Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mary Poppins!

Waiting for the curtain to rise! Sure, I'm missing the second half
of the Jets-Chargers game, but what are the chances that the Jets will
stage a miracle comeback???

Watching the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! In an Irish bar in NYC

Then we're heading to see "Mary Poppins" at the New Amsterdam
Theater. The yin and the yang of NYC culture!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Mullen Christmas!!

Raising a glass to the Extended Mullen Family!
[Left to right: Paul Mullen, Mike McGarvey (top of head just visible), Sarah McGarvey, Sean Mullen, Lacee Mullen, Karen McGarvey (in green in the way back), Jonathan Mullen, Brendan Kinslow, Julie Mullen, Chris Kirkwood, Cara Mullen, and the raised arms of Annie Mullen Patrick and Mary Mullen Kinslow]

The 2009 Mullen Christmas Festivities officially kicked off on Friday, January 8th at approximately 5pm and didn’t end until 48 hours later on Sunday afternoon, January 10th. In-between that time, well, let’s just say that we generated a lot of recyclables!!

As always, Mullen Christmas consists of two … two two parties in one! The Friday evening party consisted of my brothers and sisters and their children, or – as we have become collectively known – the "New York Mullens". While we’re still very close mentally and emotionally, we’re no longer quite so close geographically. This year, family members came from such far-flung locations as Providence RI, Syracuse NY, Washington DC, Waltham MA, and Woodstock NY. The weather cooperated … sort of. We only got a dusting of snow but it was brutally cold. Temperatures of 20°F were in stark contrast to the legendary 2006 Mullen Christmas where we basked outside in sunny 72°F weather.

To combat this year's cold, there was a constant fire in the fireplace and attendees had to resort to the temporary but comforting warming effects provided by alcohol. In particular, this year’s Christmas party introduced the group to Mullen’s Irish Cream, a drink that owes its creation to a suggestion made by Betty Cahalin (first cousin once removed) from the UK. The photo above shows a portion of the Friday evening crowd saluting the extended Mullen Family with a glass of the homemade concoction.

Besides the surprising amount and variety of beer consumed, Friday’s party was also notable for the opportunity to see one of our own, Brendan Kinslow, on national TV. Brendan is a cheerleader at Villanova University and, a few weeks earlier, I managed to DVR a football game between Villanova and William & Mary. As is the usual case, the ESPN camera lingered on the cheerleaders during one of the commercial breaks. Brendan seized that opportunity to follow his Dad’s advice and insert himself into the tableau. As a result, a national television audience was treated to the following sight:

Not exactly what the ESPN camera crew had in mind, I'm sure, but we certainly had a lot of fun replaying Brendan's 5 seconds of fame over and over and over again in slow motion.

All told, 31 New York Mullens attended the Friday party. For some, what started as a Friday Evening party morphed into a Saturday Morning party. When I went to bed slightly before 4am, Mike McGarvey, Sarah McGarvey, Kevin Mullen, and Pete Sankowich were still going strong. I understand that they finally crashed a little after 5am.

Saturday morning arrived way to soon for most party-goers. But after a fortifying breakfast of eggs, English muffins, strong coffee and Karen's ham, the exercise portion of the day was launched. Some Mullen Members ran or walked outside, others lifted weights in the basement, and still others jumped on the Spinning bikes. The photo below captured Dave and Marilynn in what appears to be a seated climb. Their anguish-free faces indicate that perhaps they should have turned the tension knob a notch or two in the clockwise direction. Other spinners that morning included Sara Sankowich, Rebecca Slovak, Ryan Mullen and myself.

At around 2pm, the "Philadelphia Mullens" began to arrive. Fittingly, the first to arrive was Aunt Mary, accompanied by Peter and Marie. With the aid of a small brace on one leg, Aunt Mary was able to easily navigate to wherever the focus of the party was. She started out in the living room but quickly moved to the kitchen when the snacks came out. When dinner was served, she was perfectly situated at the center of the dining room table. At mid-party, I discovered her sitting in the back of the kitchen in front of the Family Tree talking to her son, Tony, and providing me with a photo opportunity that couldn't be beat.

With the addition of 29 Philadelphia Mullens, the total attendance at the Mullen Christmas Weekend Extravaganza reached a grand total of 60, just a tad less than the record attendance of 2005 when the "Connecticut Mullens" showed up. Attendance would have been even higher if the party hadn’t been competing with the Eagles-Cowboys playoff game that evening at 8pm. Apparently, rabid Eagle fans like Doug Peikin and Mark Slusarski were petrified at the thought of stepping foot into a NY Giants stronghold (i.e., my house) on game-day and causing bad karma to descend upon their team. Kudos to relatives like Linda McKain, Steve Kada and Tony Notarfrancesco who ignored these silly superstitions, boldly entered my house, and caused their team to be totally demolished and dismembered by the Cowboys. I tell you, though, I’ve never seen a fan as rabid as Tony! He could barely sit still hours before the start of the game! And once the game started, he was all over the house! Fortunately, his Blackberry Support Group was able to talk him off the ledge when the wheels fell off the Eagles playoff bus. In all seriousness, though, Tony and Cathey jointly share the Star of the Party award for hanging out and watching the entire game with us and then staying the night at the local Cranbury Marriott.

Here are a few candid shots of party-goers starting off 2010 the right way. Additional photos will eventually be added to the Mullenium website. If you have any web-worthy photos, email them to me and I'll put them up.

Emily McKain and Bridget Mullen: Caught snacking!

L. to R.: Marilynn Mullen, Kristin Mullen, Annie Mullen Patrick, Kerry Mullen

L. to R.: Dave Mullen, Yuengling, Stacey

Joe Benco and Mike Mullen: Reliving past parties ...

Danny and Donna Sears: One last Rice Krispie Treat for the road

Tom Kinslow: All set to watch the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets!!!!

L. to R.: Sara Mullen Sankowich and Pete Sankowich vainly attempting to explain the Droid to Chris Mullen Kreamer and Ross G. Kreamer

Kevin Mullen and Karen Mullen McGarvey: Twins forever ...

Mike Mullen and Mary Mulle
n Kinslow: Another set of twins that just happened to be strolling by

Four sisters: Chris Mullen Kreamer, Mary Mullen Kinslow, Karen Mullen McGarvey, and Annie Mullen Patrick

Happy Mullen Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Mark your calendar for next year:
January 8, 2011

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's in Vermont

[Clockwise from left: Andy Mullen, Rebecca Slovak, Dave Mullen, Carl Goedecke,Marilynn Mullen, Irene Goedecke, Pete Sankowich, Sara Mullen Sankowich]

The Cranbury Mullens rang in the New Year at Marilynn's brother's (Carl Goedecke) house in Fayston, Vermont, in the shadow of the Mad River Glen ski resort. The photo above (click on it for a larger version) shows the group in mid-New Year's Eve festivities. Everyone arrived at Carl and Irene's beautiful house at various times on Wednesday evening, December 30th. After a drink or two and some snacks, everyone went to bed to prepare for the next day.

Irene Goedecke and Sara Sankowich, relaxing and conversating

On Thursday, the downhill skiers (Andy, Rebecca, Dave, Sara, Pete and Marilynn) got out the door fairly early and were sliding up and down Mad River Glen on slats of carbon fiber by 10:30am. The rest of us (Carl, Irene, Paul) got a more civilized start (noon) and snowshoed for about 2 hours. The high point of the day, for me, was getting through Day #1 without a repeat of last year's brutal snowshoeing blisters on both heels. The skiers thoroughly enjoyed their day, staying until last run and returning to the house at around 4:30pm. By all reports, everyone did amazingly well. Rebecca and Andy -- the most experienced skiers -- spent most of their time on the black diamonds. Marilynn -- who used to ski all the time until she married me -- shook off the rust and was able to ski Quacky, a blue but almost black diamond trail. Dave and Sara -- who hadn't skied since the Super Mullenium of 1999 -- skied almost the entire day without falling. Pete, who had never skied downhill before in his life, took a lesson with Sara, strapped on the skies, and attacked the mountain with his usual gusto. That evening, we rang in the New Year with a roaring fire in the fireplace, a fantastic dinner, some Mullen's Irish Cream, and excellent champagne provided by our hosts, Carl & Irene.

Andy & Rebecca enjoying "a roaring fire and red meat off the bone"

On Friday morning, Rebecca and Andy bolted out for the slopes of Mad River Glen once again while the rest of us went on a typical Carl & Irene snowshoeing trek.

Everyone smiling despite the "steep grade" warning sign!

The trek started off pleasant enough, but by the time we staggered back to the house it felt like we had just completed the Bataan Death March! Sara and I, in particular, were toast. Sara's calves (sore from the prior day of skiing) were locking up on her and my knees (aching from basketball on Wednesday and snowshoeing on Thursday) were in dire need of an injection of WD40. In stark contrast, Carl, who would turn 68 the next day, could have gone on for 2 more hours!

Dave doing the "Brush Limbo"

On Saturday morning, Sara and Pete headed for home in a vain attempt to arrive in time to see the NHL Legends hockey game at Fenway Park at 2pm. Andy, Rebecca, Dave and Marilynn headed back to the ski slopes. Carl (Happy Birthday, Carl!!) and Irene went for yet another snowshoeing excursion. I rested my knees, composed this blog, and nervously eyed and its prediction of 10 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. The Prius is tremendous for a lot of reasons, but not for driving on the snowy, mountainous roads of Vermont!!

Happy 2010 to all!!

Gracie saying "Hello!"