Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hopes for 2015

This is a post that makes me excited! I love the freshness that a new year brings.  It's also fun to look back at the end of the year and see all of my dreams from last year and where they actually went in the new year. I encourage everyone to do this. It's fun to have direction and hopes and dreams for the year ahead!

Things are going great for us.  We've definitely grown closer through some growing pains this year.  I hope that we can continue to communicate honestly with one another and show each other love.  We REALLY need to utilize date nights this year as that time together is so valuable!   I also look forward to accompanying Peter on a trip to Ireland sometime this year and also hopefully will get away at least one more time during the year for a weekend away! 

   The kids are also doing well. They are very busy and a lot of work, but we're getting through the toddler years. I hope to grow in compassion and patience with them this year.  We've had a really great year of preschool with the 3 oldest and I look forward to finishing that up and starting a new year as Malachi moves into Kindergarten and the others move into 3 and 4 year preschool! 

The house is still a work in progress but we're getting there.  I want to continue with the small things inside  to decorate it.  We've been here almost 2 years so it's time to prioritize all that. Our top priority outside will be a new fence and we're ready to get a garden planted this year! Inside, we're going to focus on renovating the playroom/schoolroom and setting up some really cool workstations for the kids to do their school.    

Health is still a work in progress. We'd both love to lose a few pounds but our primary focus is on being healthy. Peter needs to get back into running. I hope to focus more on 4-8 miles runs this year and might even contemplate training for a half marathon by the end of the year.  I'm also getting into yoga and we finally have the garage cleared out to start using our workout equipment again.  

  We have some fun trips planned for the coming year!  I'm just waiting on word from Peter to book a trip to Ireland.  We're thinking spring but it might be the fall.  We've also booked a trip to Eagle Crest in August and we're hopeful that we will be taking all the kids to Disneyland in December!   

   Finances always remain the thorn in our side.   This year we hope to pay off our adoption debt and replenish our savings that was depleted from our adoption.  We did end up taking a few steps back on our Total Money Makeover this year, but it was totally worth it to add LB to the family!  I think by the end of the year we should be back on track!  

   Peter has had a challenging year as he learns a whole new aspect of tax.  He joined a team and kind of got thrown in the deep end when 2 of the 3 members of his team ended up having babies and are on maternity leave for a year (gotta love Ireland!).  So he's had a crash course in the world of International Tax and has steadily worked 55+ hour weeks.  We're hoping things will settle down this year and he'll get a bit more comfortable with what he's doing.  We're also hoping there will be some career advancement this year!  Getting his Master's in Tax is always something we're discussing but that's just not a realistic possibility if his hours remain as high as they've been.   

Another exciting year ahead!  This APPEARS to be a pretty calm year ahead for us.  No big, exciting life changing PLANS for us. But who knows. We love living in chaos so you just never know........

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 In Review

Truly, I can't believe it is December and our year is almost over!  The years keep flying by for us!  We had a another very exciting and busy year.  So many awesome and wonderful things happened in our lives.  We're still processing and adjusting to all the changes this year has brought, but its been a good one! 

We started 2014 off in Ethiopia!  I still don't think I have fully processed that trip. All I do know is that my heart longs to return and I still am left trying to figure out what my role is for the bigger picture.  

We got a decent amount of snow right around Eli's birthday and my boy's had a lot of fun!

Eli turned 3 years old in spiderman fashion!

                                      We also sold my much beloved jeep.  I still miss that thing!

                                                And we became a swaggerwagon family!

                                            Mr. Malachi turned 4 years old - break my heart!

                                                And my little princess became a 2 year old!

One of the highlights of my year was getting away with Peter for a weekend in the spring. It was probably the most relaxing time we've had in years!

And something we totally didn't see happening this year, Peter accepted a new position that moved him into the world of International Tax!

                                            We celebrated a final 4th of July as a family of 5!

Of course the highlight of our year, was the addition of sweet LB!  She has been a true dream come true for our family!

And while there were no plans to visit a Disney park this year, to our surprise LB was born in Florida and since we couldn't leave for 2 weeks, we knew exactly where we needed to go! 

Not many 5 pound, 5 day old babies get to visit DisneyWorld! 

We've taken 4 trips to Seattle to visit Uncle Andy this year (and 1 more to come over New Year's).  A highlight of those trips would be Peter getting to take Eli to his first Mariner's Game!

Our late summer days were spent in soccer practice and swim lessons!

Because of Peter's new role in International Tax, he was able to travel to Ireland for 2 weeks to work!

 On October 31st we were blessed to finalize LB's adoption and she officially became a Keyser!

We also had the most adorable Halloween ever!

                                      We took a quick trip to San Jose for Peter's work!

Its truly just been a wonderful year full of lots of blessings! I am so grateful for how this year has turned out and there isn't much I would change about it.  I look forward to 2015, there's not much crazy we have planned (yet)!  Thanks for a good one 2014!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peaches Adventure

So about a year ago, we decided our property needed a couple kitties.  Peter's cat that he had during his childhood had just passed away and in his absence all the neighborhood cats started taking over the place. So right before Christmas my MIL and I took off to get a new cat for the Keyser Compound.  

So Bentley joined the family! 


Well, it just so happened that the humane society was doing buy one kitty get one free. So we also added Oswald! 

Skip ahead to this summer, and we had a mama kitty and her 4 kittens show up.  We attempted to capture them a couple times but had no luck.  So needless to say our cats we got to keep the other cats out didn't do their job!  Then there were 7 cats!  

A month or so ago, I noticed that our mama kitty was looking a bit pregnant again! Oh boy!

This is when I decided that something needed to be done!  I mean, we're literally feeding the entire neighborhood here!

So after some chats with local cat charities, we decided it would be best to try and capture the cats and at least get them fixed.  However there was one kitty that I would like to think I'd built a little bond with. He was definitely the most friendly of all the wild cats and he wasn't spooked by me like the others. Since he was just 5 months old, I did some research and found some advice to suggest that with time he could be domesticated.  Since he was the first of the kitties that we were able to catch, I decided to give it a chance.

So we brought Peaches as the children had named him, into the bathroom and started the slow process of making friends with him.  He wasn't super skittish and in the few days we had him in there, we were definitely making some progress. I was really hopeful that he would become my buddy!

Until I came into our bathroom to see this!  I couldn't believe it and went in to full on panic mode!  Peaches was  no where to be seen. Peaches had staged a jail break! 

I didn't sleep that night as I worried about him and what if he died in my vents!  Or what if he somehow made his way to the furnace and broke my brand new furnace that we just spent $8000 on!  I was trying to brainstorm ideas to get him out or sat in the quiet house hoping I'd hear him move and have an idea which floor of the house he was on.

We dumped flour down each vent so we could see if there were footprints of him moving around.  We took the vents off all the bathrooms and put cat food near them all hoping he would come and explore but after another day, there was still no sign of him.  Until that evening I heard a big "clunk clunk clunk".  That would be Peaches falling from the second story down to the first!  At least we knew where he was now! Claw marks in the dust of the vent that dropped to the first floor confirmed it for us!

I felt a little bit better knowing he was on the first floor, because we knew we had a vent that we needed to fix that was disconnected under the house.  If he made it to the first floor, surely in no time he would find his way to that opening.  So we just waited and hoped we wouldn't start smelling anything dead.  If he made it to the crawlspace we figured he would have no problem finding his way to a vent and back outside. So we waited and watched for any sign of him.  A week passed with no sign of him.  But then, all of a sudden there he was prancing across the yard. The little fart came right over to the sliding glass door and stared me down.  I think he may have had some choice words for me. 

He did it. I never thought a cat could have outsmarted me, but somehow this guy successfully escaped our house.  Well done, Peaches. Well done! 

And on that note, we're still trying to catch a bunch of cats and get them fixed. Plus we have new kittens out there...... again.  Since when did I become a cat lady?!?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crisis in Korah

Roughly 11 Months ago, Peter and I went on a life changing trip to Ethiopia. During our time in Ethiopia my heart became completely torn apart for the people of Korah.  It is a reality that most of us cannot even comprehend. For a quick refresher, Korah is the part of Addis Ababa where the poorest of the poor live. They're the outcasts of society and live in the trash dump. Most of the families living there suffer from diseases that society doesn't want to be bothered with - leprosy, HIV, TB.  A lot of the women who live there are widowed.  It's just an unbelievably difficult place for these people to be living in with over 130,000 people living in a pretty small area. This place just captured my heart and I've been burdened for Korah ever since.  Fortunately through very generous friends and family I've been able to witness a lot of the families we met and prayed with while there find sponsorship.

As an example, these are some photos we took while walking around Korah 11 months ago.  The conditions were terrible then, with people pretty much making homes out of anything they could find in the dump.

Just imagine for a moment, that is all that you have.  A tiny little shack built out of garbage. But it provides shelter at least.  Then imagine that tiny little bit of shelter that you had, being taken from you.  It just makes me sick to even think about!   These photos below are courtesy of Pastor Tesfaye's FB page. (Pastor Tesfaye grew up in Korah and is now devoting his life to serving the people of Korah. He's built an incredible ministry impacting these families!)

You see, the government came in and bulldozed a portion of Korah, leaving over 200 families completely homeless with absolutely NOTHING left.  These families have zero resources so they've been left completely stranded.  It just breaks me to even try and comprehend it.

Some of the families have been able to seek shelter at A Heart for Korah which is where Pastor Tesfaye works (he's pictured below sitting in the pink shirt and glasses).  It's a tiny little compound stuffed full of people right now as Pastor Tesfaye works as quickly as he can to help all these people rebuild homes.   I'm sure it is an incredible burden as they try to feed and house these people in such a tiny space.

 So what can we do?  Ordinary Hero has started a Korah Relief Fund to help with emergency aid to these families. Ordinary Hero is literally sending every dollar raised immediately over there to get these people help as fast as possible.  I know this is already a season where we're all strapped for cash and it seems like every organization is trying to get year end contributions.  Maybe just pray about it and see what you are lead to do. As Ordinary Hero says: Change the World for One and there's a lot of faces in this picture that could use some world changing right now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Weekend Away

Peter and I have always had a tradition where we forego Christmas gifts to each other.  Instead of trying to figure out what to get each other, we have opted to go away for a weekend together sometime around Christmas.  This has been one of the parts of December (or sometimes even January) that I look forward to the most.  It's a chance to relax during a stressful time of year and give each other the most important gift of quality time!  

So this year, we opted to go up to Seattle and spend a weekend with Peter's brother Andy and his girlfriend Rachel!  We had a really great time just hanging out with them and getting to know Rachel without the responsibility of children and their constant needs.  And best of all it was a huge time of refreshment for Peter and I.  I had no idea how badly I needed some time away.  I was feeling smothered with the duties at home and Peter and I just haven't been clicking like we usually do. That time of adjustment after bringing a new baby home is hard!  Everything about life changes and it takes months to get back in the groove. The time away was really great and we came home connected and de-stressed and ready to enter this Christmas season!  

* Special thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Keyser for keeping our rowdy bunch so we could escape! *

Yes, he's sorting jelly bellies for me!

We met a camel, that was pretty cool! 

And some reindeer

We had a great time with these two lovebirds! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Fun!

And just like that the calendar changes and Christmas sweeps through the house. Christmas feels extra magical this year with a house full of little ones who are finally starting to understand the excitement of Christmas! We started the season off with a special little welcome breakfast from a special little friend!

Side note: If you have not tried Peppermint Cotton Candy, you should run to your nearest T*arget right this minute and get some!

                                                     The kids each got to make ornaments!

 Then it was time to decorate. The kids have been asking for days if they could decorate the house so this was especially fun and they just wanted to play and stare at every decoration. So fun!

This year we upgraded to a 9 ft tree.  Peter had a hard time getting the topper on it.  Even with the upgrade, I foresee years to come that we need an even bigger tree for our house!

And so the season begins!  I know there are going to still be lots of exciting moments to come that I hope to catch on camera.  We're looking forward to Family Christmas Movie Nights, Christmas Stories, and a fun trip out to look at Christmas lights. Of course Malachi asks everyday if it is Christmas yet.  The day will soon be here!