Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How do I know my kids are home?

This is why... empty toilet paper rolls. You think I am kidding. It's no joke. If you have kids and haven't empty your bathroom trash lately... get up right now and go look. I bet there are at least 3-5 empty rolls sitting in the trash basket. It's crazy. Another tidbit or two of information that you may not be aware... 1. Charmin has the thickest/strongest toilet paper centers! 2. Toilet paper rolls are recyclable over here in Okinawa!This is NOT how many we've gone through this Christmas break, but I have had to bust into a second 12 pack last night... so that's about 13 rolls used in 11 days!
Another funny thing... as Junior and I were at the PX yesterday, I overheard a young military wife (she was like 21) say to her friend, wait I need more toilet paper. Her friend replied... "you just bought 4 rolls at the commissary last week!"
The response was "I know, what's going on?"
In my non-pushy loving voice I invited myself into the conversation.
I asked "Do you have kids?"
"Oh, then your husband is home on his '96' and is using it all up!"
Their mouths hit the floor.
"How did you realize that?"
I simply replied...
"experience my dear experience...
17 years of empty toilet paper rolls on holidays, breaks and liberty!"
They giggled in a 21 year olds way and skipped off probably thinkin'
'OMG she's old enough to be our mom!'
AND...If I were a GREAT mom and my kids were still young (middle school is NOT young in case you didn't know!) I would come up with some super dooper outta this world craft they can make using these cylinder cardboard pieces of plenty. But I am not super mom w/ lots of ideas nor do I have wee ones, I am a selfish mom who wants to be crafty today.

Just in case you are wondering, my craft skills today have been reduced to washing and folding laundry, and putting a bike basket on a bike, emptying the trash, weeping over my messy crafting table and kicking kids outta the house to play in the sunshine!
It's 75 degrees here today!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

From my IPod Touch

I can't believe I can do a post from my Christmas gift.
And take pictures!

Lovin' this gift Mark you rock!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas...

This one is totally Caleb!
For all the deployed Marines... We love you and are praying for you and your families at home! Wishing you soft toilet paper, real toilets and a warm place to rest your head. Stay safe and see you soon!
Cartoon compliments of SemperToons!

Christmas Eve!

The magic is still alive in our house! The anticipation of Santa is barely contained. I get to dress my kids only a few times a year... school pictures, family photos, Easter and Christmas Eve services. They are so grown up looking soon the magic, the belief and childhood innocence will be a thing of the past.
The first gift of Christmas. The traditional....

wait for it.....

Looking forward to Christmas morning, having my home filled with laughter,
joy and best of all presents!
Can't wait to see what the kids bought for me... they've been teasing me for weeks!
Thank you Lord for allowing Mark to be home this Christmas, it's been far too many years of celebrating your birth without him. We are grateful, blessed and over joyed to have him home!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More best gifts...

A continuation of the best gifts...
  • Every year for my birthday, my Aunt Sue would always get me a card and a HUGE bag of Peanut M&M's. I blame her solely for the addiction I have for them. I wish I could be the cool Aunt that gives M&M's for gifts (my nieces and nephews are allergic to nuts, milk, eggs you name it... it sucks!) But Aunt Sue rocks w/ her bags full of candy. I am certain my mother cringed when she saw the bag, "that's just what Colleen needs more sugar!" BTW: they were never wrapped, they didn't need to be... they were individually wrapped in candy coated shells! I also never ever ever shared them.
  • I begged and begged for a goldfish one year for Christmas. Can't remember if I was testing the reality of Santa or not, but there he was! My very own Goldfish greeted me on Christmas morning. My mom and brother rock!
  • In 5th grade I had just started band and asked for a trumpet. It was a huge request, but there it was. I still have that trumpet and look forward to giving it to Seth to play.
  • I was 15 years old, it was Christmas break and a boy asked me out. Mom had a rule that we had to be 16 to date. It was after all Christmas so mom let me go. It was a great gift, but in another post I'll tell you about that very first date! It was a doozy!
  • This year I asked Santa for an IPOD. Sure hope I get to add this to the best gifts ever!

One of my most memorable memories of Christmas morning...

I was little, like maybe 3 or 4 years old. I was sitting at the top of our steps with my brother Jeff. We were anxiously waiting for mom to say we could come down the stairs. Mom was making sure Santa didn't make a mess, started the coffee pot, let the dog out and turned on the Christmas lights. It felt like it took forever, finally the word came "yes you can come down now!". Jeff hit me, pushed me, encouraged me call it what you will but he shoved my butt down the stairs. I rolled down the steps head over heels all the way down landing my my head in front of the window. I am sure I was screaming and cried and cried. I don't know if Jeff ever felt bad about it or not, but it created a memory I'll never forget!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best Gifts Ever

What have been your best Christmas present ever? In this and at least the next post I'll share my favorites with you. But I'd love to know what tops your list of the best gifts ever.

The first set I want to share is from you guessed it, my mom's family! We are a unique bunch and I am blessed to have grown up with such great women in my life. My grandparent's (on my mom's side) had 4 daughter. I've spoken before about them and I am certain I'll share more about them in the future for now it's about the gifts.
Through the years I've come to look forward to gift giving holidays in my family, here's why!
  1. My grandmother got a handgun, YES A GUN, one year for Christmas from her daughter, my Aunt Pat. Aunt Pat bought it for Grandma Alberta b/c she was tired of hearing her complain about the cats getting the birds in her yard.
  2. Grandma Alberta made a lot her gifts. She made me the best Barbie clothes one could ever imagine. She had including camping gear, my Barbie's had sleeping bags and even pedal pushers!
  3. Uncle Bruce had carved me a pendant when I was about 10. I found it before we moved; it brought me right back the the smells and sounds of Christmas at Grandma's house.
  4. Grandpa used tape, a lot of tape. It became tradition that everyone brought pocket knives to Christmas because we had to have them to get into any gifts that Grandpa wrapped. It was his signature. Today my children have inherited his addiction to tape (we now hide the duct tape!)
  5. Aunt Pat would always buy me the latest fashions (when I was really young she made them all!) from blouses to purses I was a total fashionista after Christmas.

My favorite memory is when we'd arrive at Grandma's house mid morning. We'd all sit around opening one gift at a time literally spending all day opening presents. Laughing and snacking all day. We only took breaks for the potty, to refuel the fire and to get more cookies! Christmas with the family is the best. Laughs and memories of the past have carried me through many hard holidays. To my family, thank you for unforgettable Christmas memories, creating unbelievable magic and a legacy that is an honor to carry forward.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ohio House!

Not our house, but it's just up the street. Apparently they are huge OSU fans.
I will be driving around this week taking pictures of the community at night complete with all of their Christmas lights. The local businesses really go all out. It's quite fabulous. Can't wait to share them with you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Visit to Santa

Santa creates a lot of magic around Christmas. These photos maybe the last ones I ever get that show the true innocence of the season. The pure belief, pure joy for the season. I love how Santa truly takes time to speak privately to my children. Listening to their hearts, wishes and of course their Christmas list. Santa leans in and whispers in Caleb's ear. Caleb wouldn't tell me what Santa said, I'd love to know, but I love the twinkle in both of their eyes sharing such a special moment.
Seth all business like is I suppose negotiating his wish list. Not really sure, but it's a precious photo none the less. I loved how they held the shake for quite some time during their conversation.
Wish I had this picture when I ordered my Christmas photos. Love this, the magic, the peace, the anticipation in their eyes is priceless. Love that Santa is real still creating memories and magic that lasts all year long.

Our International Swim Meet

Just a few photos from our first international swim meet at Gushikawa Swim Club. There were two other local teams plus ODST from base. It was a small indoor 25m pool. The parents were not allowed on the deck and it had a small viewing area behind glass that approximately 200 parents tried to watch through. Everyone wiggled up to the front when it was their child swimming and then moved to the back so others could see. It was a neat experience.

The first photo makes Caleb look so old, and the second one I love that he's got his eye on the gun. Two of her favorite things, swimming and gun in one place. He's so stinkin' cute!

Seating was limited, ours sat on the floor. DSi's are huge over here. Japanese kids play them as much as our American kids. They make for instant friends! This little boy couldn't keep his eyes off the game. Everyone shared and took turns and no one needed to speak a word. It truly was an adorable sight to see. The parents of both countries talked about it, recognized and took pictures of it. If you look closely at the little boy he has something like belts on his legs just below his knees. We see a lot of children wearing these, and we have no idea why!
Everyday truly is an adventure here and we love it!

First Swim Meets

Caleb's first event, 50 backstroke! He's the cute one in the blue goggles staring at me!

Caleb took 1st place in this heat and 7th overall for his age group! So proud of him!

Caleb right after his first race... love this photo!

50 Breast stroke. He was disqualified b/c of improper stroke technique.
No biggie just needs more coaching.
Love how the water is looping and dripping off his face.
The reflection of him in the water is fantastic too!

Caleb had a wonderful time at this his first swim meet. So excited that he loves swim team! Even better the other two, Seth and Katie loved the excitement so much they too want to sign up for swim team this winter!

Friday, December 17, 2010


All I have to say is
I really wish the Tidy-Bowl Man
would do his job around here!

The Pencil or is it a Christmas Tree...

It's a Pencil, It's a twig, It's a It's a It's a Christmas Tree.

Seth, His Trumpet and Eyebrows!

Seth had his first band concert ever! He was fabulous, the entire band did great. I was very impressed. 116 beginning band students in one concert. The day before the concert Seth came home completely stoked. He challenged another student in band class (like you see in Drumline the movie) and moved up and was now sitting 7th chair. Out of 15 other trumpeters, I think it's pretty stinkin' GREAT! So proud of him!
About mid way through the second song Mark leans over to me and tells me to look at Seth's eyebrows when he plays. Oh my stinkin' heart, it's hilarious. They move up and down, in motion with the music. Sometimes he looks angry other times his eyebrows can't get any higher. Look at these photos & see for yourself.
Love me some Seth!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Birthday Party for Jesus!

Each year our family has a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas complete w/ a cake and decorations. This year we are planning something bigger. Something New and different in hopes that it will be a blessing to Toys for Tots.

If you know anyone in Okinawa please share this information!

Click the picture above to make it bigger.
For the FaceBook Invitation here!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Since we've been home!

Since we arrived back on island last Thursday night (we walked in our front door at 11:05pm sharp!) I've accomplished ALOT.

(DISCLOSURE: I've been working on getting this post up since Monday, we've had internet issues. This is a post that should have gone up on Monday... you don't want to know what I've done since then.)

Here's the run down in no particular order!

  • 15 loads of laundry (and two more on the floor)
  • actually folded and put away all that laundry too!
  • wrote a short little Christmas newsletter
  • 1 emergency trip to the dentist for 2 kids (one broken tooth, one lost filling)
  • stuffed, licked, stamped, sealed, addressed 80 HOMEMADE Christmas cards'
  • mailed those Christmas cards
  • mailed my mom's Christmas present (see attached story below!)
  • took 4 showers
  • slept approximately 40 hours... miss the hotel's king size bed.
  • assisted in homework (10+ hours minimum)
  • listened to 150 minutes of Seth practising his trumpet
  • helped make a canoe and a wigwam
  • spent $200 at the commissary
  • had a fabulous lunch with friends after church
  • glimpsed at the Army/Navy game on TV
  • put up Frosty the Snowman on the short roof (actually Mark did, I supervised... a story for another posting!)
  • Finished Christmas decorations ...still have to take down a few fall ones :(
  • hid Christmas presents in the nooks and crannies of our home!

What did you do this weekend?

Bold~Mom's Present~

Mom's present... well you see. I thought I was brilliant but in fact, I am not as smart as I thought. I ordered 95% of my Christmas presents online and had them shipped to my mom's house. Since I was going to see her in DC, my plan was fool proof. Everything arrived as expected. I even ordered my mom's present. She brought me everything and it took quite awhile to pack it up for the plane rides home. What I failed to do was wrap my mom's present and give it to her prior to her departure back to Ohio. I arrived home to find her gifts w/ me. I had to wrap them & ship them back home. Sure hope they arrive by Christmas, the deadline here for shipping for Christmas was December 6th. Only missed the day by a week!

Friday, December 10, 2010

NMFA Military Family of the Year...

We are home from DC and are please to announce that the Mullin's Family has won the NMFA Military Family of the Year award.

Check back soon to read all about this once in a life opportunity, I am currently buried under 10+ loads of laundy. If you don't hear back from me soon, please call in the Marines!!
(I may need professional help!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Church bells

There is something that makes me homesick here in Okinawa...Church Bells.I grew up in a small town in nothern Ohio, I went to a quaint church on the east side and I loved to hear the church bells ring. I could hear them all the way at our house. Especially in the spring, summer and fall when our window were wide open and the wind from Lake Erie would almost carry the sound of "my bells" into my room. Such a sweet simple memory.

Here on Okinawa I hear church bells, but I cannot figure out where they are coming from. Several times a day, I hear the familiar sound of church bells and it takes me back in time. I reminds me of cool summer nights sitting on the front porch eating popsicles.

The first time my children heard them here they had no idea what they were. I was shocked that they had missed out on church bells. What a very sad thing to grow up without, luckily my kids have now heard the sweet sound of our very own church bells. I pray they make good memories with this beautiful simply music in the backdrop that will one day carry them back to their childhood and they too will recall... it was good!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

4 things I am thankful for...

Most people are thankful once a year, they take this season and rejoice in their blessings.
I am thankful everyday. I blessed beyond measure everyday of my life, I have 3 amazing children and my best friend is my husband. They share their lives w/ me everyday, every breath and every moment. It's an honor! Thank you Lord for my family, my everyday blessing, that Mark is home this holiday season, that You Reign on High guiding each of our footsteps setting our paths in Your will. All the days of my life I will praise You. Thank you for these 4 beautiful blessings.

P.S. Mark really isn't as mean as he looks in this picture!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The News...

These past months have been a whirlwind. Let's recap... We traveled by minvan some 3,000 miles from Jacksonville NC to Seattle Washington. Which was the time of our lives, we absolutely loved it! So we could then jump on some planes, to go from Seattle to Okinawa Japan. Then we lived in a Japanese hotel for 3 weeks until we could move into our estate! Our mansion if you will, shrunk about in half from our home in the states. Bought two used cars so we could learn to drive on the opposite side of the car and road all the while being told that we are considered 'professional drivers' by local standards! 2 days after moving into our home, school started. Not any ole' school, MIDDLE SCHOOL for 2 boys and our last and final year in elementary school for K80! That alone will cause any mom to crawl under the sofa never to come out! Did I mention that the government furniture is FANTASTIC! The whole family jumped full force into Boy Scouts. Caleb started the swim team, which is a 40 minute drive to the pool and back 3 days a week. Katie was elected Student Council President. Seth started band... trumpet, loving the practicing at home! I joined a women's Bible Study and became a MOPS mentor mom for our church. Mark works an average of 10-12 hours a day, his life hasn't changed too dramatically unless he leaves a base after 7pm at night. (That is another story for another blog entry!)

So yes there is LOTS of news to tell, but the best of all is we have been selected as the "Marine Corps Family of the Year 2010" by the National Military Family Association. We are deeply honored and humbled by this award. It was a huge shock and we are blessed beyond measure to receive this distinction.
NMFA history is remarkable :this organization was founded by military wives in 1969 who wanted their widowed friends to be properly cared for.

Their mission is honorable: To fight for benefits and programs that strengthen and protect uniformed services families and reflect the Nation's respect for their Service. (LOVE IT!)

The NMFA has many programs that benefit military families. My favorite it Operation Purple Camp aka OPC! This program has enabled our children to attend a traditional summer camp for the past 3 years. What a tremendous blessing! Ya'll know how much I value summer camp and love the experiences kids have while attending. However... I wish my children never qualified for this camp. In order to attend OPC the camper's parent must have been or will be deployed within so many months of the summer camp. We qualified 3 years in a row, telling you Mark's deployed A LOT! I am forever grateful of the experiences my children have had at summer camp through OPC, but I love it MORE when Mark is home, in our country and in our home. With that said... OPC is looking for donations large or small in any amount to help support sending military kids to summer camp. Think back to all the fond memories you have of summer camp, share that joy with a military child this summer... Donate today! For more information on OPC or to donate click here!

Life is busy for everyone, sorry it took me so long to 'share the news'! This being Veteran's Day weekend take a moment to give thanks to God for the blessings our Nation has... Freedom from tyranny, Freedom to chose our elected officials, Freedom to worship the One True God, truly the list is endless. Then take it one step further and call the Veterans you know and thank them for their service. You truly never know how much that will mean to them. They need to know their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families are not forgotten and are sincerely appreciated.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No School...

Sorry I mean...

So tomorrow 3 ladies and 7 great preteens and 1 sweet toddler are going to
Ryukyu Mura!
You can read all about it here!
Or wait to read all about it on here (my blog) later!
I can't wait it should be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's a Lie... a Bold Face Lie!

I bet that title got your attention huh! Today I am venting! UGGHH!!!

Last week, I specifically went to the base gas station at 11:15 am, it is the only way to get affordable gas! I went with the sole purpose of getting pampered, using the drive thru car wash and picking up the mail! I was shocked and stunned as I sat in my car and no one came to pamper me! I sat in my car for a few minutes, no one came out. I got out began pumping the gas, a worker walked right by didn't say anything, he looked busy so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Next pulls up another car, and elderly gentleman with his wife. He sat and waited, still nothing. He finally got out hobbled to the other side of the car and pumped his own gas. Next comes 2 more cars... waiting, then a fellow mom in a minivan with 1 sleeping baby and 2 screaming toddlers! All she wants is some pampering... I motioned to her that no one was assisting us. She then pointed at the sign, the same sign I am standing next too! I shrugged my shoulders and gave her a huge SAD face. She backed up, rolled down her window, and said "all I need is a little pampering today!" I could hear the kids screaming and crying. I felt for her... she drove away.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention... the stupid car wash was broken too, and there was no love in the mailbox, not even a bill! Complete and total wasted trip...
Why can't a girl get pampered around here!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Doctor Fish...?

Yep, bet you're wondering what that title is all about; you are about to find out!
Okinawans love a good pedicure and one way they keep their feet so soft and supple is by going to the Fish Doctor. We went to one in American Village a few weeks ago! It was ALL Mark's idea, I've wanted to try it since we got here but figured I would have to go alone or w/ girl friends. Nope, Mark too me, and he did it too! You place your feet into this little pond and the fish (called Garra Rufa look like miniature carp!) eat the dead skin off your feet! It doesn't hurt at all, it's quite amazing. Tickles a little bit but not bad, and boy does it make a difference. So when you come to visit be prepared for a trip to the Doctor Fish!
Yummy... It honestly reminds me of Camp Koinonia, we used to rest the soles of our feet at the surface of the first pond and the fish would come "kiss them". I now know they were really giving me a high priced pedicure, and if I remember correctly my feet rocked the flip flops all of those summers at camp!

Everyday Life in Okinawa....

These are just a few pictures taken over a couple weeks span... regular life in Okinawa!
These signs line the fences that surround our bases over here. This one is just outside of the base we live on... it's just part of life.
This place hasn't opened up yet. It's just outside the gate from where Mark works. I can hear it now, gotta go into work. I've got a working breakfast! America might have IHOP but we've got OHOP!

Don't ya just love these... their birthday candles in Kanji! I love 'em, so so cute! I have no idea what they say but I think they are so adorable and I've never seen any candles look like these!

Japanese payphone! So cute... I really want one for my home and to bring back to the states!
This is a kids meal in Japan! Yep, a little bit of a lot of different foods. In reality that's how many of the dishes are over here. This particular one is much "Americanized" for us! The empty bowl is for the ice cream bar, many restaurants have those! Yep, Mark's in HEAVEN! Take a peak at the little hot dogs cut to look like little octopus. Shrimp prawns are also very popular, K80 and Caleb love them; Seth not so much.