Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Not All Smiles

We take a lot of happy photos in our house and it's true that we have a whole lot of really joyful times.  But I think it's also important to memorialize the not-so-gleeful moments, because our lives aren't all fun and games (although I think we do have an above-average aptitude for gamery). 

Today was a sad day for WanYing - a clingy, mopy, teary, blue day.  We don't know what triggers these days and I know we shouldn't be surprised by them, after all, every aspect of WanYing's life has been turned upside down in the last five months.  But they're still hard.  They're hard for the Daddy who is trying to keep a house running while simultaneously caring for a girl who desperately needs quiet snuggles for hours at a time.  They're hard for Sasha and Ben and Sam who have to be in-tune with their sister's emotions and (hopefully) not push her too far or play too raucously on sensitive days.  And they're hard on WanYing who is just trying to survive so much change.  We wish we could just reach inside behind those pained little eyes and wipe away all of the confusion and fear and insecurity.  We wish we could right all of the injustice of her first two years.  We wish we could just make it better.  But we can't.  This is a part of her journey, and a road she has to walk and reconcile with through each stage of her growth and maturity.  And right now, the best we can do for our baby is to walk alongside her and cuddle her and speak the truth that she is, and always has been, loved and that nothing can separate her from that love.  Because, in the end, it is only that Love that can heal her heart.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Utah Valley China Kiddos

Yesterday we had a chance to hang out with several other area families with kiddos from China.  It was great!  It's such a blessing to have places where our crazy bio-Kaz-Chinese family tapestry is normal and where we can enjoy our diversity rather than always explaining it.  Don't get me wrong, it's a privilege to get to share our family story... but every once in a while it's nice to not have to explain.  Thank heavens for the community of adoption.

We had a lovely evening of burgers and dogs and flag football (a first for the boys!), combined with story-sharing, encouragement, tips-and-tricks, and a celebration of our astounding kiddos, all enjoyed among Utah's beauty.
Sigh.  I do so love these cuties!
The boys give flag football a try
WanYing loves getting piggyback rides from her big bro
And to all a good night.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Magazine Modeling Superstars (the evidence)

Two copies of the September/October issue of Adoptive Families Magazine arrived in today's mail along with our runner-up prize (a pretty cool Putamayo CD) and I just thought you'd like to see the evidence (or, perhaps, the genesis) of our profound celebrity.  We're on page 6 - pick it up... um... wherever magazines for adoptive families are sold.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peaches are In!

Hooray! It's peach season again! Our little Asian peach tree in the back yard is loaded down with deliciousness and we've managed to save at least a few from the hungry birds that seem determined to take one peck out of every peach on the tree. Between the peaches and the tomatoes, I think the girls have managed to forage for most of their meals this week.
Sasha proudly displays her latest conquest.  When the branches are loaded down, the girls can reach the fruit themselves, so it's a fruit smorgasbord

Our peaches are Asian white peaches - they're smaller and sort of donut shaped with white flesh and they are so, so good!

Sigh.  Never a dull moment.
Chorney waits patiently beneath the tree for the girls to make a wrong move and drop a peach for her consumption.  No, I don't know why she doesn't just eat them straight off of the branches, but I'm grateful that she waits for them to hit the ground before snarfing them up!

Watch out, WanYing, Chorney's just waiting for you to lose your grip on that peach so she can gobble it up!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Workin' Girl

WanYing's new game, which she's been playing for a few weeks, is to pack up her purse, give everybody a kiss, announce, "I go to work!" and merrily tromp off to the garage. She emerges a few minutes later with a triumphant, "I home!" and is greeted joyfully, as is appropriate for any career woman returning home for the evening (right?!?).

Tonight the game took on a new flair with the donning of heels and a drive in the red car to work and home again.  It's quite the look... 

...but does make a mommy wonder:  Exactly what kind of work is she doing in those heels?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lill's Adventures, Part One

Man, she's only been back to preschool for one day and she's already reading!  My kid is some kind of brilliant...

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Steve's been acting chipper and humming, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" while Jamie equally merrily conducts multiple office goods shopping trips (boy do I love Staples) - it must be back-to-school time! The only sobering part is that we have a fifth grader, a third grader, and a preschooler (and one who refuses to be left out of a photo with her siblings). Yikes! Fifth grade?!? He's like almost a real person!

Besides Ben's rather extreme obedience to the photographic direction to "squeeze in a little tighter to your brother," the morning went smoothly and everybody got off to school without a hitch. WanYing rebounded fairly gracefully from the change in routine, as well, and she swiftly realized that being at home with Dad with nobody to compete with for toys has its perks.

I asked the kiddos about the coolest part of their first day of school and here's what I got:

Ben:  At recess I played with Keagan (this is our social kid)

Sasha:  Making my hand to say:
  1. Cris cross applesauce
  2. Lips closed
  3. Put your bottom on the floor
  4. Hands and feet
  5. Listen to your ears
(apparently she made a craft that had the circle time rules written on a cutout of her hand. I'm guessing that her teacher doesn't actually ask them to listen to their ears, but I'm pretty impressed that Sasha could remember all five directions after day one!)

Sam:  Making some new friends (apparently he found somebody who likes chess and Halo, making for a fast friendship, which is pretty awesome for our less-socially-inclined son)

It sounds like the school year is off to a great start!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

WanYing's Dedication

WanYing's dedication went smashingly this morning - no children melted down on stage, we got to share our dedication day with the fabulous Bundra family (not to mention the Beckstroms and others in second service!), WanYing let Pastor Scott hold her, and, best of all, we got to stand with our church family in agreement that we will raise our kids for Christ! Yeah, an awesome morning for sure.

WanYing says hi to the church while Mommy ever-so-helpfully shows her how to wave.  Sigh.  You can't take me anywhere.

I love everything about this pic - I love the fact that two families with four kids definitely fill a stage. I love Sasha's little folded hands. I love Sam yawning and Ben giggling. And I love us praying over our kids and our families.

Thanks for joining with us (in spirit if not in body) as we dedicate one more Morningstar to Jesus!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Magazine Modeling Superstars

Ok, the "modeling" and "superstars" part may be a little strong, but my kiddlings are going to appear in Adoptive Families Magazine! This photo was chosen as a runner up in the "Welcome Into our Hearts" photo contest and will be published in the next issue of the magazine.  It'll be kind of fun to see one of my pictures (and of such adorable subjects) in print!

We plan to split the prize evenly among all six of us (it's a CD of kids' music :) and will endeavor to stay grounded despite the heady exhilaration of our fame.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You're Invited to WanYing's Dedication

You're invited to the dedication of
WanYing Hope Morningstar
Sunday August 22 at 9:30 am
CenterPoint Church
Orem High School

Please join us in celebration of our beautiful new little one and confirm with us our joint pledge to raise her in the knowledge and grace of Jesus. Visitors are welcomed with open arms and we would simply love to see you there on this exciting day for the Morningstar family!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Albion Basin Camping

This weekend we spent a very pleasant few days in one of my very favorite places - Albion Basin at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Although camping at 9,500 feet does make for some challenging hiking (especially while carrying little ones!) nothing beats camping under the Alta ski lifts in the cool mountain air surrounded by the most spectacular wildflowers in the whole wide world.

Here are a few choice pics from our weekend away:
Rainy, looking majestic amidst the mountains and wildflowers

WanYing gives the squirrels a harsh talking to.  She was very firm in her instructions for them to leave the campground as long as she was standing safe on the table, otherwise she was running and wimpering to me for rescue.

Playing in the snow in August was fun for everybody

Sasha's love for s'mores is rekindled

The gang hiking up to Catherine's Pass

Sasha was a super hiker!

Sam, overlooking Hidden Lake and Brighton ski resort

Utah, we love thee

The best view in the house!

Another hike - this time to Cecret Lake.  WanYing was very insistent on hiking on her own.

Sash on the banks of Cecret Lake

The wildflowers were so spectacular - I don't think we've ever seen them so vibrant

But, of course, these are my favorite flowers of all :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Main Blog for Maine

By Sam and Ben

Sam: In this blog you will see several photos of every sort from me and Ben's trip to Maine.  We went with Grammy and Buddy.

In Maine we had a sailing trip, which ended unsuccessfully.  There wasn't enough wind so we decided to have some canoeing.

What exactly are you doing in this picture?  Ben:  I am standing on a boat, on a kayak actually.

Is that safe?  It is not very safe, but I have practice with balance.  Not many people have that much balance.  Grammy says it is very hard to paddle when I'm doing that, and the boat is really rocky.  The only time I fell off was when Sam rocked it. 

Sam: This is a photo of me and Ben hanging out with our new friend Jack.  As you see, there is a heater right between me and Jack.  In this photo we are in the cabin right next to the couch.  The cabin was ok - two bedrooms and a third bunk bed.

Sam: In this photo you see Ben next to the water wheel at King's Landing, currently inoperational.  King's Landing is a moved settlement that used to be in the small valley but was moved up here when a dam was built.  Kings Landing was located in Canada.

What was it like crossing the boarder into Canada?  Sam:  Crossing the boarder took a bit of time because the girl had to put on her bulletproof vest.  She had to put it on because we think most of the people who crossed the border she knew but obviously she didn't know us.

Did you guys look dangerous?  No, we did not look dangerous in any way.  Probably just border regulations.

What is this?  Sam:  This is an automated saw.  Basically, it's just a saw hooked up to a horse.

I have no idea what that means.  Well, what it was like was that the horse was on a belt, like a treadmill, that was hooked up to a small belt leading into a bunch of complicated gears that would move a saw back and forth to cut wood.  It was a fairly effective cutting thing, much faster than a human could cut.

Sam:  In this photo you see me and Grammy playing checkers and also you see Ben in the front-ground.

Who won? Grammy won.

Did she cheat?  No, although I'd be fine with saying she cheated.

Ben:  Beer + Beer = yumminess.  I was not drinking beer.  I was drinking sarsaparilla.  Although Buddy was drinking beer.

Sarsaparilla is a very good type of root beer.

What was the best thing about going on vacation with with Buddy and Grammy? Sam:  Going on the fishing boat

Did you fish? We didn't do any fishing because we didn't have any poles (which I'm glad) and we just drove around the lake.

What was the hardest thing about going on vacation with your grandparents? Sam:  Hiking the trail. It was just a tough hike. It was a very, very good hike. It was good because we climbed on a lot of rocks.

What was the best thing about having the boys go on vacation with with Buddy and Grammy? Daddy:  Not getting nagged about buying souvenirs and candy

The hardest thing? Daddy: [blank stare]

What was the best thing about going on vacation with Buddy and Grammy?  Ben:  The best part of our vacation I must say is jumping off rocks and climbing all around.

The hardest part?  Also climbing on rocks and jumping off the rocks and climbing everywhere I can.

Do you want to go on vacation with your grandparents again?  Yes!


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