Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Look who wrote her very own name today, completely unassisted!  Looks like that preschool tuition is paying off (Those with small monitors may need to click on the picture to see it in all its S-A-S-H-A glory).

We already knew that she had artistic leanings, but an author to boot?!?  Sasha, you are a girl of many talents (and so exuberantly proud of each of them!).

Monday, May 30, 2011


Nothing, but nothing, can make this kid smile like the call of "Noodles!" beckoning her to the table and the unveiling of a big old bowl of ramen.

My favorite part is the girls squealing, "Noonles, noonles, noonles!"

The only acceptable way to eat ramen - slurping

She does slurp it up like a seasoned professional!

She's still working on her chopstick technique

And, yes, she ate that entire bowl in one (long) sitting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Love You, Mommy

Today, my astounding two-year-old looked me straight in the eyes and, clear as a bell and unprompted, pronounced, "I love you, Mommy"

Not only is my baby stringing together 4-word phrases a mere 2 months after hearing English for the first time, but they're simply the most perfect words a mommy could ever hear!

This heart-stoppingly beautiful moment was followed shortly by Sasha being on the receiving end of a bite on the arm so hard that it left a mark for hours, so I'm not pretending that our job as parents is done here (as always, thank you, toddlers, for brutal reality checks).  But for a few moments there I got to enjoy the blessed assurance that we are truly on the road to becoming family.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I think that a year has to be the longest concert delay ever, but it was well worth the wait - last night we got to see U2! And the best part was sharing the experience with the boys. Well, the best part was having an amazing spot at a legendary show... but watching Ben bounce around ecstatically to "It's a Beautiful Day" was a close second.

And how, exactly, did it come about that we attended a show last night with tickets dated June 3, 2010? Well, right before the Salt Lake City kickoff to U2's 360 tour last summer, Bono messed up his back preparing for the tour. They canceled the first few concerts of the tour, including our stop.

But all's well that ends well and we were so excited to finally use our tickets last night! I consider it a minor miracle that we successfully held on to 4 stubs of paper for 18 months - more proof that it was simply meant to be.

The boys definitely did not initially understand the epicness of the evening and spent the first couple of hours of the wait playing on our iPhones and trying not to get stepped on (the beauties of General Admission tickets). They feigned interest in the opener, The Fray, but I couldn't blame them for their lack of enthusiasm - not exactly an exciting band.

But then, finally, U2 came out and the stadium started rocking and then, my friends, then they got it. By the end of our time at the Rice Eckles Stadium, we were pressed up against the fence, 10 feet from Bono (the real beauty of General Admission tickets), screaming and singing and having a great time.

Ben's little head bouncing along as the band took the stage

You got it, folks - we were this close!!!  And these photos were taken on our iPhones - no zoom here!

The concert was fantastic. Great music. Awesome stage. Fun crowd. Got to sing Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan with Bono and 50,000 other fans. And I got to share it all with my three favorite guys.

As we drove home, we asked the boys what they thought about the concert. Ben's exclamation summed it up perfectly: "Oh, I'm totally boasting about this to my friends tomorrow."

I'm not really sure how you can move farther up in the world when your first big concert event is U2. Sigh. They wore their $40 concert t's to school today with pride. It's good to know that we're raising our boys well.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


What did Daddy and the kids do on our beautiful Sunday afternoon? Well, of course, they fashioned weapons of destruction and whomped on each other!  All this family needs is a set of pool noodles and some PVC for an enjoyable afternoon of light saber duels.  And, yes, everybody fought over the Sith light saber.

The helmet was Sasha's idea. Unnecessary, but clearly a fashion "must"

Sash gets in on the action (remember, the Kazakhs are a fierce people!)

WanYing liked it, we promise, although she's going to need to up the aggression factor to really compete. The fact that she only has one usable bopper-grabbing hand right now probably didn't help.

All's well that ends well
Your Sunday may have been more peaceful, but you know it didn't beat ours for fun!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bright Sunshiny Day!

After days and days and days of rain, it felt to good to get outside and do some yard spring cleaning that we may have gone a little overboard - 2 trees down, 2 bushes demolished, almost all of the gardens cleaned up, and garage cleaned.  Wow!

Sam was very excited about felling his first tree with a chainsaw

Weeds in the strawberry patch make Sam angry

The girls took advantage of the treasures found in the garage clean-out and did a little sidewalk sledding

They dragged those saucers all over the house!
Good thing tomorrow's forecast includes rain, we wouldn't want this level of productivity to become a habit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Look who found Photobooth

Ah, the fun of a new computer... you never know what you'll find on the desktop

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Be careful while you're doing this

 By Ben

This is very scary and may I remind you, do not try this at home, if you are not a trained biker, that is.  But if you're as trained as me, I bet you can.

I call this trick, "Aaahhhhh!" And I call the one handed, "Not-So-Aaaaaah!"

I can only go for about 3 seconds with no hands but I could probably ride around the block (not including the corners 'cause when I'm turning it's kinda hard to do that) with one hand.

Now my goal is to try breaking my record and go to 4 seconds with no hands.  But I could do the one-hand bike riding for 10 minutes.

That's Ben Morningstar, signing out.

[Editor's note: Ben's chants of, "Mom, Mom, take pictures of my new tricks" prompted Sasha to invent some new feats of her own that commanded photography.

I certainly have some very talented (and fearless!) children!]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tasty Mercies

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me[, I was a frazzled new parent who lacked energy to cook or even pour milk on cereal and you made lifesaving casseroles for me].’
Over this past week, we have been the recipients of extraordinary kindness in its most natural form - food.  Apparently we don't hide our overwhelmedness as well as we think we do, because our small group sensed our need and banded together and made us fabulous dinners all week in response to WanYing's surgery.

I think that the sweetest thing about this week has been that we didn't really need looking after.  I mean, it's not like Steve and I both had hand surgery; there's nothing impeding us from preparing food for our family... but we're working hard as parents right now - good work, but hard work - and not having to worry about dinner has been such a blessing.

We have also learned the our friends cook way better than we do.

This is one of those times where we are blessed and grateful to suck up our pride and accept the help of friends.  We don't deserve this kind of love, and that leaves us all the more grateful.  Thank you, small group!

If you have newly adoptive parents in your life, don't believe them when they say everything is fine and they don't need any help!  They are working hard to redefine their family and teach their new child(ren) what family means.  They are excited to welcome their little one home, but like most new parents they're also tired and overwhelmed.  Remove one source of stress from their lives and love on them with dinners!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Months a (Chatty) Morningstar

Yesterday marked WanYing's two-month anniversary as a Morningstar!  It's boggling to think of the change she's experienced and the growth that she has astoundingly gracefully endured over these two months.

In honor of her second month as WanYing Hope Morningstar, I noted every word that I heard WanYing say between 9 and 10 am.  I am flabbergasted at how much English our gal has picked up and now spontaneously uses - and remember, these aren't all of her words by any stretch, just the ones she used on her own this morning:
  • help
  • up
  • stickers
  • baby happy
  • bye bye
  • water
  • potty
  • cool
  • sit
  • off
  • eat it
  • 'k
  • outside
Wow.  What will the next 2 months bring?!?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

WanYing's First Portraits

I admit it, it was hard to wrangle the crew, get them looking "presentable," and elicit smiles at (mostly) the same time, but it was so worth it!  Sigh.  I have one good looking family.

I'm always shocked by how different Sash looks now than her first set of portraits - I can't wait to see WanYing's metamorphosis!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Because the cast wasn't dramatic enough, this week WanYing decided to meet the corner of the coffee table with her eye! At least her complexion now coordinates nicely with her purple princess shirt.

I remember my mom telling me that there were times in my toddlerhood that she forced me to wear tights under my dresses even in the summer because my legs were so bruised and banged up she thought folks would assume the worst.  I'm starting to think she had a good point... but how does one disguise a cast and black eye?

Speaking of the cast, WanYing is doing really well with her sad little casted hand. She's off of all of the pain meds now except for bedtime and isn't bothered too awfully much by the bandages, although she does pull at them at night.

The only thing that isn't going well is the "keep cast clean and dry" instruction - how in the world are we supposed to keep a two-year-old's hand clean and dry for a month? So far, it's clean except for the guacamole/sour cream/pizza sauce/orange smeared all over the palm. So, yes, by our standards it's passably clean.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Phrases that Strike Fear into a Parent's Heart

The top 5 phrases we dread hearing from the girls (ok, mostly Sasha, WanYing still mostly talks in single words):
  1. "May I please have more [name of food or beverage]" - we will honor the polite request only to have her leave the table 5 minutes later with the extra [name of food or beverage] untouched
  2. "I do it myself" - this means that there will soon be a giant mess to clean up, which Sasha will clean up herself using the dish towels and we will later find stiff, milk-soaked or marker-stained towels hanging on the oven
  3. "Chorney, out!" - Chorney has eaten something that Sasha probably put into her mouth in the first place and she is now upset that the dog is gnawing on it.  Usually ends in wailing and tears.
  4. "Holy Smokes!" - we hear this a lot.   Sometimes it means that something good (from the parental perspective) has happened.  But mostly it's an exclamation that means that there's a mess to clean up, as mentioned in item #2
  5. "I help" - the most dreaded of all.  The project will now take three times as long and a ginormous auxiliary mess will be made in the process (again, see #2 above).  But smiles will abound... so maybe it's not so bad after all :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sticky Hand No Longer!

Bye bye, pinky wave! And hello, high fives! We left the house at 5 am today with one "rosebud" hand and returned at 3 pm with five separated (albeit heavily bandaged) fingers!

The surgery only lasted about 2 hours and they were able to successfully separate her thumb and three adhered fingers without a problem.  It turns out that each of the fingers did have space separating it from the others, so that made the procedure a lot easier.  The surgeon showed us pictures of her hand post-op and it looked great - four stubby little fingers where one ball-o-finger once was.  We can't wait to see it in real life in a few weeks!

WanYing was a cherub pre-surgery... unfortunately, she must have used up all of her sweetness reserve because she was mad for the rest of the day. I would be, too, if my hand hurt and was all wrapped up and I had strangers checking on me every 20 seconds and a stupid IV in my foot. The nurses kept commenting that she was, "very strong" and "quite the fighter" and they're right! Those are traits that will serve her so well in life... but wrestling a furious (and strong) two year old for hours does wear a mommy out.

She pulled it together long enough to wolf down a tangerine and a yogurt and that was good enough for the staff - they said she was stable enough to go home and we were out of there!

(this is a photo taken during one of her blessed, blessed moments of quietness)

Her hand is all bandaged up in a "tape cast" that they'll remove at her follow-up appointment on June 6th.  I'm not exactly sure how we're supposed to keep the cast clean and dry for four whole weeks, but we'll do our best.  It is admittedly nice that she has something she can't unravel herself because you know she'd be picking at it if she could.  Oh, and the funniest part of the cast is that they left her super pinky out!  So we get to enjoy pinky waves for just a little while longer :)

Hmm... she looks really content in all of these photos. That's completely unfair. I guess the ones where she was writhing and windmilling her arms and legs didn't scream "photo op" to Steve and me at the time. Or maybe there really were more happy moments than I remember - those angry-baby times do stick in a Mommy's memory.

We're home safe and sound now. WanYing has been (understandably) cranky, but the 1-2 punch of ibuprofen and Tylenol is keeping her pain manageable. She's a fighter, this one - and I mean that in all of the best ways :)

Can't wait to post photos of her new hand in June!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celebrating Five Moms

This Mother's Day, five flowers graced our table.  We are so very blessed to celebrate the five mothers in our lives.

It's easy to be grateful for Grammy and Gramma, two strong, faith-filled moms who continue to model Christ's love to us through their own trials and ours.

It's easy for me to be grateful that God has blessed me with four astounding kiddos - granted, the feeling of gratitude wains with temper tantrums and midnight wakeups and screaming matches, but the truth of that gratitude never leaves.

And I am so very glad that it gets easier and easier to exercise gratitude for Sasha and WanYing's first mothers.  They chose life for our girls.  They nurtured that life.  And the breathtaking girls who now keep my life interesting with the aforementioned temper tantrums, midnight wakeups, and screaming matches, came from their bodies and their genetics.  We have a complicated relationship, me and those two moms (no, we have never met and it will be a miracle and entirely up to the girls if we ever do, but we're related nonetheless).  And it's ok that it'll probably always be complicated.  I'm learning to appreciate complicated.  And I'm certainly grateful for the girls who have become mine through and despite that complexity.

Beside the complicated emotions that arise each Mother's Day, the rest of the day was sheer and simple fun.  Pancakes courtesy of Sam, whipped cream by Ben, grilled cheese sandwiches from Sam again, fabulous dinner and the first mojitos of the season by Daddy and super-thoughtful presents from all!

And now it's time to hit the hay - we get to leave the house tomorrow morning at 5 am for WanYing's surgery.  Wowsers!

Sash and Mommy show off our pretty toes

Sam's classic croquet pose...

...Sasha mimics

WanYing decides that we're all being silly hitting balls around the yard and opts to eat her Mini Wheats in the comfort of her convertable

Eventually WanYing did decide to get in on the game

Sasha was not a huge fan of Daddy "The Stinger" tagging her out

And just in case you think that we always take good photos (not that I think you're that deluded) here's one for the album!

Happy Mother's Day!


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