Saturday, November 28, 2009

One Year - Home

In all the hustle and bustle of Black Friday yesterday we were also celebrating being in our home for one year! Last year we did just a little bit of Black Friday shopping and then headed home to tear our bed apart and get the chinchillas in their travel boxes and ready for moving day!

This year we were able to shop until we dropped from midnight to 9:30 AM and let me tell you - we dropped!!!

We were able to pick-up lots of great deals on baby clothes and bottles and a few little things for us.

So in honor of being in our home for one year we decided to devote a whole post to OUR HOME!

It is not the same house that we walked into 13 months ago, that is for sure. It was hard to envision all the spiders being gone, all the toilets coming clean, the floors being covered in shiny wood! Flowers in the yard. This house is certainly not the same house it was a year ago.

To prove our point, here are some before and after photos:

Our yard before: The very before which we did not get photo's of, envision basically the walls of the house being torn off and water all over the interior. They pretty much had to replace one whole side of a wall on our house due to the sheeting being installed wrong. So we got all new siding and a wonderful new paint color added to our home! So this before is only of the yard, not of how different the exterior was.


For this one, a picture is worth a thousand words: Before








These pictures are only a snapshot of how filthy and spider infested this house was. You are fortunate that I didn't get any pictures of the toilets!!! We have made it into a great home that we are proud of and are looking forward to growing our family in!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


As Thanksgiving is once again upon us I want to take a moment and reflect on some of the many blessings in my life. For whatever reason I have been reminded more of the many blessings in my life this year. 2009 has been a very tough year for us and thru the tough journey's we've been on I remember more and more what really counts and how lucky and blessed we really are!

So with that 10 Blessings in my life that I am Thankful for:

10) A wonderful home to call my own. There is still so much that I would like to see done to it, but it is ours! It is warm and cozy and is big enough that we can grow our family in it. Almost everything in the interior is still new and we have a yard full of projects to keep us busy! I love my big bedroom! I feel safe in it and it fits our needs perfectly!

9) Living in the land of opportunity. I do not understand why God blessed me with a life of opportunity and security, but am so glad He did! A place where I can worship God without hiding or facing persecution. A place where I can earn good money and seek numerous opportunities. A place where we go to bed every night safe and secure because other's are protecting us.

8) Our jobs. As much as I do not enjoy my job, I am thankful for it. It has provided us with numerous opportunities. It allowed us to get married while Peter was still in college. It allowed us to buy our first home. It has allowed us to pay off lots of debt and it has also allowed us the opportunity to adopt a child! The way they have treated us employees with integrity and honesty when a lot of company's are doing the opposite right now truly makes me proud of the company I work for! I am thankful that Peter works for a company who treats him great! I am thankful he only had to endure 6 weeks of unemployment when other's have faced far worse. I am thankful I have a husband who loves what he does!

7) Our puppies. Our animals truly do bring us happiness. I love my unique little hairless boxer. I love how she always tries to sneak up on the bed in the middle of the night. I love how she always give me the sad eyes when I talk to her. I love how her whole body wiggles when she wakes up in the morning and how excited she is to face another day! I love how she curls up under blankets. I love how she curls her little tail to keep it from hitting things :) I love my little boy puppy! I love how he truly loves me and gets so excited to see me. I love that he always wants me to carry him. I love that he is spoiled rotten. I love his green eyes. I love how he runs around like a crazy dog! I love that he growls at Peter when Peter tries to move him away from me :) They really do add so much fun to our lives!

6) I am thankful for a birth mother who is going to give us the greatest gift! I am so happy that she carried this child. I am so thankful that she will continue to care for this child for days after birth. I am so thankful that she is going to make the most difficult decision a woman ever could make and give her child up in the hopes that someone else could give her child more opportunities. Truly an amazing woman!

5) I am thankful for in-laws who truly treat me like part of their family! They listen, they encourage, and accept me. Not many people are so lucky with their spouse's family. I really feel like I have been accepted like a daughter as part of the family! When I married Peter I inherited 2 more sets of grandparents and 2 more brothers! They are willing to take care of the grandpuppies on a daily basis and they enjoy having us be a part of their lives! They are looking forward to being grandparents and offer encouragement on this adoption journey as they just walked this road a few years ago.

4) I an thankful for my family. They gave me a solid foundation in my faith. They support us and pray for us constantly. They can't wait for us to bring our baby home and they pray for our adoption and our baby all the time. I have 2 adorable niece's who have been a constant source of happiness for the past 8 years. I could not love and care about these 2 little girls anymore and I would do anything for them! I am thankful that I get to be an aunt again in just 6 short weeks (not that I'm counting!) I am thankful to be part of a family who loves me and cares about me. I am thankful that they have also accepted Peter as part of their family!

3) I am Thankful that I get to be a mother. I have wanted this for so long and knowing that I have a child out there in this world and my dream is going to come true makes me truly joyful! I am thankful God asked us to take this journey through adoption. I am thankful for an awesome agency who walks with us and offers encouragement every step of the way! I am thankful that God has picked out a baby specifically for our family! I am thankful that I am going to get to see my baby very soon and hold him/her in just a few short months. I am thankful that God has provided "special mothers" who will care and love on my child until I am able to take over. I am glad that I can rest in peace knowing my child's needs will be me while we wait.

2) I am thankful for the most amazing husband! I am so thankful that bus broke down 5.5 years ago :) I am thankful that he takes his role as my husband seriously. He is my best friend and so much more! He provides diligently for his family. He takes care of things around the house. He is always there to offer a hug and an encouraging word. We've weathered some really tough storms in the past year but he has not faltered. He takes his commitment to me very seriously. He trusts me and thinks I am capable of anything. He has the most amazing faith in God! He is honest! He is loving! He has the biggest dimples :) He is truly my life-mate and I love him so much and can't imagine life without him! He is looking forward to being a daddy and is already taking that role seriously. He can't wait to learn how to care for our baby! He already loves this baby so much and my heart melts when he prays for our baby! I know he is going to be an amazing father and our child is already getting a great daddy!

1) I am so thankful for a God who loves me and adopted me! I am thankful that he forgives me over and over and over again and welcomes me back into his arms. I am thankful that I am allowed a personal relationship with him. I am thankful for a Savior who suffered and died so that I can live with him. I am thankful that He desires and pursues me and is patient with me. There is no God like our God!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things

So the Holiday's are here once again. I have to admit that most years I do not look forward to the holiday's like I am this year. I think last year we just really missed out on the holiday's because we were re-modeling our new house and moving and we didn't get to decorate last year. So this year I think the holiday's are going to be a great time and so with that here is my list

My 10 favorite things about the holidays:

1) Getting a 5 day weekend for Thanksgiving

2) Thanksgiving: spending time with family, pies, pies, pies, playing Bingo for candy bars

3) Black Friday Shopping. Not that we have anything specific to shop for but it is always fun to run around in the middle of the night trying to find great deals!

4) Decorating the house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. This will be the first time we get to decorate this house and I am looking forward to it!

5) Homemade Fudge - It's one recipe that I'm good at!

6) Watching our wait list numbers get lower and lower

7) Getting more days off over Christmas and New Year's

8) Watching college football bowl games (go beavs)

9) Spending time with family over Christmas, watching my niece's open presents

10) Meeting my newest little niece or nephew on January 4th, right after the holidays!

Lots to look forward to and anticipate this Holiday Season!!!

The Perfect Nursery

So Peter and I have had lots of time to figure out what we wanted to do in our baby's nursery. We really wanted to pursue a Disney theme (go figure) and use all of the toys we had collected for our wedding reception. Each table at our reception had a different Disney movie theme to it so now we have all of these leftover toy sets. We knew our kids (who will hopefully love Disney as much as their parents do) would appreciate these toys.

I see lots of different colors everyday at work and a long time ago I found four colors that I call my happy colors and they make me smile when I see them. I told Peter that I really wanted to incorporate these colors into our nursery. So we had our inspiration of theme and colors. The next challenge was for me to get caught up on my scrap booking so we could take apart my scrapbook room and turn it into our baby's nursery.
This was no easy task:

I finally got caught up on the scrap booking and so we were able to go out and buy paint. My favorite "happy color" from work is a blue color. It would be no surprise to anyone who walks around my house that I like the color blue. So another blue room it is!!! While blue can be considered a cold color research studies have shown that blue is the best color for a bedroom because of its soothing nature. With our bedroom and the baby's bedroom being blue, lets hope that holds true and we all get some good sleep patterns developed early on :)

So we finished up our base coats of blue. We loved the color and so we were able to start on the decorative painting. First part of the decorative painting was finding round objects of all different sizes. A quick run around of the house (Which was kind of fun) and we had lots of objects to choose from:

I let Peter do all the detail work. He did a great job of tracing perfectly round circles. The best idea we had though, was being sure to mark each circle with a piece of tape so we knew where they all were. Great tip if you are going to try something like this :)

After marking them, we assigned each circle their color and got moving! We started with the orange circles which proved to be the most difficult color. 3 coats of paint on these darn orange circles.

Next color up was green, which was fortunately a great color to work with and after only 1 coat of paint looked fabulous!!

Last was the red, which I admit I was concerned about. It was a very bold color but I think it gave the wall the final flare it needed!!! Red was the typical color and took 2 coats of paint. It all evened out in the end. Again, I gave Peter the difficult job and he traced the outside of the circles and I filled them in. We had to personalize the wall with a little Disney touch of our own with a hidden Mickey for our baby :) (Can you see it?)

After cleaning the carpets we were able to put the baby's crib together. Cribs can be very expensive but we found a crib at a great price on that we really liked. I was even more pleased when I went back a few weeks later and found our favorite crib with a great sale price attached to it complete with free shipping!!! Peter got to assemble his first of many baby items. No pressure when you are assembling something that is for your baby to sleep in :)

My mom and I went shopping a few weeks ago to my new personal favorite store - Babiesrus and we found bedding and decor that perfectly matched my colors and theme on CLEARANCE!!! Whoohoo!!!

The missing link for the wall came yesterday in the mail. The open space in the wall was reserved for us to add a wall decal of a favorite Disney quote.

I love how it is all turning out. I couldn't be happier with it actually!!! The final steps to the Disney Nursery are going to be shelving around the walls where we can display all of our Disney toys (uh, I mean the baby's Disney toys) and we also need to frame and hang the 4 Disney ride attraction photos we bought on our last journey to Disneyland but we can really see it all coming together. Getting ready for the very final touch but that is on back order from Ethiopia right now and we can't wait!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I am laying in bed doing some reading on adoption and attachment and bonding. We've been physically doing so much for the adoption - decorating the nursery, registering for gifts, buying things we will need, fundraising that we have forgotten about our agency recommended reading. I am feeling a little under the weather tonight and Peter is busy studying so I lay in bed reading books. It is easy in all the excitement to forget about the very real and possibly not very easy transition our family may go through.

Those first 9 months with mom are so critical for a child and our baby will lose that bond. We are thrilled and excited to bring our baby home but for him it could be a totally different experience. He is going to have no clue about how much we have been looking forward to holding him. He is going to lose everything familiar - the people, the smells, the noises, and be brought into a world full of white people, totally different smells, and very different noises. We may hold him differently then he's used to. Bathe him and feed him different foods that he is not familiar with.

The first few weeks are so important to his attachment with us and his understanding that we are his parents. From what other families are telling us, it will take years to see if he actually made that connection with us early on. Most children do bond quickly with their parents but some suffer from attachment disorders for life. So we definitely want to proceed cautiously and do everything we can to make the transition for our baby as smooth as possible and give us the best chance to have an adjusted and bonded child.

The top suggestions to make this happen are:

Be his sole providers by being the only one's to feed, change, and soothe

Call him by his first name (his new name) and his middle name (his Ethiopian name) for awhile since he will probably recognize his Ethiopian name. This gives him time to adjust and learn his new name.

Limit time spent out of the house. Read his signs and signals and don't push it.

Wear him in an infant carrier as much as possible while at home and out of the house

Shower with him to promote skin to skin contact

Massage him, sing to him, rock him often

Have him co-sleep so his needs are immediately met and also for skin to skin contact

Always have his mother feed him. Mimic nursing him (leaving bottle stationary so he has to come to it) - complete with demanding eye contact, position of holding him, switching sides (which promotes both sides of brain development)

Limit visitors so as not to confuse him or overstimulate him

Be sure everyone is healthy who visits as his immune system will be weak.

This is the list we have of recommended behaviors. It is also recommended that we cocoon ourselves in our home with just us and him for the first 2 months but I don't see that happening. We will definitely be limiting visitors and limiting who gets to hold him and we definitely will be the one's always taking care of his needs (feeding, changing, consoling). We Will utilize several of the above recommendations but not sure on all of them yet.

One of the things our agency requires of us after referral is to make a written transition plan of how we want the first few months home with baby to look like. What we will do to bond with our child and what type of restrictions we will have on visitors. We know family and friends will be very anxious to get to know our little one and we are going to do our best to share, but we hope that everyone can be understanding of this critical time in our family. I am sure we will probably make decisions that others do not understand but we have to do what we think is best. We are discussing what our plans will be after arriving home with our baby and how we want the first few weeks and months to be. There is a lot to figure out and plan for this critical time but we still have time to work out all the details.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fears, Worries, Doubts.

So I had shared awhile back about how we felt like satan was attacking our marriage (due to our decision to adopt) and not really causing problems but just causing more stress and tension in our relationship than we are used to. We started putting more effort into our relationship and creating quality time together and being more patient with one another and things are happily back to normal :)

I am a born worrier but lately I feel like this is satan's new and improved tactic at messing with my brain :) I really enjoy the holiday's and I enjoy buying gifts for people but it always seems like "Murphy" hits around this time of year and this year is no exception. So worrying about the holidays plus worrying about ALL the things we need to buy for a baby plus worrying about how in the world we're going to pay for the rest of this adoption - makes for way too much worrying.

Work has sucked lately and I just can't wait to be done. Then that adds a whole other sense of worry to life. I am excited to stay home, but I worry about that. Losing my income is not going to be easy and will definitely be an adjustment. I need to figure out some plan to supplement at least half of my income and that is scary. What if I can't do it?

Then I get to the point that I worry about our Dave Ramsey plan and I have this car payment and a ton of money in something wonderful called College Loans. When will we pay these off?

See how my mind goes from something simple and easy like affording Christmas this year to the weight of the world on my shoulders?

I know that I am not supposed to worry about anything and God is constantly reminding me of that but sometimes I just can't help it. I hear time and time again from God "Trust Me" "Give me control" but I am a woman - I trust no one (although I do trust Peter completely, but struggle with trusting God - hmmm, somethings wrong with that, I know) and I must control everything.

In fun stuff: I joined this awesome website that basically connects you with companies who want you to throw a party with your friends and family using their products and thus advertising for them. So far I have not been picked for any of these parties but I will keep trying :) Something cool though is that one of their companies (shutterfly) just offered a deal to the first so many people giving them a free photo book! You get to customize the book with your photos and captions and they put it in a neatly bound book and mail it to you. So I hurried up and responded and got myself a free photo book on the way! Whoohoo! I love free stuff :)

Also since getting the dossier out of our house I imagine that packet of paperwork has gone on quite the journey and has seen wonderful places :) From our home, to our agency, and I imagine now that it is either on its way or in Washington D.C. right now. The next step for our paperwork is authentication which takes place at the White House and includes our very own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signing it. How special ;) From there it comes back to Portland and then it takes the long journey to Addis Ababa Ethiopia where the Ministry of Women's Affairs will review it and someday it will meet up with our precious child and his birth mother in a court room where our baby will officially become a Keyser! What a journey that paperwork will take and hopefully it won't get lost on its journey.

Friday, November 6, 2009

So far so good!

So it was one week ago today that we officially started the "waiting" process. Some say this is the hardest part of the adoption process. I can see how it could become that way depending on your situation. Like for countries like China where it takes at least 5 years of waiting. For us this has been the most relaxing week of this process.

3 and a half months of worrying and running places to get paperwork completed and worrying again about whether we filled that piece of paperwork out the way it needed to be filled out are now behind us. No more worrying about whether or not the State or the FBI or a social worker will deny us our request. (Ok I still have to worry a little about The Department of Homeland Security, but I'm pretty sure they will let an infant into the country.)

Waiting is not always a bad thing. We can try to prepare ourselves for the change that will happen to our family. We can physically prepare our home and a nursery for a baby. (Which by the way we are starting on the nursery today!) We can start buying all the things we will need. We can do our best to prepare ourselves emotionally for an adopted child to enter our home. We can read books and come up with plans. Some transitions are perfect and easy for families to make with an adopted child but some are not easy (infants or older children). We have to be prepared for a difficult transition. Since this will be our first child, I am sure there will be a time of transition regardless of whether our baby bonds or attaches to us instantly. We have to come up with our family plan of how the first few weeks and months with our baby will go as far as visitors and schedules and such. We have to form a secure bond with our child before we introduce others into his/her circle and we don't know how long that will take. We hope it happens quickly but we have to prepare for the possibility that it could take months or even years.

So I am glad for this little break in the action. We need time to prepare. As soon as we made the decision to adopt we had a lot of things we needed to get done and to get them done as fast as possible. Now we wait. We have a few short months to prepare and then we will be very busy again and anxious for court and then for travel. So it is nice to have some time to just let our racing and aching hearts relax. I am looking forward to getting my referral but we need a little time to emotionally, physically, mentally, AND financially prepare for that day to come! As soon as the holiday's are over - I will be ready :)

Today we received our updated wait list numbers. The normal schedule is at the beginning of every month. Since they gave us our last numbers on October 30th (the day we were wait listed) I did not expect any change. There was not a big change in the numbers but any change was enough to make my day!
Notice that I was able to remove 2 links from our chains!
Each one of these links represents an orphaned child and a family hoping and waiting! In one weeks time I was able to remove one link from the boy list and one link from the girl list. Two more forever families!!!

Our official November wait list numbers are:
Girl - 42 (was 43)
Boy - 20 (was 21)
Siblings - 14 (stayed at 14)
So now we wait out this month and come the beginning of December we will get new numbers and hopefully there will be lots of activity to report!