Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year of Good Living

2015 has been a heck of a year. Our family has grown together. Jobs have been good. Kids are doing well. Our new church building is almost complete. We've had a killer December for snow. I biked a respectable 2600 miles. We've been snowshoeing or cross country skiing every day this week. We had no major car issues or home repairs. We went camping every 2nd or 3rd week this summer.

It's a lot to be grateful for. A whole lot to be grateful for.

We've seen and been affected by heartache in our friends and family and it's our privilege to walk alongside those who are hurting. And we are grateful for the healing that God is cultivating in their hearts.

But for us it's been a beautifully unremarkable year. A year when we've hunkered down and enjoyed the blessing of time together as a family.

It is a remarkable thing to realize that we are our favorite people to be with. The very idea makes me grin from ear to ear.

We're not into New Year's resolutions around here. But this morning I was reading in Philippians and found a fantastic theme verse for 2016:
Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.
I like it. I think that if we can live 2016 with a generosity of spirit and an infectious love for this precious life that provides everyone around us a glimpse of good living and of the living God, we'll have done a-ok in this new year.

Cheers to new beginnings, steadfast love, and new mercies every morning.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Snow Days

Utah is having the best December we can remember, and we are trying to enjoy every last flake! In the last week, Sundance got over 50" of snow - boy did the girls freak out when we held up a measuring tape to show them that the snow is taller than they are!

Here are some recent pics of us out and about in our winter wonderland.

Chorney loves our winter romps, although she does get a little frustrated with the snow clumping between her doggie toes. I ordered some snow booties for her today, much to the boys' chagrin. It will be an interesting experiment... I am betting she hates them at first but then once she starts romping she'll forget they're even on. We shall see.

In celebration of all our snow, we knew we had to get some new skis, so the Morningstar ladies are proud owners of four, count 'em four, new pairs of skis.

Steve talked me into trying alpine skiing again, so here's WanYing showing off her new powder twin tips alongside my alpine boards. I have to say that this new generation of alpine carvers is total ski cheating - I have never made turns so easily! It feels a little cheap not to have the quad-burning of telemark, but it sure is a lot faster and I have four very fast little skiers to keep up with now.

But to those of you who are worried I have sold out entirely, I transferred my favorite telemark bindings over to new powder skis. And with all this snow, I've had ample chance to enjoy them! Here's a very happy me and Sasha showing off our new powder skis.

Trust me, we both rip.

Chorney and I are enjoying our winter commute into work. My short 2 1/2 mile commute is just the perfect distance for her and she keeps up a steady 10-12 mph so she arrives at work with most of her wiggles worked out.

I think she looks very fancy with her Safety Dog vest on.

Here's my trusty pooch and trusty steed in front of the Qualtrics field. The Civia is doing awesome and the belt drive, studded tires, and bar mitts keep us rolling all season long.

And I know this isn't winter-related, but the boys, Steve, and I did go to a midnight showing of Star Wars. It was a ton of fun and we all loved the movie, right up to the point where the 3D was too much for me and I tossed my popcorn. Sigh. My poor brain just can't handle 3D movies. Never fear, I made it out of the theater first and watched the remainder of the movie from the wings.

My family didn't actually leave the movie to make sure I was still alive, but Steve did pause to text me, which is an awfully generous division of attention given that it was the opening night of Star Wars.

Ben competed in his first nordic race of the year up at Soldier Hollow last week. He's in the U14 age group this year, which means that he races a 3 km loop. He finished strong and reported that had a good time talking with another kid as they raced. The competitive mom in me wanted to suggest that perhaps chatting during a race implied that he could have been working a little harder, but I wisely bit my tongue and rejoiced that he had a good time.

Hup hup hup!
He might have gotten a little warm with all that skiing

We've enjoyed a marvelous start to the winter and couldn't be more grateful for all of our snow and free time to enjoy it!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Eve Festivities

As always, our Christmas Eve was a blast and chock full of holiday fun, bookended by the nativity story (of course!). And, as always, both readings of the Christmas Story were... nontraditional.

We started with our annual tradition of reading the Christmas Story and acting it out with the nativity set that Steve's mom and Dad made Sam for his first Christmas.

This year we mixed things up a bit and Sash opted to read while the other kids acted out their parts. As a direct result, the story was a lot less chaotic and violent than usual, although Ben did his part to keep it exciting, as evidenced by the beans that beanbag Mary started leaking halfway through her ordeal. Poor Mary. And it must be said that Sasha made an excellent narrator.

And we ended with Christmas Eve service at church where Steve and I and several other members of our congregation acted out another entertaining retelling of the Christmas Story. Think Drunk History with kids as narrators instead of tipsy celebrities and the grown-up cast making fools of ourselves and you'll get the gist of it.

It turned out brilliantly! You should totally check out the whole video at

And between our two nativity stories, we had a heck of a day.

As usual, we opened presents on Christmas Eve. We started this tradition a few years ago to
  1. make Christmas Day a little less psycho
  2. open presents a day early (who can argue with that?), and
  3. carve out more time to ski on Christmas Day, because if any day deserves a family ski-fest, it's Christmas
So once we were dressed and nativitied we packed up and headed down the street to Grammy's house for french toast, mimosas, and loads of present opening.

Ben unwraps a case of cream soda from Sasha
I'm so glad Sam hasn't outgrown Legos!
Yep, it was American Girl doll year! Sasha and WanYing were thrilled
We see many tea parties in our future
Ben had only one thing on his list - a new unicycle - and apparently didn't like our ceaseless taunting and fake-outs
But never fear, the unicycle was eventually presented with due ceremony and excitement
It's going to take a little while to master, but he's well on his way!
And then we paused for a glass of wine before dealing with the aftermath
And in the evening, it was off to Christmas Eve service, properly bedecked in Elsa dresses
Acoustic Christmas was appropriately banjo-tastic!

We had a beautiful Christmas Eve, filled with the joys of giving, worship, laughter, and banjo. Just like it should be.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!

For Christmas this year, we got a whole lotta snow and a set of powder skiers!

Our joy of hearing our kids whoop and holler all the way down Bishop's Bowl was matched only by their excitement to hand candy out to every Sundance employee we could find. 19" of fresh powder and a whole backpack full of chocolate bars and caramels to give away combined to make the best Christmas in memory.

Merry Christmas to All! Keep thinking snow thoughts for Utah, we had a heck of a white Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

After a slow start to our Christmas prep, we've jumped in head first! Gifts are wrapped, the tree is up, and, now that the snow is falling, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Here's a review of the revelry:

The annual CenterPoint Church Christmas Dessert - Mom hosted, neighbors came, I ate and played banjo, and a good time was had by all!
Ben participated in a local living nativity, trying "Wise Man" on for size (he's the one in purple). All of the requisite "wise man" jokes transpired.
The live nativity had a real camel! He was very friendly.
Poinsettia Sunday at church to benefit the 2016 trip to Hogar de Amor Orphanage. So far we've sold about 100 of our 140 poinsettias - hooray!
Nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit like poinsettias for orphans!
Company Christmas Party - James Bond Casino Night
Looking good at the tables with my friends from the Text Analytics team
And, look, the tree is finally up in all its glory! Fa la la la la

Monday, December 14, 2015

Keepin' it Real

We all know that sometimes Facebook/Blog personas do not match the realities of life. It's easy to pick a beautiful moment or two out of a day (and how grateful are we that each day has those beautiful moments!?!), but the rest is a little crazy.

This December has been kicking my butt. I've been sick for most of the month. Up until a few days ago we didn't have a single decoration up (although cards were addressed and mailed the first of December because I'm unbalanced like that) and our living room looked like an arctic war zone since ski season had begun, but our children had not yet remembered how to PUT AWAY THEIR SKI CLOTHES.

But see that red contraption in the corner? We may not have had a tree or stockings ready yet but, by God, the most sacred tradition of the season was standing there stately and beautiful. Mom and Dad's advent calendar was ready to go.

Every year my sainted husband treks out to the state liquor store to make 24 purchases. The wine buyer saves up recommendations for him all year. And he returns home victorious, ready to surprise me with a new wine specially chosen for each day.

And, no, we don't actually keep up with a bottle a day :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Almost Famous

We in Morningstarland like to say that we're very famous... in very small circles. The children have not yet figured out that this means that we are, in fact, not famous at all, so I shall continue to spout wise sayings like this until they figure it out.

Our new taste of fame comes on the back of this year's Sundance trail map! Yep, there are my 3 favorite boys strutting their stuff right there on the trail map!

It's all from an "instructor with kids" photo shoot from a few years ago that Steve and the boys participated in. They used instructors with their kids, since it's definitely preferable to boss little mountain rats around to get the perfect photos than to attempt it with paying customers. Some of the pictures from this shoot are still in my all-time-favorites category - and clearly Sundance agrees!

Ben has decided this elevation to Sundance royalty entitles him to free cookies at the deli all year. I can't argue with his logic. Hopefully the deli employees agree.

Exeriments: Do Not Slide in the Kitchen with Socks On

By WanYing

Me and my sister were sliding on the floor with socks on and dancing on the floor and then we fell I got bumped on the trash can but my sister didn't get hurt.

It did not feel good. And I had to go to Instacare and then I got stitches but they put a sorta kinda medicine that made my skin going to sleep so it did not hurt when I got my stitches.

I had to keep a bandage over my stitches so it would be protected.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Giving Thanks

This week brought Thanksgiving, Steve's birthday, and our first day of skiing - it was an easy gratitude week!

We carried forward our ski-and-eat-out Thanksgiving tradition, which is the perfect mix of huge quantities of food, playing in the snow, and not cooking. We were blessed with soft snow and 4 kids with very positive attitudes - the perfect season opener! And I have to say that our kids are looking good on their boards this year. I have about 2 years left until they can all outski me.

Today's Psalm in my daily reading was an apt summary of our weekend, the perfect combination of gratitude and delight with God, his blessings, and his creation:

God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
Earth, display your exuberance!
You mark us with blessing, O God, our God.

Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us to all of you!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Birthday Bonding

Steve is a November birthday. November is an excellent birthday month - Thanksgiving, the start of ski season, and every 3 or 4 year a James Bond premier!

This year brought the Spectre and another James Bond party to celebrate my very favorite person on earth. Break out the champagne and tuxedos - it's time to party!

Bar? Check! Finger food? Check! And, yes, there was Chick-Fil-A
Vesper martini anyone?
Shaken, not stirred
A darn fine looking couple.

We ate, we drank, and then we headed to the theater to watch a little Daniel Craig. It was a heck of a night!

The best part? Walking through the theater in all our black tie regalia and having every second person stop us and ask what was going on. Our answer every time? James Bond.

We are so blessed to have good friends who are always up for a good time, a crazy theme party, and a fabulous celebration for one heck of a guy.


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