Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our Artist

Over the past couple of weeks, Sasha's interest in drawing and other forms of artistic expression has really blossomed.  I love her pictures of people, and can't decide if they're more Invader Zim or Ponyo-esque... probably Zim.  That's fitting.

We added an art nook to the girls' room, which has helped to keep the mess that always accompanies creativity somewhat contained.  And Sasha has loved having a spot dedicated to her art where she doesn't have to clean up her markers to make space for the dinner plates!

Sash draws a lot of people (as shown here) and is always sure to include earrings and/or "pony hair" if appropriate for her subject.  It's that kind of eye for detail that makes her rather extraordinary in the world of three-year-old artists :)

Neither of the boys are super into drawing, so it's been fun nurturing a whole different kind of interest in Sasha. Sasha also loves to mail her creations out to appreciative audiences (Cousin Abby gets several per week), so if you'd like to receive a Sasha Original, we have a few (hundred) to spare.

And if you're super lucky, you'll get one of these colorful pieces, which I think of as rainbow dragons. I'm not sure if they're intended to be dragons or not (whenever I ask Sasha what is in the picture, she says it's a picture of me, so I don't know how to interpret that in the least), but as always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Celebrating Sam's 10th

On Monday we celebrated Sam's 10th birthday with a small but very active birthday party at Sundance! This year Sam opted to invite his friend Cody up for a day of skiing rather than having a traditional birthday party and we all had a fantastic time skiing, scarfing down pizza, and topping it all off with Sundance suckers (hands down the best lollipops in town).

We were especially blessed that Cody's whole family could join us for the day and that Daddy could get a few hours off on a very busy President's Day weekend to join us for lunch.

We were not especially blessed by the realization upon looking through our pictures that Ben is apparently unable to take a photo with his eyes facing in the same direction.

In addition to a fabulous birthday celebration, I got to witness my boys' domination of the front-side black diamond slopes at Sundance! The kids are animals.

Ben eases his way down Top Gun (he had a little fall at the top of the hill, so his form is a bit off here)

Here comes the birthday boy!


Happy 10th birthday, Sam - thanks for letting us celebrate with you on the Greatest Snow on Earth!

Friday, February 25, 2011

(Nordic) Skiing Fools

While Sam was up on the alpine hill celebrating his birthday, Sasha and I headed to the Sundance Nordic Center to get some exercise and enjoy some quality time.  It was great, and sure made me remember how much I love cross country skiing.  Granted, it's easier work when you're not towing somebody, but super-fun either way!

And, yes, I realize that I shouldn't have taken our self-portrait in the super-bright sun.  Just pretend that my eyes are smiling instead of squinty.

Here's Sasha playing peek-a-boo from the polk.  We stopped to grab some icicles for chomping on.
And then after we took the peek-a-boo shot, Sasha insisted on a "grumpy face" picture.  Welcome to my world.

Once we did our first 10K loop, we fortified ourselves with peanut butter cups and Sasha decided it was time to strap on her skis. It was the first time she's worn her XC gear and she did so well! Next season, we're going to rock the Nordic Center.

We even reserved some rentals that the Sundance Nordic Center plans to sell off at the end of the year so that Sam, Ben, and Sash will all have cross country gear. Judging by how well Sasha did on Monday, as long as the boys can keep up with their sister, we are going to have a lot of fun next year!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Celebrating Gotcha Day

As is our tradition (if 2 years can make a tradition), we celebrated Sasha's 2nd Gotcha Day Anniversary this weekend with a rousing game of 10-pins!  And, in keeping with tradition, the kids solidly beat the adults.  I'm opting for gutter bumpers next year.

This is the "I'm happy with my turn" two thumbs up

And this is the "I'm unhappy with my turn" face.  It is generally accompanied by an emphatic, "Dang it!"

Sasha was feeling very independent this year and refused to have help transporting the ball.  It was cute... except when she dropped it.

I'd like to think that if I had a dragon ball ramp and bumpers, I'd bowl a 130 like my daughter...

I think the bowling shoes complete the ensemble

I'm pretty sure that Ben, Steve, and I made the same face after every frame!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We Have our Consulate Appointment - The Countdown Begins

We just got a call from WACAP and our U.S. Consulate appointment in Guangzhou is officially official and scheduled for Wednesday 3/23!

Here's the proposed schedule:
  • 3/10 or 3/11 - Arrive in Beijing to play tourist and let our bodies catch up with the clock
  • Travel to Nanchang
  • 3/14 - Meet WanYing!
  • Travel to Guangzhou
  • 2/23 - Consulate appointment for WanYing's U.S. visa
  • 2/25 - Receive WanYing's passport with visa and head home (may spend a day or two in Hong Kong, we'll see)
Ben and Sasha constructed the official countdown paper chain this morning and we're (terrifyingly) at T-minus 15 days.  Aaaah!  Time to buy some plane tickets and do some packing!

If anybody has a travel agent they loved for China, please leave a comment or drop us a line!

ps - we may not have plane tickets yet, but Ben and Sasha both got their Typhoid vaccines today and Steve and I got our Hep and Polio boosters a few weeks ago... so provided that we make it to China, we are well protected!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We're Going to China!

Our TA arrived today! That's right, folks, we are cleared for travel to China!

Right now it looks like we'll arrive on March 11th and meet WanYing on the 14th - that's only 2 1/2 weeks away!!! Hopefully tomorrow WACAP will have confirmation on our consulate appointment and then we'll start flight shopping!

There's so much to do between now and then, but the truth is that as long as we have 5 plane tickets there, 6 home, and 5 visas (as shown here by the lovely Sasha), the rest is just details :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Dear Similac,

I don't know how you got the word that we're welcoming a new child into our family, and I guess that adding us to your "expectant parent" marketing group was appropriate... but perhaps just a little more insight into how and who we're expecting would have saved you the price of postage (and, in turn, saved me a husband freak out!).

A paper pregnant Jamie Morningstar

P.S.  I had never really considered how creepy the name "Similac" is until this moment.  Ick.  Having nursed 2 boys for a sum total of 56 months, I feel like I'm probably more comfortable with the concept than your average Joe (Jane?) and I still feel like lactation is odd enough, let alone its simulation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sam's First Decade

Sam 2004
My baby boy turned 10 yesterday!

Sam is growing up into such a stunning young man - smart, analytical, unabashedly individual, and with a wicked sense of humor... and also blooming with a care and nurture that makes a mommy's heart proud (and God's heart as well, I suspect).
Sam and Sasha 2011
He never misses a chance to tell his sis that she's looking cute today, and he even makes her breakfast when Mommy and Daddy are taking longer than usual to emerge from the warm embrace of sleep (i.e. basically every morning).

Sam continues to do well in school and on the slopes. He professes a love of math and is an expressive and avid reader. He has conquered most of the front-side black diamond runs at Sundance. And Sam still loves Legos and video games, two passions that I suspect will take another decade to dull, if they ever do.

In fact, as I write this blog post he is cloistered in the guest bedroom assembling his 1200-piece Hogwarts Castle Lego Set.  A fitting way to spend a fabulous birthday weekend!

Sam's first decade has truly been a blessed one.  I am so excited to see what God has in store for his second!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2nd Gotcha Day Anniversary

It's hard to believe that it's already been 2 years since our Sasha became Alexandra Grace Morningstar. Time has flown; it has been such a joy, privilege, and growing experience to witness and participate in Sasha's transformation over the past two years.

And for you, our beautiful, resilient, astounding girl, we continue to pray...
that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recent Sasha Quotes

I have an owie.  Chorney bit my finger.  See?  Chorney, come here, eat my finger.  Good puppy.

When I grow up, I gonna be big like you.  I gonna be a mommy.  No, I gonna be a doggie.  And my WanYing gonna be a doggie.

Sasha:  S is for Sasha.
Sam:  And S is for Sam.
Sasha:  No!  S is mine!

Monday, February 14, 2011

How He Loves

Because it's Valentines Day, I thought I'd share the lyrics to one of my very favorite songs - you can also listen to the song on YouTube.

This is the ferocity with which you are loved.

How He Loves
David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware
of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sleeps 6 - Cute and Organized

I am happy to announce that the girls' room now:
  1. sleeps two
  2. is cute 
  3. and is navigable without first plotting each step with great care (read: is organized)
Bring on the Travel Approval, we are ready for our gal to come home!

Here's the view from the closet, highlighting the girls' new art nook

The canopy and lights under Sasha's bunk are so dang cute!  They don't show up well in the pictures, but trust me, they're charming in person.

Sasha has been devoting hours per day to her art projects and "homework" with a gusto that we have never seen from our other kids.  So, we were excited to create an art nook in the girls room to 1) provide the girls a place to exercise their creative tendencies and 2) hopefully keep the markers and crayons confined to only one of our home's horizontal surfaces.

And Steve gets massive kudos for leading the charge on Project Girl Room Declutter.  It feels great to have their room qualify as inhabitable again and all of the credit goes to my amazing man!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adoption Update - Article 5 Enroute to the CCAA

We got confirmation today that our Article 5 was picked up from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou and is enroute to the CCAA (Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs)! That means that the only thing standing between us and WanYing (besides like 20 hours of travel) is our Travel Authorization!

WACAP advises that the TA usually takes 2-5 weeks to arrive, so that means it could arrive between 2/23 and 3/16, and from there all we have to do is book flights and get ourselves to China! We're definitely a-hoping and a-praying that we're on the 2 week side of the 2-5 weeks - we even heard of one family who got their TA in 2 days right before Chinese New Year, which is amazing. 2 days would be awesome, 2 weeks would still be great - I just want to see my baby in March :)

Timeline updated.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Crazy Runs Deep in this Family

Sometimes I think we have a normal all-American family... after all, we did fake it fairly convincingly in our last set of family portraits. But don't worry, my kids never fail to snap me back to our little version of reality with darling pictures like this.

Sasha still needs a little more big brother mentoring before she can reliably cross her eyes on command - but the crazy runs deep in this family and I have no doubt that with practice and persistence she and Ben will triumph in their shared freaky-face goal.

I'll take our version of normal over anybody else's any day :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday WanYing!

October 2009 - 8 months
Our littlest princess turns 2 today!

Admittedly, it's bittersweet to celebrate the child we long to hold and know that today is probably just another day at the Social Welfare Institute for her. But to us this is a very special day, and we sure do look forward to the day when we can express to her just how very special she is and celebrate her birth all together.

January 2011 - 23 months
It was difficult to decide how to celebrate WanYing's birthday. Dim Sum? Chinese New Year celebration? Cake and ice cream at home? In the end, we decided that dinner at Tucanos was befitting - after all, if you can't celebrate the birthday of the Chinese daughter you've never met by pigging out at a Brazilian grill, well, then there's no humor left in the world.

Sam loves Tucanos - he eats only the cheese balls

Ben loves Tucanos - he also eats only the cheese balls, and does so with great gusto/creepiness

Sasha loves Tucanos - and she eats everything!

Daddy eyes Sasha's plate, but Sasha's ready for him

And with a solid, "roar!" the Daddy Food Stealer is foiled.

And we rounded out the evening with ice cream and a rousing chorus of, "Happy Birthday to You" from Sasha and Mommy. The boys thought that was weird, but then again, they go to Tucanos and eat nothing but cheese balls, so what do they know?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy Chinese New Year!

You're probably sick of hearing about how God has knocked our socks off throughout our adoption processes, but tonight we enjoyed one more gigantic blessing - there's Utah Valley group of China adoptive families! That's right, our very own white bread Utah County, where few can even pronounce, "Kazakhstan," is home to several dozen kiddos from China! We found out about this group just this week and were fortunate enough to attend the Chinese New Year party tonight.

We had a great evening making crafts and watching ribbon dances and parading around the room in dragon hats and trading red envelopes and (of course) eating plenty of Chinese food. But the best part was knowing that WanYing will have opportunities to make friends with life stories a whole lot like hers. We even met a family whose four-year-old daughter has ABS-affected hands a lot like WanYing's - that means that she can have a friend who not only shares her social and ethnic story but even understands what it's like to have hands that don't quite blend in!  What a gift.

Tonight was a wonderful first Chinese New Year for our family, and we sure look forward to celebrating a lifetime's more of them.
Ben participates in the "Lion Dance" - I'm fairly sure this is a girls' hat, but he still wears it well.

Sam plays a the role of the "dragon's butt" compellingly in the Lion Dance.  Oh, and after reading the Wikipedia article, I guess this he's a "lion butt" not a dragon butt... such an embarrassing snafu

We attempt to take a kid pic.  For some reason, the children all decide to pose as "thinkers"

The mystery of who taught Sasha to cross her eyes on command is solved.

Happy Chinese New Year!


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