Tuesday, January 31, 2012


by Sam

January 30th 2012 was a historic moment for the Morningstar family. I got a haircut. Yes, I know this is shocking, but I got a haircut.
This is what my hair used to look like when I was young. We showed this to the stylist so she could get a good idea of what my hair used to look like.
This is what I looked like before the haircut on January 30th
This is while I was getting a haircut, which is a picture I really wish my mom didn't put on the blog
This is when the haircut is about 3/4 of the way done
This is all the hair that fell on the ground
And this is what I look like after the haircut!  I think it is a very good haircut.
This is Ben, with a much less drastic change to his hair
This is Ben playing on the iPhone while I watch
And this is Sasha after her haircut.  Also less drastic.
And this is WanYing during the haircut.  Apparently she's making faces at herself in the mirror.
This is her after the haircut.  A much less drastic change.
And this is all the kids after the haircut

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái

Happy New Year! I don't know about you, but this year an extra chance to start new feels especially freeing. And who can argue with a new beginning dressed in vibrant red, filled with Chinese food, brimming with dragons, and ending in fireworks?!? The Chinese sure know how to start the year off right.
Note Ben's signature crossed eyes.  I didn't notice this when I took the picture... sneaky little guy
Our littlest dragon
WanYing loved the buns.  A lot.
Sasha concentrates on her dragon coloring with trademark tongue out
Sasha displays her finished dragon
Sam is very reasonably concerned about WanYing's "help" with the scissors
WanYing's finished dragon (mostly the girls just liked playing "ninja" with the sticks)
Dragon parade time! Ben is such a good sport (this is my favorite part of the evening)
Once again, Sam is a Lion Butt
WanYing definitely enjoyed her first dragon parade
Now for Sam's favorite part - the hóng bāo (red envelopes filled with money)
Happy New Year everybody!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

When Mommy's Away

Oh brother, you walk away from two girls in a bath for a few minutes and you know you're asking for trouble.  Today, rather than their usual mommy-torture of dumping water all over the bathroom floor, the girls decided to branch out and wash their own hair.  There is no bubble bath in these photos - it's all shampoo!

I thought I had washed it all out, but when WanYing's hair dried it was all plastered to her head and soapy-smelling, so she promptly went in the tub for her third bath of the day.

Well, at least I know they're clean, right?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How are you doing?

In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds. We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next, and we take solace whenever it does not.
C. S. Lewis
How are you doing?

Ah, the most dreaded of questions. How should, how can I answer? The truth is that my feelings and perceptions change moment by moment.

Sometimes I'm not sure my heart will keep on beating. My chest is tight. My hands shake. My stomach plummets.

Sometimes I am able to just enjoy the pleasure of the moment, the nearness of my kids, the accomplishment of work.

Sometimes I even feel normal.

Sometimes I have to trust blindly and despite what I'm feeling that another moment truly will follow this one. Sometimes I can expand that horizon to 20 minutes. And sometimes I can even live day by day.

Sometimes I can believe that God is sovereign and caring.  Sometimes I just have to content myself that I know these things are true even if nothing within me believes them.

I'm doing ok. The anxiety is slackening. The kids and I have found rhythm. God's love doesn't depend on my emotions. I get a good night's sleep most nights. I don't have suicidal thoughts or beat the dog. I do get snippy with the kids and they love me anyway and still want me to read to them before bed. I am relieved that for the first time in 2 weeks nobody in my home has a fever. I am feeling less exhausted - still worn down, but not as desperately as a week ago.

Now you know the real answer next time you ask how I'm doing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Circus

The family-wide chanting of, "the circus, the circus, I love the circus" (a la Bug's Life) has finally paid off and circus day has arrived! Everybody had a great time at the circus today, and it was such a treat to just go out and have fun (and have the kids entertained by somebody other than me!) for a few hours.

The kids agreed that their favorite part was "everything" but at the end of the day the motorcycles riding around the sphere of doom and the trained dogs seemed to have edged out the trapeze artists who came in at a close third.  The kids were also strangely transfixed by the chair balancing guy.

Also, the pink cotton candy won out as the treat of choice, although popcorn was also popular (probably because it was half the price of cotton candy) and Sam really, really enjoyed his plain snowcone.  That's right, he paid $3 for a cup of crushed ice.  Sadly, I remember doing the same thing as a child.

3/4 of the kids pose in front of the 3 rings at intermission - over Sam's shoulder is the bear you could pay to sit next to and have your photo taken.  They kept him happy by feeding him handfuls of raisin bran.  It was equally wrong and entertaining.

In case you're wondering how to eat cotton candy with maximum messiness, this is it.
Sasha enjoys everything carnivore-style
Most of my photos of WanYing looked like this
And a good time was had by all

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tele Afternoon

Sleet pelting
Wind raging
Fog blinding
Thighs burning
Sweat dripping

It's amazing how even crappy snow can be perfect therapy

Friday, January 20, 2012


Week 2 complete... I've been trying to figure out how to sum up my thoughts and feelings and experiences, but it seems like I'm always too tired for the emotions to synthesize into words.  That's probably the big theme for the present - I am so, so tired.  I mean, working single mom of 4 is tiring enough, but then overlaying that natural fatigue with the continual underlying stress of everything else is just plain exhausting.

Still, I put one foot in front of the other, mostly because that makes more sense than falling to pieces.  I mean, heavens, what would I do with my time if I fell apart?  The world will never know, it's just not how I was knit together.  And for that I'm grateful.  Keeping it together seems like a lot less work than letting it fall apart.

There's so much much I'm not sure of - an experience like this does rock one to the core.  Although I still cognitively believe in the goodness of God and his complete sovereignty that also allows us individual agency, I'm not feeling much of that truth right now.  And that's ok, I know that God's passion for me doesn't change with my feeling and that he's patient and gracious and still pursuing me.  I pray that my heart will again open to the possibility of perfect love.

But one interesting thing I've noticed as that all of this leaves me longing for Heaven with a yearning deeper than I've ever felt.  I don't want Heaven just as an escape from all of this (although that is undeniably attractive), but the reality that some day I will experience life, earth, color, love, and wholeness as it was intended as they were intended has taken on new richness in these past weeks.  I want that.  I want Eden, the presence of God, the glory of this world as he originally intended it.

I've also been reminded that all of this "God doesn't give you more than you can take" stuff is bullshit.  God never promises life will be copable.  He never promises that he'll open windows or show me the silver linings of rainclouds.  That stuff is simply unbiblical; catchy phrases that look cute in vinyl letters on walls.

What the Bible does say is that he promises to be with me.  He promises not to leave me.  He promises he will never let me go.  He promises to be my rescuer and strong tower.  He promises he is working.  But he doesn't promise that I can handle it.  He doesn't even promise that I'll feel him near.

I can't handle this.  And I don't have to.  Because he promises I can cast my burdens on him, all day, every day.  Burdens real, burdens imagined, burdens feared - all of it.

So that's what I do.

And I treasure the small mercies that do demonstrate his nearness - the meals people bring, the cards folks send, the flowers that brighten my table, encouraging conversations with Steve, my childrens' resiliency, some fresh snow in the mountains, a good night's sleep, and little hugs like this gem in my reading today:
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don't for a moment escape God's notice
Heart-shattered lives? Check. Now bring on the heart of worship and notice from God.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week 1 of New Normal Complete

I was going to write a little update email to let y'all know how we're doing, and then I realized that was kinda silly and I should just post to the blog again, albeit in a more private format.  I have no idea how regularly I'll be able to (or want to) post, as life is a little crazier than normal right now (which is saying something).  But hopefully you'll enjoy reading whenever I'm able to check in.

As we complete our first week of "the new normal" I am cautiously optimistic that we're coping well.  The shock of being home without Daddy is lessening and we're figuring out how to do life together as a party of 5.  It feels great to be in our beds again and be back to the normal-feeling routines of work and school.  Any shred of normalcy right now is just such a blessing.

We're being really, really well cared for by our church family out here.  Some dear gentlemen came over today to put the snow tires on the car and help with some bathroom plumbing, we're getting several meals a week (which is a godsend since I haven't cooked in like a decade), and best of all the girls' childcare situation is working out fabulously and Justine (or Miss Jean as Sasha refers to her) is moving in on Monday! 

The highlight of the week, however, was without a doubt taking the boys and a friend up to see the Mythbusters live in Salt Lake.  Just going out and enjoying being together was amazing - our first break from the oppression of everything going on.  And it didn't hurt that we we were seeing Adam and Jamie, some of our favorite celebs ever.  Plus the boys got Red Vines.  So, yeah, it was a stunning success.

I get to talk to Steve every day and he's sounding more and more like himself.  He's very content at Sheppard Pratt right now, which is a huge blessing for all of us, and we'll just take next steps as they come (and as the treatment team recommends). 

We have much to be grateful for.

That said, this is (of course) the most challenging time that any of us has ever faced.  The kids are brittle, I'm exhausted, and the gulf between our current situation and any normalcy we've ever known feels impossibly vast.  I'm apprehensive of the known, terrified of the unknown.  And I'm so grateful for the community around us who is lifting us up when I can't or won't or am just too tired to.

If you're looking for ways to pray for us this week (besides for healing for each member of our family and for God to direct the outcome of all of this, which I hope is always on your list), here are a couple of ideas:
  • That these weeks and months would be sweet times for me and the kids.  That we would simplify our lives and schedules and really enjoy being together
  • That insurance is a breeze for each of us with claims (and claims and claims) starting to roll in
  • That God would calm our anxious hearts


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