Monday, May 22, 2017

Foster Pup #32 - Tootsie Roll

This past week we had a super sweet foster pup. I admit I was very concerned when he arrived and was quite large and very scared. So scared that our 4 children (plus 2 extras that I watch 1 day a week) were very overwhelming and he was growling. As we've had one experience with a larger dog biting Peter, I was kind of assuming that we may have to return this guy for the safety of the kids which is my #1 priority.  I can't really explain it, but I could tell that this guy wanted to trust us and he really desired some loving. I figured we would give him the  night and see how the next day went.

He was certainly a gorgeous little guy! 

Well needless to say the week went great and he quickly became my favorite large breed dog we've had.  He was so well behaved and very calm which was surprising considering he was a border collie pup.  And all those fears about him and the kids quickly went away. He loved them and was so gentle with them. If he wasn't snuggling with me, he was snuggling with them! 

I really really liked this guy and I hope he found a great family home. It is a really cool thing to see these super scared puppies show up at your house and somehow heal over the course of a week into a wonderful family dog.  This was one of those special guys! 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Reflections For Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day is quickly approaching. It's an interesting day for me.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to parent my 4 amazing little miracles.  It is all I ever wanted out of life and I am completely living my dream!  It's also extremely challenging and the stakes have never been higher. Nobody will influence my children more, particularly in these foundational and early years than I will.  There's a lot of pressure and I often go to bed at night, exhausted and afraid that I am doing it all wrong! Motherhood is oftentimes monotonous and boring and a pretty thankless job.  Not that I need the praise of others because this isn't a unique role. It's actually a most common role. After all, everyone who is anyone has a mother. Since the beginning of time, woman have been playing this role, unfortunately even as I have met some pretty amazing mother's out there, nobody has quite mastered how to be the perfect one!   

I think being an adoptive parent also adds to the complexity of it all. I share being a mother with another woman.  I'm not threatened by this other woman at all. I am grateful that I get to hold and snuggle 2 of my children because of the sacrifices she made.  Not a day goes by that these women are not on my mind. It is an immense responsibility to be entrusted with another woman's most precious gifts no matter the circumstances that brought that to pass.  I share Mother's Day with these women. The burden I feel in my heart for them that I get to hug and kiss their children on Sunday isn't lost on me. I'm the one who gets the Mother's Day special breakfast, I'm the one who gets the adorable homemade cards.  I'm the one who hears the "I love you's."  And yet, I wouldn't have this role of being their mother if it wasn't first for these women being my kids mom's first. 

Sometimes even I find myself taking this role for granted.  I forget the precious miracle that they are.   I forget how badly I longed to hold them close.  I forget the months and months of tears and failure at what felt like a most basic biological right. I forget the months of doctors appointments and tests.  The big decision to proceed with adoption and not take the fertility drugs. The realization that it meant that the desire of my heart to carry a child in my womb may never come to pass. 

I forget the miracle of his adoption.  The miracle that just one adoption agency would give two 23 year old's a chance at an international adoption . The miracle that I still can't account for how we had the money at the end of the adoption road. The miracle that every hard delay was actually aligning us perfectly into position. 

The miracle that as I was praying on my lunch break for my phone to ring that it actually did. The miracle that I was able to tearfully call my husband and tell him he was now a daddy.  The miracle that our son spent such a short part of his life in an orphanage. The miracle that when we thought we would have to travel and leave him there, we were the last group allowed to travel just once and bring him home right away with us.   The miracle that he was so open to accepting my love as his mother.  

 Everything about our 2nd born is a miracle.  From that first pregnancy test, where I was so accustomed to seeing negative that I didn't even take a second glance at it.  To returning to it several hours later and seeing something I had never seen before - it was positive! I don't understand why I was able to conceive naturally after 2 years, but I know how much of a miracle that was!     

From the first ultrasound where I just prayed that we would see a teeny tiny heartbeat, to an unexpected ultrasound 9 weeks later because the heartbeat was nowhere to be found. Minutes of searching with nothing.  A worried look on my doctors face as she asked me a few questions.  Minutes to myself to pray as she left to get an ultrasound machine.  A quick search in silence before heartbeat found!  My little miracle! 

To a story I've often shared before.  An unexpected birthday a full 4 weeks early. A baby born purple and grunting. A collapsed lung from trying so hard to breathe on his own.  My doctor and all the nurses marveling at a placenta that was inexplicably formed wrong but still somehow able to get my precious miracle to 36 weeks! A NICU of trained staff and equipment that could save my child's life. As I understood fully that if my son had been born in the poorest of countries in this world, this wouldn't be an option. The constant sound of him setting off alarms, but after 24 hours away from me, as he was placed against my chest, his breathing relaxed and all of his stats settled down. The miracle of how we needed each other! 

And just when I thought we were as blessed by miracles as we could be, the miracles continued. Another little surprise blessing far sooner than I would have ever expected. But the blessing was not lost on me. 

A complex pregnancy with 2 months of bed rest. My own mom sacrificing 2 months of her life to help me keep my little life safe. A miracle that we were able to avoid the NICU.  A small hospital treating me like a queen because they all remembered my story from the year prior. The miracle that labor was so fast and pushing was only 2 minutes as I had a prolapsed cord situation that could have been very dangerous.  A daddy announcing we had our first baby girl.  My doctor with tears in her own eyes as she'd walked every moment of our journey through infertility decisions and our first scary delivery.  Over an hour in a calm and quiet room to enjoy our new baby girl before she was ever even taken from me, felt like a miracle! 

Feeling led to adopt again when the timing didn't even make sense to us.  Everything moving smoothly for a change, not being picked by birth mothers, even a quick match and then failed match, but all aligning us to be ready at just the right moment. Quick notice with limited information that we needed to fly out a whole month early.  Another miracle as I didn't want to miss a minute and we needed enough notice to fly across the country! A closed adoption plan turned open as we went from being asked to stay away from the hospital to being allowed to visit and advocate for this woman during her delivery. Having my new daughter handed from her birth mother's arms right into mine - a sacred moment in time. The miracle that even though she was born premature with intrauterine growth restriction, she was born healthy and strong! The miracle of spending 2 days with her mom, visiting and getting to know each other and sharing our little love.  The miracle of two different women being able to share the title of mom. 

Each of my children are a miracle. Each story so unique.  I look at my family and know it is everything I ever dreamed of and even more.  I am a blessed mother.  Our family is not traditional, we don't fit the mold or look quite like every else's. I can't help but smirk when someone asks me how many kids I have or asks about their ages. I can predict their next response. Yes, I am a busy mama. My home is rarely quiet, I'm constantly cleaning up their messes. I do know how babies are made and no, matter of fact we do not have cable. 

I know what being immensely blessed looks like.  I know what being an imperfect mom feels like. I know what it feels like to love another so much I feel my heart might just burst. I know that love multiplies and that it has nothing to do with biology. I know God equips us for whatever journey he leads us to.  I know the sleepless nights, the interrupted conversations with your spouse, the cold dinners.  The countdown to bedtime. The poop, the pee, the vomit, the spit up, the snot.  It is not always easy, in fact I find it challenging most of the time. But each of these kids is a Keyser, and none of that happened just by chance. God has entrusted their lives into my care. Their journey to being ours may have been very broken but they each have a miracle story. They are my miracles. God must think I am equipped for the challenge and I will spend my whole life working to be the mother God wants me to be for them. I'm not perfect, but I love them fiercely. 

Happy Mother's Day to all my mom friends out there. This is common work, it's immense responsibility, but it's all important, even the little mundane parts!  Our every day duties as a mom are literally shaping generations of our families to come.  We got this!  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Trip to Bend

Last week, we had the opportunity to head to our most favorite place - Central Oregon for 4 days of R and R!  It's a place we just love everything about and are never ready to leave. The beauty of Oregon really shines there! 

The journey started with a gorgeous evening drive over the mountains.  We are coming out of an eternal rainy and cold winter so the sunshine was so incredibly beautiful and welcome! 

We have a sweet little girl who often finds herself car sick so we tried a few new things to make her comfortable on a road trip. Needless to say, a whole Dramamine was a little much for her. Cutting it down to a half for the journey home worked much better! But she sure slept good that first night! 

Our first day, Peter and I had the opportunity to test out a new mountain to ski - Mt Bachelor! 

65 degrees and a front row parking spot! Score for spring skiing during the week!

The views were absolutely breathtaking and the morning part was fun but a bit challenging. As the sun continued to melt the snow throughout the day, by afternoon it was quite challenging and time to call it a day.

Seriously, we almost had the place to ourselves! 

After a little rest from skiing, my parents and our family headed off to a local pizza joint. It's a win for all of us because us adults can eat in peace and quiet and the kids can run around and get their energy out in a play area! They had a blast for sure! 

And this kid is really good at Catan! It's fun to get away and slow down life a little bit to enjoy things like this that we don't get to do on a daily basis with the kids. 

This was the first time we had stayed at this particular resort and it was awesome. Great view of the river but still within walking distance of downtown! 

While it was sunny, the days were a bit too cold for the pool, but the kids enjoyed their hot tub with a view! 

The next day we were off to a really fun dinner out in the middle of nowhere.  90 minutes out into the desert but the kids slept most of the way. 

And there's our dinner cooking 


This restaurant was super cool and something we've heard a lot about and were eager to try.  It's cash only, no cell service and well an experience. 

First we started with a delicious salad 

Then a yummy beef and barley soup 

With an amazing stack of bread rolls 

As if we weren't already full, it was time for a 30 ounce steak and potato 

Or a whole roasted chicken and potato 

It was all really delicious and Peter was somehow able to eat it all! There was a yummy dessert too that we all hardly had room to enjoy.  We took home lots of leftovers for dinner the next day!

The kids loved playing outside it

And then another 90 minute very full drive back to the resort! 

Our next day, Peter and Malachi went for a 3 mile run and found some deer!  Can you see them?

We also took a walk later on that included a stop at the park 

And more hot tub time 

The next day was the day we had to check out unfortunately.  The kids loved having their own room, breakfast in bed while watching cartoons. 

We love all of our time away as a family and this trip was a lot of fun but also relaxing.  I look forward to our trips to central Oregon whenever we can fit it in. Maybe someday we will even be fortunate enough to live there! 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Eli Finishes Kindergarten

If I'm being honest, this was a HARD year of Kindergarten.  Not because this kid struggles, because I can see he is brilliant. He is reading and an ace at math.  But because this kid is every bit as stubborn as both of his parents combined and really doesn't find taking 30 minutes out of his day to focus on some school work as a priority. It was a battle from day 1 to the very end of day 170, but you know what. We did it!  He may have not had the best attitude every day but it's behind us now.  Neither one of us wants to think about 1st grade at this point, and we don't have to (at least for another month or so).  He's challenged me as a teacher and as a mother because I want what is best for him. I have spent more time stressing and praying over how best to proceed with his education but the answer seems clear.  I know he is so capable and so smart and after all that reflection I still feel proceeding with home school is best for him. It will still offer him more of what he wants most - free time to play each day. So we are thankful this year is over, I am proud of his (and my) perseverance and I have really seen growth in him this year!  Way to go Eli!    

Nicknames: Eli, E
How old are you? 6
What is your favorite color? Gray
What is your favorite animal? Monkeys
What is your favorite book? Any book 
What is your favorite TV show?  Jessie 
What is your favorite movie? The Lego Movie
What is your favorite song? I don't know
What is your favorite food? Egg Sandwiches
What is your favorite drink? Water
What is your favorite breakfast food? Cereal 
What is your favorite snack? Goldfish
What is your favorite outfit? I don't know (he's a casual guy, loves to just wear shorts and t shirts)
What is your favorite game? Daddy's games on his phone
What is your favorite toy? All of them 
Who is your best friend? Malachi and Johnny 
What is your favorite thing to do? Play Minecraft  
What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Ride my bike   
What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween 
What do you like to take to bed with you? Lion 
Where is your favorite place to go? Jungle Gym or out for pizza 
What is your favorite restaurant? Pizza 
Where do you want to go on vacation? Disneyland or Whistler or the Beach or Eagle Crest 
What do you want to be when you grow up? I haven't decided 

And with that, this mama and these kids are on summer break!  Every school year feels like such an accomplishment! It is a lot of work but such a blessing to get to teach and learn with my kids.  After a little bit of rest and fun I am sure we will all be ready to hit the books together again! 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring Phone Dump

Yes, it is that time again for another phone dump so be prepared for picture overload! The kids have kept us quite busy these last few months, but we're still loving all the things they do that keep life interesting and busy!

We have spent most of the last several months focused on finishing up the school year! 

We started a stack of really great kids books for Black History Month. These books are so good and we've bought tons and tons more since February. We all love to sit down as a family when time allows and read a few chapters before bedtime. 

This crazy girl accidentely swallowed some dimes the day before we came home from Whistler, and well, was quite excited when they "passed".

This beautiful baby girl celebrated her 2 1/2 birthday! Time flies! 

One day I just looked over at her and she suddenly didn't look like a baby anymore

In March we attended one of our most favorite weekends away - an adoption conference up in Seattle! 

As I went through the steps of Confirmatory Testing for a bone marrow donation, Peter always said never ever, but after all the education I had done, he decided he would join the registry too. Men are preferable to women (as we've had babies which changes antibodies in our system) so we will see if he's ever a match! 

We've enjoyed every dry second we can outside! 

Like Father Like Son.... seriously! 

And for awhile there it felt like the snow would never stop! 

Clearly she's 2 

She has done a great job entertaining herself while I do school with big siblings! 

I always appreciate the sun and even moon when I am out running 

Girl's night with my gals! 

When weather allowed for a weekend, we put as much work as we could into the yard! Always so much to do! 

We planted our first seeds in the garden! 

My Confirmatory testing did confirm I was a match but I am not going to be donating at this point in time. We shall see what the future holds but I do think about this woman quite often as she's been debating this procedure for the last 14 months! I will be ready if and when they decide it is time! 

Mal has enjoyed more delicious cooking! 

We did swim lessons and basketball for several months, and now we've moved on to baseball and track! 

This never happens, and yes I did just sit in my driveway and enjoy the peace and quiet until they woke up! 

The debate was real and we remain a house divided!

Our favorite local bakery posted that they were giving away the remaining treats for free.  Peter just so happened to be 2 minutes away at track practice and was able to RUN and grab us a box of goodies!  

Everyone was quite happy about this! 

Pretty flowers, just because. I loved the color so much that I had my mom start me a rose bush of them! 

A new hair style for LB

For Christmas I got Peter tickets to see Alton Brown, finally in March the date arrived. We had a blast out on the town for the evening and I learned I really love Alton Brown! 

I started organizing next years school (as we school year round and will start again in July). Oh boy! 

We've seriously enjoyed every second we can spend outside so far this year. We've really tried to increase the activity level for everyone in the house and it has paid off with the kids going right to sleep every night!

More adventures in cooking with Mal! 

I also found a new hobby I enjoy quite a bit to get the stress out! 

Something about turning the corner and seeing him sitting in the kitchen just made me feel like he's so grown up!

Malachi got to enjoy a fancy night out on the town with Grandpa and Grandma! 

We discovered Eli has a really great arm for baseball! 

A couple cute kiddo's left us notes and money to find at bedtime. 

I was quite excited to finally get my 100 year old piano into my house. My parents were also quite excited because they've been storing it for me these last 11 years! A few of the kids have a strong interest in it and I've even started playing again which although I am a bit rusty I am really enjoying!

Water beads are hours of entertainment!

We've been slowly going through the house and cleaning out things.  I'm great at the cleaning part but Peter is much better at that organization piece. We make a great team! 

We had our first sick kiddo visit for the year, which isn't really bad at all but we made it through the worst of winter without the kids getting sick and now all of a sudden its been a month of coughs and colds! Come on Spring! 

Baseball in the rain, is not much fun at all

Seriously, the rain will not go away! 

As we really got serious about finishing out the school year, we moved down to the kitchen.  

Malachi had his first track meet and holy cow is this sport competitive! Not to mention the first meet was miserable with the weather! 

Even though the competition was challenging he ran his heart out and we were super proud of him! 

And we were back at it the next weekend.  With new PR's in the long jump and 800 Meter! 


I love this man and how much he invests into each one of our kiddos. 

And homemade pizza's courtesy of Malachi! 

This girl discovered the amazing thing that is a bath bomb and well we bought her several for her birthday of which she was quite happy! 

And then the poor girl came down with a tummy bug. Seriously spring, it is time! 

And then finally we got a little hint of spring weather, which of course sent us outside to do yard work for the day. 

And of course after the work it was time to play! Wonderful evening with the kids! 

And last but not least, this is our monthly trip to Costco. It is chaotic and expensive and well, just not our favorite chore but a necessary one.  The kids actually were pretty good this month, but we had to laugh as we're walking out the door and the employee says "there's still room for another one".  

This is our life in a nutshell!