Saturday, December 27, 2014

3 Days, 5 Snowsports

In the past 3 days of Christmassy wonder we have managed to cram in 5 different snow sports. It's a Merry Christmas indeed!

Day 1: Christmas Day

Alpine and Telemark skiing - our Christmas tradition

Day 2: Boxing Day

More alpine skiing with the Sundance Ski Team and Nordic skiing up at the Sundance Nordic Center.

Sasha was approved to use poles at her next team practice - she is so excited!
Grammy and WanYing gear up and enjoy the Nordic Center. And the good folks at the Sundance Nordic Center kept WanYing's adaptive poles all ready for her!
WanYing would have gladly skied more, but after the first mile it was time to go adult-speed so WanYing kindly agreed to hop in the pulk.

Day 3: The day after Boxing Day (does 12/27 have a name?)

Snowshoeing and sliding snowshoeing at the Sundance Nordic Center.
For the uninitiated (don't feel bad, very few people have heard of sliding snowshoes - they're kind of a niche thing for people who need an excuse to buy more winter gear), sliding snowshoes are relatively short (130 cm) wide skis with a snowshoe binding, a metal edge up the middle half of the ski, and scales on the base for grip when going uphill.

There's nobody who really needs snowshoes, cross country skis, and sliding snowshoes, so clearly they were a must-have for our arsenal and I purchased them for Steve last Valentine's Day. The snow was fluffy enough today that he decided to pull them out and we had a blast (that is, he fell down a lot and I laughed from the secure post of my snowshoes. I tried to laugh quietly and when that failed made sure I was out of pole-stabbing distance).

But Steve definitely had the last laugh once we got up the hill and he got to make graceful tele turns down while I ran down the trail behind him and mostly succeeded in not tripping headlong into the snow.

So there you go, 5 snowsports in 3 days - alpine skiing, telemark skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and sliding snowshoeing!

So grateful for our adventurous family, for Utah's natural beauty, for snow, and for time together to enjoy it all!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2014 was simply fabulous. As usual, we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve so as to enjoy the present frenzy and still leave plenty of time for Christmas Day skiing. It's a tradition we started a few years ago and we love it! The kids love opening presents a day early, and we all love saving the majority of our Christmas Day for family time on the mountain (our favorite place with our favorite people!).

Here's a review of our Christmas highlights:

Ben got honey sticks in his stocking. By the time the grown-ups woke up, he was on number seven.  SEVEN.
Chorney bonded quickly with her AT-AT reindeer
We started Christmas off with a bang - Sam was suitably thrilled about his big gift
And Sasha loved her new boots! I love that our girl got this excited about boots. She has good taste.
We got to celebrate Christmas with Grammy this year and she brought the girls supercool dresses from her trip to India.
Ying insisted on wearing hers all morning. We couldn't blame her.
By this point the AT-AT had already lost its head.
Ben's Christmas gift was a bit of a mystery. We said that when he figured out what this piece was, we'd give him the rest of his gift. He was really confused for a really long time.
Tie dye shirt time!
This year we had Miyazaki-themed shirts. I think they turned out quite nicely.
Ben has been pestering us for a Wubble Bubble ball for months. He loves it. I give it a 3 day lifespan in our home.
Ben finally figures out his gift! But we had to give him ample hints, such as loving him half as much as we love WanYing (who got a bike for Christmas)
And the rest of our Christmas was filled with:
Huge messes
Lots of this (he's doing great!)
And lots of this
A whole lot of this
And a bunch o' Lego assembly as well - the new Princess Lego sets are awesome.

From all of us to all of you, we wish you very happy holidays, great family time, and lots and lots of snow!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Favorite Christmas Memories - The Annual Nativity Reenactment

Our Christmas celebrations started, as usual, with our annual retelling of The Christmas Story - Morningstar style. And for our church's Christmas Eve service this year I had the chance to tell everybody about our favorite Christmas tradition:

This year's retelling was as weird and wonderful as usual. Sam read. The girls fought over who got to be the sheep (they really are the cutest). A wise man lost his hat. The shepherds were drunk (Daddy mentioned that shepherds were usually a rough-and-ready crowd in ancient times and Ben does a disturbingly convincing drunk shepherd). And our Christmas started just right.

(the angel is appearing in the sky, that's why he's over WanYing's head)
By the time we get to the shepherds, the kids are usually pretty wound up. This year was no exception.
The wise men did eventually make it to the stable.
And Chorney worshiped the Baby Jesus with her Christmas AT-AT. Sounds like just the right ending to our version of The Christmas Story.

We hope that your Christmas is just as blessed, just as wacky, and just as full of love and laughter and snuggles as ours. From all of us to all of you, Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beginning to look a little like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas out here! Here's an overview of our ever-busy and always-fun Christmas prep in Morningstarland.

We got a tree.

Despite Sam's committed facade in this photo, he couldn't have cared less about which tree we got ("they're all green") but was worried that if we didn't commit to one of the meager mid-December tree-pickings at our usual Christmas tree haunt we would drive all over town looking for the perfect specimen ("they all look the same"). So he incited a tree-hugging fest since he knew that once the girls settled their affections on a tree the hunt was over.

He's a wily one, that Sam. It worked like a charm.

Look, our mountains are starting to have snow (as seen from the parking lot of the tree place).
Decorations are up
And the girls are actually old enough to be helpful decorating - bonus!
We've made seven - count 'em seven - batches of caramels.
Ben loves himself some caramel pan ends!
And so far we've made 3 of the 5 kinds of cookies requested by the family. Apparently we don't agree on cookies... or the kids have figured out that if they all want different cookies then we end up making more. Curses, they are a wily bunch!
The Qualtrics company party was a fabulous Roaring 20's affair
And we totally looked the part
And ski team has started for 3/4 of our children. Now we just need some more snow so Nordic team can start up, too!
Somebody feels (and looks) like a million bucks in her new ski team jacket
And this Sunday was kiddo Sunday in church - Sasha and the rest of the Kudos kids were great!
And the 3 through 5-year-olds were highly entertaining as well.
We just need another foot of snow, a few dozen more cookies, and 4 more nights' sleep and Christmas will be upon us!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Picky Pizza Posters - Malawis

The ultimate quest for the worst pizza experience in Utah Valley

Malawi’s Pizza: Pizza with a Purpose

Gotta love a pizza place that simultaneously soothes your appetite and your conscience.

Says the wall, "For every meal you buy, we donate a nutritious meal to a child in Malawi, Africa." and another sign boasted that 393,428 nutritious meals were delivered in Africa from this restaurant. Pretty cool!


Africa themed decor. Elephants, giraffes, wood grain tables, Banyan tree, tribal masks. Lots of stone-work around the oven.

Nice big booths to fit nice big Utah families!

Price for a Large Cheese

$9.95 for a six-slice pizza.


Coke fountain products, really good root beer in bottles, and pebbled ice! Yes!

Pizza Impressions

Thin crust with satisfying cracker like crunch. Moderate crust bubbles. Sweet sauce. Amazing tasting cheese. Small parsley pieces did not cause any shouts of “Green stuff!?!”

Italian-style pizza at an African-style restaurant - how often do you get to say that?

We sprung for chocolate-chocolate dessert pizza, too. Figured we deserved it after Subway. Uggghhh... Subway...

Ben: I love this dessert pizza!
Sam: Wow, that’s pretty sweet. It’s like all sugar.
Ben: (hyperactivity bouncing) Yeah! I know!


4/6 slices

Good, but not great, and pretty expensive. Our family's bill for pizza, drinks, and dessert topped $70. Ouch.

As a reminder, here's our rating scale:

0 slices - I would not eat this at any price
1 slices - It’s not good but at least its pizza
2 slices - I would consider coming back if every other pizza place was closed
3 slices - Cheap enough and edible enough for my kid’s birthday party
4 slices - I’ll come back, but Dad is buying
5 slices - Somewhere between 4 and 6
6 slices - Stuffing some in my pockets to eat later


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