Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Review

2009 was quite a year. It is a year that I am glad to see put behind us. This year changed the course of our lives drastically. 2009 was the year that we learned that our plans are not always God's plan. We grew up and became "adults" this year.

So with that I give you our year in review:

In January of this year we made a decision that I think years from now when we look back on our lives will be a monumental moment in our lives. In January we began Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. We spent less, saved more, ate beans and rice for 6 months and paid off almost $20,000 in debt! Life changing decision that has been worth every sacrifice we've made!

March 18th was a devastating day. It was the day before my birthday and Peter informed me that he had been laid off. Our "dreams" came crashing down. Peter had the dream job and was starting out his perfect career and the economy threw a curve ball that destroyed our plans for our lives. We became desperate for God's help and began to truly seek His will for our lives in a whole new way.

March was not all bad. On March 28th we celebrated our little Juno's 1st Birthday!!!

In April we got away for a few days and relaxed at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond, OR. We had a great time getting away from the stresses of life!
In May Peter started his new job at Precision Castparts! It was a true blessing and God showed His faithfulness to us as Peter was only unemployed for 6 weeks. In this economy that is truly a miracle! Peter is so much happier at PCC! He has much better hours and a much better work environment. Things at his previous employer have not improved throughout the year and it is truly a blessing that he is not there and dealing with the stressful work environment.

In June my family took another blow. My grandmother passed away. I especially took this very hard. I am glad that she is no longer suffering but I miss the old grandma and the relationship I had with her.

Needless to say the spring was not easy for us. In the midst of all the other battles we were facing we were also facing a private struggle with infertility. I never thought we would face that road. The spring was a difficult time in our lives but we dealt with it in the best possible way. Instead of turning from our heavenly Father in the battles and struggles - we drew closer to Him. Our relationship with God and each other grew and changed. We trusted God had a plan through all the tears and pain.

In July God revealed His plan for the growth of our family. We felt led to bring our first child into our family through adoption and we never looked back.

We were so excited to turn in our adoption application!!!

On Peter's 23rd Birthday we received news that we were officially accepted into AGCI's Ethiopian program. We were so excited and so happy!!! The paper chase officially began!!!

In September we took our annual trip to Disneyland! We spent a week down there with my family and had a really great time!

In October we did our annual Fruit Loop trip down the gorge! We picked out pumpkins and bought yummy apples!!!

In October we finally finished up the paperchase! We got the great news that our Dossier had been approved and we could finally take a breather and let the waiting begin!!!

At this time our names were also added to the waitlists! We were finally on the countdown at #14 for siblings, #21 for a boy, and #43 for a girl!

In December we celebrated yet another Christmas! This year we had 5 separate Christmas celebrations and had a wonderful long weekend!

We ended the year with a little snow storm! There is just something very peaceful about the snow (after Peter's 5 hour commute of course, nothing peaceful about that).

2009 was a year we will never forget but are happy to see go. We grew, we changed, and are better people for the battles and struggles we faced in 2009 and we look to 2010 with excitement, joy, and hope!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!

Wow, what a surprise the weather was today! I always say that if the weathermen are not calling for snow, it will snow. If they call for it - don't be disappointed when it doesn't happen.

So I have this awful cold right now but I'm trying to tough out my work week and not have to use any of my valuable vacation time. I went in for 7 hours today and finished up some computer work I had to get done. I have to be at work tomorrow for the worst day of the year - inventory, blah! So I left work around 12:45 this afternoon.

Soon after arriving home from work this happened:

At this point in time (I estimate it being around 2:00 PM) I called my wonderful husband at work and told him that I was worried about his commute and that if it kept up I thought he should Head home. He assured me that his commute would be fine. About 30 minutes later I called him again warning him that the ground was covered and that I REALLY thought he needed to start coming home. There was still no snow in Portland so he felt pretty safe still. Around 3:30 when the snow started to stick in Portland he decided to take my advice and come home early. After about an hour of driving and just barely getting off the freeway he decided it was no longer safe to drive on the roads in his Honda Accord and decided to park it in Fred Meyer. He sat there for over an hour and ate dinner at Subway before deciding to try to make it the rest of the way home. His normal hour commute became a 5 hour commute today! Yuck! Fortunately he made it home safe which is really all that matters!!! Us Oregonians really don't know what to do when it snows.

We anticipate that so far we've gotten about 3" of snow which is quite a bit for us, unless you want to count last years over a foot of snow, but that isn't normal by any means. We are thinking that the snow is done and the rain is going to start anytime. So after Peter got home after 8:00 PM tonight we decided to make the most of it!!!

So I got my coughing, sore throated, ear aching body all bundled up and we took our puppies out to play in the snow!

The dogs LOVED the snow this year! Indy was hopping around like a bunny rabbit and running as fast as his legs could move. Juno loved eating the snow and catching snow balls! Even Indy was catching and eating the snow!!!

Daddy with his very hyper and happy babies! Daddy was pretty happy himself with some snow on the ground :)

Our cute house :)

As frustrating and worrisome as Peter's commute was and no matter how sick I am right now - I have enjoyed this little snow storm!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Round Up 2009!

Whew, our five Christmases are now behind us. We have completed our final Christmas of just the two of us. Next year it is all about the baby :) Okay, so really, it was all about the baby this year too! So with that we bring you our Christmas Round-Up 2009!

Unfortunately we waited until the end to pull out the camera :(

So last Sunday afternoon we celebrated Christmas with Grandma Goodman. We had a yummy Prime Rib Dinner then opened gifts together. I wish I had photos to share, but we were slacker's and not quite prepared for Christmas yet as we still had a few days of work!

After completing our work week, we celebrated on Christmas Eve by going to our churches Christmas Eve service then heading over to Grandma Fair's house for ham and turkey sandwiches and tons of desserts (nothing beats Grandma Fair's Apple Pie!) After the feasting we opened gifts as a family. Still slacking and didn't take any pictures.

Christmas morning arrived and we celebrated at home with our puppies!

Then late morning headed over to Peter's parents house for present opening and Lefsa. The only proof we have of our time over there is of Indy's antics. Indy loves the kitty cat, but cannot be trusted with poor Alfie.

Indy enjoying his Christmas presents from Grandpa and Grandma!

After letting all the food settle, and Peter and Andy having their annual Lefsa eating contest (they tied at 9) we embarked on a road rally for the rest of our Christmas gifts. This was a new experience but very fun! We did not get any photos of this as we were very focused!
The day after Christmas we went up to Grandpa and Grandma Keyser's for more celebrating. After yet another big turkey and ham dinner we visited and opened up more presents! Whew, all this partying is exhausting :)

Tonight we ended our long week of celebrating at my parents house. My brother and sister-in-law (who are only one week away from welcoming their little one) and us received gliders. The dad's had to test them out and break them in for the long nights they will be spending in them :)

There will be 2 more little one's in this family picture next year :)

My niece's opening the presents we got them!

We have diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, a crib, a rocking chair, clothes - seriously, I think we are ready to bring this baby home tomorrow :)

I have been trying to convince Peter to name the baby Jaquizz. I have not had much luck. Oh well, at least now he has Jaquizz's jersey if nothing else :)

Christmas 2009 comes to a close. It was a very nice Christmas week!!! Now I am ready for the New Year!!! Unfortunately I am getting sick just in time for the work week. Sore throat, congestion, upset stomach. I hope I can make it through the week!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Getting it Together - Week 1 Down!

So this plan to get in shape around the holiday's is actually working out quite well! The best part are the small work weeks while I am dealing with sore muscles. I feel confident that the soreness will be gone by the time I get back to work for 40 hour weeks. Something else positive is that since I am just starting out I am more conscious of what I'm eating then I would be later on. I decided to not take the eating too seriously until after the holidays are over. I will follow Spark people's plan for breakfast, lunch, and all snacks but I do not plan on following it for dinner. It is just too expensive and too time consuming after a long day at work. Instead, we will still follow the freezer meal plans for dinner as they are very economical and actually pretty healthy. If nothing else, I will just throw more veggies in it :)

I just completed my 5th workout! I still find myself really struggling with workout motivation but I am doing my best to keep my commitment to myself. The first workout was eye opening for me. I swear I am in some of the worst shape I have ever been in! Fortunately things have been getting easier much faster than I expected which helps boost my confidence that I wasn't THAT out of shape. All I can do right now is My Fitness Coach, which is pretty convenient and does actually give me a pretty good workout! I look forward to being able to get back outside but that is still months away. I guess I do technically get quite a bit of cardio at work just by standing all day so I really should be focusing on strength training which My Fitness Coach works wonderfully for!

I am very pleased with my eating habits this week - considering it WAS Christmas! Besides eating a few cookies I haven't eaten any dessert (yet, I know I will break that one before the weekend is out). I have just gone with the philosophy if I really really don't want it, I shouldn't have it and honestly I haven't even really wanted anything. I don't know what is wrong with me, NOT wanting Grandma Fair's apple pie - seriously?!? So all things considered I have done awesome with the eating habits and it is showing!!!!

So the best part! I did take a BEFORE fitness evaluation complete with measurements but I will only retake those to check my progress every 10 workouts. For now, I am also weighing in every Saturday morning. I am really not focusing on the weight as much as the measurements. I really want to tone my muscles and I know that to accomplish that my weight will not change as much. Well, imagine my surprise when I weighed in this morning. Now I cannot remember what time of day I weighed in last Saturday, I believe it was mid-morning not first thing in the morning so this could be somewhat deceiving. Anyway - based on my weight this morning I have lost exactly 5 lbs in one week! That was motivating and really helped me with my workout motivation this morning! Now I plan on being honest with my gains/losses on here because I know telling you all how I am doing is going to be the best motivation ever ;) I do tend to fluctuate in weight a lot so I wouldn't be surprised to see this number back up next week but I am going to try my best to not disappoint and enjoy this number for a week :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Juno and Indy want to wish all of our friends and family a Very Merry Christmas!!!

Santa made a stop at our house for 2 naughty puppies, but I guess Santa thought they were nice enough to get a little something in their stockings!!!

Juno couldn't make up her mind what she wanted to play with. Eventually she settled on her new bouncy ball!

This is (hopefully) the last Christmas it will be just the two of us! Our thoughts are truly in Ethiopia this Christmas morning. There are 11 families with our adoption agency leaving for Ethiopia this morning and I wish I was on that plane! Our hearts are divided around this world and we long for the day that we can celebrate the holidays with our little one!

We can't wait to start new and enjoy old Christmas traditions with our children! This is a time of celebration but there is an ache in our hearts for the children who never get to celebrate Christmas. The children who will never wake up to find Christmas presents under the tree or hugs and kisses from their parents on Christmas morning.

We couldn't go through this Christmas-time without picking up a few special things for our precious baby we are waiting and thinking about constantly:

This gift will be the very first gift we are able to give our little one. As soon as we get a referral we get to send a few small items to him, one of which is a soft photo album where he will get his first glimpse of his new, weird looking parents half a world away!

We also purchased this special adoption book for our baby. I love to read and I cannot wait to start reading to our kids. This book is going to be so perfect for our adoption journey. We wrote a special little message to Dash on it on this Christmas of 2009!

To the baby we call "Dash" On Christmas 2009,

Our sweet little Ethiopian blessing we are waiting and wishing for! We cannot wait to see your face and hop on a plane to come bring you home to us. As we celebrate Christmas just the two of us for the last time, we are thinking about you constantly. We wonder if you have been born yet or know you will be born very soon! We keep thinking about our first Christmas with you next year and are so excited to share such a special time of year with you! You are always in our thoughts and prayers. We know God is going to bring you to us and we can't wait to meet the child He has specifically chosen for us! Waiting for you to come home is hard but we know it will be so worth it in the end!

1 samuel 1:27 "For this child I prayed"
You are truly our wish come true!
We love you so very much,
Mommy and Daddy

The last present under the tree was more fun for me to open :) We found an awesome little gift set filled with baby toys. Now the fun of getting the puppies to understand that the baby toys are NOT puppy toys.

We thank you for being part of our lives! We are gaining a new understanding for the real Christmas story and can find ourselves relating to multiple characters in the story.
Mary following the calling God gave to her life no matter how difficult that calling was for her to make. She was accepting a calling that should have forced her to be stoned to death. She was truly an amazing woman of God. We can no way relate to just how huge the calling on her life was, but we can relate to following God someplace we thought was impossible.
Joseph, we can truly relate with Joseph's story. The prophecy was that Jesus would come from the line of David. That prophecy came true through Joseph adopting the Christ-Son as Joseph was a descendant of the line of David. How cool is that? Joseph had no blood-link to Jesus but God and Jesus recognized the adoption by Joseph and Joseph really, truly, in every right was Jesus' earthly father! Joseph could have so easily walked away but if he had, the prophecy wouldn't have come true. He played such a vital role in the Christmas story but his unique contribution is so easily overlooked. He saved Mary and Jesus' lives! What an amazing father he was!
As our pastor pointed out this past Sunday how great the journey was for the wise-men. It could have taken years for them to complete the journey they were called to embark on. Their following God's command to go and worship Jesus was an act of worship. The year or more it took for them to travel to Jesus was an act of worship. It couldn't have been easy and I am sure more than once they probably thought they were crazy and had no clue why they were traveling so far. I have to believe they had their doubts about what they were doing, but they continued and worshipped all the while! We can totally relate to the wise men :)

Jesus truly is the reason for the season! What an amazing Savior he was and still is. God giving his son for us - as I am embarking on this journey to parenthood - I just can't imagine giving your son to suffer so other people who would never truly understand or be grateful enough could live.
What an incredible story we are celebrating today! Merry Christmas to you all :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Spirit and Getting it Together

Today is a new day!

I have been reflecting on the Christmas Spirit going around this year. I have heard time and time again that when we go to Ethiopia we will be in utter shock at the poverty that there are few places in the world that compare to Ethiopia's poverty. We will see numerous people sleeping on the sides of roads and orphaned children curled up together sleeping in ditches. The smell (compared to the smell of burnt rubber) will give us headaches and nausea. The amazing thing we are told will happen though, is we will experience some of the most joyful and happy people this world has! The people are happy in one of the most poverty stricken places in this world?

I feel like I've felt my own version of that here this year. We're going through a "National crisis" right now. Unemployment is through the roof, we're in multiple wars, we're all hurting financially and yet I feel more Christmas spirit in the air than I have ever felt before. People are overall taking a step back, and spending less. Family time seems to be higher on every one's list than purchasing the must have item of the year. People are once again grateful for the small things and amazingly people seem happy! People who are already financially strapped are finding ways to give to the needy this year. There are more people requesting help this holiday season and yet more people are giving to the needy! This is awesome to witness and I truly hope this continues on for years to come! I Hope I can teach my children the joy of giving while also experiencing the joy of receiving around Christmas time!

So getting it together. Yup, I'm out of excuses. You see I was doing great the first half of the year at getting it together and getting in shape. Then we decided to adopt and that threw me out of balance. I rightfully felt the paperwork and running around for the adoption was much more important than keeping my commitment to work out and eat right. After the adoption paperwork was approved, I was on overtime at work and starting a work out plan while on overtime hours is not a good idea. I've learned that lesson a few times in the past. So here I am again, ready and excited to get back on track. What better way to have accountability then to post this vulnerable stuff on the family blog right? :)

So I am giving myself plenty of time to reach my fitness goals - I want to be in prime shape by the time we leave for Ethiopia - that is 4-5 months and easily accomplishable (not a word) if I stay on track. I plan on designating Saturday's as my fitness accountability and progress blogging day. So feel free to ignore or delete the blog posts :)

I have reactivated my sparkpeople membership. I love all the information I get from spark people. I love the customized meal plans and the fact that it keeps track of EVERYTHING for me! My only complaint when I was doing it before was that I was starving all the time. In order for me to reach my goals I had set for myself I needed to eat only 1100-1300 calories per day. No wonder I was starving :) Well, Peter pointed out to me that my fitness area was not accurate. You see, I was just tracking the working out cardio and strength training I was doing 3 times a week and not all the cardio I do at work. Silly me, I typed in standing 10 hours a day and boom - I got an additional 8,000 calories burned a week just by standing at work. The goal they set for me was 600 calories per week burned so by exceeding it by that much they upped my calorie intake to a much more suitable level - 2200-2600 per day! Whew, I'm glad I have a smart husband.

I really wanted to get this started before January because seriously - resolutions never work - so this is officially not a resolution. It really has been something I've wanted to do for a long time! It seems like when I get this in balance and stop being lazy everything fits together better. I am more motivated to keep my house clean, I'm more motivated to keep our finances in order, and I spend more time on my spiritual relationship too! Women are spaghetti right? Every aspect of our lives co-mingle and run together :) For now I really want to focus on getting back into a workout routine and will focus more on the eating aspect after the holiday's go by. I am being realistic :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Foods NOT To feed to the next generation

So I've been doing a lot of research lately about food. I seriously think that a lot of the cancer, arthritis, and infertility going around have a lot to do with the foods we eat. I want to give my children the best possible life and if changing the way we eat will help with that then I want to do everything I can.

When you start looking around it is amazing what you will find. I know that you have to take everything with a grain of salt. One day the media will tell you not to eat something because it is bad for you and the next day they will tell you to eat it because it prevents something else. It is all very confusing but I have a good, solid list of things that are supposedly "the worst".

One food that is not on the list that should be - chicken. I still strongly believe that all the hormones they inject into chickens has a lot to do with a lot of common issues I have.

So with that being said. These are the 7 foods that most experts would not eat:

1) Canned Tomatoes. I know the reaction the acid in tomatoes has with tin foil so it is no surprise that tin cans have to be lined with something powerful to withstand the acid in tomatoes. Canned tomatoes cause reproductive problems (particularly with sperm), heart disease, diabetes, and obesity due to very high BPA levels. You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter of canned tomatoes which in young men can greatly impact their fertility and their hearts. This one is SO simple to remedy - just buy canned tomato products in glass only containers.

2) Corn Fed Beef. This one definitely concerns me and that is why we are trying to switch to organic meat in general. It will be more expensive but well worth the extra cost I think. Europe has BANNED U.S. beef if that is any indication of how scary this one is. Basically ranchers have gotten lazy and cheap. Grass fed cows have beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and are lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. So many benefits to organic meat because you are not eating artificial HORMONES.

3) Microwave Popcorn. This one shocked me so I will just give you the excerpt:

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

I prefer air popped popcorn over microwave, but I've always enjoyed the convenience of microwave. Guess my kids will get to experience the "old fashioned" way of making popcorn (and the old way is much much cheaper so score!)

4) Potatoes - Again this one was surprising. Supposedly potato growers will not even eat the own potatoes they grow. root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes, they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. Plus treated again to prevent sprouting in the grocery store. They claim since the potatoes are grown in the ground that washing the potato off is not enough because the chemicals are absorbed into the potato.

5) Farmed Salmon - now if you catch your fish this isn't a problem but a lot of restaurants and stores use farmed salmon. If you eat farmed salmon more than once every 5 months you are at an increased risk of cancer (supposedly) due to carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT fed to these fish. This one is no big deal for us since we don't eat fish.

6) Grocery store Milk - This one is disturbing. Farmers give their cows bovine growth hormones to increase milk production which increase udder infections and puss - we drink this. They put dye in the milk to cover up the puss and blood (gag) The U.S. is one of only a few countries who allow farmers to give their cows growth hormones, most countries have stopped due to increased risks of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Seriously how dumb are we? So the best advice is to drink organic milk. This one is a lot more tricky if you ask me. Organic milk is really expensive and the "other" milk is in so many foods that it would be tougher to make this change.

7) Apples - This one doesn't surprise me except that it is on the definitely don't eat list. Apples are the most pesticide treated fruit. Farmers do claim that the pesticides are safe to eat but logically the best way to avoid exposure to pesticides is to avoid the most treated fruit - so apples it is. More farming workers (who are around pesticides) are diagnosed with cancer than any other specific labor force. What does that tell you? Pesticides are also linked to Parkinson's Disease. You can still eat non-organic apples just wash them and PEEL them before eating them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Life these Days!

Why is the month of December the busiest month of the year? Seriously, I don't get it. Peter is super busy at work and I am super busy at work - we are both working 60 hour weeks starting with the alarm buzzing at 3:30 in the morning. I have to admit it is getting harder to have a "festive" spirit with the hours we're awake. Seriously, there is NOTHING joyful about waking at 3:30 AM.

Anyway, things are going well besides our crazy work schedules. The adoption has turned into a waiting game. I fully anticipate the next 6 months being one big waiting game. We're currently waiting for a referral. Get a referral, wait for a court date. Court date comes, wait for news. Pass court, wait for an embassy date. Get embassy date, wait for travel. Hop on a plane, wait for it to land 30 some hours later. Get to Addis Ababa, wait until we can meet our child. I'm already sick of waiting.

The good news is that we did receive our updated wait list numbers. Our paper chains have been reduced in size a little bit:

We are now WAITING at #18 for a boy, #36 for a girl, and #15 for siblings. Yup, the siblings category is going the WRONG way further confirming that we are probably going to be bringing home a son :)
I am still hoping and praying that we get a referral in either January or surely by February. 7 families just returned 2 weeks ago from picking up their little ones, 10 families leave on Friday for Ethiopia, and 11 families leave on Christmas Day for Ethiopia so I count at least 30 openings at Hannah's Hope (knowing that some of the families traveling are picking up siblings). Now if roughly half of the incoming children are boys and half of the incoming children are girls, I think we should be top 5 for a boy by mid to late January! Doesn't that sound nice?
I have this renewed sense of happiness with our church - specifically the middle schoolers that we have spent the past few years working with. Their heart of service is seriously something that we could learn from. They helped us in September do a fundraiser for our adoption. We had 2 8th grade girls organize Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes not just for the youth group, but for the entire church. We have a 7th grader who is currently organizing infant layette sets for mothers in Guatemala who can't afford clothes for their newborns. We have a 6th grader who is organizing an event called Hoops for Hope to raise money for AIDS in Africa. Their example is something we could all learn to live by!
Our church is also busy trying to teach us to spend less for Christmas and give more. I love that our church is trying to get beyond its walls and actually do something to help others. Our church is currently raising money to help a pastor in Mexico build and also working on another project that will greatly impact a country we are growing to love - Ethiopia! It is a project where a guy is planting trees in countries all over the world (particularly Ethiopia). Ethiopians are using way more wood than they have for cooking and in turn the land has turned into a desert (no trees cause flooding which in turn causes the land to become a desert). This guy is going to Ethiopia, helping them plant trees and teaching them. He employs over 300 Ethiopians full time and a lot more part-time. The cool thing that they pointed out in church is that this guy isn't driving through Ethiopia in a nice Range Rover or blowing tons of money on nice hotel rooms or big corporate meetings that cost tens of thousands of dollars. He is doing his best to make sure that every persons dollars go to the real cause. That is something that kills me about non-profits. I want my money to go where they claim it is supposed to be going. I want my money to really feed the need. So I am very excited about this project and helping my baby's homeland :)
Just a general update on life. So far we've avoided that nasty flu bug going around (knocking on wood) and are working really hard and waiting for the call!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas in our house

Christmas has hit the Keyser house! Even though we were technically in our new home for the holidays last year - we were still unpacking so we didn't really decorate so this is our first official Christmas in our new house!

My North Pole Christmas Village all set up!

The awesome Disney Tree I received last year for Christmas! (With over 200 Disney characters)

Now some of my favorite Christmas ornaments:

The first ornament I bought for Peter for our first Christmas together. It says Sweethearts 2004!

This ornament I have owned for many years. I collect All God's Children Figurines and I have several of these collectibles and a few ornaments. When I opened the box and found this ornament with the others this year it struck a special place in my heart for our little guy who is on the way! I had no idea when I started collecting these figures years ago where my life would lead me :)

My mom bought me this ornament to commemorate my "paper pregnancy". Seriously, I develop a lot of the hormonal symptoms myself these days.

I call this one my "Small World" ornament. It is turned to face Ethiopia where our hearts are right now!

Oh yes, I can't forget miss Tinkerbell at the top of our tree!

My precious little Sweet Pea ornament!!!

This ornament I made in remembrance of my brother John who passed away when I was younger. We have a Tree of Remembrance at our local funeral home that I made this ornament to go on for him. I copied a Christmas Card but somehow spelled JOY backwards when I was copying it. It has spent several years on the Tree of Remembrance before returning back to my home.

We have a ton of Disney ornaments on our tree but some of them are more special than the others. This one we bought on our 2nd Anniversary trip to Disneyland last year.

Of course we have one to celebrate our marriage!

And one to celebrate our first home purchase!

We have ornaments for our little Chinchillas! We also have some Schnauzers so we really need to try and find a boxer.

My grandma who passed away this year always painted ornaments for us and this is my favorite one that she painted for me.

My great-grandma also made us ornaments every year for Christmas and this is one of my very first one's she made for me when I was a baby but it is my favorite.

And our stockings already all hung and ready for Santa! Looks like Santa already left something for our puppies (which they've already stolen and eaten a bag of treats Santa left for them). We have one more spot in the middle there waiting to find out if we'll be getting a baby boy or baby girl!

Lots of great memories and traditions go into this time of year and I really do enjoy having the tree lit up and being able to pull out years and years of Christmas memories. It has been fun to watch more memories grow and develop on our tree just in the last few years and I can't wait to see our tree develop as the years go on :)