Thursday, July 21, 2011

WanYing's First Campout

We took a quick camping trip last weekend up Squaw Peak to the Hope Campground. It took me a while to figure out why WanYing was on edge... until Steve pointed out that this was completely new to her and her first night away from home! Score one for Daddy sensitivity.

Once WanYing settled in, though, she seemed to enjoy the experience just as much as the rest of the Morningstar kids (and that's saying something - this is a family that loves their camping!).  And she looks simply smashing in a bandana and insisted on wearing her "hat" for most of the weekend.

It's hard to pick the best memory from a great weekend away (although sadly easy to pick out the worst part - mosquitoes!  Sheesh, what's the deal with mosquitoes in Utah?!?  Completely unfair.  Can you tell we've been spoiled by bug-free Utah living?), but I have to say that my favorite part was watching the kids labor for hours and hours and hours to discern the meaning of the ancient wisdom that is, "Owah tagoo Siam."

They thought and pondered and mused.  They begged for hints.  But Steve and I held fast and wouldn't yield.  After all, you can't cheapen ageless wisdom like that by giving it away!

And, finally, at lunch on day 2 Sam blurted out the answer.  And there was great groaning all around.  It was awesome.  And it never got old hearing them chant, "Owah tagoo Siam" as they tried to figure it out.  I'm giggling writing about it even now.

Other highlights:
Ben savors the perfect s'more

Sasha's standards on marshmallow "cooking" (burning) were lower, but she enjoyed her s'mores with equal relish

Even WanYing got in on the action!

A rare peaceful moment in the herd.  The camp host gave the kids Smokey Bear coloring books, which all of the kids (strangely) enjoyed. 

Beautiful Sasha in front of beautiful Mt. Timpanogos on one of our "hikes"

The girls loved going to spigot to refill their water cups.  It made for very soggy, very happy sisters.

Q:  How do you sleep 6 in a single van?

A:  Creatively!  Daddy made a cot for Sasha (both of the girls are in the cot in this photo), WanYing sleeps on the bench seat, the boys sleep up top, and Mom and Dad sleep below.

WanYing's first campout and first nights away from home were stunningly successful!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lucky Number Thirteen

Well, today's weather might not have been lucky, but I feel so fortunate and blessed to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary today!

The plan was to surprise Steve with a 5:30 wakeup and trip up to the Point of the Mountain for paragliding lessons! The reality did include the surprise 5:30 wakeup, loading the groggy kids in the car, and then text message from the paragliding instructor letting us know that due to the gusty wind and sporadic showers, today was probably not the most well-advised day to introduce the sport. Oh well, the lesson will be fun whenever it occurs, and Steve was very gracious about the anticlimactic early start to his day.  I bought the children's forgiveness with donuts.

And, no, the gift of paragliding in no way implies that I want my husband to take a flying leap... well, unless it's a leap into our next year of adventure together!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fashion Show!

Raising girls is such an undeniably different experience from raising boys. I have been repeatedly reminded, with stark clarity, this summer how differently our boys and girls express (not to mention groom) themselves. I have to beg the boys to change their clothes every two to three days. The girls go through two to three outfits per day.

Consider the following conversation in our home this week:
Mommy: Girls, do you want to go shopping with me?
Sasha: What kind of shopping?
Mommy: Clothes shopping
Sasha and WanYing: [squeals of delight] Yeah, yeah, yeah (WanYing echos). Can we get something special for me?
Sasha to Ben: Ben, we going shopping with Mommy
Ben: [interested in what's causing the excitement] Mom, where are you going?
Mommy: Gymboree
Ben: Uh [walks away]

Well, the three Morningstar girls had a delightful time using up our Gymbucks and getting something special for everybody. And, of course, as soon as we returned home each outfit had to be modeled for Daddy, bedtimes be damned!

If you're confused about the open mouths in these shots, it's because the girls kept chanting, "fashion show!" as they posed upon the playset. And, yes, the playset had to be scaled in order to properly show off each outfit. No other catwalk could possibly suffice.

I have to admit, I do like a good fashion show. The whole experience reminds me of my own childhood when I got a new set of hand-me-downs from my super-cool cousins and spent the next days happily constructing and showing off daring new styles.

It's simply fabulous delighting with the girls in how special and beautiful they are, even if it does multiply the laundry pile.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Silver Bullet

My boys have found the silver bullet that repels all housework and chores - reading the Bible! What mother would ever interrupt a child's Bible reading with a comparatively meaningless request to put away laundry or feed the dog? Dang it - I've been foiled! Oh, I mean... Hallelujah - I've been foiled!

Friday, July 15, 2011

First Tomatoes of the Year

Morningstar tomato lovers unite - the first harvest of the season is in! Sasha, WanYing, and Daddy are in for a few happy happy weeks of BLTs and eating tomatoes straight off of the vine. Sam, Ben, and I will just gag quietly to ourselves.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Four is a Lot

I hear people say that once you have three kids, there's very little difference from a parental perspective in caring for more. I believe that these people believe what they are saying when they say it. I also believe that these people are insane. Adding 33% more children to our family has increased our joy by a million, and has definitely added the emotional realization that having four kids is a lot.

Consider the following recent changes in our behaviors, food consumption, and perceptions:
  • Our 1,700 square foot home feels downright cozy (read:  normally fine, but occasionally incredibly, suffocatingly tiny)
  • We have to run the dishwasher every day and are always greeted with a rainbow of Ikea plasticware when we open it up
  • Our family eats a whole bag of frozen green beans as a side dish
  • The house feels empty (or tranquil, depending on our perspective at that moment) when there are "only" two children at home
  • We eat things we find in the fridge, not because we want them right then, but because we know that if we don't eat them now, they won't be around when we want them
  • Our family consumes an entire box of spaghetti in a single sitting
  • The laundry never ends (not actually a new feeling as compared to having three children, just worser now)
  • It doesn't matter how many gallons of milk we purchased last time we were at the store, we are always out of milk

All of this, and our kids aren't even teenagers yet! Just think of the wonders that await when we have 18, 16, 12, and 10 year olds :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Finally Riding a Bike

by Sam

After 10.5 years of work (I only really tried for 2 days) I can finally ride a bike.

I didn't even use training wheels.  I just started from the start.  I just rolled down the driveway and tried to keep my balance.  And then I started trying to use pedals and it just all worked out.

I think riding a bike is really good to get long distances.  It's also really fun and easy to get breezes in your hair.  But there's really not much to say about bikes, although I could tell you the history of them.  Nah, you don't want to hear that.  But I'm gonna tell you anyways.

The first bike might as well have been called a "walking machine" - it didn't have handlebars or pedals.  But then people started getting smarted and started adding handlebars and pedals, finally.  You probably all heard of the penny-farthing.  Well, that was one of the first attempts to absorb jolts.  But then we invented suspension.  And there really isn't much more to say about bikes.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It Was Freezing

by Ben

Today I got baptized.  Getting baptized means that people know that you belong to Jesus.

I got baptized in a river of melted snow [Editor's note:  The Provo River].  It was on the brink of frozen.  But I don't realize that it's worth it now, but later I'll realize it was worth it.

It's so cool to have Pastor Scott, the man who dedicated Ben, also baptize him 8 years later!

I think this is the, "woah, that's cold!" face

This is the, "Mom, stop crying and taking pictures of me" face

Ben and Pastor Rich share their bestest cheesy-grins

And today on the not-so-bright news I was piggybaking Sasha when I did a faceplant on the ground and I'm gonna get a goose egg from it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Favorite Things

Doing one of my favorite things at one of my favorite places with my absolute favorite person - a concert at Red Butte Gardens with my baby!

We've had a fantastic concert season this year: first U2, then Cake, and now Pink Martini.  Three very different bands, but all great shows shared with wonderful company.

And we even successfully left WanYing (and the rest, of course) with our very brave and very skilled babysitter, Sidney and came home to kids asleep in bed and no visible damage to our home and possessions.   Sidney is a wonder.

And, of course, Pink Martini was fabulous. There was a slight complication with both China Forbes and her backup calling out with voice troubles, but neither we nor Pink Martini are ones to let a little shakeup in the band lineup ruin a beautiful night in the garden amphitheater.  And the perfect weather, wonderful food, professionally-crafted mojitos, cheery company, and fact that we were 20 feet from stage probably didn't hurt.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Win-Win

Sam earns playtime (Xbox or computer time), Mom and Dad are relieved of one household chore...
having a ten-year-old rocks!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WanYing's First Fourth

The Fourth of July was a total success for our newest U.S. citizen!

I admit that I get a little misty on patriotic holidays now, but there's something about celebrating with these girls who we are so grateful to have home and citizens that gets me every time.  I love their Chineseness and their Kazakhstaniness and their Americanness and I love how it all blends into the wacky cultural mixing bowl that is our Morningstarness.  Plus both Sasha and WanYing look totally adorable in red, white, and blue.

The day started with the ceremonial decorating of the flag cake. The cake was delicious and particularly festive - but I make no promises about its hygenicness.  For the record, I did try to ensure that the girls didn't stick the licked-clean utensils back into the frosting bowl.

Sasha did a particularly fine job with the application of strawberry stripes on the cake. Please ignore the other little girl in the background who is licking her fingers between the placement of each blueberry star.

After naps, we headed over to the Kyte home for a low-key Independence Day shindig. Here Daddy demonstrates Ben's prized possession - the Nintendo 3DS that he received from his grandparents for his birthday. No, I have no idea why 1. Daddy is playing it or, 2. Daddy is playing it in the middle of a party. Oh well.

Good thing it's a sturdy hammock!

My sweet firecrackers show off their piggies and bunnies and festive outfits from Grammy

WanYing embraced the Fourth of July festivities with gusto and, unlike Sasha's first Fourth, spent nary a moment huddled under a blanket for "safety." This girl couldn't get enough of the poppers, booms, and sparkles!

She clutched her hard-earned and well-protected bags of poppers in her little fist, chanting, "more poppers, more poppers" as she merrily stomped every last one. 

Oh, and make sure you check out the new squeakers purchased in China that WanYing grew into just in time for the holiday! So festive, and so dang cute - it was super-fun to hear her happily stomp-squeak-popping along the driveway. I'm glad I bought a pair in every size!

Be afraid, be very afraid

The kids do their annual monkey dance around the strobes, this time bringing Kylee in on the action.

The box-top of strobes and fountains was really fun... until it became the Box of Fire and had to be moved farther from the garage with the Rake of Safety

Oh, and aerials were legalized in Utah this year - woo hoo!

A fantastic finale.  Boy do I love the Fourth.

We emerged from the festivities tired and happy and mostly unscathed (it wouldn't be Independence Day without a few little burns, right?). And a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Piggies and Bunnies

In our home, there are only two hairstyles worth mentioning - "piggies" and "bunnies". Sure, we have the occasional "pony hair" day, but let's be real, the ponytail is no match for the insane cuteness of piggies and bunnies.

I can recommend the bunnies without reservation to all of you in the three-inch-and-under hair set. It's a style that never ceases to amuse.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Amazing Feats

I don't know who to blame for this... but the frontrunners are Ben's recently advanced age and CrossFit. Either way, this is awesome.




Steve thinks I shouldn't be encouraging such things. He's probably right - Ben rode his bike to the local fireworks store today while the rest of us walked and, since he had extra time on his hands before our arrival, he decided to try climbing one of the giant light posts in the grocery store parking lot. He was halfway up by the time we saw him and urged him down.

The teen years may be challenging...


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