Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ride 'em Cowgirl, part 2

Sasha's riding lessons continue, although the fact that we've been posting about her equestrian lifestyle for months is a little misleading.

Actually, this Friday was only her third lesson.  Various thunderstorms, illnesses, and busy schedules have impeded the finishing of our 4-lesson pack, but a lesson a month seems to be a fine pace for Sash and she's having a blast, so it's hard to feel too bad about the delays.

This week Sash got to ride Bucky the Big Horse rather than Simon the Pony.  It was a big deal for my big girl.  I'll admit that my heart skipped a beat when I saw these pictures of her cantering on such a giant animal, but my fears were quelled after hearing Sasha's rapturous description of cantering on Bucky "all by herself".

She's not always sweet, not always gentile, but you have to admit that our gal is always, always up for an adventure!

It's like my friend Susan posted to Facebook last week about her own spirited child: It's much better to rein in a bronco than to drag an elephant.  I think that's the right perspective - here's to all you bronco-reigning (and bronco-loving) parents out there!

Monday, September 24, 2012

So, how are you?

Ah, my not-so-favorite question. How are you?

A lot of good, caring folks in my life have naturally assumed that once the terms of Steve's bail were modified and he was allowed to return to Utah in early July, everything would be hunky dory in Jamieland, that "normal" life would immediately resume, and that "all of this messiness" would be behind us.

This has certainly not been my experience and, fortunately, was not my expectation. Steve and I have a lot to work through individually and as a couple - figuring out how to live as a married couple again after 6 months apart, getting to know the different people we've grown into as we tackled our individual challenges in the months apart, coping with the cognitive and emotional side-effects of Steve's medications, living with the pending legal decisions, learning (over and over and over again) to trust God and accept his love, learning (over and over and over again) to accept love from each other.

This journey continues to be anything but simple or rosy.

And I do believe that God is with us.  I do believe that he's refining us, causing us each individually and as a couple to reflect him with ever increasing glory. 

It feels like it costs all of me, everything in me, to live with this kind of faith.  And I kind of think that's how God wants it.

A dear friend gave me the book One Thousand Gifts a few months ago.  It's been both balm and challenge for my soul, and this passage, this image continues to stick out to me:
When it gets dark, it's only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected with his hand. In the pitch, I feel like I'm falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging his perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then he will remove his hand. Then we will look.

Then we will look back and see his back.

...God reveals himself in rearview mirrors.
One Thousand Gifts
I don't know if it's true.  I don't know if the world falling out from under my feet every day, every week is really God tucking me safely into a cleft of rock.  I don't know if my feelings of abandonment truly are the exact opposite: God passing by.  But I have enough faith in my heart and truth in my head to think that it just might be possible.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Awesomeness(ly Hard)

Ben:  This weekend we did backbreaking work.  We hiked all the way to Emerald Lake, which is 6 miles, very steep, the longest hike I've ever done.  And as I'm writing this, I'm still sore, and it's one day later.

The best part was bedtime.  And the freeze dried ice cream sandwiches.  They were very good.  Bedtime was good because we read a lot of chapters in a book and I saw three shooting stars.  We did not sleep in a tent.  We were going to sleep in a shelter but it was full.  It was pretty cold.  I was snug in my bag, though.

We saw 11 mountain goats.  One we saw 10 feet away or so.

I liked backpacking, but it is not on my to do list again for another year or so.  That was enough!

And here are our photos, as described by Sam:
In the beginning, we started hiking.  The packs were fairly heavy but not too bad.
This is a photo of Ben and Mom, which we tried to get looking down the canyon but we didn't have enough room.
Here we see a photo that is looking down the canyon.  We're looking at how far we've gone.  We have Crocs for lounging shoes.
This is a photo of us going up.  Up at the top of that saddle we still have another quarter of the hike to go, or 1.5 miles.
This is where we're at the top of the saddle
This is a photo of several mountain goats that were looking at us.  We saw a total of 11 during the trip.
This is a photo of another goat.  Chorney wanted to eat him.
That's a photo of me at the top of the saddle.  I was fairly tired by then.
This is a photo of me eating lasagna.  It was a little bit on the soupy side.  It was hiker lasagna and it tasted good.
This is a photo of the sunrise
This is a photo of me in the morning.  Ben's hidden in the red part of the sleeping bag because it's cold.
This is a view from a fair distance away of our campsite with Timpanogos mountain in the background.  It was cool sleeping under the stars.
This is a photo of another goat that was within 10 feet of us.
This is me in front of the goat.  I was taking photos of it.
If you see that small dot on the hill, that's me in front of the snow.  Ben's the one walking back on the rocks. We were at the lake 'cause it's near where we camped and we also filtered some water.
This is a photo of us going back
This is Chorney's pack.  She carried her food and a bowl.  She got fairly tired.
This is Ben in front of a waterfall about 3/4 of the way down.
This is Chorney sitting in the water.  She was sitting in the water because she's hot.
The hike was amazing.  We got to see so much.  And my hips are sore from holding the pack.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Old Friends

Yesterday we were blessed to share dinner and a playdate with one of Sasha's first American friends, Shannon.

Shannon and her husband adopted Sasha's cribmate Olivia from the Botakoz Baby House in 2008 and quickly fell in love with little Sasha as well.  They were instrumental in petitioning for the baby house to complete Sasha's paperwork so that she would be adoptable and were a huge encouragement to us along the way as we pursued Sasha's adoption.

We are so, so grateful for Shannon and her family!  It was so good to see Sash and Shannon together again... our little girl has come so far in the four years between these photos.  It's equally heartbreaking and astonishing to think that the 12 pound 10-month-old girl in this photo who could barely hold her head up is now our spunky, sassy, zany Sasha.

Shannon, thanks for loving our baby girl before we even started considering adoption.  Thanks for pushing agency and orphanage to get her paper ready so that she could having a loving family and permanent home rather than languishing in group care.  And thanks for encouraging and loving on us every step of the way as we brought Sash home.  We love you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hiking Mt. Timpanogos

Last Friday I had the wonderful chance to hike Mt. Timpanogos, the second tallest mountain in Utah, with several friends. It was a beautiful day - perfect weather, great company, and I got paid to climb a mountain for a whole day! Fabulous. Thanks Mozy!

We covered 16 miles and climbed 5,000 feet to Timp's summit at 11,700 feet. I haven't summited in a few years and it was well worth the effort (and extra soreness). All of my biking this year definitely helped with the climb up - I felt pretty darn good going up... but my low-impact cycling didn't do much for the miserable slog down (my poor hips and knees!). Ugh. But now, 4 days later, I'm proud to announce that I can go down a staircase without wincing :)

Here are my favorite pics from the hike - enjoy!

Pre-dawn never looks lovelier than at the start of the hike
Morning has broken!
A moosy friend we met along the way
Going up, up, up
Arrival at the saddle.  Here's our view of work (middle of the far left-hand side)... I have to admit that I like this view more than that from my cubicle!
Walking above the clouds
Our whole Mozy crew
Ta dah!  Here's me at the summit
Time for a break and a snack
Home again, home again.  What a wonderful day!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Oh my goodness, my Toothless the Dragon is one step toothlesser!  That's right, Miss Sasha lost her third tooth this weekend, and is again requiring the family to refer to her as Toothless. 

The ex-tooth was a little loose midweek and then after a collision with her brother's head on the trampoline and some serious tugging on her part, out came the tooth on Friday!  Sasha was very excited because she knew the Tooth Fairy would give her enough money to rent her own Redbox movie. 

Sigh.  The things this kid will endure for a dollar.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Decorating Globally

A fellow adoptive mama posted a link to this craft a few weeks ago and I thought it was such a great idea I just had to try it out!

You just purchase a world map (around $5 on Amazon.  God bless you, Amazon), make color photocopies of the stamps in your passport, and then stick the stamps onto the map near their country of origin.

I thought it looked like a fun, cute, inexpensive way to celebrate our global adventures, and sure enough the boys and I had a great time assembling our project.  It was pretty cool to leaf through my three passports, marveling at the memories of all of those trips and plotting new adventures.  And I'm really pleased with the look of the result.

Now... where to go next?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Biking Bonanza

2012 has definitely been the Year of the Bike here in the Morningstar home.  Since May, I've ridden almost 1700 miles, including a big ride on Monday up to South Fork Canyon, down to Seven Peaks, and then home again (38.5 miles). Hooray for Labor Day and a Mmom and husband to watch the kids while I ride!

Biking has been such a joy and gift to me in these crazy months.  The solitude, the wind in my face, moving forward with just the strength of my body, physically working out the fear and frustration, singing songs to myself with the cadence of my pedaling... it's all been so, so good for my body and soul.   I am grateful for my bike, and for the man who surprised me with a very unexpected and now very well used gift for my super-tough 33rd birthday.

And I'm grateful for the God who gives me views like this at every turn!
My bike valet service rocks - they do a pretty good job cleaning off a dirty bike and I love the fancy uniform!
We finished off this week's girls' ride with "dinner" at The Chocolate.  Clearly we were all very pleased with the final destination of our ride :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Camping at Albion

A few weeks ago we spent a gorgeous weekend camping at one of my favorite places on earth - Albion Basin (yep, the same place where we just took family portraits - not a coincidence!).  We enjoyed the company of dear friends, beautiful hikes, wildlife and wildflowers, and the pleasures of camping under the Alta ski lifts.  An excellent weekend indeed!
One happy girl after her meal of chili cheese dogs on the fire (which we enjoyed for two consecutive nights - why deviate from a winner?)
Camping under the ski lifts
Mommy and WanYing explore the campground
Hey, look what we found!  Hello, Mr. Moose!
And a Mrs. Moose with Baby Moose!
This guy really liked our campsite.  He's the biggest fox I've ever seen - and both of these may have something to do with children and chili cheese dogs...
Walking up to Cecret Lake
Those specs on the other side of the lake are the boys salamander hunting.  The girls decided that they wanted to go join the boys, and about 15 minutes after saying yes it occurred to me that I hadn't seen them in a while...
And my girls were all the way on the other side of the lake crossing the scree in pursuit of their brothers!  Definitely not the easy way around... but no obstacle will stand in the way of my adventuresome girls!
Day 2 - Hiking to Catherine's Pass
Ah, Albion, I love ya
Made it to the pass!  Time for some snacks
Time for lots of snacks!
Our whole gang. I sure do love these families!
Couple shot at the top
And time to hike back down again.  It was a great weekend!


Related Posts with Thumbnails