Monday, December 31, 2012

Hurricane Fun

For just $2 you can experience a hurricane in El Paso.  Step into a telephone booth sized capsule and the "winds" whip up to 70 miles per hour. Our kiddos wanted to try it out, so all 8 of the cousins filed in and we shut the door.  I was ready with my camera to capture the fun. You can judge from the height of Marielle's hair and Rex's expressions the speed of the wind in each picture.

I felt pretty rotten for snapping pictures of their distress, but in my defense, I didn't know the door could open and let them out early.  You can see in this last pic, the hand of rescue coming to free the youngest three kids.  I think if Rex could talk he might say, "I want my $2 back!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

Train Them Up Young

Did you hear Nursery started a new Duty to God program for toddlers? Rex recently passed off the first requirement of setting up a row of little chairs.

Stake Conference 2023, Rex will be ready for you! (And here's hoping he gets the rows a little straighter by then too. )

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting the Lines Crossed

I think all couples have their little inside jokes or sentimental "asides" that make us smile and wink at each other.  For Ryan and I, we like to say "Soften Coffin" to each other.  It hearkens back to one of my first visits to El Paso.  We found an old VHS of one Ryan's high school quiz bowl meets.  One of the categories of questions had to be answered with two rhyming words. I can't recall the question, but it was something like,
Question:"Way to ease the journey into the next life?" 
Answer: "Soften Coffin"
As we watched the video, I shouted out the answer just seconds before HS Ryan stole the question from the opposing team.  Ever since, whenever we are feeling "soul-mate-ish" we grin and say our morbid code words.
Last week I packed Ryan a lunch and decided to go the extra mile and include a note.  None of you really want to know what I wrote, but you can make some guesses based on the last story I just told you. When Ryan opened his lunch he sent me this text,

haha, I just opened my lunch. You planning my interment is so romantic.

Except he didn't actually send it to me.  He sent it to a 17 year old he had been texting earlier that day about a Scout Meeting. I hate to relish the akward situations of others, but the following exchange is pretty classic.

17 year old's response to the misdirected text: Umm ok.

Ryan quickly addressing error: Haha, wrong person. I need to be more careful   with my texts. 

17 year old (and this is my favorite part) : Ok i'll just forget that last text then! If I can!  

I heard about the whole exchange after the fact and had a good laugh.  Especially since I may, or may not, have sent Ryan Polland a few misdirected texts myself.  (If I have, he is always a good sport about it.)

That night awkwardness reigned in our home that evening when the aforementioned 17 year old came over to get his scout papers signed.  Please tell me this has happened to you too.  Are we the only texting crazies who misdirect love notes? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Disney Trivia

This one is easier than the last one, I promise.

Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel?

Monday, December 3, 2012

25 Days of Simple Service

My kids love Christmas for many reasons, but one of the grand Christmas perks is candy before breakfast.  First thing on our kid's agenda is to pull open a numbered door from our wooden advent house and devour the chocolate.  This year I thought it would be good to add some meaning to our tradition by doing simple acts of service each day.  Now we eat chocolate AND pull out a slip of paper that tells us something we can give others today.  This morning the slip read, "Share your testimony." My day has almost gone and I haven't shared my feelings on Christmas with anyone, so if you have a moment dear reader, may I share with you?

I know gift giving gets a bad wrap at Christmas because of all the commercialization, but I don't mind it. I like getting the chance to think about friends and family and really consider, what would make them happy. I think maybe Christ thinks a lot about that too. "What would make my child happy?"  His plan for his children is much more consistent and enduring, but the essence is the same. I have seen his hand in my life and know that the gifts he has given me really have made me happy.

 I love Christmas music, the decorations, the food, all because they bring out a tangible feeling of goodness and hope.  Feelings that I know Jesus Christ wants me to find within myself and share with others.  It's hard to know who exactly reads this blog, but to all of you my friends and family near or far  -- I'm so grateful to know you! My life has been richly blessed with the association of so many, many wonderful people.  Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Disney Trivia

 Rex pointed out a Disney character on his plate yesterday morning.  Can you spot it?
Can you spot the underbite(s)? I think we might need to start a Mullen dental surgery fund. 

 And now for the answer, let's take a closer look:
even closer, can you "spot" him now???
 Gotta love that Mickey Silhouette!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This is Halloween, This is Halloween

I love surfing blogs in late October/early November because everyone posts Halloween pictures. What's cuter than kids in costume? Especially kids on top of the world because perfect stranger are handing them candy.  Awesome.

To add the blogosphere's orbit of Halloween pics,
Jenna was a ballerina mouse

Marielle was this excited when she saw me at the Halloween Parade.  How can I make this last through college?

Rex was the cutest gnome ever! I made his costume and I beamed whenever I heard, "How cute! A gnome!  Was that garden gnome that just walked by? Did you make that? He's so cute!" It was mom Halloween heaven.

Why is it impossible to get three kids to look/smile at the same time?

Marielle cut that pizza with her bare hands.  Just kidding.

Notice anything funny about that candy bowl?  We really gave Ramen away...
Our neighbor Christina actually choose Ramen.  (Was the large size a deception??)

This pic is to show off her long flowing black hair. 

I loved watching this guy run from house to house and pound on doors. 

Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guess What, I Just Started a Blog

Hey friends,

I know you love my blog that's why you are here reading right?  Well seeing as it's Christmas season and life gets really hectic, I thought I'd start a new blog.  Smart right? Especially since I have the lofty hopes of posting every day until Christmas.  It's not another blog showcasing how cute/funny my kids are, but rather a blog to help all of us with our holiday shopping. I'm calling it Give Twice and I plan to post the skinny on where to find gifts that give some or all of their proceeds to good causes.  I'm hoping it will catch like wild fire and lots of people will support good causes as they shop for the perfect holiday gifts.  What do you think?  There's just one post now, but it's a good one and every day I'll have something new to check out.  I hope you'll visit out and share with others if you find it helpful. 

Mary Karlee

PS In the meantime, how about a sneak peek at the Halloween post I'm working on?
Rex is a Gnome!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Dad's Dream

 My father has long wanted to grow his own pumpkins for Halloween.  After a few unsuccessful attempts, this year it happened and his bumper crop grew just enough pumpkins for his five (local) grandkids.  The kids got to pick their pumpkins from "Grandpa's Pumpkin Hill" during Mikey's b-day party. One by one they climbed the hill and chose their pumpkin proudly. We cheered as they brought the pumpkins down like trophies. Somehow the size of the pumpkins seemed to correlate with the age of the kids.

Here's the pumpkins all "jacked out" for Halloween:
Note:  Rex's Grandpa pumpkin did not last till Halloween. On day two Rex's pumpkin had several "wounds" from Rex biting into the pumpkin and also being dropped down the stairs twice.  The flesh wounds proved fatal, but Marielle saved the day and gave Rex her extra pumpkin that she got on a class field trip.

Marielle designed and did a lot of the carving with Ryan's help. Jenna told mom, "I want a ghost" and then watched while Mom got carried away and did all the work. 

Thanks Grandpa for awesome Halloween pumpkins!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Although one of the costs of  living in Santa Barbara is a tiny living space, that tiny living space comes with year round lovely weather that makes you want to sit outside as often as possible.  One morning last week I was soaking up some sunshine and leafing through a travel magazine as Jenna and Rex played on the lawn.  The two of them wandered around the corner and I continued to turn pages.  I stalled as long as possible, but finally I decided it was altogether too quiet and it had been altogether too long since I had heard any sign of life, so I closed my magazine and went out in search.  Here's where I found them.

Looks like Jenna was not thinking about equality when she "served up" the chips for herself and Rex.  It's good to know that these guys won't starve if I ever get abducted by aliens while Ryan's at work.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Pirate Ship that Should Have Sunk

Sometimes I blog to brag, and sometime I blog to find the humor in life when things go wrong.  This is a post about a cake that went wrong.  Marielle turned 6 recently and wanted a pirate party.  It was a family party with minimal frills, but I told her I would make her a pirate cake.  We got online the night before and started looking for our model.  There were far too many examples of parents who spend no less than 13 hours on their children's pirate ship cakes, but with gentle coaxing and reminders of "let's keep it simple for mom,"  she graciously chose this one.

Looks pretty do-able right?

Here's how mine turned out:

First, the cake baked flat.  That little ship has two layers of cake.  I didn't fill the middle with frosting, because it seemed like, what's the point?

Second, I didn't want to switch to a chocolate frosting recipe and waste using the ingredients I had already purchased.  Note to self, mixing every color of food coloring you have does not make brown.

My go-to frosting was a failure since the whipping cream I bought was grainy and didn't whip up right.  I was scared to serve this to my family since the texture was so weird and I thought we might all die from food poisoning, but... it didn't smell sour and the expiration date was a month away, so we ate it.  (Thankfully, no one died. Come to think of it, Ryan did mention some stomach "issues" later that evening.  Hmmmmm.)

After all my failures, I saw no harm in letting the girls have full reign on the candy decoration.  I blame Jenna entirely for the lopsided cabin window.

Marielle was completely oblivious to my failures.  She loved her cake.  She thought the "brown" color we mixed up looked great, the candy decorations quite lovely, and the cake delicious. I sure love that not so little girl.

 Happy Birthday Pirate Princess!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Conference Poster

 Our conference poster got a little bigger this year.  Although we can't hang it in our hallway anymore, Marielle and I had a great time illustrating the talks and then tacking them up after each speaker.  Ahh, the luxury of a full sheet of paper... Since we only had the prophet and apostle pics, all the general authority and auxiliary speakers became "rest talks".  Rest talks were great too because they allowed Marielle to take a break from drawing and me to take a break from keeping my eyes open. 

I'm thinking next year maybe we'll dedicate a wall for each session and take over the entire living room...

And in case you missed it, I stumbled on this post when looking for a back link.  It's sure to give you a good laugh.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Crunchy Noodles

I bribe my children to make healthy choices.  I am not ashamed and think the system works quite well actually.  If they eat all their lunch/dinner, they get a treat.  That means I never have to coddle, coax, or beg them to eat veggies or fruit.  (Fruits are a way harder sell in our house by the way. Weird, I know.)  When they complain, we say, "That's ok.  Don't eat it."  But they know the realities, "But I won't get my treat?" And we are firm.  The treat system started last November when we had a major surplus of candy in the house.  Even with our reward system and two snitching parents, we had Halloween candy all the way into June!  Of course that said, the candy bowl was replenished with candy from other holidays often and the kids got creative with other treat choices as well.  They like to choose chips, crackers, hot chocolate, even plain old bread and butter.  But the treat choice that cracks me up the most, is "crunchy noodles."  Marielle discovered this treat, but Jenna loves it best and asks for it often. 

What are crunchy noodles?

Dry Ramen.

One day I was tossing some crushed Ramen bits into an asian salad I was making, and Marielle causually asked, "Can I have some of those?" 

"Sure."  I replied, "Go for it."

I vaguely remembered eating dry Ramen my last night in the freshman dorms and somewhat liking it. It was pure love from Marielle.  She wanted more, but I told her she could only have more for her treat. She was jazzed about her new found treat discovery, and requested the same at every chance she got. The next day Jenna dared to try and also fell in love.  Jenna also came up with the name and recently I heard her enthusiastically telling her friend Amelia, "Dese are cwunchy noodles! Dey taste like chips!"

Ryan thinks this Halloween we should give out Ramen packets instead of candy.  If you buy in bulk, each pack is only $.10, so it would be cheaper than buying candy.  Would you come trick or treating to our house? We figure it could at least solve the problem of the "take one" bowl we usually leave out.  Seriously, what young tween would ever dump an entire bowl of Ramen in his pillowcase?  Mmm, hmm. I think not.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Liken the Scriptures

Sunday night after we clean up dinner I let the kids watch a church movie.  Recently we found that youtube has a bunch of animated scripture stories.  One night Marielle and Jenna watched the story of Elijah and the Priests of Baal.  When the show was over I found myself in a quiet house since Ryan was at a meeting, Rex was already in bed, Jenna fell asleep while watching the show, and Marielle was busy playing with blocks.  I relished the rare moment of quiet and when Marielle called me over to see her masterpiece,  I had a good laugh.
Here's her explanation of the scene she recreated (with a few notes from me): 

Who knows?  Maybe this story could be the next Disney feature. What do you think? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ryan's Been Looking a Little Skinny...

How do you feel around skeletons?
Me, I'm totally fine with them.

Marielle, eh, she doesn't get too worked up.

But Jenna, she gets a little nervous. She's gonna a keep a close eye on dat guy.

The Hands of Time

You might have thought I was kidding, but...

...here we are nearly one year later on the "wheel of time" at ChuckECheese. Even though the ride failed to thrill her last year, she still ran for this guy first thing. 

We didn't manage to get pictures of all our kids on the wheel of time, but after looking through my files of pictures from both years, it seems I like to take pictures of mostly the same things...

See ya next October ChuckE!