Today is my mama’s birthday. I love my mama! I aspire to be as generous a mother as she is and always has been with her love, time, help, advice, friendship and prayers. I hope to never take for granted how blessed I am to live close enough that we can grab lunch, meet for dinner, go for a swim or a walk, or plan a shopping date whenever we feel like it … I don’t know many people in Nashville whose parents live close (it’s a city of transplants for the most part) and I’m very grateful for it.
Here’s a picture from Easter Sunday of my mama with my niece Eliza. She’s going to be an awesome Memaw!
I love you, Mama! Glad we can celebrate together tonight.
Gender neutral: We are choosing to be prepared for a boy or a girl
Age range: We are choosing to be prepared for newborn through age 5
Two?: We may consider taking a sibling set of 2. And/or we might have a child biological in the midst of this foster parenting adventure.
Our kids room is only 10’x11′. But… I love living in a smallish house and the design challenges that require creative solutions. (See cloffice.) Knowing that we want to fit a crib and a big kid bed in the same room, I’m planning on getting a SOMNAT crib (2.5’x4.5″) and a KURA twin bed (3.5’x6.5′) that can be flipped over into a loft/bunk bed, both from IKEA. We already have a sturdy vintage 2 drawer nightstand and a vintage yellow table lamp. We plan to add a 4×6 rug, a chair for reading books, shelves and a changing table height dresser (maybe IKEA MALM if we can’t find a vintage option).
Key: gray box is the 4×6 rug; green circle is a footstool, KURA is the twin bed, blue box SOMNAT is the crib, the white box with yellow circle and blue/gray oval is the painted nightstand with the yellow lamp and CD player, RIBBA are picture ledges from IKEA that we’ll use as book shelves, light blue box is a floor-length mirror, MALM is a short dresser from IKEA or better yet—a mid-century walnut or teak one. The left side, bottom is where the double, sliding-door closet is located.
Idea 1: My original solution. I taped out the beds on the floor, placed a chair and the little nightstand and it feels like there is very little floor space.
Idea 2: I like this but I have a feeling putting the twin bed and crib up against each other won’t work if we have 2 kids sharing this space. (I’m thinking older kid dropping things on the baby.) But… could be great if we just have 1 at a time.
Idea 3: I like how this opens up some floor space but the dresser backed up against the end of the crib makes me a little nervous. Plus the drawers would open right into the doorway. I’d have to see this one in person to be convinced.
Idea 4: Dresser, bookshelves and rocking chair are too crowded.
Idea 5: Put a changing table height dresser in the closet. This might work but we’ll lose a lot of closet space. Currently this closet is 1/2 space for kid stuff and 1/2 adult stuff (file cabinet, coats, box of winter accessories and games.)
Idea 6: Almost there with this one but I feel like the dresser would crowd the crib into the corner too much and make the reading nook feel closed off.
Idea 7: I think this is the winner! My only concern with this was having the twin bed in front of the window but we decided this should be fine. It’s at the foot end of the bed anyway. This floor plan allows for the biggest open area of play space on the floor. Yay!
When I first found out that we have to have a land line home phone available for our foster children to use, I was excited to go out and find a retro one like this. It’s $40, looks like it’s mid-century but it’s all new digital technology:
Then I remembered these really cool clear trimline phones from the early 90s that light up when they ring. My big brother used to have one but I searched my parents house and it’s no where to be found. I read here that Urban Outfitters was selling them last year for $28 but they’re not available anymore. Boo.
Then, we talked about it in class with an experience resource parent and realized that we should get one with a speaker phone. And while we’re at it, you can get a pretty fancy digital cordless phone for less than $20. So much for retro-cool.
Anyone have any suggestions for land line phone service? It costs $25 a month to add phone service to our AT&T Uverse internet service. Not a huge chunk of change but it still seems like a waste of money to me. Requirements are requirements, though.
Help me out here, readers. Do you still have a home phone? If you have a cell phone, why? How much do you pay a month for service?
Sorry it’s been a whole month since I’ve last updated you on the progress of CBB 3.0 – the reconstruction of our friends’ fully remodeled house that was destroyed in the Nashville flood of May 2010. The siding was put up, inspired by the design of Shelby Bottoms Nature Center.
Garage is below the house with a double door at the back.
Deck off the back of the house.
Front left corner of the house.
Triple window is in the dining room with a door that leads out to the deck. The next room over to the left is the living room.
Choosing paint colors. They wanted a light gray. The one they chose is Sherwin Williams First Star.
In daylight… it just looks like white. There will be decking leading up to the front door. Right now it looks kind of funny with the front door (set back) just hanging out up there.
I LOVE how the back of the house looks!
LOTS of people have been slowing down on their way past and lots of nosey neighbors has been showing themselves around the property. (Seriously, who does that?!) One fella even stopped and asked, “What kind of house is that?” Jeremy was a little offended. A house that people live in. A family house? Jason answered, “A modern house.” To which the guy replied, “I like it!”
I had a wonderful weekend with family and friends, celebrating the resurrection of my Savior! I hope you did, too. There is so much that I’m thankful for. We watched this video at the end of our church service. It was very moving to me and I couldn’t help crying like a baby by the end of it. That’s my King! Either you know Him or you don’t. And if you do, it changes everything.
This second video is from Thursday night where Jason and his buddy Jonathan Crone were playing an original acoustic guitar duet of “Nothing But The Blood” at a concert up in Adrian, Michigan. My wifey-heart swells with pride when I hear this beautiful conposition. They originally arranged it for a Christmas celebration at our church back in December and I was busting with pride then too. I made sure I was the first one up outta my seat to give them a standing ovation and a whooping cheer, and I was quickly joined by the rest of the crowd. I’m thoroughly amazed by my husband’s talent. I can say that, right? The picture quality is not great (Jason Ahlbrandt on the left, Jonathan on the right) but the audio is clear.
You read that right the other day (if you made it all the way to the last line), Jason and I are becoming foster parents. I feel the need to explain why we’re doing this crazy thing. It’s not because we can’t have kids biologically or that we’re impatient with trying (though that might be a valid reason for some people.) It’s not because we want to adopt and becoming foster parents is an easier and cheaper way to do it (though it is definitely cheaper and in some ways might be easier.) Our reason is ultimately because God has called us to do this. He has put it heavily on our hearts the past few months and has made it clear that this is His plan for us. We probably will have kids biologically some day. We probably will adopt one day. But today, we are moving down the path of becoming foster parents.
Our pastor Lindell Cooley often says God can’t steer a parked car. Jason and I have talked about adoption occasionally over the last decade but this past year we started researching it and talking about it more. Through online exploration we found our way to foster care and I felt a new door creak open in my heart, revealing a passion God had been quietly working on for many years. We talked about it, prayed about it and took the first step of faith by calling around to the local foster care agencies to find out where we’d be a good fit and how to get started. The car moved into drive and God has been steering it ever since. It’s picking up momentum and we’re fully trusting Father that it’s going to be an exciting, amazing ride, and though scary at times, we know He is in control and lovingly directing us.
Here’s how it works, in case you’re as unfamiliar with the foster care system as we were a few months ago. When child abuse or neglect is discovered kids are removed from their parents and taken into state custody. The state makes every effort to locate another family member or family friend who can care for the kids. If no family member can be found, the kids will be placed with foster parents who are licensed and trained by the state. The goal in almost all cases is for the kids to eventually be reunified with their birthparents. The birthparents are given an outline of the aspects of their lives that need to get in order over a certain timeline so they can get their kids back. There is a real ministry opportunity for foster parents to build relationships with birthparents to encourage them and cheer them on towards restoration of their family. A judge with the guidance of case workers and lawyers will determine if and when the kids can be returned to their birthparents. If the parents are unable or unwilling to comply with the courts, sometimes their parental rights are terminated. (Around 25% of the time.) At that point, the children become legally free to adopt and the state tries to find a permanent home for them. The foster parents are typically the first choice if they are willing to adopt because the kids already have formed healthy, loving attachments there.
Our plans are to open our home up to a child or sibling set of 2 (they try really hard to keep siblings together) up to age 5. We understand and support that the goal in most cases is for the kids to be reunified with their parents. However, if we are caring for any kids who become adoptable, we will likely adopt them. The state covers all costs for adoption and offers foster parents a daily stipend to assist with costs for child care (food, clothing, medical expenses, etc.) There is minimal monetary cost to us through this process but the potential emotional cost is high. We have 3 more weeks of training, then 30 days or so of home studies. We should be certified and can take our first placement by sometime in June.
The most common reason I hear for why someone says they could never be foster parent is that it would hurt too much to fall in love with a child and then have to let him or her go. I know it’s true. It will hurt. It will probably tear our hearts out. It might just kill us. Maybe everyday. I’m pretty sure that’s God’s plan. Because the more we die, the more He can live in us and through us. These kids need the kind of unconditional love, acceptance, healing, restoration, patience, forgiveness and joy that we, in our human limitations, cannot offer. But God can. He is more than able to take care of His babies. He will take care of these dear little ones. He will take care of us. He will take care of you.
How you can help:
Pray for us. We’ll take all the strength, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, energy, unity, etc. that God is willing to pour out.
Pray for the kids. There are approx. 9,000 kids in foster care in Tennessee right now. And probably many more who are in abusive situations that have not yet been reported. Pray for their safety and protection. Pray for their salvation. Pray that they would be moved to a better situation. Pray against fear, bitterness, lies from the enemy.
Pray for the parents. Pray for wisdom and good decisions, for restoration and salvation. Pray for humility to ask for help and resources to meet their needs and their kids needs.
Pray for more foster and adoptive parents. There are kids here in Tennessee and every state, babies not yet born all across the US, and children all around the world who need homes. I can’t wait for the day when there are waiting lists of foster parents in this country because there are more safe homes ready to accept children than there are hurting kids who need loving parents. I believe it will happen someday. I’ve heard a statistic that if 1 family out of every Christian church in the United States would foster children, there would be no more kids waiting for homes in this country.
Will this affect my blog? Yes. How—I’m not sure yet. Even though my blog tagline is “musings on a life inspired by art, faith and family” I realize most of my posts are home related. Foster parenting weighs heavier on the faith and family side of things, however art is infused through every aspect of our lives and our home is our favorite canvas. For now, I’m planning on writing about our foster parenting journey at least once a week. We’re currently in the rapid-pace process of education and training, going to appointments, and filling out stacks of paperwork. We are also in hyper-nesting mode preparing our home with projects (like the chalkboard door, repainting the nightstand, finishing up the fence) and researching and shopping for kid stuff (like strollers, cribs, beds, car seats, toys). So I’ve got plenty of bloggy material, is what I’m saying. If you’d like to hear more or less about our foster parenting adventure, please let me know in the comment section below.
Jason and I love going to yard sales and estate sales to look for vintage goodies but since he’s been touring a lot the past 8 month or so, we haven’t been able to do it so much. Now that there is a “need” to start collecting kid stuff (read here if you’re confused) and not just fun mid-century collectibles, I’ve been hitting the sales with my mom and on my own. Here are just a few of my recent purchases.
Jeep umbrella stroller in great shape for only $5. My mom spotted this from the street and I’m quite excited about it.
A child size metal folding chair for $7.50. (Also, the full length mirror got rescued from my parents house before it was sent off to a friend’s yard sale. It was plastic “wood” so I spray painted it blue. ALSO, keep in mind the walls will be light gray.)
This cute little dear figurine (we have way to many knick knacks already but I couldn’t resist…) for $0.50:
I’m not sure why I haven’t taken a picture of any of my other purchases but I also go some light green Pottery Barn crib sheets, a black Infantino baby carrier, a plastic stacking ring toy, some wood puzzle boards, a tiny MCM casserole dish that I don’t know what to use for, and a vintage orange plastic Tupperware pitcher. I LOVE this time of year! Who wants to go thrifting with me?!
We bought this little nightstand dresser 2 years ago at a yard sale. At the time we didn’t know where to put it. We can’t fit a nightstand like this in our bedroom and we already had end tables in our living room. It moved into the spare room to sit in waiting for our future kids. Over a year ago, Glidden was giving away free quarts of paint. I ordered Granny Apple green with this night stand in mind. Then, 2 weekends ago I FINALLY got around to standing and painting it. (It felt SO GOOD to get that of my to-do list after being on there for months.)
The top had a bunch of knicks and dings in it but look at the cute flowered contact paper inside the drawers! That stays.
The first order of business was to take off these hideous handles. Have you ever seen anything like this? It looks like it was hand-crafted by drunk termites.
After I got those suckers off, I filled the screw holes with wood filler. Here’s the part where I begin to just wing it. Jason usually does this kind of stuff and I just supervise. I followed the direction the tube and waiting for it to dry a bit, then sanded it. I started sanding the dresser top and the drawer fronts too. That got old really quick.
Thankfully, paint covers and fills most minor scratches. I did give the whole thing a rough sand so the paint would stick better and then wiped it clean with a damp cloth. The first coat of paint didn’t cover very well. I did my best not to have a bunch of drips (again, Jason usually does this kind of project. I am NOT a perfectionist!) I wasn’t concerned about our old patio table because it’s sagging and it’s going to be replaced this summer when we build a new one. I waited a few hours for the first coat to dry (while I went on to paint the chalkboard door). The second coat covered much better.
I let the nightstand rest and cure for a full week before I put anything on it. Even after that, I put a semi-heavy boom box on it and the next day it was stuck. Thankfully it didn’t leave a mark when I pulled it off. I wonder how much longer it needs to cure. Anyone? Or maybe it needs a clear coat?
I was going to buy new knobs but Jason reminded me that we had some in the tool box from IKEA years ago. (I can’t even remember what we used these for originally.) We had 4 so I decided to do 2 on each drawer. I’m very happy with how it turned out and pretty darn proud of myself for doing this all on my own. (Color is more accurate above… the flash here makes it look more yellowish than it is.)