Gender Reveal Surprise Christmas Baby Shower

01/08/2015

That’s lot of words, huh? We had a Christmas baby-gender-reveal surprise baby shower. It was an unforgettable blessing organized by my friend Steph with a part of our foster mom support community from across the country. I had passed Steph the sealed envelope from the ultrasound tech because she offered to give us something more special than a piece of paper to open on Christmas day. (And she’s one of the most creative people I know!) She rallied the troops behind my back and they sent gifts to Steph to wrap and organize into a really unique gender reveal surprise for us. I am still so overwhelmed with gratitude that they would bless our family like this. Most of these women I’ve never even met in person, although we connect daily through social media to encourage, pray for, commiserate with and entertain each other.

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The first present to open was this ornament that Steph made. It will be such a special keepsake on our Christmas tree every year.

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(Please excuse my Christmas-morning-no-makeup-pajamas family.)

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The first baby boy outfit we opened…

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Ali got some special gifts, too.

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These little knee pads made me swoon.

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A teething necklace in one of my favorite colors.

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A fellow chicken mama sent this one!

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At some point while I was opening gifts and Jason was documenting it, Ali started taking photos with my DSLR.

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These are her photos…

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I am so thankful! What an amazing surprise for Christmas day, to find out we’re having a son and to be showered with so many thoughtful and adorable gifts for him.

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I Think of Mary in Bethlehem

12/24/2014

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“The Last Christmas”

I feel your heart beating
Inside my own skin
And I think of Mary
In Bethlehem

That night in a stable
Our saviour was born
Yes, we have so much
To be thankful for

On the last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
Without you

They’re choosing the colours
Preparing your room
For one day; Mid[spring]
The advent of you

Together we wait for
A heavenly gift
Is winter a wonder?
Enchanted that this is

The last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
Without you

See the stars shining for above
Hear the singing
Praise to the Giver of Life and Love
Maker of Beautiful things

I feel your heart beating
Inside my own skin
And I think of Mary
In Bethlehem

When darkness was shattered
The dawn of God’s grace
And the journey’d begun
To the first Easter day

On this last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
The very last Christmas

The last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
Without you

(Sixpence None the Richer)

PS. Tomorrow we get a very special Christmas gift — we will find out if we’re welcoming a baby girl or a baby boy into our arms in April.

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Christmastime is Here

12/23/2014

The tree has been trimmed. The lights have been strung. The cookies have been baked…and many of them eaten. Christmas is my favorite thing about winter. The warm glowing lights. The crackling wood in the fireplace. The cozy clutter of decorations. The family time. The advent…the waiting…the anticipation. (Increased this year by the gift of discovering our baby’s gender on Christmas Day.) The dressing up in red, knit and boots. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and all that it meant when God came to walk the earth in human form. (Increased this year by the kicking baby in my belly reminding me often of Mary, young and scared, carrying the most important baby in the world.) The excitement of a small child over every element of the holiday season.

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Mother-Daughter Christmas Fun

12/16/2014

Jason’s been traveling a lot in December (but is now home through Christmas. Yay!) So Ali and I have been enjoying lots of holiday festivities together. On Saturday we went to Cheekwood Art and Botanical Gardens to see reindeer and check out the craft activities. We spent a long time making a Christmas tree our of sticks, pipe cleaners, paper, glue and beads. The cookie decorating was quite delicious!

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On Sunday our church had their big Christmas program, which means special music, candlelight service, and lots of kids dressed up in adorable outfits gorging themselves on cookies and candy canes. Alianna was quite proud of her freshly painted nails.

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That evening Ali and I went to our next door neighbor Elizabeth’s house for a Latke Fest. I’m pretty sure that was the first Hanukkah party either of us had been invited to and it was great! Lots of tasty treats and nice people. I brought Elizabeth a dozen eggs to thank her for informing us and helping to wrangle our chickens when they escape our yard.

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“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” & Christmas Classics

12/15/2014

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I hope you’ve seen this video of Jason playing the most beautiful acoustic guitar rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen that has ever been played.

I wanted to let you know he’s also giving away copies of the whole amazing album on his Facebook page this month. All you have to do is share the video and let him know you did. He runs a new contest each week so if this week’s hasn’t started yet, check back in a day or two.

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And if you don’t win but would like to buy one, you can do so through his website JasonAhlbrandt.com. We offer free shipping. They’re the same price in person and at his shows. He’s on iTunes, Spotify and other online/digital music retailers, too.

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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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