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