Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This last weekend could be dubbed "The Best Thanksgiving Ever," or at least the best in a really long time, but that title's too long. For being the first one without my mom, only my God could turn it into a scrapbook full of wonderful memories.

Kev's brother's family came over and brought their mom with them. My nephew Brian lives in LA, and it was his idea for us to all get together here. He's a brilliant young man! It was his first time here, as well as his sister Jamie's, and Mel's. Doreen and Mom came up in 2009 for my folks' 50th.

Jamie with my Sahib

Brian with Sahib

The boys went on a Thanksgiving Day ride, one of the two things Brian wanted to do during this visit. The other thing was do some shooting, but the next day's ride went into sunset, and it was just too dark.
On Friday's ride, Mel drove the four-wheeler, and Brian and Jamie switched on and off Sahib since she didn't get to go the day before. Here, Brett and Brian are tooling around the fields.

Dinner! We deep-fried two turkeys to make sure we'd have leftovers after 13 people ate. Alan's was absolutely deluxe. He injects his with a buttery garlic marinade--eeYUM!

Mom, Doreen, and Wayneen

The Kids' Table

We all rambled outside after dinner to get some pictures. Three cameras, one tripod. We are a talented lot. This is the one I used for our Christmas cards. The original had Doolie's butt in it, so I digitized it right outta there. Wish I'd cleaned up Jylle's hair before I had 50 cards printed, but I honestly didn't notice it was all fly-away on top until she pointed it out. It's fixed here.

We don't have very many pictures of just the two of us. I'm sure that'll change some if we retire and do some traveling. I'm just glad this one turned out.
This is one of my very most favorite pictures. I liked it so much that I had it printed, and it's sitting in a lovely frame on my kitchen window sill where it cheers me 50 times a day. He does not get why everyone likes it so much, but WE do. He might not think it's uncharacteristic, but we know better.
All of us

All the Mulligans

We liked this one so much that we had an 8x10 enlargement made for a Western style frame that Kev made last year. We'd been waiting for just the right picture, and this was it.

What a grand weekend. One of the things that impressed me is that for three days, 11 of us were pretty much together all the time, and there was no friction. There were no jabs, offenses, or hurt feelings to my knowledge. It was absolutely great.

There was one time that might have produced some disappointment. It was quite accidental, and again, I'm really sorry, Lydia, that Ryan and I managed to forget one of only two grocery items you needed. We cannot be left to do the job of one normal person. What can I say--we must always be supervised by an adult.

Sweet, sweet days altogether. Thank You, Lord, for your goodness and grace.

Friday, November 18, 2011


This is Goober. We got him about 15 years ago. But we didn't mean to.

A friend asked if we wanted a kitten. We did, but I wanted a gray tabby. He shook his head and said they didn't have one.

About a month later, he asked again if we wanted a kitten. I said we did, but I wanted a gray tabby. He paused for just a second and holding my gaze said, "It's a gray tabby. It is." I remember thinking That's funny. I thought he said last time they didn't have one.

We found a box on our porch the next night, the promised gray tabby. We opened it in the house, and out jumped a sleek, gray kitty, completely freaked out by the ride, the box, the new humans, and probably the scent of dogs. He shot down the hall, and we chased him all over the place for about 15 minutes before we caught him.

"Caught" isn't exactly accurate. In his panic, he flew down a dark hall, wheeled into a bedroom, and dropped down an uncovered heating vent. We checked it out in the basement, and the duct was slanted, dead ending him in a tube too slick to climb back up unless you're Spiderman. We left him there overnight (it was around midnight). Kev unscrewed the mount the next morning, and we slid him back into the box. He still looked nervous, but nothing like the previous night.

He spent his life being a garage cat instead of the barn cat we wanted, but he was a good mouser--no mice problems on Goober's watch! He never liked being held, but he appreciated some attention. He was stealthy, dependable, and always on duty.

Later last year he started getting really verbal, meowing loudly and constantly. He also began pacing, or at least moving a lot. He would jump onto the garden bench and paw you if you didn't pet him. When he started losing weight, I did some Internet research and figured he probably had feline diabetes.

We came home from church, and Kev found him in the garage... He buried him with the horses, Jake and Gadget, under a lone pine, fitting for a loner who had little fear of the horses. I like this picture. Looks like he's going off now, business to do and all.

See ya later, Schnoobers. And thanks for everything.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Glenice. Even her name is unique. Some friends are the entree, and some are dessert. Glenice is the whole meal.

This is what I mean. I anticipate her company; dig into, consider, and enjoy the things we talk and laugh about; savor the time; digest and remember happily the time we spent together. This is what I do with a good meal--anticipate, enjoy, savor, and remember it all over again later. There is never a time I do not come away from her company unsatisfied.

Like a favorite restaurant, I'm often pleasantly surprised by new entries on the menu. I've known Glenice for about 12 years, and it seems that about every three, I find out something completely new about her. When I met her, she'd just gone on a three-mile run with her son. She hadn't been exercising daily or working up to running, just up and went. She's that naturally athletic. She used to have a job setting bear traps. Yep, she's my bear trapper friend, no confusion over any other friend there! She hand dug a pit for their outhouse. She knows sign language--like, fluently! I can't wait for the next discovery. It's due in two years.

She wields a drill better than she does a tube of lipstick, and her projects are usually accomplished with both speed and love. When we made decorative birdhouses for the Ya-Yas for Christmas last fall, I held the pieces of wood while she operated the nail gun. *Ka-chew!Ka-chew!Ka-chew!* The trigger went off like a machine gun while the blasts of air pelted me in the face. I must have flinched 50 times that day. Turns out she had to be a little less trigger happy if we wanted enough nails to finish all the birdhouses. I kept the one with the 105+ staples as a remembrance of all the laughing we did...

She is so kind, loving, and fun, and her gazillion friends love her. I'm just blessed to be one of them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I just woke up from the sweetest dream!

The boys were little. Brett was about 4 and Ryan not quite two, so they were younger than in this picture. Ryan was running around with that twinkle of possible mischief in his eyes, and Brett was building a Lego fort bigger than both of them. He jumped up on top of it, and I told him to get off (joykiller :/ ). My mom was trying to sleep in the living room, so I took all three of them--Jylle had joined us by now--and rearranged the furniture in one bedroom so they had a kind of stairs to climb where they could jump down onto a bed. Not quiet fun realistically, but hey, this was a dream, and stuff just gets to "be" in them.

Jylle asked if she could jump too, and even though the boys weren't thrilled, I said yes. She was so excited. It was so. much. fun. to be playing with my little ones again! Ryan would run around just like he used to, cape flying behind him, curly hair framing a face starting to bead with sweat. Brett was studious, in the way he had of absorbing all the details around him. He was their leader, showing them the best way to do things, even in a dream...

I always did relish playing with my children like that. I remember taking a door we weren't using and setting up as a slide in the living room, propping it up on the couch and throwing a couple of pillows down at the bottom to soften the landing for their little bums. More than once we made a game of keep away on the bunkbeds--you had to stay on the beds, no touching the floor, or you were out. My favorite games were ones that ended up with me hugging them, which I pretty much ended with no matter what we were playing, come to think of it. Yeah, Hug Da Babies--my favorite game of all...

My mom needing quiet because of a headache was something all too familiar from my own years of growing up. They plagued her so regularly that it was more uncommon for her not to have one. It was either fairly quiet in the house because noise really played havoc on her hearing aids, or because she was trying to sleep away a throbbing head. In my dream, I was the one making noise that disturbed her though, not the kids. I kept tripping or banging my head, just klutzy stuff. I don't think I really did that in real life. Of course, there wouldn't be a long piece of metal roofing set at a precarious angle in my real life living room that I'd have to dodge like there was in the dream.

My sweet chillins and my mama in pain--memories of the sweet and the sorrowful... I'll take it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I sure do love my mother-in-law. She is an incredibly wonderful inspiration and role model. There are so many adjectives that come to mind when I think of what she's like:


Anyone who knows her could add more virtues to this list, which is definitely not exhaustive. Those are just the ones off the top of my very limited head. Honoring, practical, and thrifty just came to mind.

After I lost my mom, I told her that I would need her more than ever. Since then, she has signed all her emails to me "Your mom." Creates a lump in my throat every time I think about it. I have a voice mail from her that I'll continue to save. She's thanking me for calling and telling her about my mom (who was in the ER and not expected to live). She clears her throat and says that we'll talk soon and to take care. She's a very brave and private person, so I can imagine that she was trying to be strong and keep it together to make the message easier on me, so as not to be a distraction to me.

She is distracting though, in that the absence of any thought to herself stands in stark contrast to my own self and most of the people I know and have ever met. She is the closest thing to the Proverbs 31 woman I have ever known, while also being totally approachable.

As we celebrate her 81st birthday today (and in person this coming weekend), I raise my hands in grateful praise for the woman who raised my husband, has taught me what it means to love Jesus in word and in deed, and continues to inspire, motivate, and encourage me, using words if necessary.

I love you, Mom. Thank You, Lord, for this WW.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Online Memory Minder

Stuff I jotted down on all different pieces of note paper that I don't want to forget about, but don't want to physically keep anymore:

Songs to check out:

Cannot Turn Away, Chris Tomlin
Worthy of All Our Praise (?), Selah
I Fall, Phil Baquie
My Offering, Kelly Minter (sp?)

Books to check out (ha, literally):
The Suncatchers
A Thousand Tomorrows (Kingsbury series)
Red Glove (Kingsbury series)
Elm Creek Quilt (series)
True Believer (Sparks)

Movies to check out:
The Red Pony
The Field
Goodnight, Mr. Nick
Dancing at Lhugnasa

Ryan's 2010 Wish List:
  • Some really good gloves
  • Anything super cool by guys like Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacharias, those kind of dudes--books, videos, stuff like that.
  • Sanpera I (Foot switch for Peasy Vyper modeling amp ($100)
  • Faith + Hope + Love
  • This is Our God
Hillsong United
  • Tear Down the Walls
Desperation Band
  • Light Up the World
I found a scrap of paper with this scrawled on it: Dad's 1st Place, 512 S. Union St, Shawano, WI. While I don't remember the context of it, I googled it just for funzies.

He said that except for a porch that used to be off to the right in front, it pretty much still looks the same. He got a kick out of seeing it again. Kinda cool to think that this is where my daddy started out his life, a life that I am so deeply thankful for and love to da moon and back.

Lydia is allergic to pineapple! Do not forget this one.

It gives me the heebiest of jeebies to think of losing anyone I love. "It's impossible" is what would I would feel, as quoted from the book Making Toast. I still feel that way every one of the hundreds of times I think that about my mom.

Life is good, especially when we remember how tissue frail it can be.

Delight yourself in the small things. Someday you will realize they were the big things.

More Salad

This was written on a scrap of paper in my nightstand:

Days go by, I lead a little life,
An ordinary mother, daughter, sister, wife.
Acquaintance to many, friend to a few,
Irrelevant to most... but not to You.

I read this today and don't know if I wrote it or if a speaker did: "Hindus look to the future, Jews to the past, Christians to the NowHere." The "NowHere" throws me off because that's something I use fairly frequently.

Can't find the English lyrics to "My Nipa Hut," whose title I found on yet another scrap piece of paper, and my cousins don't know the words even to the Filipino version. I found the words "suman" and "kuchinta" on the same scrap, so I googled one of them and found this site. I bookmarked it so that the next time I see my cousin Aida who loves to cook, we can try out one of these recipes.

I have got to start writing down where I hear or read things I deem worthy enough to jot down--makes me nuts. These two quotes are on the same "kuchinta" scrap. Nothing that causes me to launch into study right now, but I wanted them in a safe place so I can toss the note.
  • Every Utopian vision involves death on a mass scale.
  • My imagination is a creative force.
  • Pride--the unwanted guest.
  • All of God's stories end in peace.
  • Little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.
Ryan is amazed at the influence we have on people even without words. I've been thinking about it ever since he told me.

On an reptilian note, Kev asked a science teacher what to do about the turtle I captured a few days ago. He said it was migrating, looking for a place to hibernate. I painted two red spots on its shell with nail polish in case it , and released it in the field pointing south. It must've been used to not being able to go anywhere because it sat there inside its shell for a really long time. It was also terrified of the dogs, judging by its antisocial tendencies.

The journey of a thousand miles....

Off to ready us for the weekend. Jolly good...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I found this in a Bible I haven't used in years, and it inspired me all over again with its reminder of truth. I found something online that said it's apparently from an ancient hymn.

Lord, I'm willing to receive what You give,
lack what You withhold
relinquish what You take
suffer what You inflict, and
be what You require.

I wish I was the person my dogs think I am.  I think that so often that it's become a kind of mantra. I don't know if that's healthy, but at least I don't believe I'm dumb anymore. One trip to Stevens County Title proved that to me. I used to think I was compliant. Lord's shown me otherwise. Like a lot of other passive agressives, I don't like change. I resist, avoid, run, anesthetize, and struggle. Go back, make it not that way, change it back. My life will be a lot more peaceful when I drink in and embrace for myself that nothing will happen to me that He has not allowed because He is always and only Good. Instead of being apprehensive about what-ifs, I want to rest in the Hands that have me engraved on the palms. This sounds like so much flowery speech, but it really is what I want to want, who I want to want to be, more than I want to breathe.

On a lighter note, Kev wants to eat less meat and dairy. This is easy right now when every shelf and counter has some kind of fruit and vegetable on it (I love this time of year). It'll be a greater challenge in the winter when lettuce, oranges, and apples are about all that's available. How I wish I could preserve a winter's worth of watermelon! And not those rind pickles--that is not watermelon. Gotta find some good, tasty recipes for meatless entrees that also don't contain a ton of carbs. On to my homework.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Photo Salad

Thought I'd photoblog a salad of life this last week. Just for funzies.

The biggest head of garlic I have EVER seen!
This is the from the crop my mom planted last fall...
Never thought garlic would touch my heart.

Boating with Barb & Dave at Hunters.
Best day at the water this year!

Roses my daddy sent home with me after I spent the day with him ('cause I can).

Summer bounty--and this is only a few of the tomatoes. We have five kinds, two varieties from my dad's friend, Leroy--an orange cherry tomato and a maroon heirloom.

The turtle I found in the barn! I screamed as it 'sped' away. Then I captured it with a bucket and a drill (it's all I could find besides my own hands, and no way!) and put it in an abandoned water trough. I added a large piece of wood and gave him some lettuce. I have no idea what to do with him.

Blackberries from my Glenice plant! The late spring freeze means no berries for most in this area, but this plant is right next to the garage, so that must've helped spare the blossoms. Yay for garage walls!

Breakfast for Sahib. The other two were eating grass hay, and I couldn't see Sahib. I found him chillin' in a stall, so I did what I do--spoiled him with horse candy ('cause I can =) .

Beer can chicken. It was good, but no different than oven roasted. Took an hour and a half on the grill, so I won't try it again unless I come across a recipe that someone testifies is worth it.

We went to the Interstate Fair on Friday night to see the rodeo. We met Carol and Glenn and their daughter, Karen, when I stretched and Carol "caught" my fist in her two hands. I have no idea why such a simple gesture made us laugh so hard, but it did. Kev and I split a plate of fish and chips, and our second course was lo mein with veggies and teriyaki chicken. It tasted a lot better before I realized that I'd doused the whole front of my shirt with the juice when I carried it to the stands. I looked like a five-year old. *sigh* The last thing we got before we left was a baker's dozen of cinnamon sugar mini-donuts. We each had a couple and then saved the rest for Jylle because she went ape over them when we brought her some from the Cusick fair last month.

Pretty sweet week.

Friday, September 02, 2011


A friend posed a question on her blog: How pliable are you? do you embrace change or resist it? do you adapt easily, or fight tooth and nail when change invites itself in?

My answer: I have never been accused of being pliable. But neither has anyone called me stubborn (although I personally believe I am passive-aggressive). I process plights in the inky twilight of Between as I seek to find balance between what's reasonable, and the prompts that my heart is whispering. Having to adapt to two of my three kids moving on with their lives was a daily exercise of willful surrender and acceptance. I woodenly took one step and then another, but Grace is greatest when the need is deepest, and so I survived and now own for myself two altars of sweetest gratitude and love. Things are as they should be, indeed as they need to be. This acceptance--and embrace--has come out of great struggle, tears, and sadness. By labor were they born, and by labor were they freed. Lord, You know.

Now I just hope that what I've learned from processing these two departures will help a year from now when my baby leaves this house to begin her college years! Oy...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pilot Training, Part 3 of 3

This is the article that was on the August 25 edition of the local paper. I supplied the content and the photo, and they did it up proud for a hometown boy.

Mulligan Completes Pilot Training

After successfully completing Undergraduate Pilot Training with Training Squadron 31 at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, 1st Lieutenant Brett Mulligan, USAF, was awarded his Aviator’s Wings on May 20, 2011. Following the address at the Aviation Designation Ceremony by the base commodore, Captain Scott P. Cooledge, among family, friends, dignitaries, commanding officers, and fellow pilots, Lt. Mulligan had his wings ceremoniously pinned on his uniform by his father, Kevin Mulligan.

Two weeks later, Lt. Mulligan wed Miss Lydia Weatherly of Wichita Falls, Texas. The honeymoon was shortened by his assignment on June 16 to Fairchild AFB for survival training. He is currently in C-130 training at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. Following completion of this training, he will be stationed at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs.

Brett Mulligan is a 2005 graduate of Jenkins High School. He is the son of Kevin and Cyndi Mulligan.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seven Months

It's been seven months since I lost my mom. Sometimes it feels like seven years. Other times it feels like seven minutes. Always, I miss her. I can't look at her picture for long because it makes me cry. Even writing this causes me to press back at what wants to rise up.

My goal is to nurture a heart of gratitude for an end to the constant pain she was in, like my dad does. Like I told him though, he's a bigger man than I. It's at least my goal anyway. Sometimes there are sparks of it. I was looking at a picture of Brett with a humongous pack on, and the look on his face is painful to witness. I was glad she never saw it; it would've broken her heart. When Dad pulled his hamstring, she would've hurt for him for days.

It pulls at me to know that my dad is lonely. He seems WAY too dependent on Raymie for company. Yes, Mom talked to him a lot, and he has a big vocabulary for a dog, but he's something like 8 or 9 years old, and the day will come..... He has an enlarged heart that Dad gives him medication for, but it's just so scary that he puts SO much stock in an animal he will indeed lose.

Some mornings I wake up and remember that she died and think, Oh, yeah, it's true....... I know it'll take time. I know it won't always be like this, just like it won't ever be like it was. In the meantime, I hope to honor her life and give God the glory just like Dad does.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So, Bye and Stuff...

Ryan left for Helena today to visit Amy for a couple of days before he has to show up as the Chi Alpha House director. Last year's director also experienced being an RA, so he was able to tell Ryan that this job is less work. He has to provide his own eats so it'll cost a little more, but he can't afford to let his grades suffer, so this was a good option.

When I try to think of what we did these past three months, how the summer went and how we took advantage of him being home, I can only conjure snatches of memories and generalizations of how it all went. The 48 hours after he leaves has me thinking of all these good ideas, should'ves and could'ves I wish we had done and things we planned on doing and never got around to actually executing.

I hate regrets. Ryan said not to go there, that we had a GREAT summer with really solid time together, both as a family and one-on-one. He's right, of course. It's that deep satisfaction of knowing they're home that trips me up when the time comes for them to leave. It just always feels so right when they're here, even though I know and truly do want him to continue this track of life he's on--it's a good thing he's doing, normal and challenging and good. I can take those regrets and comprise a list of things we can do another time, a time that'll be that much more precious because it won't be hosted inside three months but only a few days.

We said goodbye about four times in our typical family style, and it was just like him to hug me and then hug me even closer and just stand there like that for a bit, finally saying, "I'm sure gonna miss you when you die...!" I said, "Hopefully, that won't be for a long while, right?!" It was a great final sendoff.

A gracious blanket of gratitude lighted on me as he took off down the driveway. Three months. Three really, really good months. Jylle reminded me that he wasn't even supposed to be able to come home this summer. Three bonus months!
I'd been pushing back at the cry that kept rising up in me all morning. Honestly, every time one of the boys leaves for long periods of time, I die a little inside. (Love--the greatest curse and blessing of motherhood!) I've often gone downstairs to the room of whichever boy just left, curled up on the bed, and let out all the sadness. Instead, this time, I was delivered into a thankfulness so sure and solid that the demon pain of missing him was booted clean off the premises, and I was left with a heart full of worship.

Would that they would all go this way............ Relationship. Gratitude. Worship. That's a really great summer harvest for anyone.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Aunt Ila's Victoria

Kev's Aunt Ila lives in one of the prettiest cities I've ever seen. She's going to be 90 in February, we haven't been to Victoria in over 25 years, and--double bonus--Ryan and Jyllea were available--so we made a plan: Pick up Kev's mom and float up to Vancouver Island.

Not as direct a route when you drive and ferry, but you get the picture.

Edmonds to Kingston

On the way from Kingston to Port Angeles, we went through Sequim, hometown of my precious friend, Mae. We're writing buddies, and I've heard stories of her childhood and the memories she holds so dear, so it was a treat to pass through. I even mailed a letter to her from there, so I hope she notices the postmark!

Leaving the U.S.

These beautiful hanging baskets are literally everywhere.

The Empress Hotel is a vital destination, even if you don't stay there.
They love their UK roots.

Loving our time in the photo albums. Aunt Ila is a treasure trove of stories, lineage, and the heritage we hold dear.

Trekking around the University of Victoria

Dinner at The University Club

Fresh steelhead salmon with a parsley butter pat, potato pavè, and Julienne veggies--fabulous!

The beautiful pond off the lounge at The Club.

Breakfast from Tim Horton's our last morning there... Aunt Ila said the coffee is so good you just want to bite it. Boston creams, Canadian maples, and maple glazeds--eeeyum!!

Our goodbye photo

Busker, street entertainer--parkoured up the wall, and this was his dismount!

Harbor sights

Liked the name of this ferry home...

Sweet USA