What a crazy year this has been for our family: moving to Japan for Kurt's work, kids enrolling in yochien, adding Avri to our family, trip to California, etc!
After arriving in Japan last January, we spent several weeks waiting for the arrival of all our personal items, getting over horrible cold and flu bugs (new germs combined with public transportation), buying and assembling IKEA furniture, learning the train system, finding doctors, and enrolling the kids in yochien (preschool/Kindergarten). Thank goodness we were warmly welcomed into our new ward (church congregation) here in Tokyo. We were given multiple rides to Costco, meals, bed sheets and phone numbers if we got lost. The Elders Quorum even came and assembled most of our IKEA furniture while Kurt was gone. Kurt had a business trip the second week we were here, leaving me and the kids in an empty apartment with only our blow-up mattresses. It was quite the adventure.
Luckily now we are a little more settled in. The kids started school at a private Christian yochien in April. They go to the same school Monday-Friday 9am-2pm. Nobody at the school speaks English, so the kids have been immersed into the Japanese culture and language very quickly. They seem to understand quite a bit, but still have a lot to learn. Yochien is definitely a lifestyle change for us – they have so many crazy rules and traditions that are so foreign to us. (matching backpacks, inside shoes, shoe bag, cup bag, hand towels, hand towel bag, PE clothes, lunch napkins, Mothers meetings, and so on.) I was a little worried at first about sending Kelsie to school all day since she was 3 (now 4), but she absolutely loves going to school...and I have to admit it's nice just the one on one time with Avri.
Speaking of Avri – Avri Elizabeth was born on May 30th, 2012, her Grandpa Keyser's birthday. She weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces, and was 19.3 inches long. We had a little scare at the end of her delivery when her heart rate dropped dramatically and they had to take her really fast, but all ended well and we brought our beautiful baby girl home a day later (very unheard of in Japan). Avri is a sweetheart and is seriously the best baby ever. She started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks! Her big brother and sister can't get enough of her. We were also lucky to have my mom fly out to Japan for 3+ weeks to help out!
Another exciting adventure we've taken on with the kids is modeling! A friend from church referred us to a modeling agency that her kids used – we originally just planned on signing Kelsie up (her curls are a big hit here in Japan!), but when the agent saw Logan she asked if we could sign him up too. After Avri was born they asked if they could sign her too. :) They now have been in dozens of magazines, catalogs, and websites. Surprising it's Logan who works the most. It's been a lot of work navigating them through Tokyo's transit system, but it's been fun too. We hope to have most of their college education paid for by the time we leave Japan. I created a blog with all of the kids published pictures – http://keyserkids.blogspot.com
We also were very thankful to spend 3 ½ weeks in the US this fall and introduce Avri to a lot of extended family. Kurt's parents spent a little over a week with us in our home in Boulder Creek. Then the kids and I were able to spend a week in Cameron Park with my mom and sister's family while Kurt attended a work conference. It was also fun meeting Kurt's brother Ryan's wife Lara and their new family. (They were married this summer.) My niece Autumn also waited a few weeks to be baptized so we could attend. Lastly, everyone gathered for Avri's blessing at church given by her dad. We were very blessed to be able to spend so much time with our family and friends, although it went by too fast!
We hope everyone enjoys this holiday season. We miss you all and think of you often.
Love, Kurt, Rachel, Logan, Kelsie, and Avri