Monday, October 22, 2012


I do love me a good corn maze!

This week we took advantage of warm temps and a 6-for-$30 coupon (only in Utah do they sell coupons for families of 6!) to hit the local corn maze/petting zoo/pumpkin patch for a lovely evening together.

Except for WanYing's constant, concerned moaning in the corn maze that we were "lost, so lost" I think a good time was had by all.

And off we go!  Sasha led the way most of the time... which could have contributed to our consistent lostness.
Some sugar water snapped WanYing right out of her deep (loud) concern that we would never find our way out of the maze.
Finally, we emerge from the maze no worse for the wear and head for Sasha's favorite - the petting zoo!
The calf was a big hit
The goat sure did try to squirm out of hugs, but Sasha held on tight!
WanYing preferred the smaller goats
And Sasha even found piglets to love on!
Last stop - the pumplin patch.  Ben, as usual, went big
Sash found a lovely specimen
WanYing had to search high and low for just the right pumpkin...
...and finally found it!
Perfect pumpkins chosen, a bumpy hayride home and dinner at In and Out completed our fantastic evening out.  Fall has officially arrived!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall Break at Diamond Fork

We spent a lovely fall break in Diamond Fork, a lovely spot about 45 minutes south of home in Spanish Fork Canyon.

It was perfect.  Well, except for the rain, but autumn camping in the frost and rain, nestled in down bags has a poetry all its own so we weren't complaining.  And seven bodies does keep a van pretty toasty!

We stayed in the Diamond Fork campground, which ended up being very pleasant.  We abutted the already-closed tent camping area, so we had lots of space to roam, and there's a very enjoyable (and scenic!) Discovery Trail that circles the campground.

Here we are... discovering

Sasha and Ben ran off way ahead, but Chorney kept us all sheep-dogged together the best she could
I do adore my hiking girls!
Views along the hike
Our campsite (tent for gear storage - very handy!)
Time to warm up in the van!  The kids, as usual, all congregated in the pop-top
While the girls napped, we played a freezing game of Settlers in the tent.  Next time, I'll remember to get my extra layers out of the van before I'm locked out for naps - wet jeans and bare feet don't make for a warm game!
We had some wetness, but it didn't dampen our spirits!
Staying next to a closed-down loop is the best!  Lots of romping space
Chorney (or Red Beard - arrrr!) keeps tabs on all of us
Day 2 - time to bundle up and go hiking!
Walking to the Diamond Fork hot springs.  Daddy and his ducklings.
The leaves were amazing.  The faces were... well, half of them were adorable! I'll never understand why Ben insists on making strange faces every time I pull out the camera.
Seriously, the leaves were amazing
Sash and Daddy hiking
WanYing is such a card!  I think that I'll remember her entire third year of life with this exact face.
Almost to the hot springs - you can tell because the river is steaming :)
We made it!  Time to soak!
Ben gets his zen on
I love my adventurous kids!
Home again, home again, fiddle dee dee
Last stop before home - Red Ledges.  Sam, of course, scales every rock he can find.
Instead of climbing, WanYing decides to perch and gorge on trail mix.
And Chorney keeps track of us all.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tea for Two

Ben brings so much joy to my life, and recently added to the list of things I enjoy about Ben is his newfound love for jasmine tea!

Sharing a pot of tea with my kiddo while we read the newest Percy Jackson book together is a sublime pleasure, especially when combined with Ben's very sophisticated faces.  Apparently this is what people are supposed to look like while drinking tea - hard to argue!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Biking to Maryland

This week I hit 2,000 miles since starting to ride this May.  Too cool!  It's pretty fun knowing that I've ridden the equivalent of Utah to Maryland in just 6 months of bicycle commuting and occasional weekend rides.  I guess it just goes to show you that a few miles a day makes a big difference.

And this definitely qualifies my new bike as the best birthday gift ever.

Here are my stats since May:
  • 164 hours of riding
  • 91,160 feet climbed
  • Somewhere around 89,000 calories burned
  • 81 trips to work and home again
  • 2 paniers already worn out
  • Dozens of conference calls taken "from the road"
  • And one mommy's sanity preserved through daily solitary exercise
I'm not sure how far into the winter I'll keep riding, but for now the upper-30's frosty mornings are definitely doable.  Hopefully the only thing this winter that will stop me from riding is a chance to strap on the boards and hit the slopes!

Can't wait to get the next two Morningstar gals riding on 2 wheels!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Working in San Fran

Living in Utah is great for so many reasons... including the part where your favorite Product Manager can make a quick one or two day trip to Seattle or California, visit some customers and vendors, grab a few good meals on the company's dime, and make it home by the kids' bedtime the next day.

Admittedly, work travel isn't always fun, it's seldom glamorous, and it's often exhausting, but a few sunny days in San Francisco this week sure did feel great!

Oh, yeah, and the customer and vendor visits were good, too :)
Watching America's Cup boats compete for slots in next year's race
Looking out toward the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset
Hot fudge sundae at Ghirardelli?  Yes please!
Just me and Alcatraz.  Thanks for a great trip, San Fran!  And thanks for footing the bill, Mozy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Big Smiles

This weekend we proudly and enthusiastically participated in our first charity run as a family.  Ok, there was a charity (Operation Smile) and there was running (kids chasing each other), but technically we just completed the family-friendly 1-mile walk and then ate roughly a thousand orange segments each to recover from the "exertion".

The morning was a complete success - we enjoyed a beautiful autumn day in the Utah mountains, raised a little money for a charity we're definitely passionate about (go cleft palate kids!), and each of us got a mile's worth of exercise.

Oh, and as an added bonus we were surprised to receive a bottle of Tahitian Noni juice as a thank-you gift for adding Sasha's story to the very thoughtfully displayed stories of local kids affected by cleft palate.  We're trying to choke it down, but have yet to experience the miracle powers of the noni juice.  We'll keep you posted as to whether or not the "iridoids" ("powerful phytochemicals produced by plants as a defense against infection and other health threats" - see the Tahitian Noni - Science web page) make a marked difference in our health and well being.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Next Chapter

Yesterday the legal process and the case against Steve finally drew to a close.

We are relieved and grateful that Steve can return home to Utah permanently and start figuring out what the next chapter of life looks like. And we collectively breathe easier without the looming weight of a trial over our heads.

But this is not a case of winners and losers - everybody involved in the shocking, literally insane events of January 1st has lost more than any of us would have ever dreamed. The pain carried by Steve, the Johnsons, Spike, the Foudys is beyond description. Please continue to pray with us that this pain would not harden into despair or bitterness. Instead, please pray that we would each mindfully choose each day surrender that pain to Jesus and let us heal us individually and relationally, bit by bit, moment by moment.

Because only Jesus can heal hurt this deep. Because all things are possible with God.


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