Friday, February 17, 2017

Sasha's 8th Gotcha Day!

Eight years ago today, after
thirteen months of paperchase,
four weeks of daily orphanage visits,
and two days in court
a judge in Kazakhstan said,
"dah" and Alexandra Grace Morningstar became forever and always and officially a part of our family.

The wild ride continues with our spunky, zany, sassy girl and I can't imagine life any other way.

Sasha, I'm so very grateful that you are ours and we our yours!

Happy Gotcha Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WanYing's Birthday

by WanYing

This is WanYing's eighth birthday. I got a new camera that can print out pictures [Editor's note: watching kids' fascination with Polaroid photos is awesome]. When I woke up I had a bunch of balloons when I woke up in my room.

I got to have a Walk Around the Sun on my birthday. A Walk Around the Sun is where you get to tell something about each year and you can bring pictures in and you can bring a treat in for your class. [Editor's explanation: it's a Montessori tradition - you share a photo and story from each year (each trip around the sun - get it?) and the kids sing a cute little song while the birthday kid carries a globe in a circle around a candle. It's adorable]

And I got to pick where we ate for dinner. And I picked teppanyaki. I picked teppanyaki because I like them cooking it in front of you. [Editor's note: yes, our Asian kid picked teppanyaki. What can you do?]

I had a great day.

These are the friends I invited for my birthday party. This is a picture of all of us together. I chose to go to the Ice Castles because two years straight there's some problem to go to it then I got to go because we got all the stuff done and it wasn't too hot.

[Editor's explanation: Ying has wanted to have her party at the Ice Castles for several years. Two years ago it was too warm and they closed before her birthday. Last year I didn't realize we needed to get tickets ahead of time so they were all sold out. This year it finally all worked!]

This is a picture of me and my friend. We were sitting together under a big pile of ice.

This is the ice castle slide. They made it out of ice and it was really slippery and you would like fall down it almost because it was so slippery.

We got to pick up pies from a place that my mom knows and they were surprise pies so we didn't know what they were and one of them was a hand birthday one. And they had a creamy center. And we mostly everybody ate two.

[Editor's explanation: We ordered "hand pies" (think turnovers) from my friend's wife's pie shop in Heber - June Pie, check it out! We didn't know what flavor the hand pies would be, hence the "surprise pies" but the vanilla cream filling was a huge hit with the girls!]

This is a picture of when I woke up in my bedroom. I played with the balloons for a bit and then I went downstairs. And I played with my sister and brother and we threw balloons at each other. And my brother blew up all the balloons

This is my birthday candle. It's one that sings and sings and sings. You have to cut the wire to make it stop singing. And it has a lot of flames on it so I had to take a few blows to blow it all out. And it's on top of a donut.

This is a present that I got from my gramma and my grandpa and it's actually what I wanted and it's a really cool set of Littlest Pet Shops. And I shaked it and it didn't make a noise.

I now love being eight! And I don't need a booster seat!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reflections on Diversity

I love Chinese New Year. It's such a fun holiday - great food, a focus on family time, fireworks - all the makings of a fantastic celebration!

This year we had the joy of hosting our local Chinese New Year's party at CenterPoint. I'm so grateful to have a church facility that's open to gatherings like this! It's a wonderful way to serve and connect with our community.

The party was a blast as always. The decorations were super festive. The food was amazing. The company was delightful. We learned about Chinese New Year traditions, exchanged red envelopes, made Year of the Rooster crafts, and clapped along with the dragon parade.

We also had the joy of welcoming a dozen people from our community who participate in the Conversation Cafe conversational English club at church. It was so fun to blend together our adoptive family friends and our learning-English friends together in one big party.

Chinese New Year has been a super special holiday to me for a while, and this year my reflections were filled with a special gratitude.

As our nation grapples with the threat of bigotry and prejudice becoming an accepted part of our national identity, I hold gatherings like this precious. We crossed cultural, racial, and religious boundaries. We welcomed folks born in the U.S., China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, and Mexico. We learned from each other, ate together, laughed together, and just enjoyed each other. I don't want to over-spiritualize Panda Express takeout and $50 worth of fireworks, but I think there's something really special about crossing lines and coming together to celebrate like this.

We are a family of blended heritage. We have a daughter from a Muslim-majority country and one from a Socialist nation. We don't look the same, but are bonded by love and respect and devotion to each other.

And let's never forget that, like our relationship with God, our girls came to us with nothing to offer. We loved them and they responded to that love - we didn't ask that they prove their worthiness or their affiliation to our cause or their adherence to our religion.
We love because he first loved us.

Gathering together over takeout this weekend was, to me, a profound celebration of what is precious and how I want my life, my family, my church, my community, and my nation to be defined.

Also, kudos to Sam for finding something he actually wanted to eat at the party and for making it "Chinese" by eating with chopsticks.

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