Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Soccer Season Ends

Ah, five-week sport seasons, how I love you. You start, you're fun, and then you're over before I tire of you completely. Perfect. I hope that every hobby my children choose is constrained to five-week increments. I'm sure I never stuck with a sport for longer than five weeks at their age (or my current age, for that matter).

Ben "the soccer boy" Morningstar, Assistant Coach Steve, and the rest of the Orange Fire Tigers had a good game tonight, ending the season with juice boxes and fruit snacks (everybody knows that the success of the game is judged solely on the appeal of the post-game snacks, not on the actual score or quality of play). Most importantly, the soccer photos were delivered this week and ended up super-cute. It's almost worth signing the kids up for more sports just to get the little sports-card pictures. I totally dig 'em.

Here are Ben's reflections on the season:
The best thing about soccer is just having fun. I'm glad I signed up for it.

The worst thing is that we only won one game. I know that because I keep score, but they don't.
And there you have it. I know that I will await the spring season in rapt suspense - what color will the uniforms be next year?!? Stay tuned till April for the reveal.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Me Help"

When Sasha decides that it's time to be a helper, she is an force to be reckoned with. A messy, tantrum-throwing, often distracting, assistance-requiring "helping" force. But she's awfully cute. I just hope that the inclinations to help last to the age when she can actually be helpful.

Having the grandparents in town gave Sasha a whole new set of victims for her helpfulness. She suckered them into letting her crack eggs, stir brownie batter, water flowers, wash garage doors, and sort laundry - and I think that all three of them enjoyed every minute of it!

Monday, September 27, 2010


I came home Thursday after a crazy (great, but exhausting) week at work to find that somebody replaced our bedroom with Room 718 of a charming bed and breakfast! We're talking stocked mini fridge, glasses sealed for your protection, bathroom stocked with travel sized cosmetics (I still haven't found my normal shampoo), toilet paper ends folded under, stocked with extra towels (I hate calling the front desk for more towels), champagne on ice - perfect! Talk about a man who knows how to make his wife feel special. Guys, if you're looking for a creative way to surprise your wife, I totally suggest transforming your room into a hotel - I still haven't finished all of the Toblerone from the mini bar!

In fact, we had such a nice staycation that we decided to extend our reservation for another night. The front desk was very accommodating and made space for us.

So on Friday night we headed up to Sundance for dinner and a full-moon lift ride. We thought this was a perfect idea until we realized that hundreds of our neighbors also decided to enjoy the last Sundance full-moon lift ride of the season. Holy cow! When we got off of the lift at 11:30 the line was still probably an hour long. And the Grill was correspondingly hopping - glad we had reservations!

Despite the crowds and the chill, we had an awesome date up at Sundance. We even ran into the Huebners (who saved us an hour or two in line, heh heh heh) and had an awesome time catching up with them. It was a great staycation - we should do it again next weekend!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Autumn Colors on Squaw Peak

The leaves were just starting to change on Squaw Peak (that's the mountain directly behind our house) last weekend and we decided to enjoy the colors on a little hike up Buffalo Peak. Despite a false start (who knew finding the correct unmarked trailhead on a dirt Forest Service road could be so challenging? Besides, it would hardly be a Morningstar hike if we hiked the right trail on the first try) we had a fantastic time with Gramma and Poppop in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Book for Mei Mei

A large part of my pre-adoptive experience is finding ways to channel the crazy. This week's unnecessary project to manufacture the feeling that I'm moving the process along was a photo book to send to Mei Mei, a la the Morningstar ABC's book we created for Sasha.

Admittedly, this is putting the cart before the horse since we won't even know who Mei Mei is for a month, but the odds are that we'll be able to send her a little care package or two before traveling and it does this mommy's heart good to know that I'll have a picture book with Mandarin translation all ready as soon as I know her address!

My coworker, Brandon, served a Mandarin-speaking LDS mission and he gave me the characters for oldest brother, second-oldest brother, family, together, etc. I love it that our book will be readable by Mei Mei's caregivers. Thanks, Brandon!

Click on the picture of the book to view the whole thing or click here:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bike Tricks

by Ben

This is about how what I do on my bike.

First of all, I get up to speed and I go really really fast and then I stand up and the reason I have to go really fast is so I can glide. I stand on the bar that helps the bike stay up, like not fall apart. And it's pretty fun. And dangerous. But fun. Wait, I already said, "but fun."

My second trick is where I make really tight turns. And my dad says that I could probably do that at skiing. And this is fun because it looks like you're gonna fall on the ground, but you don't.

But when Ben does something, Sasha is never left out of something. Sasha riding a bike - a scale between -10 and 10? Hmm... Negative ten. But I'm pretty sure she'll learn pretty soon.

That's it folks!

Dossier Sent to China

Quick paperchase update - our dossier was sent to China today!

Keep fingers crossed and prayers said (one perhaps more than the other) for the speedy assignment of a Logged in Date (LID) in time for the October shared list release!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Wahoo! That's right - that's one completed dossier strewn madly around us! Admittedly, our China dossier looks a little less... um... intense than our Kaz dossier, but that's only because you're not looking closely enough. Let's zoom in a little...

Each document is verified not twice like with Kaz (notarization and appostiling). No, no, no - each document in pursuit of Mei Mei is verified four times - notarization, verification by the state of issuance (for us, mostly Utah, except for our birth and marriage certificates from Maryland), verification by the U.S. Department of State, and verification by the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. Wowsers - we have never been so official!

So, what's next?
  1. Once our agency, WACAP, receives our precious FedEx package (currently scheduled for Thursday, you know I'll be watching that tracking number like a hawk), they send it to CCAA (Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs
  2. CCAA gives us the all-important Logged In Date (LID)
  3. As long as our LID is before the date of the next shared list publication, roughly one month from now, we should have the opportunity to look over a file in October
  4. If we feel like the little one's file we receive is our daughter, we officially start pursuing Mei Mei
  5. Travel four to six months after, probably sometime between February and April
The Adoption Timeline has been updated - hooray for being one giant step closer to our little one!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Family Portraits

Two weeks ago we had family portraits taken, courtesy of the Powell family who, to soften the blow of their departure, let us claim their last unused portrait sitting credit with a local studio. We still miss them, but I will admit that it's nice to have a nice set of family pictures since I'm sure it will be many more months until we've
recovered sufficiently from the initial insanity of Mei Mei's homecoming to even think about thinking about family pictures.

We opted to just purchase the boys' individual portraits instead of school portraits, in further attempts to suppress the horror of a year ago. Ben was his usual impossible-to-photograph self (why, God, why can't he smile on command?!?), but with a minimum of bribery + tickling + a patient photographer we ended up with some pretty dang adorable shots of our fabulously adorable boy.

Sam was easy-peasy... but these pictures leave me with the rather uncomfortable feeling that he is growing up way too quickly. Ack! He looks 9 going on 18 in these pictures. Not ok. Beautiful pictures, but not ok.

And Sasha, unsurprisingly, ate up the whole indulgent experience. The photographer called the pictures we purchased the "sassy sister" pose. Aptly named. It's hard to believe how much she's changed and grown and blossomed in the year since her last portraits. Who put my life on fast forward?

Glad I like these portraits so much, it'll be many moons before I have the energy to drag my family out to the park in coordinating outfits again!

And yes, family, your copies are already in the mail!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

They are not merely opponents...

Sam: Ben, who won your soccer game today?

Ben: (dejected) The enemy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Buying our Home - Again!

Today we joined the proud and happy ranks of homeowners all over the U.S. reaping the benefits of insanely low interest rates. We (re)purchased our home at an astounding 4.125% rate, adding $50 per month and subtracting 7 years from the life of the loan. I'll take that trade any day!

All of the fun of closing with none of the unpacking :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're All Doggies to Her

I have a theory about Sasha and the more I think about it, the more convinced I become of its truth: I think that we're all doggies in Sasha's eyes.

Consider the following compelling evidence:

First, a conversation from Saturday morning
Sasha, triumphantly announces a potty victory, "Boys! I go potty and put on underwear!"

Realizing that Ben didn't hear her declaration, she asks, "Oh, where my Ben? Ben still sleeping?"

I reply, "Yes, let him sleep"

Sasha: "No, no, I need to go pet him" as she stomps up to Ben's room and tenderly strokes his head.
Next, Sasha, in a quiet and loving moment, comes over to me and pats my arm, chanting, "You good boy, Mommy, good boy."

And she always asks if Chornaya is coming to church with us and is surprised that the answer is no.

You be the judge

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Adventurously Expectant

I am consistently astounded by the Bible, by the living Word of God. There's always something new, always something that feels like it was was written just for me, just for now.

Here's my new memory verse:
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.
Romans 8:15-16
I love that God knows so perfectly what I need to know and hear and learn. Amazing.

I pray that I will live in that adventurous expectation, knowing and confirming who I really am. Because my Papa will always have something new for me!

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to Make Ramen Noodles

by Ben

Ramen is a type of noodles. That's why it is called ramen noodles. It tastes pretty good and you have to put this salty thing in to make the broth. I usually have broth. [Editor's note to self: When ramen is on sale at Target 6/$1, buy many]

I can make ramen all by myself.

Here's how you make ramen:
  1. Put some water on the boiler and then wait until it boils
  2. Put in the noodles after the water has been boiled
  3. Put the timer to three minutes
  4. And then if you want broth, put the salty stuff in

And you can eat ramen!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Campout

I hereby motion that we get every Monday off. Having Monday off is like a special little surprise tacked onto an already great gift. Like, "oh, tomorrow's Monday - but surprise! it's actually another Saturday!" Fabulous.

Sunday after church we drove down to Payson Canyon and enjoyed a laid-back campout at Maple Lake. It's hard to pinpoint a single favorite moment from our Labor Day celebration - Ben gorging on the Pop Tarts he bought at the store on our way out of town, Sam running around our campsite nonstop playing Halo games in his imagination, Ben and Sasha fighting over who gets to cook their hotdog on the 8-foot "stick" they found (answer: neither of them)... but I think that my favorite moment has to be Sasha singing a rousing, "this place is full of flies" song in the bathroom over and over again. Nothing commemorates the pit-toilet experience like a theme song.

Before we headed down the canyon on Monday, we stopped at The Grotto, another local hike on my unofficial list of "hikes we have to take or else we're bad people." You'll be glad to know that this hike went a jillion times better than our ill-fated Dry Creek hike and I did notice that the children were sure to ask me multiple times if I really knew where this hike was. Fair question, I can't blame them for asking.

We had a really great little hikelet up to The Grotto. Apparently six-tenths of a mile is just the right distance for our family :)

Here's Ben's description of our walk:
Some Boy Scouts, I guess, made some bridges. They're made by logs. I went over each one four times. It was awesome.

We went up on this giant cliff. And then we could get up to The Grotto and we could just stand right by it. It's not that hard to get there. Running the way down was fun.
Definitely a great end to a fun long weekend. Now I just have to figure out how to get paid to take every Monday off...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Quick Trip to China Before Naptime

Today, Sasha picked up Ben's video game timer, pushed some buttons, replaced the timer, fixed her eyes on me, and calmly explained, "Today in two, three minutes we go get Mei Mei. I want go get Mei Mei. I be big sister."

We don't really know how much Sasha understands about our quest for her sister. Mei Mei is alternately Sasha's Kai-Lan doll, Kai-Lan herself when viewed on, and, very occasionally, Sasha's sister. But then Sash will knock me over with some statement about going to get Mei Mei and I think... maybe, just maybe, her little heart understands a bit about what's going on. Maybe God's preparing her for this new adventure.

Regardless, I'll treasure Sasha's sweet and wistful moments for her sister as they come. I'm glad I'm not the only Morningstar gal waiting impatiently for Mei Mei.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Baby's First Broadway

The Lion King touring show is currently in Salt Lake City and this week we took the boys up to the Capitol Theater to see their first (touring) Broadway musical.

The show was fantastic, and I loved glancing over to see Sam or Ben at the edge of their seat, entranced by the puppetry, swaying to the music. How fun it is that our boys are big enough to sit through a full-length musical and that their brains and imaginations are big enough to be lured into the magic of it all.

And it was fun to have some big-kid time - I think I've forgotten what it's like to eat in a restaurant with the kids and without having to corral a wiggly toddler. Sitting at the kitchen table at Buca di Beppo, chatting like the grown-ups (in training) that we are, sipping our root beer with great sophistication was a wonderful reminder of what a pleasure it is to hang out with our boys.

And, yes, there was plenty of chocolate cake to go around.


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