we picked the plastic out and got them in the freezer in new containers.Everything stayed mostly frozen on the flight, but had thawed a bit due to a big three hour delay on the way out.

But it sure was nice to see all my little nieces.  I wish I could have them always near.  Charles Dickens said it well when, speaking through a character in his novel The Old Curiosity Shop, tells us: "I love these little people and it is not a slight thing when they who are fresh from God love us."

On Sunday we went to Jeremy's for a family get together to celebrate my mom and Emme's birthday.

I made the biggest lasagna and a carrot-pineapple cake for my mom. Steph made a salad and chocolate cake for Emme since she had just turned 2!  Occasionally I did help with June even though she peed on me :)  and made some rolls right before I left.  Steph made the best peanut butter cookies EVER.

Anyway, Steph and T are like pros.  They are calm and seem to have this all down like they've cared for newborns all their life.  June is one lucky little girl!

We had a delay on the way back too which sure made the trip hard.  Traveling takes a lot out of me, and I've been so tired for weeks already waiting to have a break and breathe.   On the way home there were delays in a flight and in getting our baggage returned to us, so we didn't get home and to bed until 2am.  And sadly, Pat was leaving for a three day business trip in the morning.  Just before we went to bed he helped me register for my classes. 

A blanket my mom sent me home with that used to be mine and was made by my grandma.  It's now Daisy's.

Created for us

This has been a very green year for us in New Mexico and I love walking in the hills around my house. When I feel discouraged it never fails to lift my spirits.  Often, one or two of my kids will accompany me and I am always so happy to have them with me. We have special conversations that wouldn’t have happened at home with all the noise and interruptions.  It’s a chance for me to get to know their hearts. If my husband walks with me, it’s a chance for him to get to know mine. 
Sometimes we run or ride bikes, but mostly we walk. We love to walk in the warm sun, or at night with only the moon and stars for light.  Weather doesn’t deter us. We walk even in the deep, new snow, making the first tracks to be seen.   
I believe nature is for connecting.  The best family reunions happen out in nature.  Scout troops and young women groups find it essential to be outdoors.  Our Savior connected with his Father for 40 days out in the wilderness.  So many prophets, such as, Joseph Smith, John the Baptist, Moses, and Nephi learned of their missions, or gained vital instruction, by spending time out in nature.
I’m usually such a home-body that I forget how essential it is to be outside. Why do I let myself miss out on a soul restored?  Even when I’m alone outside, I am not alone.  I am connecting through nature to the spirit of God.
When it snows, I have a particular group of pinon and juniper trees I love to visit that form a little cave; like a secret hideout.  Weaving through carefully, so as not to disturb the heavily laden boughs, I look for the tree with a limb like a bench.  There I sit, in the secret room, amidst the sparkling white powder; and there I connect.
To be in nature is to be nearer to God.  From a tiny blue flower in the pot by the door, to a majestic mountain perch looking down on a valley; it’s all connections.
Sometimes, I stop and hold the branch of a tree and tell it, spirit to spirit, how beautiful it is.  My husband caught me doing this with a Christmas tree once, tears streaming down my cheeks.  It was one of those special moments when he knew he’d married a lunatic.  But I believe these living things have spirits and it never hurt anyone to talk to their plants and show a little appreciation.  I think they want to please us; it is their purpose on earth.
When I first moved to New Mexico eight years ago, I didn’t know if I could survive without the trees, rivers, and beaches I grew up with in California.  Yet here, I feel like I am connecting with the past.  Much of the land seems as empty as it was hundreds or thousands of years ago.  The big blue skies are unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere.  I love the yellow prairies, and the hills and mountains we explore.  I can imagine away the telephone poles and occasional ragged fencing, so that I am free to picture myself as a lone traveler on some long ago journey.
I wish everyone had a bit of land or a little garden that they could explore.  All children should be able to play and explore safely out in nature.  Everyone needs to make these connections.  Children shouldn’t be stuck in a classroom. They should have the freedom to explore. Nature is its own school.
The connections made in nature draw me closer to the people who are important to me, and to the spirit who can teach me what my mission is and who I am.  I believe Heavenly Father created this earth for us, his children, to have a place to learn and grow and make these essential connections.  When we take the time to turn off all the noise and be quiet, he is there.

Potty training Charles

The day I left for California, I weirdly decided to start potty training Charles.  I stripped him naked and put the only underwear on him we had; his sisters.  I told him to go potty on the toilet and showed him the piece of gum he'd get if he did.

He cried for 1/2 an hour out of humiliation and fear of the toilet; but mostly 'cause he wanted the gum.

I gave up, kicked him out of my room, and told him to go play.

Hours later, I decided it was time to try again.  He held my hand and walked right to the potty and shocked us all by doing his business like a boss. 

 He ate the gum.  The next time he went like a boss again and I figured he didn't need any more gum and he didn't ask for any, so done!

 Awesome. This kid is so much like Sam.  I hope this potty training continues to go so well!  Sam learned the first day and never messed up again; others took months.

Charles loves flushing the toilet.  It's his new reward.  Leia can't stand noisy toilets (she never flushes) and hates the ones in stores that flush automatically.  She bursts out of the stall to run from them.  She's also scared of the motion sensored sinks because when the water finally decides to turn on it surprises her.

*Update:  Potty training is only going so-so now.  Frustrating!!!  Especially because we know he can do it.

Some days everyone has to be a fairy. (Especially when Daisy has no sister).

Why we get no sleep at night.

Yep, D is still allergic to mosquitoes. 

Quitting the Mormon Church

Quitting the Mormon Church

In a local newspaper in Provo (Utah), there had been an ongoing series of articles written by individuals who wanted to persuade, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as, the “mormon church” to leave the Church. In response to the highly critical and spirited remarks, a local member wrote this rebuttal:
I have been thinking of quitting the Mormon Church.  Yes, if I can, I am
going to get even with that church.  As soon as I can find another church
that teaches about the Gathering of the House of Israel; the return of the
Ten Tribes and their mission; the return of the Jews to Palestine and why,
and how they are going to build the temple; the building of temples and what
to do with them; the mission of Elias, the  prophet, as predicted by
Malachi; the method for the salvation of the people that died at the time of
Noah in the flood; the origin of the American Indian; the complete
explanation of why Jesus of Nazareth had to have a mortal  mother but not a
mortal father; the explanation of the three degrees of glory (three heavens)
as mentioned by Paul; the complete explanation of why Elias and Moses did
not die but had to be translated (since they both lived before the
resurrection was introduced by Christ); the restoration of the gospel by
modern revelation as promised by Peter and Paul and Jesus himself; the
belief in eternal marriage and the family, and the knowledge and the place
to seal for eternity; that teaches abstinence  from all harmful drugs and
foods ; and that sells the best fire insurance  policy on earth, for the
last days, for only a 10th of my income.
Yes sir, as soon as I can find another church that teaches all that, or
even half as much, I will say good-bye to this Mormon Church. The church
that I am looking for must also be able to motivate 50,000+ youth, and
adults, for the first, second or third time, to leave their homes for two
years at their own expense and go to far-away places to teach and  preach
without salary.  It must be able to call, on a frosty day, some 5 or 6
thousand professors, students, lawyers, doctors, judges, policemen,
businessmen, housewives and children to go and pick apples at 6 am.  It must
be able to call meetings and get the attention for two hours of more than
150,000 men. Yes, it must also teach and show why salvation is assured for
children who die before eight years of age.
Mr. Editor, could you help me find a church that  teaches all that  and more
than hundreds of other doctrines and principles, which I have no room to
mention here, and which brings solace and comfort  to the soul; peace,
hope, and salvation to mankind, and above all, that answers the key
questions that all the great philosophers have asked; questions and  answers
that explain the meaning of life, the purpose of death, suffering and pain;
the absolute need for a Redeemer and the marvelous  plan conceived and
executed by Jesus Christ the Savior?  Yes, as soon as I find another
church that teaches that, and also that has the organization and the powers
to make that teaching effective, I am going to quit the Mormon Church.   For
I should not tolerate that “they” should   change a few words in the Book of
Mormon-even if those changes simply improve the grammar and the syntax of
the verses-for, after all, don’t  you think the Divine Church should employ
angels as bookmakers, and clerks, to do all the chores on earth?  Don’t you
think, Mr. Editor that the Divine Church should also have prophets that
don’t get sick and don’t get old and die, and certainly, that don’t make a
goof here and there. No, sir! A Divine Church should be so divine that only
perfect  people should belong to it, and only perfect people should run it.
As a matter of fact, the Church should be so perfect that it should not even
be here on earth!
So, I repeat, if any one of the kind readers of this imperfect letter  knows
about another church that teaches and does as much for mankind as the
Mormon Church, please let me know.  And please do it soon, because my turn
to go to the cannery is coming up.  Also, “they” want my last son (the fifth
one) to go away for two years and again, I have to pay for all that.  And I
also know that they expect me to go to the farm to prune trees, and I have
heard that our ward is going to be divided again, and it is our side that
must build the new chapel.  And also, someone the other day had the gall of
suggesting that my wife and I get ready to go on a second mission, and when
you come back, they said, you can volunteer as a temple worker.
Boy, these Mormons don’t leave you alone for a minute.  And what do I get
for all that, I asked?  “Well,” they said, “for one, you can look forward to
a funeral service at no charge!”… Do you think you can help me to find
another church?
Thomas D. Clark”

Taken from

 Note from Karisa:  I have been blessed to have always known the church was true.  Even when I didn't think I knew, He let me know that I knew it.  Even when I've been low and doubting, as happens to everyone in life, my prayers were sincere, and they were answered.  When I read the Book of Mormon, I know without a doubt, it is from God.  The Spirit comes down on me powerfully Every. Single. Time. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Should kids get extra-curricular activities during debt payoff?

Short answer is: I don't know.  Maybe it depends on how long.  If you could go gangbusters and get out of debt in a year, then I'd say, no.  Save every penny.  If it's a four year journey type thing like us, I'd say maybe yes, if you can manage it?  I never had lessons and I've struggled to find some advice, even calling in to Dave Ramsey's show (but never got through).  At first, I figured we should cut out everything unnecessary.  As Dave Ramsey says, "Beans and rice, rice and beans."

But its been hurting my heart to cut extra-curriculars.  We love Fall soccer for instance and play every year.  This is $55 per child for 2+ months of soccer.  It ultimately ends up costing a lot more in transportation, snacks, coach gifts and other incidentals, as everything does, but hey.  It's the price we pay to have fun with other kids since we often homeschool and since we live in an area where houses and other kids aren't close and easy to play with.  Maybe we'll cut it out next year and save a couple hundred bucks?

Swim team and Water Polo were a total of $25 per person for the whole summer, and gave our kids something to do in the water each day to exercise and wear them out.  Perfect for summer.  I don't think there could be any better deal especially when there are swimming activities with scouts or with the youth at church and I don't have to worry about sending my kids because they know how to swim.  Definitely a keeper.

Daisy started a dance class recently.  Her lack of coordination (apraxia) makes this difficult, but she is greatly benefited by this class, and she loves it. She needs this challenge.  Frankly Charles can run and jump better than her.  She's always off balance; crashing into walls.  Dance is kind of like therapy.  Definitely a keeper in this case.

A while ago, we cut the thing we thought we could: Music. (A kind friend gave Daisy free violin until we realized it was too much coordination for her anyway), but the boys have been out of piano for almost 2 years (Dallas for just a year).  Frankly I've been so busy, it was a good time for a break.  But I've been so sad because MUSIC is my most favorite thing and I always wished I had been able to afford music lessons enough to learn an instrument when I was young.  There was no music in my schools.  My mom taught me a handful of piano lessons and I paid for my own guitar lessons for several months in high school with my work money until that ran out, but that was it.

I finally realized, as I've been planning our homeschool this year, that music is important to brain development and will help the kids with math and in many other aspects of life and is worth the investment.  It's never too late to learn, but it's worth the sacrifice, if possible, to learn young.  So we have reversed our original decision; music is a keeper.

We still steadily chip away at that debt, and hope the Lord will bless us for doing the best we know how.  Grown up decisions are so hard!

FYI: Two of our former teachers are no longer doing lessons, and needing inexpensive lessons out in the boonies where we live, I asked the Lord for help.  We found an angel, a true answer to prayer, and the boys have been practicing and playing again like crazy.  When I hear the music being played my heart is full!

Practicing daily and taking them to lessons is a pain in the butt, but it is worth it if you can. I love this quote, "I'm going to do today what others won't, so I can do tomorrow what others can't."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

More Texas than you can shake a stick at!

Just got back from a trip to Texas to visit Rick and Sunny.  We had such a good time!  Here's Sam with our egg haul once we got back home.

Sorry- this post is backward.  Here's the kids after the 9 hour drive home running to the swings to get some energy out!  It is so nice to come home safely to a house perfectly in order.  What blessings!

Rick and Sunny have planted themselves in a gorgeous spot in Texas that has everything you could ever want!  Country living and charming city life all combined in perfect harmony.  They have a beautiful acre in a very charming upscale neighborhood. They got a house that is a bit of a fixer-upper, but it's already wonderful in my opinion.  We are so happy for them.  We've seen how hard they've worked for years and how much Rick has accomplished over the years and how much Sunny has had to handle often alone, and are glad they've found such a wonderful place to work and call home.   Here's us at their community center's water park.

Going along with my tradition of never taking pictures of family, I don't have any pictures of our cousins or Aunt Sunny or Uncle Rick!  Whenever I would think about it we were swimming at their pool or just hanging out playing cards.  Alice and Lyla are super cute and darn funny and I loved playing with those silly girls.  All the boys got to go see the Giants play the Texas Rangers and it was fun teasing Dean since he was teasing us girls about not getting to go. 

The only bad thing I can say about Texas is the humidity nearly killed us.  We're used to being up in the mountains in the high desert of New Mexico where it is never too hot or humid at all.  In Texas we were dripping in sweat; rivers down our backs and chests and hair and clothes plastered to our bodies.  My face broke out in reaction to the heat or the sunscreen with about 20 zits and I didn't even have that much in high school!  It was so embarrassing.  Sunny says we should move there and that my face would adjust.  I guess so; and we could probably actually grow trees and a garden.  My kids could play on grass... I could see Glenn Beck teach their gospel doctrine class. :)

We went to Six Flags one day for Sam's birthday.  Rick and Sunny packed us up with lots of sandwiches and snacks to make it through the day and we were actually there from 10-10pm.  I could not believe we made it that long.  It was fun and there were lots of rides that weren't super scary thrill rides for us.  Pat got the boys to ride a couple roller coasters but there were four terrifying ones that Pat had to forgo.  If my kids were used to roller coasters they might have not been so scared, but this was all pretty new.  It's been years since we've gone anywhere like this.

The longest lines were waiting to get into the park and waiting in our car to leave at night.  I never buy their overpriced concessions but we were sweating so much we needed cold drinks so we bought a special $15 soda cup that we could refill at locations all throughout the park all day and we refilled it dozens of times and all shared it all day long.  The first ride we went on was in the dark like Space Mountain.  (I've never actually ridden Space Mountain but this is what I hear).  I was not expecting it to be so scary.  I couldn't get over the feeling that my face was going to smack into a beam at any moment.

Dallas says this roller coaster was like me speeding down Horton, a bumpy dirt road near our house.

I went on a green one with Sam that had two loops and a bunch of drops only because I could tell he wanted to go and yet was terrified to go.  Once we were strapped in, we both wanted off.  I tried to act brave but he was bawling as we inched our way up-up-up and I started to get scared because I knew what was coming.  I threw my arm across him in case the lap bar and shoulder restraints weren't enough and then we both endured the next couple minutes as he continued carrying on and I talked to him calmly, "See we're through the first loop, that wasn't so bad", etc., when all I wanted to do was scream my head off.   We both got off determined to never ride that again, but later that day he was all smiles when he asked Pat take him again.

My favorite part of the day was watching the kids have fun.  This guy got super crazy (perhaps from drinking my soda) and started dancing in the streets and being a huge goofball. 

Pat kept trying to talk this girl into going on stuff since she's so tall.  After a couple roller coasters I put my foot down.  She's only five!  I don't like terrifying unsuspecting kids or forcing kids to "man up" and ride rides.  I ended up loving the scariest rides at Great America and it all happened organically.  She just loves the Merry-Go-Round right now anyway!

Every time I open the sliding door on the van, he's got some sort of silly face for me.
Rick and Sunny took such great care of us, I only wish my kids had been more smiley and loving.  They don't see family enough to remember anyone too well and get shy.  Throughout the day at Six Flags Sam would come up to me and hug me and say, "Thank you for taking me here for my birthday", and then smile an earnest smile.  Another time he squeezed my hand and told me how much fun he was having and thanked me again.  My kids are so good and I wish they'd be that way in front of others because I don't think people believe me!  I don't know how to change that so I'll just be patient and trust in God's knowing their souls and work on teaching them to think of others feelings this school year.  I wish I could have one week or even a three-day weekend to prepare for the coming school year.  We have decided to return to homeschooling and I need to get a lot more done to feel ready.  There's just always so many other things to do.