Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Old Fashioned Festival

Another fun part of our anniversary weekend is the annual Old Fashioned Festival. We didn't get to spend too much time being a part of the festivities this year, but along with the 5K we did go over to my grandma's house and watch the parade per the usual!  The kids had a blast and mom and dad were officially worn out! 

Malachi is very in to firetrucks right now so he loved the fire trucks as they went by!

Monday, July 29, 2013

7 Years!

Today, Peter and I celebrate 7 years of marriage!  I feel so blessed to be married to such an amazing man!  When we walked down that aisle, we could only slightly grasp what those vows we recited really met for our future.   In reality, walking down the aisle was just a huge leap of faith and love struck with hearts in our eyes! We were clueless but committed to making it work no matter what!

That first year of marriage, I feel like we lived on pure love and adrenaline.  Life was good and every day held something new! Sure there were growing pains as we adjusted and learned more about each other but I really feel like we had a smooth and fun year together!  Peter tolerated my burnt dinners well enough  and we eventually got to the point that we didn't need a pillow to referee the middle of the bed for flying elbows! It was a good year!  

Year number two felt almost like perfection! Peter graduated from college, we traveled a lot, and Peter got his first job out of school!  Life was amazing as we lived up the American Dream!  We had everything going for us and it is pretty easy to love each other when everything is going perfect!  

Year number 3 was our first hard year of marriage.  Peter got laid off because of the very poor economy,my grandma passed away, and we couldn't get pregnant. Lots of high stress situations wanting to pull us apart. We faced our first challenges as a couple and fortunately grew closer together through it all!  Peter really came out as the leader of our family in that hard year.  

Year number 4 will always be remembered as the year of waiting.  We started the adoption process and waited much longer than we would have liked to see our first child.   I am not one to be described as a graceful waiter, so Peter had his hands full for sure! Our waiting finally paid off and we were abundantly blessed not only with getting to see Malachi's face for the very first time, but lo and behold there there were 2 lines on the little pink stick!

 Year #5 was yet another highlight year for our marriage!  We got to go pick up Malachi soon after our anniversary and began a new and exciting journey into parenthood!  Holding Malachi in my arms for the first time was everything I dreamed it would be!  We were parents! Just when we thought we had it figured out, Eli joined the scene!  That year was another year full of adjusting into our new roles as mom and dad.  That definitely evolved our marriage into something new!

We started year #6 learning the news that we would be parents yet again!  While we were thrilled, this stuck us into some serious survival mode as parents. Just when we thought we had adjusted to 2 babies I was yet again sick with morning sickness and then a huge change as I went on bedrest.  And the natural thing that takes place after bedrest is the birth of a baby.  We now had 3 babies under 24 months!  There just weren't enough hours in a day at this point and the very last thing on our minds during these days was our marriage While I still wouldn't consider things "bad", a garden left unattended to starts to grow some weeds.

So as we embarked on our 7th year of marriage, we had a serious heart to heart and wanted to really focus on making our good marriage a great marriage. We didn't want to settle for mediocre when we could have extraordinary. We have spent a lot of time this year talking through expectations and desires and putting in that extra effort with one another. . We have worked hard at shifting the attention off of the kids (which is hard to do) and have put the attention back in to our marriage.  It was a bit difficult at times and there have definitely been ups and downs in the process, but we're stronger and happier than we have ever been before!  We're communicating better and spending real quality time together.  We're stronger and happier than we have ever been before!  

So here we go, reflecting on what has been a very good year of growth in our marriage and looking forward to another year. We have no idea what this next year holds for us, but I do know that no matter what comes, we are in this thing together!  I feel like we have been blessed with a marriage that some never get to have!  Being married has been easy and natural for us!  I don't take that for granted.  I am fortunate to be married to a man who is deeply committed and quick to forgive!  So, here's to another blessed year with my best friend and love of my life by my side!  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Another Race Day!

Today Peter and I ran another very small race in our hometown for the Old Fashioned Festival.  It was a small little fundraiser 5K for youth track which is something I know Peter is passionate about as he raises his children here!

This was a nice hilly 3 mile course down some back roads in town.  It was definitely a trickier course than my first two 5K routes.  Since I am currently training for a 10K I haven't worked as much on speed as I would have liked to, but it was fun to see where I was.  I definitely felt a lot better with my race today and was able to knock a whole 3 minutes off of my last 5K time even if I still ended in the bottom half of the crowd ;)

I finished this race in 31 minutes which got me right to my goal speed of 10 minute miles!  After this 10K at the end of the month I look forward to getting down to some serious speed work for my next 5K!  I feel good about how I did and the progress I continue to make!

Peter ran another great race.  He's mostly worked through his injuries and has moved right along with his half marathon training.  He finished this race in 22 minutes, close to a 7 minute mile pace and took 2nd in his age group!  I don't think he was really all that thrilled with that time, but I still think he did great!

Another great thing is there were lots of door prizes to be won!  Peter won 2 swim passes and I won a hat and a bucket of balls at our local golf course! Onward and upward with our training from here. I ran 7 miles last week (still can't  believe I did that!) and Peter ran a whopping 14 miles!   I'm really proud that we're sticking with this and steadily improving!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Day in the Life - Part 6

Here we are at Installment 6 in this series. So hard to believe that we started doing this every 6 months 2 1/2 years ago.  It is one of my favorite things to document because day to day life changes so much from month to month.  

If you want to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are the past posts:

This will probably be more of a "picture" post that a writing post because life is too busy for me to keep exact track of everything anymore.  But we'll give this post a try!  

7:15 - the boys are up and IN our bed. I have no idea what time Malachi came in but Eli joined the crew around 5:00 and Malachi beat him.  I slept pretty much wedged between two little boys and their kicking feet.  Fun times.  Since this has become a nightly occurrence for us, I make them sit on the bed and watch cartoons on the Ipad while I get ready for the day.   

                                                          Then it is time for breakfast!

Once I get the boys settled and run around doing some morning chores I get Baby Bina up.  She is such a delight to get to say hi to every morning!

                                              Then it is breakfast time for the little love!

                                                            And diaper and clothes!

And picture and clothes time for the little one who LOVES having his picture taken these days!

                         Look at that adorable dress!  Love having a girl to play dress up with everyday!

                                        And another diaper change (or two or three in there too)

                                   And I always have phone thieves.  If it isn't one, it is another!

And after a lot of playtime and wrestling, it is finally lunch time!  No pictures of Bina, but I promise she got lunch too!

                                                                     Then it is naptime!
                                                                      Sleeping angel #1

                                                                   Sleeping angel #2

                                            And sleeping angel #3. They are all so precious!

      Then I get as much work done as I can before the first little footprints come running down the stairs!

   Figure this is as good as time as any for my little helper to help me put another piece of our new patio furniture together.

My little helper and the new table we put together!  (And seriously, look at how old this kid is getting!  Not fair!)

Then lots more playtime. The boys rotate back and forth between Bob the Builder fixing things and Fireman Sam putting out fires.

                                                             Eli joins the party!

                                                               And then Miss Bina

And then starts the most hectic portion of the day - dinnertime.  No pictures to document that part of the day.

And before long we find ourselves back outside, doing what we've been doing for a few weeks now.  The yard is a huge project and we are trying to get as much done as we can on these warm summer days.  Peter is working hard on what will become our new retaining wall and patio!

And then lots of time to burn some energy outside for the boys!  Our yard, while a huge mess to me is a perfect little boy play area.  We have the biggest sand pit in the city, tons of dirt piles and even some gravel piles.  Fun is to be had everywhere and nightly baths are a requirement.

                                              Malachi tells Daddy how to get it done right!

                                                        And plays and plays and plays

                                   Eli also plays and they both love to help in any way they can!

Bina hits the hay around 7:30.  Bummer I forgot to get any pictures of my princess.  Guess that is life as the 3rd child ;)

 And before we know it, 9:30 rolls around and it is well past time to get the boys in the bathtub and to bed.

                                                            Even time for a manicure!

And then it is time to tuck the boys into their beds and listen to their sweetest little prayers before we pray over them and give lots of hugs and kisses.  I admit, life is challenging.  These kids take a lot out of me and constantly refine who I am.  But at the end of the day, as tired as I am, I always find it hard to say goodnight to those precious little faces and look forward to seeing them again early in the morning, usually when their feet are in my face or ribs!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mission Trip Monday

Today, I start off a new series on the blog and I can't wait to share more of our hearts and passion with all of my faithful blog readers.

With that being said, welcome to:

The best way for me to start this series of, is to go back to the beginning of our journey which started 3 years ago when we traveled to Ethiopia for the very first time.  We were on a different sort of mission at that time, as our focus was meeting and picking up our first son Malachi!

To be honest with you, that trip was pretty miserable for me.  I was 10 weeks pregnant and super nauseated and exhausted.  We were confined to a foreign hotel room with a 3 month old baby boy who we knew nothing about. We spent that week in Ethiopia just waiting for the opportunity to come home.

However, that does not say that this country did not capture my heart. After all, I was given one of the greatest gifts of my life from this country. I do not take the fact that we took Malachi out of his culture lightly.  Peter and I both intend to spend our entire lives teaching Malachi about his heritage and giving back to this amazing country.

I remember as our plane took off from Ethiopia, having tears in my eyes.  As difficult as that journey was for me - I had fallen in love with this country!  It was more beautiful than I had ever imagined it would be.  It was so much richer in history than I ever knew. The people were so proud and happy and funny and kind.  And in that moment as we said goodbye to a country that unexpectedly captured our hearts. We knew that we would be back again, several times!

Our passion did not die down when we came home.  In fact, if anything it has grown so much stronger as we learn more and spend more time learning about Ethiopia.  For a couple years now, Peter has been researching options to go back.  The timeline has never worked out as we have added more babies to the family and his vacation time is limited.  We have researched and learned about so many worthy organizations that send teams to Ethiopia.  Truly, there are so many great organizations out there.  But nothing in the past had felt right.

 But now, the time is right!  I admit that I never really thought that I would be joining Peter on this initial trip back but I truly feel God calling me to return as hard as it will be for me to get on another plane for that long and as hard as it will be for me to leave my babies.  We are thrilled to share with our friends that we will be returning to Ethiopia in January to serve on a team with Ordinary Hero!  To make this even sweeter, we will also be dragging along (willingly) some friends from our church!  Returning to Ethiopia with my husband and some friends is like a dream come true!

 I love that we have this opportunity to return to our home on the other side of the world!  Ethiopia holds a piece of our hearts that we will never get back!  I look so forward to returning and getting to spend some real time with the people!  I feel like I can learn so much from them and feel like we only got a tiny nugget of Ethiopia during our first trip there.  I also feel very strongly, that this trip is just the beginning for us.  God has something great in store for our lives and Ethiopia, I just know it! I have no idea what that looks like right now, but all I know is God is telling us to take this first step by returning on this trip!

I can't wait to share more with you all as we dig in a bit deeper in the weeks to come on this series.  I am very excited to get to spend more time sharing about the awesome organizations we will be serving alongside!

Unfortunately the not-so-fun part of gearing up to go is the fundraising.  I don't want to spend too much focus on this, but if you feel led and want to support our going to Ethiopia, you can donate online at this link Keyser Fundraising Link  and we will be grateful for your help on this new and exciting journey!

And to put one more plug out there - maybe you feel like God could be leading you on a trip to Ethiopia.  Guess what?  YOU CAN COME WITH US!!!  Please, feel free to email me at amymkeyser@gmail.com if you want to come!  There is still plenty of time to sign up and you don't have to be a local friend to join the team!

Okay, one last thing I leave you with is this video from Ordinary Hero!  It shows exactly the types of things our team will be doing in country!

(for those accessing this blog through email, you will need to click HERE for the video link!)