Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kat's visit

We've been having a fun visit with Pat's sister Kathryne for these 2 weeks. Being lazy. Watching movies. You know, Christmas vacation. However, we did do a few things more. They saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, and this morning Dallas and Kat went horseback riding thanks to our neighbor Nichole. Yesterday we went to Santa Fe and saw the pretty plaza, La Fonda, and four museums thanks to that free library pass!  I also had fun buying lots of girly stocking stuffers for Kathryne!

Dallas spent the whole time cracking himself up.  And us, I guess too.  I said, "I don't know whose child you are", and he instantly sang, "What child is this..."

He spent a ton of time hiding to scare Kathryne and loved tormenting her.  Love courtesy of a 14 year old.

We also went swimming in Rio Rancho!

And some mornings she came with me to work out with my friends.  Julie got us each a jangly belly-dancing type skirt for Zumba!  It was so fun!

Dallas and Kat have been hilarious together and Kathryne was laughing at him so hard after hearing him sing next to her at church on Sunday.  Here they are with some icicles.  More pictures in my Christmas post to follow.

Dallas was hugging old ladies at church and just making every scene he came upon more jovial with his kindness.  After helping me deliver a card to Sister Welsh, I said, "Dallas, you just make every place you go better."
He said, "I don't know about EVERY place I go...     The bathroom; I don't make it better when I go in there."
He is sooo funny.

Today Pat and Kathryne are going on base where he works to play racquetball, and tonight she and Dallas will go to the New Years Dance together!

We also got two new cats with Kat.  One day after workout, I decided to check in at the shelter with her and we found George and Martha, siblings, about 4 months old.  They are litter-box trained and have been working out great!  Sam really wanted a dog, but after checking the shelters around here for weeks and not finding any that made me feel like it was worth taking on the chewing, peeing, pooping, and training that will inevitably be needed, I found these cats, and they were absolutely free.  Shots, spayed and neutered, dewormed, etc.  They're in good health and have already, in just about a week, lost their fear of us.  Sam seems pretty happy (with George especially).  They picked those names in honor of our first president and his wife.  I wanted Oma and Shu, but got out voted. Kathryne loves them and wants to take one home :)  Pat said he'd prefer a snake or tarantula, but he's spent time with them and admitted that they're working out really well.  It took me a long time to get over (not forgive) that snake/tarantula comment.

Kathryne loving the kitties
Kat and Dallas
Art museum exhibits

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our 2016 Christmas Letter

Pat has reached 10 years at Sandia National Labs and still carpools there with neighbors most every day.  He enjoys playing any kind of games including the occasional game of Frisbee, racquetball, and basketball with friends.  This year he finally managed to get in a backpacking trip with his brothers. They hiked 26 miles over three days and came back sore and happy. He is a great dad to the kids and we wouldn’t be able to live without his math and computer expertise.  I make him take me on walks whenever possible and I think these are the best dates.  We’re only gone an hour and it costs nothing.

I (Karisa) keep things running around here. Charles is my only buddy at home now, and in all my spare time not homeschooling I makes lunches, volunteer at the school, and drive 2 hours a day to get the kids there and back (I prefer homeschooling!).  Driving to all the kids’ activities and lessons is pretty much the bulk of my life.  I was just moved from scouting to primary and am also helping with trek (a pioneer experience for the youth at church).  Thanks to my live-in tutor, I finally passed a math class that had bested me many times before, and I just compiled all my newest recipes (and old favorites) into a cookbook so I can easily find them.  I also enjoy playing my guitar and working out with friends.

Dallas (14) finished up his Eagle project and is just two merit badges away from his Eagle rank.  We are so grateful to everyone who helped at Beatty’s cabin up in the Pecos! At this age, Dallas gets to go to a lot more dances and youth activities, so that’s fun.  He is having a great time at school and enjoyed giving gifts to everyone he saw for Christmas.  He is a peacemaker and is always doing what he can to help or just making us laugh when we’re having a hard day. We’re trying to figure out what to do about high school this fall which is a new frontier for our family.

Sam turned 12 and we are really proud of him for doing well at scout camps and in his responsibilities at church.  He has great friends at school is doing terrific in junior high at our K-12 charter school.  In his spare time he’s all about card tricks, learning to type, chess, and his Rubik’s Cube.  He says all he ever gets to do are the chores we tell him to though.   

Evan (10) played Carol of the Bells on the piano so expertly that I was able to put together a musical number with the rest of the family playing the bells.  We performed this as a family at the ward Christmas dinner, and he did perfect!  He does great at school and has fun with his friends though he and Leia wish they had recess together.  He really likes building things, has excellent cursive handwriting, is loved by his teachers, and is a wonderful cook and helper to his parents.  

Leia (6) is reading everything she can get her hands on (and every sign on the road or in stores) and doing well at school.  She is still the cutest thing, with her distinct voice, the dearest observations, and the most beautiful spiral curls.  I just love her!  She’s my only girl and I wish I could keep her little forever.  I’m so proud of how hard she works to learn and grow and do her best even when things are hard.  She has learned to recite several poems, clean her room, and cook herself eggs.  She likes playing games with her dad and dancing with him too, and really wants to take piano lessons.

Charlie (3) makes his own peanut butter sandwiches, and is my best buddy.  He sticks to me like glue and scowls at most everyone else, though he nervously talked with Santa.  Once you get to know him, if he lets you, he is super silly.  He talks and talks and has extensive knowledge of martial arts, bending, and melting opponents with his eyes.  He sings songs at the top of his lungs (including the Darth Vader song if he’s after you).  He hears Leia’s poems so much he can recite them himself. He’s moving to primary which will be fun and challenging for him (breaks my heart that he’s growing up so fast).  I took him to the zoo recently, just me and him, and he asked repeatedly if the animals were locked in their cages. 

We are continually blessed by the good people around us, and that means you!  Merry Christmas 2016, with all our love, Pat, Karisa, Dallas, Sam, Evan, Leia, and Charles Mullen

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

100 Christmas cards made and mailed (I wish we could do all our cousins, but that'd be 150!), gifts for teachers and others delivered, presents painstakingly thought out and planned as best we could.  Pat's sister Kathryne is here visiting, so we had an extra person to plan for and things have been crazy around here.  I forgot, yet again, to get Christmas done in October. Why do I do this!!!  You always think it won't be that bad, but there's been a lot happening with my 3 callings right now, and finishing up school was cruel (but I got an A+ in my class!).  Also our family members are in 3 different choirs (ward, youth, and child choirs), and then there's parties, school performances; just so much to plan and do.  Next year I'm getting it done early so we can spend more time enjoying the season.

This wonderful son took me to the store and had me pick out things for the kitchen I needed since he noticed lots of our stuff was worn out.  That was so thoughtful!!!  So I made him take a picture so we'd remember this forever.  He posed asleep; the little turkey!

 Just did her first Christmas performance at school.
 At the ward Christmas party.  We were trying to take a family picture but a bunch of friends jumped in :)
 The beautiful decorations thanks to Sister Z. and crew.  It was here that Evan played Carol of the Bells while the rest of us played the bells to go along with it.  It turned out so fun!  We loved the other performances too!

 Finally got our family picture, with appropriate labels.

 In the center of each table was a Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.  This one was so beautiful, I wish I'd got a picture of the details on the back!  Jim Shore is the maker.
 Making the monthly project at Home Depot.  A gingerbread man box.

Here's a glimpse of the chart I made for the song with Evan.  The dots with green surrounded by yellow were for the light green bell.  Our light green and dark green markers weren't different enough.


Fourteen years old and the theme for this birthday was the last element: FIRE.  However none of my great fire ideas were possible.  I wanted to take Dallas to Hawaii to see the fire dancers or visit an active volcano, but it was a teeny bit out of my budget.  He wanted a party with friends and I had plans to watch Backdraft and other firefighting movies while eating firey (spicy) foods, but we were so busy it never got pulled together in time.  In the end, we decided that whenever he has his Eagle project finished, we'll have that party possibly.  So we had a regular party at home and Dallas chose Mint Chocolate Ice-cream Pie with homemade hot fudge which was a good dessert choice  (I wanted to cover it with meringue and set it on fire like a baked Alaska but that didn't sound good to him, and I hate wasting egg yolks so...).
But we had a good dinner and a lot of fun regardless.  He is an awesome kid and very loved by all of us.

Since he's going to be out at dances and activities at this age, we got him a cell-phone.  He was so surprised.  It's very basic, and he can hardly do anything on it, but at least he can call us to pick him up from dances and such.

Eventually we made the customary shirts; this time one for everyone!  (picture coming soon)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Our Christmas Traditions

Me to Sam: Sometimes a mother's heart just bursts with joy when she sees her baby growing up to be such a wonderful young man. And do you know what that makes a mother want to do?
Sam: What.
Me: Squeeze her son and kiss him all over. So... can we schedule a time for me to squeeze you and kiss you all over?
Sam (thinking): Today is Sunday?
Me: Mmm hmm
Sam: How about 30,012? The year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving week

Leia and her class reciting a poem for flag ceremony: (she's pretty invisible in the back, and that is not me singing).

The weather has finally turned cold and we've gotten a couple snowy days.  Our chickens decided to molt and loose all their feathers right when they need them.  I hope they grow back fast!  They've hardly been laying with the cold weather.  We've also had deer everywhere.  I see them along the road every night after dark. 

We were blessed to have many friends around us this Thanksgiving.  I'm trying to be anti-social, but it seems to be backfiring.  Pat and Sam got to play football with several people from the ward.  Our family got to eat and play games with the Haslers and the Tuckers, and the food was so delicious!  Plus they made this cranberry ice thing that is like a palette cleanser, that was so good and something I had never thought of before.  We brought pies, and mashed potatoes and spinach dip.  My only regrets about Thanksgiving is that I gained a thousand pounds.

Then the following day we got to have dinner with the Bucks.  They came over and we made chicken and gravy shepherds pie (to use up our leftover mashed potatoes) and tortellini soup, with leftover pies and rolls.  We also did lots of Michael Jackson dancing. Dallas was extra crazy.  He had been since piano on Tuesday.  His teacher Miss Diane yelled out the window, "I don't know what's wrong with him, but I'm not responsible!"  I think he's loving getting to play whatever songs he chooses now that he's finished all his piano books.  Sam and Evan are doing great too.  Evan's teacher said they'd have to stop his books until his hands grew bigger since it's not easy music!

We also had the missionaries over a couple days before Thanksgiving, and have visited with our neighbors a lot as there is a lot of discussion about improving our road.  Pat had some people over for games and I got to go to my friend Amy's house for a Favorite Things party.  You decide on something that you love and would love to share that is about $10 and, then you bring three of them to the party, and you end up going home with three gifts from other people's favorite things.  Well, my mind went right to the book, The Hiding Place, since I love to read it each Christmas season.  It was a fun party; fun to see what other people like.  I hope the people who got my book like it.

We had tithing settlement and I took in some plates of Indian food for the bishopric and clerks which they really appreciated.  I had meant to just make cookies, but near the center of town someone was giving out day-old Panera Bakery treats so I got bags of cookies, bagels, pastries, and loaves of bread for free and most of it was still perfect.  There was this white sugar cookie that was so soft and absolutely to die for, along with about 6 other varieties that were also good.  So, since I didn't have to make cookies, I made the Indian food, and they got a full meal instead of just a treat!  I love how that worked out.  The bishopric give so much of their time helping us all.

Sam was speaking on gratitude in Sacrament meeting at church this same day.  He did a great job, and didn't even seem nervous or freak out before hand, which surprised me.  My favorite part was after he had written his talk and showed it to us, I told him it needed a story.  I gave him lots of ideas from his own life, Christmas books, and experiences in the books of his ancestors that showed gratitude.  He chose to share some things from the early chapters of The Hiding Place (which I am reading out loud to them right now), which is one of my most favorite books.  I was really impressed that he didn't get annoyed at me as I gave him advice about how to remain calm, like I remember my mother giving me.  And he spoke so loud and clear (though a bit fast), that I think people actually understood him, which, if you know Sam, isn't his usual manner of speaking.  He knew what he needed to do without me telling him, and I was really happy for him.

Many new and wonderful people have been moving into our ward and a new couple spoke right after Sam.  I just feel so overwhelmed with gratitude at the blessings of the gospel in my life.  I can see the magnitude of how it affects everything...    it's hard to put into words...

I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to go to church each Sunday and worship the Lord with so many other people who also believe.  I love these people.  I am so inspired by them.  I love how much they help my family grow and the great examples they are to us.  I love their strengths that I can't even comprehend at times, and their weaknesses that make me feel that we're all okay.  I love their testimonies and their stories.  Their lives are ones of great faith and therefore great experiences.  Could I be happy without the gospel?  I don't know.  I know that I would probably be miserable trying to live the ways of the world, but others might be happy and just fine.  But living the gospel takes us from wherever we are and adds things that make us better, little by little.  That's why President Hinckley said bring all the good you have in your lives, and let us add to it!

As a side note, Sam's school class was having a Socratic discussion on whether or not it was racist to do missionary work.  I was like What????!?  I guess it could be seen as one group of people saying 'we're better than you, so learn our way, and follow us', but I told Sam, that shouldn't be true.  The gospel should only add to the good already in their culture.  It's like saying, "Wow!  You figured out Algebra?!  Awesome!  We've figured out Geometry and Calculus and we can teach you!  Then you'll be able to do so much more and understand so much more.  Wouldn't we want more knowledge?  We would feel it wasn't fair if someone made a new discovery and refused to share. 

I've also been thankful to be reading The Hiding Place at night to the older kids, and the important topics it introduces and the talks we have.  Then I get to enjoy hugging and singing to Charles and Leia and Charles saying, "I love you Mom", with so much feeling.  Is there any better time? These are the days I will look back on with so much joy for ever and ever. I've been practicing a song called Count on Me by Bruno Mars on my guitar, and Charles sings it with me.  He always acts like a baby (maybe because he is the baby), but he is so smart.  I recently took him to the zoo, and he hadn't remembered ever going before, so he kept asking me, "Mom, are the animals in a cage?"  He was really worried about that.  I assured him that they were.

He really enjoys making his own peanut butter sandwiches too, and reluctantly helps me clean during the day.  Yesterday he helped me sweep the bathroom floor as I cleaned the sinks, toilet, and shower.  We had to hastily leave the house though, since I somehow made a dangerous chemical mixture in the shower.  It was horribly strong and once I noticed it, we ran out of the bathroom, opened the windows (it was snowing) and then I covered my face and quickly rinsed it all down.  Then we left fast hoping it would dissipate while we were gone. 

Pat has now been at his place of employment for 10 years.  He's doing really well, and a couple weeks ago had what seemed to me as three straight days of partying.  Appreciation lunches, and a party for finishing up a project that took years.  It had something to do with satellites, but of course I'll never know!  He got to pick out a gift and gave the choice to me.  I couldn't find anything; the jewelry wasn't my colors, the kitchen gadgets subpar, so we got walkie talkies.  Yay.  They'll come in handy.

Leia has opened up the world of reading.  She is reading really well now and reads everything she sees.  Food packages, the songs at church, books at night.  She is so grown up.  She even showed me card tricks tonight that she learned from her brothers.  She still has her distinct high-pitched voice and you should hear her say Amelia Bedelia.  It's so funny! I'm still wondering if I should take her out of school.  It zaps all the fun out of life, as it is very rigorous, and she spends the majority of every day having to be there and be serious.  She's so young.

Dallas is turning 14 this week and we'll get to explore the fun world of getting him to and from church dances down in Albuquerque soon.

We were all arguing one night about which holiday is best and Pat swears it's Halloween, and I, knowing better, told the kids it was Christmas, and Sam said his favorite was Canada's Boxing Day.  These kids kill me with their sense of humor.

With so much going on, my math class, music, and volunteering in Leia's class, testing recipes for my cookbook, I haven't hardly been going to workout with my friends at all :(

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Songs for Guitar

I've been taking guitar lessons for a couple months since I found a teacher across from where my kids do piano with a time slot open while I'm waiting for them so it doesn't take up extra time.  Trying to remember to practice is hard, especially when Pat's always reminding me that I have to do math (the dreaded math!).  Anyway, my teacher asked for a list of songs I'd like to learn how to play, and this is what I came up with (obviously not electric guitar-Classical/Country and Spanish mostly):

Quizas, Quizas, Quizas- Trio Los Panchos
Oja en Blanco- Monchy & Alexandra
Ode to My Family- Cranberries
Vivir Sin Aire- Mana
Malaguena- various artists
Jolene- Dolly Parton
Travelin' Soldier- Dixie Chicks
Peaceful Easy Feeling- Eagles
Amarillo by Morning- George Straight
Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World- Israel K.
Annie's Song- John Denver
Dust in the Wind- Kansas
Mr. Bojangles- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band or Jerry Jeff Walker
Scarborough Fair and other songs by Simon and Garfunkel
I Love- Tom T. Hall
Whiskey Lullaby- Brad Paisley and Allison Kraus
Un Amor- Gypsy Kings
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris- Speedway at Nazareth

Other songs like Molly Malone, Loch Lomand (traditional Scottish, Irish, and English songs)

Also traditional American Folk Music and other European folk music.

I was surprised by how much country was on there, but those old songs go well with acoustic guitars

I could add El Paso by Marty Robbins, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, but right now I'm just thinking about Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Veteran's day, food, and more...

I realize I could organize this better, but it saves me time if I just talk about each picture in the order they pop up.  So this is a great non-lettuce salad I threw together with stuff I had at home: jicama, black beans, edamame, red onion, mango, and pomegranite seeds.  Then a bit of cilantro, lime, and maple syrup.  I needed this for our Super Saturday (the yearly event where the women of the church get together to make crafts, learn in classes, etc.)  But I was glad to happen upon this since I'm frantically putting together a new cookbook for myself and my sister (hoping to finish by Christmas).
Dallas heard his school wanted a special flag ceremony for Veteran's Day so he arranged it with a few other scouts.  They did a wonderful job and had a very solemn and commanding presence.  All the men lined up along the fence are our Veteran's, and the kids all shook hands with them after the ceremony was over. It was very emotional.  One of the speakers has only thumbs and a very burned/grafted face.  We cannot even understand...

Here's the view from the back of the crowd.

This girl of mine was practicing her piano and I took this picture to document her beautiful spiral curls.  She'll probably grow out of this like I did, but at 6 years old, her hair does this naturally if you let it dry on it's own.  It is so pretty!!! 
She has been having trouble making friends at school.  She says at recess she never has anyone to play with.  I think it's getting better now, but for a while she would say how much she wished Evan could play with her (and Evan wishes he could play with her too).  She said there was one girl who would let her color with her (but then Leia said, "She lets me watch her color").  Another time she said that some of her friends told her that she can't play with them anymore.  When I ask her why, it seems I gathered that they're offended because Leia gets up and runs off suddenly.  When I ask her why she runs off she says, "I just need air!  I need to run around and get air, 'cause air is really good for our bodies".  I guess her friends just want to play school all the time and Leia is bored.  I told her to be nice to her friends but that it's okay to go play other games with other people too and run around.  Then she said (about them telling her she can't play with them), "I got really sad, but then I remembered that 'Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me!'"  She said this like it was a great comfort to her. 

Three squash stir-fry (in water, not oil) with only Mrs. Dash.  Butternut squash, yellow, and zucchini!

I was doing my math one night, and realized Pat and I are getting older and need to be stretching daily.  (That's one thing I hate about being in school is you spend so much more time sitting!)  So I watched some videos, consulted some people, and came up with a morning routine for us.  We can do it quickly in 20 minutes, or on the weekend 45 minutes to go through them all.  It's important as you age to retain your balance and flexibility.  Pat even says now that his body is upset when he doesn't do it, so he can definitely feel a difference.  The only downside is I have to wake up just after 5am instead of 5:40 for family scriptures.
I know you can't read it, but this is what we came up with.

These girls were lined up outside their classroom next to their artwork.  Leia's is the one on top with the red shirt just like her! 

This is one of my scouts showing off his walking stick that we carved for one of our activities.  He also made a wooden "book" that opens up to a secret compartment inside.  I have great scouts (although I'm about to get some real wild ones I hear).

Best healthy dessert ever!  Slices of butternut squash layered with slices of green apple.  Alternate layers and then sprinkle brown sugar on top.  Bake and serve!  Sweet like candy!
The pine nuts are popping around here again!
I had heard that you can shred a yam (orange sweet potato) and saute it in a little water until mostly soft and then stir in some barbecue sauce and it would taste like a shredded pork sandwich.  So I tried it and it does!  At least it's pretty good.  I ate a shredded "pork" sandwich, and then the next day had some barbecue "pork" over mashed potatoes.  So yummy.  Too much sugar, but occasionally...
Leia's class doing a recitation.  She's in the back row with a shadow on her face.
Two kids ready for school!  I told Leia to just put her hand by her side and she got very serious.
Sam and Dallas play chess with their friends during lunch now, and seem to really have fun.  Sam and Evan are friends with brothers their same ages and went over to play one day and Sam came home and said he beat their dad.  I just laughed.  The things these kids do.  Sam's been able to start going to the temple for baptisms and for some years our ward's youth have been known as the singing youth.  A sister was bearing her testimony about how one of the kids started a certain song and how much it meant to her, and Sam whispered, "That was me!"  

Evan recited this poem with his class recently.  This is his "messy" handwriting.  It's way nicer than mine!
After sharing that I'd had a bad dream the other day, Evan opened up about one he had had.  He was in the back yard playing with Sam and they found a dead jaguar and carried it inside.  Then the house became surrounded by jaguars trying to get in, all wearing little red vests.  Well the picture that this conjured up in our minds was so dang funny that we were all trying not to laugh at his dream, but then Sam couldn't help himself and once he started we all fell apart.  Even Evan was laughing, but tears started to come out simultaneously and his laughter stopped, and my heart broke for him.  Even though it sounded funny to us, I could tell it really was a bad nightmare for him.  Poor guy.  Pat then told us all of a bad nightmare he'd had growing up of sitting on his mom's lap and seeing a lady in red who he knew was a bad lady.  Then the lady came right up to him and bit his fingers.  He has never forgotten that dream, or how terrified he was  (and of course by then, we were all laughing at how hilarious it was).

The boys love to go outside and take funny pictures of the chickens.
Pumpkin cookie time!

During school spirit week, one day they could come dressed as an historical figure.  Leia was Abigail Adams since we already had that dress.  It was fun doing her hair like old times.
What Charlie does at home alone.  He really misses his brothers and sister.  Leia is mostly his best friend, but lately he's been saying that Evan is his best buddy.  Only Evan can take off his bandaid, for example.  When Evan picks him up, he wraps his arms and legs around him and says, "My best buddy!"  One day he was sad though when Leia wouldn't play with him and said, "Mom!  Leia won't let herself play with me!"
Making more granola bars for the kids lunches.
After they're cut and cooled, I wrap each one in a quicksheet...
...then put into a freezer bag.  Each day they grab one and it helps keep their food cool.

Mashed potatoes with my "cheese" sauce and garlic lemon asparagus.
Man, we love Avatar around here.  We've been reading these fun books from the library.

Making bread.  I finally found a toasted grains drink like I had in Chile!  Pero is just like the Ecco or Coronado that we used to drink.  It's been getting cold her and since I don't want to drink sweet hot chocolate, I've been thankful for this warm drink from my memories!

We've been more social lately than normal.  I said to Pat, "Why do people keep being so friendly to us?!", in mock annoyance, and he said, "I know! Soon they'll learn."

The most difficult thing about us is that I strongly dislike board games and Pat loves them.  I'd rather get together and talk, sing, walk, play instruments, dance, watch a movie, etc.  But we have dear friends that like to sit all night playing a game, so I'm trying...  and it's soo painful.  The only games I like are some card games (I used to play a really fun one with the Lewis's), Mexican train domino-type games, the crazy Uno games we used to play as missionaries, pictionary, some games I've played with the Hasler's, etc.  I just didn't grow up in a gaming family.

I realized as I was doing math, where a simple concept would get added to again and again until it was far from simple, that that's why I don't like games!!!  They're like doing math!!!  It's so stressful trying to learn all the rules that keep building on each other and the strategizing that goes with it, and I don't know why people want to stress more on their days off, or why they think that's fun!  But then again, there are weirdos who like math...

Honestly, Heavenly Father let me see a glimpse recently of the beauty in the eternal laws of math, and it brought me to tears almost as sudden as that glimpse was seen.  I can at least appreciate it, even though it's not really my thing.  I did get 100% on my math mid-term, which is historic.  It's all thanks to my live in math tutor :)