Friday, September 25, 2009

Dinner and a Seagull

Now that we live in Santa Barbara - Goleta actually - we spent our first post-move weekend at the beach. Tonight we attended Ryan's Chemical Engineering Department welcome BBQ. By the time we got our food the picnic benches were full so we opted for the lawn. There were seagulls a plenty hovering nearby, but soon I noticed that there was one alpha-male seagull standing guard and clearly scaring off any other seagulls who tried to hedge in on his turf. I found it unnerving to eat with that guy staring me down. He was about two feet from us and when Ryan went for seconds he came about one foot closer which made Marielle and I very nervous. Yes, I know I am bigger than he is, but his beak is sharper and I don't want him near me. As we finished up our dinner I told Ryan how I felt some sort of obligation to give him our left-overs since he had hung with us the entire time we sat there. Ryan reminded me that he was in fact a seagull and we could throw away our food without any guilty feelings.

Our "friend"

Here's how most of the students spent the evening

Here's what Ryan was doing

Couldn't resist posting this sweet picture

Oh, and we love it here. Our apartment is still a disaster zone but we have more room than we anticipated. We play outside all the time since the weather really is as fabulous as everyone told us it would be and there are tons of kids for Marielle to run around with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Mega Post!

The time has come to come clean, to fess up, to come out of hiding, and just admit it: we are moving! Actually we already moved and then moved again and again and again. Here's the back, back, back story.

Long ago in a year called 2005 Ryan had an internship at ExxonMobil after which he was offered a job. We wrestled with the decision of working at Exxon, going to Law school, or getting a PhD in engineering so Ryan could be a professor. After thinking, praying, and even making a decision analysis model on Excel (I was trying to tout my MPA learnings), we chose Exxon coupled with the very strong possibility of leaving work for school in about three years.
Ryan's first day working for the man
Fast forward through three years of Houston fun packed with Marielle, mild winters, HOT summers, awesome friends and topped off with Jenna. Although we loved Houston, Exxon turned out to be a good starter job, but not a love-getting-up-in-the-morning kind of job. And so the strong possibility of grad school became a reality. Last fall we applied to schools and come early spring we grappled with the decision of school in Austin or Santa Barbara. We agonized, analyzed, talked, retalked, and even tried to make our Excel chart again, but our skills were soft and we couldn't remember how. (Perhaps a sign that we needed to get back to school?) We finally decided on Santa Barbara. In the end we just couldn't argue against family, no commute, and of course beautiful weather year round. And who doesn't want to live next to the beach, come on.

Next we focused on selling our house. We did that in a week and found ourselves with the new dilemma of finding temporary housing till the end of the summer. Four days after our house sold we had Jenna (but you knew about that, she's no secret.) We moved out of our house on July 30th. Ryan drove a big old moving truck to CA and I took our daughters to stop one of four in our campaign to stay in Texas as long as possible, read: make as much money as we can before we become paupers. Let me take a minute to give a big shout-out to the Paces, the Andersons, the Slaughs and the Russells for taking us in when we were homeless. Each house was so much fun and although living out of suitcases and moving every weekend was a hassle, we really enjoyed staying with our friends.

Ryan dreaded telling his boss about quitting, but two weeks before we needed to leave he broke the news. When I asked him how it went he replied, "I found out they don't hate me." So he left Exxon on a good note and was granted an educational leave of absence.

Here is Ryan's last day of work. Add three years of reading Dilbert daily and two kids.
We drove out the morning of September 12th and said good-bye to Houston. I asked Marielle, "Do you know we are leaving Houston?" Her reply made me laugh when she said, "Yeah, it was hot." The road trip went amazingly well since Jenna slept so well in the car and we had plenty of activities for Marielle to keep busy with.

We are currently in El Paso resting up a few days before we finish our road trip to California. We are so excited for our new adventure, but find ourselves looking over our shoulder often, sad that our Houston time is over.

Ryan's program will be for five years. We'll be living in a beach villa (aka student housing) and just one hour from Marielle's grandparents. See you there! Virtually, of course.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mullen Make-Over Madness

What do you think?

Jenna got in on the fun too...

Want to try? Taaz.com