Saturday, February 16, 2019

Hawaii - Part 2

One of my most favorite parts of our trip was watching the sunrise and sunset. The best part about sunrise was that I could watch it from the comfort of my bed every morning!

But the overall best part of our vacation was the beaches. We knew from our experiences on the Oregon coast that the kids just love to be on the beach so we knew that Hawaiian beaches would be a whole new level of fun for them!  This was the perfect pace of vacation for us as we could sit back and relax on the warm beach and watch the kids run around and have fun!  It really was amazing and we were so not ready to come back to reality. We needed a few more days at the beach!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

It's A Love Story

When I looked over at my family as I attempted to make them heart shaped pancakes while they devoured the chocolate Valentine's I had just given them, I thought about how amazing it is what love can do. Love really does make the world go round and while at times it feels like this world is spinning out of control, I am grateful that there are still those out there who choose to love others.

Our love story is simple, there's nothing amazing about it. Just two simple very very recent high school graduates who decided to take a chance on a relationship after graduation. We were young and immature and had everything to figure out about our future, but we fell in love, and we fell fast!

Before we knew it we were engaged 18 year old's.  Peter was only halfway through his freshman year of college. It felt impossible and it kind of was.  We had to wait what felt like an eternity and it required a lot of sacrifice.  I started working as much as I could, Peter worked 30 hours a week while taking more than a full class load.  We spent every other possible moment of our time together, including when Peter's class schedule allowed calling him on each and every work break and him coming and eating lunch with me during my workday.  There truly weren't enough hours in the day to spend together and as soon as we'd say goodbye, we'd be on the phone chatting until we literally would fall asleep with the phone to our ear.

After a very long and hard 18 month engagement we finally said I do!  Our wedding was simple but very much from our hearts. The wedding was so secondary in my mind to the commitment and marriage we were embarking on. I just wanted to have that guy as my husband! And then we were on our way as two barely 20 year old newlyweds trying to grow up. There were growing pains here and there but we settled into life quickly. The last two years of Peter's college actually felt easier as we were able to be together during all of our free time and in some ways we became less of a distraction for one another. We were young, pretty darn poor, in our tiny condo but I have so many great memories of that phase of life. It was a simple time of hard work and growth and lots and lots of fun.

But as most married couples eventually feel, we knew something or in this case, someone was missing. For me, the desire for kids was so strong that I felt it right after returning from our honeymoon. It felt natural to me to progress to that next stage of life. But the hardest part for me was knowing I had to suppress that desire because the only way our marriage plan would work is if I worked hard and let Peter finish school. So I kept working at a job that made me unhappy and Peter worked hard at his job and school.  After Peter's graduation he settled into what we thought would be a long term job for him. We decided it was a good time to start our family. I couldn't have been more excited to grow our love for one another into a family full of kids. Life felt perfect as we moved from our condo into our first home with 3 bedrooms ready to fill with kids!

But the best laid plans don't always work out. In general life had felt pretty easy as a young married couple.  Being married has generally felt pretty easy for us because we truly feel we are better together.  But then walls starting falling in, the economy took Peter's job away, my grandma died and I was officially diagnosed with infertility. It felt like our biggest dreams and desires were being taken from us. Fortunately God didn't let us stay in that place for long. Peter secured another job quickly and I remembered a desire put in my heart when I was 14 years old. Peter and I had already discussed adoption and it was a "someday" plan for our family. But it became apparent that God wanted this to be the first plan for our family. Another year of waiting and all that I can tell you is that day I got the phone call telling me about my son and got to see a picture of him for the first time, it was one of the biggest days of love in my life. I felt like my heart was going to burst. I printed those 3 pictures of him and I put them everywhere so I could stare at him all day long. He stole my heart from the second I looked into those dark brown eyes in that photograph!

And then only weeks after I saw my first son's face in that photo, I was in utter and complete shock! We were pregnant and going to be adding another baby. And not long after that, another baby. My pregnancies were a living expression of our love for one another, which was pretty darn amazing.  I loved being pregnant even if my body wasn't very good at it, I'm one of those total weirdos who loved labor and instantly wanted to do it all again!  There's just something magical with the love poured out in that delivery room as you hold your baby and look at your husband and ooh and ahh over this new little life. We were blessed hard and fast with these 3 little babies and whew it was a whirlwind.  In fact, I remember very little of those early years.  We were in survival mode but I had never felt more blessed or more loved. God had been so good to us!

It wasn't long before we felt God leading us to adopt again. We still had love and room in our hearts for another. The process seemed to go pretty fast and before I knew it we were on our way to meet our 4th child.  This is where I saw love in the most sacrificial way a human could ever show love. To love a child so much that you can say goodbye.  Adoption is so full of sacrificial love and my heart still wants to burst in love for LB's birth mother. We are forever bonded.  She carried her, she gave her life, she smothered her in kisses and whispered "I love you" in her ears and then handed her to me! Seriously, what had I ever done to deserve that privilege.

Our love has been going strong for almost 15 years now. We've been a family for almost 13 of those.  In the grand scheme of things, we are still early on in our relationship together and I am thankful for that because I want all the time in the world to love this guy of mine. Our love has created a Keyser party of 6.  We are long past the phase of rainbows and glitters all day long,  we've come to know each others imperfections well. But our love is in the mundane of our days. The commitment that we never let go of. The caring for our family, the hard work to provide, the few hours we get each week to be together. The tag out I need after a long hard day, in those few minutes of silence is we sit together and laugh and shake our heads at this life we've created.  Our love is simple, nothing extraordinary, but man is it good! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hawaii Part 1

When we would ask the kids where they wanted to go on vacation all they would ever say is Disneyland. Which is understandable because they have 2 disney obsessed parents and have known nothing more. But we felt like it was time for something more.  The kids are getting older and more fun and we wanted to introduce them to a different style of vacation. Insert our first trip to Hawaii as a family. I haven't been to Hawaii since I was a kid and Peter hasn't been since he was a teenager so it was a pretty new experience for all of us, but we sure were excited to see some sun!  

All of our kids love to fly so that was the first very exciting part of our journey. 

And we were so thankful for our awesome airport and the playground they had put in to let the kids run around and be a bit crazy before being confined for several hours. 

While the kids were super excited for the flight, that was the one part of the trip I was most concerned about. 6.5 hours is a long time for even me, much less the kids. We had grandparents along on the trip so that made the flight way easier than it could have been. Our biggest issue was keeping our very busy and stubborn 4 year old calm and entertained.  Overall the kids did awesome, the big kids seemed easy peasy with their grandparents and LB had a couple of rough moments but was overall better than I expected.  

Our first day was full of travel and business like getting a rental car and shopping. The kids were more than done by the time we got to the rental house. I was so excited by the view, it definitely had the wow factor I was hoping for, we were definitely in paradise!

By this point in the day the kids really just needed a chance to run off some steam, enter the pool in the backyard! Even though it was a bit cold the kids loved having the pool in the backyard to jump in anytime there was a second of downtime. 

After a quick dinner and pool time we marched down to the beach to check it out and see our first sunset! We knew right then and there that this was gonna be a good vacation!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Happy Birthday Eli!

Today my baby boy turns 8!  I'm always a sentimental fool around birthdays because I do believe that each and every one of my kids has a miracle life story.   I walked every step of Eli's journey with him so it sticks out in my mind a bit more. My pregnancy with him was not a healthy one, and it is a miracle he made it as far as he did. I didn't even know until I had him that my placenta was formed wrong, that the rare kicks I felt from him weren't a normal amount of kicks. That I was more than likely at risk of my water breaking even earlier than it did and that its a miracle that we made it to 36 weeks. 
And then his birth and the fact that even though our local hospital wasn't equipped to save his life, a hospital that could save him was less than an hour away. That yes his issues were very minor and he was much bigger, older, and healthier than most babies in the NICU but I still couldn't help but think about the fact that if he was born where is big brother was, he wouldn't have had wise doctors or technology to even survive. 


So yes, I do consider my son a little miracle.  These 8 years have gone way too fast, but they've been really good years. They've been busy and hard at times but they've been blessed.

Eli, You've always been such a blessing to our family. I will never forget the day I found out you would be joining our family, the first time I saw your teeny tiny heartbeat. The first time I held you after 24 hours of longing to just be able to hold you and know you were going to be okay. The fact that you set off alarms like crazy but once you were up against my chest your breathing and heart rate relaxed. We both needed each other in that moment! You've always been a fun, smart, laid back kid and the serious thinker in you reminds me every day of how much you are the splitting image of your father.  I love your imagination and your temper that reminds me that there is just a touch of your mom in there though ;)   We are blessed to have you as our son, and as I opened up by Bible app this morning, this verse of the day on your birthday seemed fitting. Phil 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  God made you a precious, perfect miracle for a purpose and a plan and I can't wait to watch God's plan for your life continue to unfold! We love you so very much, Happy Birthday Mr E!  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hopes for 2019

2018 was a year! It was a busy year, lots of change and adjustments throughout. It presented many challenges that we met head on and has left me seeking God in ways that I never have before. It was hard, we lost people we cared about as the older generations diminish more and more. I've seen people I love hurting and there being nothing I can do for them. I've hurt too.  I've been challenged in ways I have never been challenged before and felt utterly helpless a time or two.  We've had a lot of fun. We've enjoyed the simple life, the wonderful moments  just existing as a little family on this planet. We've had victories and a whole lot of defeats. But a new year is set to turn the corner in mere hours and I wait and wonder with expectation. I have learned that so much that happens in a year is out of my control and I am willing and able to roll with the punches, but I still like to give myself a few goals as I look ahead. I know I won't accomplish all or even most, things change but I am very goal driven so this becomes one of my favorite posts to look back on each year. 


2018 Goals: Dig deeper in my devotional time and find a small group.  

The small group thing didn't work out because our church still hasn't offered one in our area, but I am glad to say that I really created a great daily habit of digging into my Bible, praying and even recently added journaling. It has been very rewarding as I've leaned in to God this year and really focused that it isn't about me, but about Him.  I look forward to this time each day and it has paid dividends for me this year as I've had to rely heavily on God through hard moments. 

2019 Goals: Develop a family devotional time. I also really want to focus on more prayer time and feel led to try spiritual fasting as we seek his will and plan for us in 2019. 



2018 Goal: Prioritize time together  

We had a really really good year of marriage and I am thankful for that!  We've faced some hard times not in our marriage, but just in life, Through that though, I feel like its helped us grow in vulnerability. Peter also started a new job this year and that created some new challenges as he's home quite a bit less during the week and that created some frustration as we had to adjust the family dynamic. But we've learned how important communicating is and I think we are through that adjustment now. But I also know that intentional time together is KEY to being able to survive his work load and the challenges of raising all these little ones. So with that our 

2019 Goal: Go on way more dates this year!

Family Life
2018 Goal: Value quality time and make sure they feel loved  

I constantly feel like a failure as a mom, so this one is a tough defeat for me. As the kids get older I feel like the parenting challenges are getting way harder! And I haven't done a great job. So anyway, this year one of my primary focuses is on being a better mom. I have spent a lot of time thinking about patience and what I need to do here.  And after lots of reflection I think the key to more patience is my 

2019 goal: present time.  Put down the phone and computer, put down my expectations and plans for the day and just spend more time being present with the kids. Most of my impatience comes from my goals for the day and what I want to accomplish so if I let go of those, give up dumb distractions, I know I can grow in this area. I just want my kids to know they are loved and valued. 


2018 Goal: Pay off Peter's car  and grow retirement savings!  This was a big year for us financially, especially as Peter started a new job that was really able to propel us forward! And it is awesome to be debt free and so close to our retirement savings goals.

2019 Goal: reach full contribution amount for retirement savings 


2018 Goals: Yard clean up  This one became really easy as we hired out yard maintenance this year. I'm sure all the neighbors are very happy with our decision as are we. It has definitely reduced some stress and lets be honest, Peter just doesn't have the time anymore. 

2019 Goal: at least start to replace our windows (our house as 39 windows, so this is a big one) and finish a lot of our smaller home projects that have been on the to do list for 5 years! 

Personal Health:  

2018 Goals: I had none and while I probably deserve an f in this department this year, I did implement intermittent fasting over the last few months and I have really loved it. I actually feel a lot better doing it and I've lost 13 lbs so far without even trying! 

2019 Goals: Even though I've been working out recently I want to continue and develop a good habit here and continue with the intermittent fasting. I have a lot of weight I would like to lose too but that is not my primary focus. Sustainable habits is!

Vacations:  2018: We traveled to lots of fun places like Disneyland and San Diego, Arizona and Wallowa Lake. We got away as a couple for 4 small getaways, it was awesome! 

2019:  This is one of my favorite goals because I love to get out of town! We haven't set all of our plans for the whole year but we are going to have some fun for sure with Hawaii and Disneyland on the calendar and hopes of a southern Oregon road trip. Sabrina has hopes of going on her solo trip with mom and dad too! I also hope we can repeat history and get away on 4 or so weekend getaways as a couple because man alive we need them!  We love vacation countdowns! 

As I spend time reflecting and praying about the year ahead a word usually comes to mind. This coming year I feel "trust and obey" on my heart as I continue to put my faith and trust in God for our family and future. More than anything we want to live out HIS desires for our life.  Our pastors closing 2018 sermon summed up what has been on our heart perfectly - 2019, lets make it not about us! I want to live with an outward focus this year on loving others better. I have no idea what he will put on our hearts this year but I hope I am willing to receive whatever he has with open hands, ready to do his will. 

Psalm 37:5-6 Commit your way to the Lord, TRUST in him and he will do this, He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn.     

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 In Review

Well, here we are at the end of another year. I always spend a lot of time on reflection at the end of the year as I think through all that has happened and I look ahead to what I hope is to come in the year ahead. What we enjoyed, what successes we had, what I wish we could have changed. It feels like it was a really hard year. We lost some people we love, I've seen people I care deeply for in heartbreaking situations.  I've experienced it myself. But yes, there was so much joy too with our little family and I can't and won't diminish that. I will still count my blessings every single day! So lets back on some of the reflections of our year!  

In January we went to the beach for the weekend, I didn't get any noteworthy pictures but it was a stormy weekend and that's Peter's favorite beach weather.

In February Eli turned 7 years old and we had a big surprise for him!

The next week we were off on a surprise trip to Disneyland! We had so much fun! 

But on our last day we received the unfortunate news that Great Grandma Keyser had passed away suddenly.  

In March we attended our favorite adoption conference

In March we also snuck away on a beautiful weekend at the coast for my birthday and a time to celebrate Peter starting a new job! 


Then there was of course Easter

And more Birthday's as Malachi turned 8 years old

And Sabrina turned 6

The whole family spoiled me for Mother's Day!

And then Miss Sabrina graduated Kindergarten

And we wrapped up Awana and the one year we would have 3 sparkies

Sabrina got those training wheels off her bike

And Miss LB's dream came true as she got to start ballet

Malachi started piano lessons

They piled on the love for Father's Day

The 4th of July consisted of Eli getting his biggest catch as soon as his pole hit the water and a little bit of family fun to end the evening


We also headed off for one of the kids most favorite yearly traditions as we went to great grandma's house! 


Peter celebrated his birthday with a hike and lots of dessert

LB turned 4 years old!

And we celebrated our 12th anniversary in a swanky downtown hotel!

We had our first broken bone experience, fortunately just a finger but still ouch! 

Malachi participated in his first musical

We also celebrated our 8th Family Day!

The kids started another year of school


 And then we had a blast at Wallowa Lake 

These two lost their first teeth right around the same time

And we added a new member to the family, our 69th foster pup but keeper Mr Groot

We tried something new as LB started preschool

3 of the kids ran me ragged this fall as they played soccer, but we had a blast watching them!

We had a wonderful time in San Diego spoiling Eli and exploring a new city

We had an Incredible Halloween

We got away for a couple days as a couple in beautiful Southern Oregon

Groot graduated basic manners

Malachi is loving Hip Hop

We also snuck away for a couple more days of couple time (and work) to a new state for me - Arizona!

And then as quick as a flash, we celebrated Christmas!

It is a very blessed life I live. I am so grateful for another year of health and happiness with these kids and my amazing and awesome husband.  I will be back soon with my goals as I look ahead to 2019. But Happy New Year to all!