God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

11/12/2014

Jason’s acoustic guitar album Christmas Classics has been on rotation in my iTunes for a couple weeks already. I haven’t decorated the house yet or taken a photo for our Christmas cards, but Christmas music? Yes. I started playing it in October. Jason’s album came out last October and this year he made a couple of videos to go along with it. Here’s the first one for the song “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

I love it so much! If you like it even just a little bit, we hope you’ll consider getting the whole album through JasonAhlbrandt.com or iTunes. And please share this video with everyone you know! ;)

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Bee Flew North

12/31/2013

OK, actually she was driven North. I mentioned before Christmas that Bee was given an unexpected family pass to spend the holidays in Wisconsin with her grandparents and extended family. We met her grandma, great-aunt and great-grandma for dinner at Chilis the Friday before Christmas to get to know them a bit more before the send off. They’re very sweet people and I know Bee is in good hands. DCS extended their permission until January 13, her next hearing date because her grandma was planning on coming back down for the hearing anyway. It’s kind of weird…we technically still have a foster placement, Bee is officially still our foster daughter, but she’s not here. Although we do miss her, it’s been a nice break, too. After Buzz left I realized the unnatural circumstances that often come with foster care where the number of children in a household sometimes decreases. An additional child is a big adjustment and then reducing back down to one child from two feels like such an easy break. We’ve been enjoying soaking up lots of time with our amazing 2.5 year old Alianna. She is such a joy and a delight. Also, we got to see Buzz again. He and his mom came to the Christmas service at our church.

Bee all packed and ready to go. Have you ever seen a foster child come with such nice luggage?!

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Two of her three Christmas presents from us. I opened them the night before she left.

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Send-off day.

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We soothed ourselves with ice cream after the send-off dinner.

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Ali showing off a gift from our neighbor, pocket babies.

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Christmas church service:

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Bring on the Christmas Cheer!

12/04/2013

I started listening to Christmas music back in early October thanks to Jason’s new album. (It’s seriously fantastic. You should buy it!) The Sunday before Thanksgiving we put up our new-to-us Christmas tree and the rest of our decorations. It was so much fun to have Alianna’s help this year. She’s old enough to leave the fragile decorations alone for the most part, too.

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My Granny’s Shiny Brite ornaments from the 1950s get a special spot up on the kitchen counter.

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The rest of my Shiny Brite and Trim Time collection of vintage ornaments go on the aluminum tree in the dining room.

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I made a stocking for Bee (on the left) similar to Alianna’s stocking, out of an old wool sweater. I still don’t know if she’ll be here for Christmas but I can take off the initial and reuse the stocking in the future if she’s not.

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The past few years we’ve only done the mid-century silver tree and vintage ornaments but Jason suggested a more traditional tree this year. I’m really loving this giant tree with it’s warm lights in the corner of our living room. The crackling fireplace makes it all just heavenly.

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Last Chance to Preorder Christmas Classics

09/25/2013

Jason’s Kickstarter campaign for his Christmas Classics album ends tomorrow just after midnight. Last chance to preorder a CD and help fund this project. Thanks for considering.

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Merry Christmas!

09/10/2013

I know, I know…It’s only September. I used to work at a Michael’s craft store and I was always amazed when the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of Christmas decorations would arrive the first week of October…three weeks before Halloween. It just felt wrong. But I have a very good reason for bringing up Christmas in September. For several years my husband Jason has been dreaming and planning on recording a Christmas album. If you’ve been a blog reader for a while you probably remember when he released a lullabies album in February 2012 called Acoustic Lullabies. He’s had the idea for a Christmas album well before that but put it on hold to create a CD of beautiful guitar music dedicated to our daughter Ali, and the sales of that album helped fund her private adoption. Well, he’s finally finished with the long-awaited Christmas album. I’m so excited about it! It’s really wonderful. I’ve seriously had to resist the urge to set up the Christmas tree because overhearing some of the recording process and then listening to the almost-finished product has really brought on the Christmas spirit at our house. In September. Jason’s not just any average guitar player—he’s been obsessed with the six-stringed instrument for 20 years. He is trained and seasoned in classical, jazz, rock, country, finger-style guitar and you’ll hear all those influences on this album. I’m a big fan.

So anyway… producing an album is an investment. There is an initial expense and then money is gradually recouped through sales. His lullabies album was successful and worth the risk but we despise debt. We decided to try something different this time. Jason set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial expense for mixing and duplication (recording is already complete) through pledges for pre-orders of the album. At the base level a $15 pledge results in Christmas Classics shipped to you when it releases in October. Higher pledges have various rewards like autographed or gift wrapped CDs and bulk discounts. If he doesn’t reach his goal (which covers the cost of mixing and a minimum initial order of 1000 CDs), he doesn’t get any money and the pledges are all voided. It’s an all or none situation. Would you consider pledging money to pre-order this CD? I guarantee you’ll love it. You’ll love it so much that you’ll want to give copies to your kids’ teachers and soccer coaches, your best friend, your hard-to-buy-for-music-loving brother, your chiropractor, your insurance agent, etc.

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On Jason’s Kickstarter page, you can also watch the silly video we made to promote the project, and hear one of the songs. It was late at night and we may have thought it was a little funnier than it actually is…but all is redeemed by Ali’s incredible sweetness at the end.

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Merry Christmas!

Thanks for your consideration.


Our 1st Christmas at Home

12/27/2012

Ready for Christmas picture overload? OK, here we go!

Our niece Eliza came over to play on Christmas Eve.

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In case it’s not obvious, these girls have a blast together.

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Jason was so awesome and made my family’s traditional Christmas Eve Swedish meatballs while Ginger and I chased the little girls around the house and visited before the rest of the family got there.

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These two can empty a toy box in less than a minute.

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Who me?

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After the house got quiet, it was time for this mama to pack up the stockings.

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This one is for Lucy:

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For Jason (not pictured: pack of underwear. You’re welcome.)

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For Alianna. She’s an awesome gift receiver. Equally excited about the socks and the owl stickers.

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For me; yes I stuff a stocking for myself. (not pictured: pack of underwear. You’re welcome.)

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On Christmas morning I woke up around 9 but Jason and Ali slept until closer to 10. I made a little treat for Ali and I and she learned a new word: cocoa.

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Round 1: stockings and Ali’s presents from Mom and Dad.

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In addition to the stocking littles, Ali gets three gifts from us. (Side note: Jason and I gave each other a house for Christmas. And I recently got a new camera and he got a new computer; both for our work. Merry Christmas to each other!)

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Good morning! It’s Christmas!

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Something to play with: Mind of My Own by Frances England.

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Something to Read: The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

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Something to Wear: “seaspray” Converse low tops

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New car from Grandma and Grandpa

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Yogurt as a finger food?

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We got to FaceTime with my brother’s family in PA. My parents were there for Christmas. My sister’s family was driving there at the time so we didn’t get to see them.

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Eli got a tractor!

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Jason got some egg poachers in his stocking we he tried them out for our breakfast.

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After morning nap she had a bath and got all dressed up for the rest of Christmas day.

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Sometimes “Where’s Ali?” is the only way I can get her to turn towards the camera but this is the facial response I get.

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Round 2 of opening presents. She got some great stuff from her aunts and uncles (my siblings in PA).

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This Leap Frog Phonics toy seemed to be Ali’s favorite of the day.

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Hmm, I might be realizing where Ali gets her “Ooooh!” face from.

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Jason’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece spent the afternoon and evening with us. There were lots more presents, little girls running around playing with new toys, and a delicious dinner of ham, chicken, brussel sprouts, roasted beets, macaroni and cheese, rolls, berry delight, pumpkin pie…mmmm…I’m getting hungry again. I didn’t take many pictures during all that fun but after dinner I took these.

My handsome husband:

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Ali checking out one of her new shirts.

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The FP Little People airplane was a big hit.

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Daniel and Ginger

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Daniel, Ginger and Eliza

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Papa showing Ali how to use Nana’s Nook

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Tongue out in concentration? That’s new!

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Jason’s parents: Papa and Nana

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We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too!

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Merry Christmas!

12/25/2012

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Thanks for being readers and friends. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


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