Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sam's AT-ST Costume

Sam's AT-ST costume illustrates the full depth of Steve's genius and/or madness (these are not exclusive options). Guided by Sam's illustrated plans and a detailed study of Star Wars movies, games, Legos, cartoons, and websites, Steve and Sam succeeded in building a heck of an amazing AT-ST costume this year.

Here's the inside view, complete with harness, air pump to power the working concussion (foam dart) launcher, and video monitor. After experimenting with the costume, Sam decided that the camera and video screen weren't necessary and he would just look out of the "Command viewports."

Here are Sam's original plans for the AT-ST. Steve and Sam worked tirelessly over the last two weeks to bring Sam's vision to life and we are very proud of the results. Mere still photography cannot capture the magnificence of their creation, so we have included Sam's video tour and demonstration of his costume for your viewing pleasure.

Astounding, I know, I tear up a little myself every time I see it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ewok Gymnastics

Did you know that Ewok paws are great for sliding down banisters? It's true! As Ben tried on the base of his Ewok costume (sans cowl) he discovered that fur paws make for an awesome ride down the stairs and insisted that I take these before, during, and after photos for the blog.

Before: Ewok Ben considers the tools of his trade

During: Weeeeeee!

After: With his little sister cheering him on and his puppy attempting to devour his fur, Ewok Ben contemplates another slide down the stairs

Fortunately, we have very sturdy stair railings.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preparing for Halloween Candy

(dictated by Sam)

Now I thought of calling it, "Indiana Jones and the Lost Tooth," but I thought, no, not really with it.

So, this time happened at school and it happened because I was twisting my tooth a little further than it usually went, and pop! goes the weasel. Except this time it was a tooth, not a weasel.

Editor's (Mom's) note: This is the second tooth loss in one week. At this rate, we won't have to worry about braces after all! Although dentures probably cost a pretty penny...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Terror Beneath the Coffee Table

As I pushed the coffee table aside this weekend to make space for the sewing machine (for furry costume creation) I discovered a trove of treasures lurking beneath.

Here's the full list of the findings:
  • Two stringing beads
  • One bouncy ball
  • Two rawhide bones
  • One barrette
  • A seashell
  • Two pencils
  • One orange crayon, slightly-gnawed (the jury is still out on whether the teeth marks are Sasha's or Chorney's)
  • A subscription card from The Week
  • One linking ring
  • A rubber band from Sam's gun
  • One biodegradable packing peanut
  • A Halloween-themed Sleeping Beauty window cling
  • A roof segment from a Lincoln Logs set
  • One pack of modeling clay
How is it possible for so much junk to amass beneath one coffee table?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Costume Creation

Masochism. It's the only explanation. Every year we do this to ourselves, and we never learn.

This year we went with the tried-and-true Star Wars theme. We figure it's the last year we'll be able to talk Sasha out of some sort of Fairy-Princess-Butterfly getup, so we might as well take advantage of her total ignorance about Halloween while it lasts!

So, we plan to have two Ewoks, an AT-ST (an All Terain Scout Transport, for those without adolescent boys), and a Darth Vader. It's going to be glorious.

We managed to find this fabulous and reasonably-priced monkey costume for Sash at Target, which has, subsequent to this photo, been retrofitted to Ewoky perfection. She is thrilled with her "dog" costume (all furry creatures are dogs to Sasha) and has already learned to shriek "Neep-cha!" in true Ewokian fashion.

The cheapest costume I could find for Ben was an insane $40, so, thrifty mom that I am, we headed over to the fabric store where we purchased all of the necessary fur and notions for the low, low price of $37 plus roughly 20 hours of my time. I may want to reconsider the cost-benefit analysis on that one.

And Sam is our AT-ST. He and Steve worked all weekend on the costume, which is... um... coming together slowly but surely (emphasis on the slowly). The first body was already completed when Steve realized that he was too wide to fit through doorways, so a slight redesign was required so that Sam could actually enter our home. Still, I'm sure they'll finish before Friday and it will be an amazing costume, he and Sam always make the most astounding Halloween creations! I'm not sure if they can surpass the actual transforming Transformer of 2008, the jawa of 2006, or the Herbie of 2003 (my personal favorite), but they're up for the challenge!

We did wise up enough to buy Chornaya's costume. She's going to be the most menacing Darth Vader in town! And all of the costumes nestle within with the plotline of Star Wars Episode VI. It's a beautiful thing. Worth the tens of hours of costume creation? The jury's still out on that one, but I think that we secretly enjoy the torture.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

(dictated by Sam)

Ok, Mom, another one bites the dust? Wouldn't "Lost Tooth" be a better name? I mean, come on.

Ben: I have a great name - "Sam Jones and the Lost Tooth." Do you think that's a great name?

Sam: That's hilarious

So, should we get back to the blog now?

So anyway, let's talk about the tooth now. One thing's for sure, it did not hurt at all. I was just twisting my tooth when all the sudden it popped out. Man, the tooth fairy's awesome, because she always gives me a dollar when I hear other people get ten cents or a nickel. So, yeah, it's awesome.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ben's New Pool Skills

With our rainy and windy weather in Oregon, we spent a lot of time in the condo complex's indoor pool, which the kids adored. On the final day of our trip, all of the skills learned in years of swimming lessons finally clicked for Ben and he started swimming, on his own! Needless to say, we were all very proud.

Here are the photos taken exclusively for this blog post (I never tire of hearing the kids say, "Mom, take a picture of me now, it's going to be awesome on the blog!"):Yes, you read that little number over Steve's shoulder correctly, my little boy is swimming, on his own, in the 8-foot section of the pool!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oregon Coast Kite Flying

An integral part of any Morningstar trip to the beach is kite flying, and although the rainy and incredibly windy weather made flying a challenge, we still got in a few good hours of flying on the beach.

30 mph winds + sand = a hard walk down the beach. On the up-side, Sam had a good time bragging that he had been in a real sandstorm.

The X-Wing kite finally makes it into the air, disturbing a few seagulls in the process

Later in the day we get a few rays of sunshine and the whole crew gets to try out the stunt kites

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rainy Oregon Coast Day 2

Rain was the theme of our second day on the Oregon Coast. We visited Ecola State Park (beautiful), Haystack Rock (one of my favorite places in the whole wide world), and we finished up the day with chowder at Mo's Restaurant. Aw, yeah.

Love that mist on the water (and on us and on our hair and...)

He's a handsome devil, even when drenched and wearing a goofy grin!

Indian Beach in Ecola

I am such a sucker for Sasha's curls in humid weather!

I'm still convinced that there's a stegosaurus or two lurking in these woods

Starfish and anemones in the tidal pools at Cannon Beach

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oregon Coast Day 1

It was cloudy, it was cold, and it was completely beautiful. Note - there would have been photos of the boys in this set, but they decided that they'd rather hang out in the condo playing Wii with their friends than enjoy the drizzles on the beach with us.

I love the big Daddy footprints and the little Sasha footprints side-by-side in this picture

This girl loves a good run on the beach, even if it's a damp one!

I love this photo that Steve snapped with the misty bluffs behind me and Sasha

Mama and Sasha share a joke

The girl's gorgeous even when she's making faces!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Big Drive for Rainy

We spent the weekend on the fabulous Oregon coast enjoying the beach with some wonderful friends who live far too far away.

The drive from Utah to Oregon is not a short one, and doing it in an 87 Volkswagen Vanagon fairly ensures an adventure or two along the way. On the way north, Rainy passed a major milestone - she crossed over to 200k!
Our coming-home adventure was less fun.

At about 3 am, we were in Northern Utah and Steve hit the gas to get around a merging truck - and the accelerator cable snapped. And without an accelerator cable, the accelerator doesn't do much.

So my ingenious husband rigged some gaffer's tape and a kite string to what remained of the accelerator cable and drove the remaining hour and a half home using his arm instead of his foot to control the throttle while I shifted. How's that for teamwork? We finally got home at 4:30 am exhausted and grateful, both for a fantastic trip to Oregon and for a safe return home.

As Steve always says, people who drive new cars miss out on all the adventure of never really knowing if you'll arrive in one piece :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dylan at the Saltair

Reflections on seeing Bob Dylan at the Saltair:
  1. No, Bob Dylan is not dead (we get this question whenever we see a Dylan concert
  2. Yes, Bob Dylan is really, really old and possibly has been mummified. Every time we see him we expect it to be his last concert
  3. Yep, Dylan still totally rocks
  4. I fail to understand why it invariably rains when we see Bob. At least the concert was indoors this time.
  5. The Saltair is very, very far away
  6. It is unbelievably difficult to enter the Saltair from I-80 (the only way to get there) and the 45 minutes spent waiting on the off-ramp drove the guy behind us barking mad. Literally. As in, craning his neck out of his neck and barking. Like a dog. And then he could take it no longer and drove in the grass on the side of the shoulder up the ramp. We saw him later and he looked much more sedated. We kept our distance
  7. We are too old to go to a concert the same day as returning home from Oregon at 4:30 am (more on this later)
  8. We were not the youngest people there - there were plenty of twenty-somethings, as well as lots of oldsters
  9. The concert was fabulous. The venue was infuriating. The SL Trib review summarized it well - "How does it feel, Saltair, to ruin a concert?"
Well done, Bobbie, I hope I'm still rocking out when I'm 68.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stadium Seating

Steve always knew that he wanted to have a media room with stadium seating... but I'm not sure this is what he had in mind!

Needless to say, the boys love sitting in a Sky Chair that's four feet off of the ground!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Terror in the Basement

You can only imagine my horror when I woke up Saturday morning and staggered downstairs (I'm not a morning person) to be greeted by this scene. Aaaaah!

Apparently Steve and the boys decided that in order to earn a trip to the movies to watch Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3D, they needed to "organize" the toys. This, of course, meant dumping everything out so that it could be sorted properly.

But I have to admit that despite my fears to the contrary they finished the whole job up by mid-afternoon and we now have fantastically organized toy bins in the basement. If we're going to have mountains of plastic "treasures" at least they're well-organized!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Technology, Still Improving Lives

I know that some of you scoffed when we got the boys a cell phone to share, so I wanted you to share two benefits to cell phone living that we are already enjoying:
1) Increased time in the great outdoors, as exhibited by this priceless scene I captured from our bedroom window this afternoon, and
2) Invaluable father-son interactions, as demonstrated in this texting conversation that Sam and Steve shared while sitting right next to each other watching the credits for Toy Story 3D:
Steve: Do you like the movie?
Sam: Ya, and you have a big but.
Steve: What! Lets see what happens when my big butt sits on you!
Sam: And your small brain
Steve: Yeah, small enough to make me a genius!
Sam: Ya, but compard to you I'm Instien
I can't imagine how we survived before the family text plan.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Extreme Dental Hygene

I know that I have three children, which is only a hair shy of a full gaggle, but this seems excessive even for us.

Yesterday I was washing my hands in the bathroom when my eyes met this sight - eight toothbrushes and four tubes of toothpaste. And my favorite part is the lonely little ducky toothbrush holder standing empty in the corner of the counter.

On the up-side, part of the source of the toothbrush proliferation was the kids' successful dentist visit this week. Three checkups, two cleanings (Sasha wasn't willing to allow the cleaning process yet, although she was purported to love the Barbie Three Musketeers movie playing in the office), and no cavities! A world record! The dentist did remark, however, that we probably want to start saving now for Sasha's braces. Like mother, like daughter!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Everything in Moderation

We were walking home from the store last night, Sasha and Ben in the wagon and Sam walking beside me when the following conversation ensued:
[Ben jumps out of the wagon]
Mom: Shew, this wagon is sure a lot easier to pull now!
Sam: That's 'cause Ben is full of so many calories!
[Ben gives Sam a dirty look]
Sam: What?!? It's better than transfats!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Extraordinary Autumn

I love autumn - the crisp air, the changing of the leaves, first snowfall on the mountains - it's all magic.

On Saturday we spent a beautiful few hours up in South Fork Canyon. It was great, and we managed to snap some lovely shots along the way.Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kid Pics

I'm not sure why I'm so obsessed with terrible photos of my children right now - maybe because I have so many awful shots of them and they are so dang hilarious!

I promise that I will eventually post our lovely fall photos from South Fork, but in the meantime, here are some of the kids' more amusing group shots:

Ben channels his inner pirate. Unfortunately, this is when we asked him to smile his sweetest smile. Makes ya wonder...

Sasha before we promised her ice cream if she would say cheese for the camera, and, no, not the terrifying cheese face from Sunday's post

Finally - a shot (post-ice-cream-promise) that just might be good enough for the Christmas cards!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


We took a gorgeous hike up South Fork Canyon yesterday and had a truly fantastic time enjoying family time together, a little exercise, and the incredible beauty of God's creation.

More pictures to follow, but since we're on a roll with terrible pictures of the Morningstar children, I thought I'd entertain you with the face I got when I asked Sasha to say, "cheese!"

No, she's not in pain, she's not upset, she's just giving the camera her loveliest cheesy smile.

Fortunately, I did snap a nicer photo of Sasha in her brand new pumpkin beret. First time mommies of girls after they have two boys are allowed to buy ridiculous hats like this, it's in the Bill of Rights somewhere... or maybe the Bible. The hat is really adorable in person, but in this photo I think Sasha bears an eerie resemblance to Gallagher. Sigh. My life is very complicated.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brought to you by the Letter P

It's been a while since we blogged about Sasha's Adventures in Development and it seems high time for an update!

We've (ok, really it's just been Steve, I deserve no credit in this portion of Sasha's journey) been meeting with representatives from a local early intervention program, Kids on the Move, for the last few weeks and the experience has been really positive. Sasha's initial assessment was really positive, noting on-level development in gross motor, social-emotional, and self-help skills; very minor cognitive and fine motor delays; and then more substantial delays in receptive and expressive language. These delays came as no surprise to us, considering her 2 years of institutional care, a new language, a new mouth, and hearing issues because of the cleft that weren't resolved until May's surgeries! And the fact that the specialists agree that she is completely on-level socially and emotionally just blows me away. Our little girl is such a wonder.

So we have a general specialist (is that an oxymoron?) coming every two weeks and a speech therapist coming once a month and then in a few months they'll do another evaluation and decide on next steps. Right now we're working on the "p" sound, so this is Sasha's Pail of P's (puppy, tape, slipper, pillow, etc). Given potty training, the emphasis on "p" is a bit unfortunate... but I'm sure Steve will recover, eventually, from the emotional trauma of it all.


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