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)