Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chinese New Year Party!

by WanYing

Chinese New Year you can take pictures of people and you can put these, like, heads on that are like dragon tops heads and then there's like this little thing that you can see your face and there's holes in the dragon and you can't see through them.

This is me. I have the red horn on top of my head and my sister is the one with the red beard and my brother is the one that has the green top hair. On the mouth he has the blue tongue part.

This is my whole family. My mom's the one with the green jacket. My brother is the one with the blue shirt. And my sister is the one with the red scarf. And then my dad is the one that has a white shirt on. And I am the one that has the dress that has a lot of stuff on it and has brownish-blackish hair. I have the flower pants that are blue flowers and in the middle of the flowers there's white and then there's dots on them.

This is me and my sister drawing pictures and we're making dragons. This is the ram year and that's my brother with the blue shirt's year and my friend Kylee which is standing right in the middle of us.

There's 12 different kinds of animals.

This is my sister holding up her dragon

This is me with my dragon and I'm flying him

At the Chinese New Year Party we have a parade and everybody gets to pick something and one is with a huge dragon head and people get to be behind the dragon and stand there and hold up the sheet that's behind him.

And there also also hats and these things that you hold by the sticks and then twist it and they sound like drums sort of.

And we make a lot of noise to scare away the dragons.

I am one of the dragons. My friend is, too. She is the front of the dragon. I'm behind her and I hold up the sheet and we go around the area and we do the stuff that we're supposed to do. You make the sound if you're one of the persons that use the sound. But if you're not one of those guys you're doing a dragon or you're waving this thing in a big circle - it's a ribbon on a stick that you wave around in a big circle.

This is me with a hat on looking behind my friend because my mom wanted to take a picture of me but she kept walking so I had to look behind me and walk.

I like Chinese New Year. You get envelopes that have a Chinese coin in it and three White Rabbit candies and you also get chocolate coins.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Headed back to Mexico!

Sam, Ben, and Jamie are excited to report that we are going back to Mexico this April! This is the third year that we'll have the privilege of working with and for the caregivers and kids of Hogar de Amor Orphanage and we couldn't be more excited to see our friends in Colima, Mexico again and love on all those kids!

We would love to have your prayer and support for this trip.

Here are some things you can join us in prayer for right now:
  • We would quickly gel as a team and that a spirit of teamwork and service would infuse everything we do both before our trip and in Mexico.
  • Our families, church family, friends, and community would know that they are an integral part of this trip through their encouragement, prayer, and financial support.
  • Both we and those we serve will be transformed through our service.
  • Logistics simply work.  That health, transportation, lodging, dining, planning around our work projects, and the myriad of other details would reinforce, never detract from, God's work in and through us.

If you would like to financially support the trip's projects and the orphans of Hogar de Amor, we'd love that as well! We will use these donations to purchase supplies for the trip and will donate the rest directly to the orphanage, so everything you give will help and encourage the kids of Hogar de Amor!

All donations are tax deductible. You can donate online (select Mexico Mission Trip as the fund) or make checks out to CenterPoint Church with a memo of "Mexico Mission Trip" and send the check to our home.

We are sure looking forward to our trip to Colima! Thanks for your prayers, support, and love!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Racing in Style

Last Saturday Ben and Sasha competed in a YSL (Youth Ski League) race last week and boy did they look good doing it! Sam, Ben, and Sasha are all participating in the Sundance Alpine Ski Team this year and all three are having a ton of fun and improving their skiing by leaps and bounds. And since we've had such a crummy powder year, it's a blessing that the kids are focusing on edging on the firm pack rather than floating the pow (it lessens the blow of such a sad snow year).

Fear not, the season is still young and time for powder remains. And whether we're skiing the pow or the groom, we are determined to look fabulous.

It's tough being the little sibling who has to sit in the snow and wait for her bro and sis to race, but at least WanYing has a lock on her polar bear chic look.

Here comes Sasha!
Looking good!

Now, Saturday was a very special day because Saturday was Sasha's first race with her very own speedsuit! And while the .2 second time difference between the unforgivable friction of her snow pants and the sleek speed suit may not really matter, the 2 million point attitude boost that comes from a fancy suit is both priceless and hilarious!

The speedsuit is also humorous because it's equally powerful as a threat to the boys ("ski your best or you'll have to wear a speedsuit!") and an enticement to Sasha ("ski your best and you'll get to wear a speedsuit!"). Ah the subtle mysteries of parenting 4 children.

We had to take multiple shots - I hope you understand
Good Lord, I love this child

And while Ben's ski suit was slightly less dramatic, his skiing was just as fab.

Well done, Morningstar kids, way to conquer the mountain in style!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Qualtrics Insight Summit 2015 (or: Where Jamie has Disappeared To)

To anybody who has emailed, called, or attempted to contact me over the past few weeks (and, yes, this includes my family) I extend my deep apologies. Let me catch you up!

Last week contained not just Sam's 14th birthday and Sasha's 6th Gotcha Day, but also the 2015 Qualtrics Insight Summit, a four-day data freak extravaganza in Salt Lake City.

It was a blast. The event itself was simply amazing with world-class speakers, fantastic decor, and a killer party every night.

It was also a hell of a lot of work. Here are my highlights:

My product, Vocalize, powered the Command Center with interesting stats, photos, tweets, and insights about Summit. Please excuse the crappy picture, it actually looked totally beautiful in real life.

I got to host and facilitate a whopping 4 breakout sessions over the two days which, I'm proud to say, were very highly rated.

We had amazing seats for Journey. That part wasn't really any work, it was just superfun and I couldn't tell you about Summit without mentioning our private concert with Journey.

And here's the big part - my dev partner Ryan and I got 15 minutes of mainstage time to talk all about the product we've launched over the last year. Yep, 15 minutes in front of 1,300 people. And they ate it up! I like to think it was a combination of my fabulous cuteness and the great product. Ok, it probably had more to do with the software.

Thursday being the first year of Chinese New Year I thought I'd dress the part.

Oh, yeah, and the completely live demo of our new software in front of over a thousand people looked great, too.

The prep for this mainstage presentation was intense, and it was so worth it. Plus I now know how to read smoothly from a teleprompter; hopefully that's a skill I get to use again someday.

This picture cracks me up. This is my coworker Dave driving the demo while Ryan and I narrate. Apparently I cracked a joke that went over well and my slightly shy pleasure was displayed on a giant screen. Oh well, if I'm going to be up on a huge TV at least I'm smiling!

We had some speakers with serious cred: Dan Ariely, Paul DePodesta (the real-life Moneyball guy), Dan Pink, and Barbara Corcoran to name a few! Barbara Corcoran went on right after our engineering presentation on mainstage so we passed in the greenroom and she was kind enough to take a photo with all us geeks before taking the stage.

And as if all this wan't enough, our final day of Summit was a perfect bluebird day of skiing with our clients at Park City Mountain Resort. And being a former Sundance Instructor of the Year, Steve was invited to come along and help out with the day's festivities.

It was quite the week! I had a great time meeting our clients, showing off our products, answering questions, and hanging out.

And now I'm ready for a few quiet weeks catching up on work at my desk. After all, we have to build more great stuff to show off next year!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sam's Fourteenth Birthday

This week my baby boy turned fourteen.  FOURTEEN! And since he's off at a church youth retreat this weekend - A YOUTH RETREAT - I get to post whatever I want to about his fourteenth birthday without him looking over my shoulder.  FOURTEENTH BIRTHDAY!

Oh my goodness. I know this makes me sound even older than having a fourteen-year-old child already suggested, but the time is passing unreasonably and terrifyingly quickly!

Celebration part 1: Birthday party.

Once again, Sam took full charge of planning his party, which meant there were Doritos, pizza, and video games.

I have to say that I think we outdid ourselves on the cake. I was going to make a SNES controller cake, like Ben's cake last year only different because I'm informed those controllers are worlds apart, but cooler heads prevailed when Steve insisted we just design a cake and then get somebody else to do the actual icing part. Steve and Sam did the sweet head and title replacement and the rest was all Target.

And we used one of our signature candles. For some reason, all of the candles in our "assorted" order were pink. But nobody minded once the fireworks began!

He succeeded in blowing out all the candles in one breath, so Sam got his birthday wish, which we're all pretty sure included more pizza and video games (granted!).

Celebration part 2: Concert!

This week was the second-annual Qualtrics Insight Summit (more to come on that later) and, like most conferences, we brought in a musical act. Unlike most conferences, the act was awesome.

Yes, we had a private concert with Journey on the very day of Sam's 14th birthday.

Happily, we even got to bring a few friends along
And we all wore our Qualtrics-y finest
It was completely amazing
And that's how Sam celebrated his fourteenth birthday.

Sam - every year you seem to get cooler, smarter, and kinder. Keep it up, kid. We are so proud of you.

And we'll see what we can do about bringing in a private concert with a legendary band for your next birthday. But you may need to settle for video games, pizza, and Doritos.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy 6th Gotcha Day to Sasha!

I think this picture will forever be a favorite of mine. After more than a month in Kazakhstan, 2 days of court, and countless hours planning and pining for this little one, on this day in 2009 Alexandra Grace officially became a Morningstar and you can see the joy in everybody's face that we are finally, officially family!

We are forever grateful that we are hers and she is ours.

Happy 6th Gotcha Day, Sasha!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

WanYing's 6th Birthday on the 6th Day of February Golden Birthday

by WanYing

On February 6th it was my birthday. I turned 6 on February 6th and that makes it my Golden Birthday that's golden golden.

I had donuts in the morning for breakfast and then we opened presents.

I'm starting to open my presents. I have a present in my hand and I'm gonna open it.

I got ladybug boots! They're really fuzzy inside and they make my feet hot.

I got a lot of presents and my sister got me 10 packs of Oreos in the same box. I got magnet dolls and I also got a Barbie from China and it had a baby Barbie, too. And the big Barbie had long blonde hair. And I also got a Lego set that you make that's a truck with two persons that can go in it.

* Editor's note - the Barbie is WanYing's China present for this year. It's a genuine Going Home Barbie that we got in China while on WanYing's adoption trip. Its simultaneous terrifyingness and awesomeness make it simply hilarious.

This is me and my friends ice skating at my birthday party! Emma, it was her first time ice skating and Lyla's too and they did all a great job. And Emma was like a machine that we couldn't even keep up with her! And Lyla wanted to stay with my mom and Lyla's hands she had socks on her hands but she told us they were too cold and we had to switch them to gloves.

The person in the middle is Lyla and on one of the sides is me and one of the sides is Kylee.

This is my friend Scout and the person with the walker is Scout. And the person beside her is me!

This is me holding my number 6 candle with my cupcake. I'm holding it up because I like holding my number 6 cupcake! It had the number 6 on it because I was turning 6.

Everyone's singing Happy Birthday and I usually wait until after they're done singing the song until I blow out the candle.

I blowed out the candle.

I had a great time ice skating with my friends. We had donuts, hot chocolate, Kool-Aid that's watermelon kind and we had cupcakes. All my friends that are sitting by me that's at the table is Lyla, Scout, Sasha (which is my sister), and Kylee, and Emma. That's it.

I had a good birthday and it was great!


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