Monday, May 28, 2012

Daily Rides

I've really been enjoying my daily rides on the new bike Steve got me for my birthday.  I've been averaging 15-20 miles a day riding to work and home again and with Mom and Dad in town this week I have even gotten to do a few rides outside of my normal work commute. 

On Sunday evening I headed up the canyon and made it to Bridal Veil Falls before the light failed and it was time to go home.  A beautiful Sunday evening enjoying a fantastic gift!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Little More Lunch Rappelling

I swear, I haven't turned into a danger-seeking lunatic, but when friends from work are going hiking and rappelling at lunch (again!) how can you say no?

Besides, it makes for some killer Facebook photos.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Way to a Kid's Heart - Cotton Candy

This week at my company party I learned the surest and quickest way to earn your children's undying love and respect - rent and man the cotton candy station.  Any other parenting feat, past or future, will forever pale.

Unfortunately, making hundreds cotton candy cones in the wind is messy and exhausting work... but it's worth it for these smiles!

Sasha with her first snowcone and cotton candy
Many, many confections later

Oh, yeah, and having a company party with a balloon guy and snowcones (not to mention cotton candy) will only elevate your parenting status.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


We had a great time hanging out in the front yard this evening watching the eclipse and playing with the neighbors.  The kids got even got into it... well, they got into the goggles and sort of enjoyed the eclipse until they realized that they could go to the neighbors' backyard and jump on the trampoline and eat Oreos.  Oh well, I just you just enjoy the teachable moments when they come and let them go with equal grace, because what sort of heavenly wonder could compete with Oreos?!?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A little vacation courtesy of Mozy

This past week I got to enjoy 2 nights and 3 days in fabulous Monterey, California courtesy of my very favorite company - VMware! Mozy is owned by VMware and EMC, and I was fortunate to be included on the list for this year's RADIO conference, an internal VMware Research and Development conference.

The conference was great, and my understanding of the applicability of automated testing to the 5 layers of QA, attracting more women into R&D, leveraging Infrastructure as a Service, and the virtual memory scaling issues of big data expanded fantastically :)

The best part, though, was having three days to just be myself.  I love being a mommy, but I am so easily overwhelmed by the activities and energy required and ample frustrations of being an acting single mommy of four.  Having three whole days to wipe nobody's nose but my own was a beautiful respite and left me feeling ready to resume the everyday adventures back home.

None of this would have been possible without my fabulous employer and a whole cadre of folks back here in Utah coordinating childcare.  My goodness, it certainly does take a village to raise the Morningstar kids!

Thanks so much to each of you for keeping my kids so well loved and cared for while I got to learn and play in California.  I am reminded each day of how blessed I am by the Body of Christ here in Utah.  Thanks for letting me get away from it all for a couple of days.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day - It Didn't Suck

Despite, or perhaps because of, my fears, Mother's Day officially did not suck.  This is no small feat and no trivial item of gratitude for me - after spending my birthday afternoon sobbing in my cubicle at work, I was definitely nervous about the next Jamie-centric holiday.  But the combined power of preparation and prayer and a new haircut and planning a jam-packed schedule for the weekend worked its magic and I emerged unscathed from Mother's Day Weekend.

The major event on Sunday as an after-church bike ride up around the Deer Creek Reservoir. There's a new bike path up there next to the railroad tracks that I've been dying to try, and Mother's Day seemed like the right occasion for an excursion.

So, I made cucumber sandwiches and raisin bread and cream cheese sandwiches (tres chic) and packed up some cold pizza for the boys (they don't appreciate the finer things) and we headed up the canyon for a biking adventure.

It ended up being a rather brief adventure because I had a flat tire a mile into the ride, so we decided to stop there and eat our lunches by the lake while Mommy fixed her flat, but it was fun nonetheless and the kids had a blast throwing rocks into the water.  If one has to fix a flat, sitting on the bank of a lake isn't a bad spot.  Plus I got to use my new CO2 cartridge to fill the tire and that was very cool (until I forgot to discharge the cartridge at home before removing it and it sounded like a gun went off in our house and sprayed pump shrapnel everywhere, but that's another story).

Oh, and Sasha made me breakfast in bed (a juice box, banana, and packet of water), the boys redid breakfast in bed (water added to oatmeal packet and a fine cup of tea made), and Steve sent flowers and a balloon, so the morning was pretty cheery as well.

So it all goes to show that with the love of friends and some forethought, the Grace of God, and some pretty amazing kids, a (temporarily) single mom can survive something as traumatic as Mother's Day.  A super-cute haircut doesn't hurt, either.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


It wasn't an easy choice, but after my first three weeks of faithful bike riding I decided that the hair had to go.  The ponytail, the hair under my helmet pushing on my neck, the seemingly endless wet hair... I was done with it all.

And let's not pretend that I was growing my hair out by choice - I was growing my hair out because a haircut seemed like an awful lot of effort. 

Besides, if I can't rationalize a fairly extreme haircut now, when can I?

So I hit the internet; the source of all knowledge and wisdom and fashion.  And I found this photo and I thought, "hey, that might look pretty cute on me (except for the bangs - I did not go through the misery of growing out my bangs 10 years ago just to cut them back in!).

And, so, steeled by a fabulous breakfast with Laura and a couple of mimosas, I did it!

And I'm super happy with the results - messy and helmet-friendly and a little bit sassy and a fun change.  Perfect!

Losing the two pounds of hair alone should shave minutes off of my commute :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hee Hawing Good TImes

We celebrated the end of another week last Friday by hitting the petting zoo and Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  Aw yeah, we know how to live up a Friday night!

For Sasha, the entire experience was a dizzying, delirious, delightful dream.  I mean, there were animals and you could pet them and feed them and even pick them up you could outrun them!  Sasha heaven!
Sasha successfully wrangles a goat and treats it to adoring hugs
WanYing tried to work up enough courage to feed the animals, but instead just put the food on the ground in front of them.  Not a bad strategy.
The cows were easier to catch than the goats, although you couldn't pick them up to snuggle them
Hayride time!  I think WanYing would have been smiling in this pic if Ben hadn't been squishing her.
Stylin', hay ridin' girls
Rapture!  More goats to feed!
Sam was less of a fan of the animal feeding once he realized that they lick your hands to pick up the food
Methinks Sasha didn't see that goat head-butt coming
Fortunately, there were plenty of activities to delight those who didn't enjoy getting licked by farm animals
Sasha liked these activities, too...
I like how Ben is modeling how to lick up the food for the horse
Another set of fast friends
And ponies to feed, too!  (are you picking up on Sasha's sheer delight at this whole experience?)
And you can ride the pony!
My Chinese cowgirl got into the pony ride, too
Ben... well... he tried to look enthusiastic.  In my defense, I definitely didn't force the boys to do the pony ride.
You can't win 'em all
But the boys did find plenty of activities to enjoy!

And Sasha liked it all :)


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