Phone Photo Friday


House Plans – Round 2


Our house plans are developing and our excitement is increasing. I think we’re almost there with the floor plan! Again, I’m purposely obscuring this photo so our architect’s intellectual property can’t swiped (as easily). We figured out how to incorporate a fourth bedroom that we’re calling the den. It’ll probably be more of a playroom, creative space for Precious and other kids to hang out in by the time we move into the house. It’s crazy to think that our little 6 month old baby will be walking by the time we’re in our new home. Also, the laundry room grew into an office/craft room for me. Yay! Now the trick will be finding a GC (general contractor) who will build this house for $100/square foot or less.

I like the philosophy of Rachel Peters, interviewed on Design Mom, about her custom built dream home—she intentionally had their architect make the bedrooms and closets small to encourage the kids to go outside and to make it harder to hoard junk. We’ve had a similar philosophy for our new house: keep the bedrooms small and the common areas big and open to promote togetherness. The minimalist in me likes the small closets idea but the thrifty part of me wants to organize and store anything we might use in the future.

Beautiful Cereal Box


I know it’s silly but for the past 36 hours, since I first saw it at Kroger, I’ve been in love with Mom’s Best Naturals cereal. Now I’m not typically a cereal lover. Lucky Charms was the only cereal I would eat growing up. My breakfast of choice in high school was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But I’m a graphic designer by trade and what-can-I-say, I was sold by the packaging. I walked 3 steps past the end cap in Kroger, pulled out my camera and went back to take a picture. As I walked away, posting it on Instagram, I decided I should buy a box and try it. Back at the display for the third time, I was pleasantly surprised that it was only $1.50 a box. I  found raisin bran to try. I’m happy to report that it tastes as good as any raisin bran I’ve ever had, though I’m admittedly not a cereal connoisseur.



I have been struggling to keep up with blogging the past week or so. I think this happens to every blogger from time to time. Real life takes priority, but I also aspire to keep up with documenting and sharing. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on lately:

• Jason finished recording his lullabies album last week. I’ve been working on the album design. We had a little photo session yesterday with Precious, Jason and his guitar. Hopefully I captured something that will work with what’s in my head.

• After being home for a solid month, Jason’s tour schedule starts back up this week. It’s been so great to have him home. But I’m also incredibly thankful that he’ll be back to work soon because he loves it and it’s how he makes a living. That makes us both very happy.

• This month the guys are going on a Florida Snowbird Tour and Precious and I are going to join them in the Tampa area for a few days. I am  SO EXCITED about this mini-vacation that I’m willing to fly with a 6 month old, pick up bags and rent a car all by myself. I’m a little nervous but it’ll be oh-so-worth-it. I flew alone with Ladybug once and it was OK. The first flight was great and the second flight was mix of bad and torture. (It started out with her smacking me in the face when I tried to contain her on my lap after the last passenger to board the plane took the last available seat next to the lady flying alone with a toddler—me—and said “Oh no, this is going to be a long flight!” I wanted to spit back, “You have no idea what this child has been through! We’ve only known each other for 2 weeks!” But I kept my mouth shut. The flight ended with a screaming tantrum. Thanks for the curse, mean old lady sitting next to us…ANYWAY…I’m sure these flights are going to be great because Precious is the most easy-going baby in the world.)

• Our house has been on the market about 6 weeks and we’ve had around 20 showings. Nuts! Showing a house when you have a baby and a dog is not easy and I’m not a fan of the one-hour-notice showings. What the heck, people?! It’s all good though. We pull it off with smiles on our faces and we’re praying for an offer soon. It’s nice to not have any rush, we’re just excited to move forward on our new construction. We’re hoping for breaking ground in March and moving in by the end of summer or early fall but it’s impossible to say at this point.

• On Saturday Jason and I stopped by a new string of shops in East Nashville called the Idea Hatchery. It’s a bunch of small studios for start-up and small businesses with more affordable leases, funded by the art gallery next door called Garage Majal. Cute little area. (Pictures above and below.)

House Plans: Initial Drawings


We’ve got plans! However, I want to protect the original work of our architect so I’m not going to fully share the plans at this point. We are thrilled! We wanted a lot of mid-century influence but figured it was going to be a modern twist, since it is 2012 after all, and we’re not planning to try to trick anyone into believing our home was built in the mid-1900s. Jason and I were hoping Ryan, our architect, would not just take our (many) ideas into consideration but also throw in a good mix of his own ideas and creativity. We were not disappointed. The exterior is different than what we expected and anything we’ve seen before. “Stunned” is the word that comes to mind with my initial reaction. Stunned/stunning are pretty similar words, right? Now I think it’s stunning.

The front of the house, according to these plans (which I’m sure will change some), will be a mix of cinder block and stained wood. I scribbled in the landscaping to help me visualize it. The most notable elements are the roof line—Ryan’s idea to let a ton of light flood into the great room which will have vaulted ceilings with exposed beams—and the lack of apparent front door. There is a front door, of course, but it’s concealed behind the wall of a courtyard.

I woke up early one morning walking through this house in my head and getting ideas along the way. I had to get out of bed to fetch some tracing paper and start scribbling down my ideas. We’re still waiting for our house to sell—we’ve had 13 showings in the first month!—which means we can take our time in the design and planning phase for now.

Here’s my “Dream House Wishlist” in case you’re curious:
• great room (kitchen, dining room, living room)
• wood-burning fireplace
• 3 bedrooms minimum
• 2 full bathrooms
• 4th bedroom that will serve as a den/playroom/guestroom for now, until/unless we need it for more kids
• studio for Jason
• laundry room/office/craft room area for me
• courtyard or atrium
• mid-century design influence
• great natural light and big windows
• garage
• wood floors
• lots of other little ideas

Oh, it’s exciting! It will be sad to say goodbye to this house that we love so much but having a new place to look forward to helps. We’re also anxious to get back to fostering kids. I’m glad we’re finally not getting placement calls anymore because it was heartbreaking to have to keep saying no, but we’re still very aware of the need and that every day there are kids that need a safe place to go. We’re feeling like this year and transition time will go by very quickly, or maybe we’re just ready to jump ahead to moving into our finished house.

Phone Photo Friday


Ok, so it’s not Friday, I know. But I have today’s blog post (about our new home plans!) only half written and no time to finish it. Welcome to Phone Photo Friday on Thursday!

Hush Little Baby



Yesterday Jason finished recording his first solo instrumental album, Acoustic Lullabies. It sounds amazing! I know it will be enjoyed by all ages as the guitar playing is just beautiful—a combination of his classical guitar training, finger-style influences of Phil Keaggy and Tommy Emmanuel and probably a hundred other things. He’s sending the files off to the mix engineer today while I’m working away on the CD package design. We’re expecting an early February release.

If you read my post on Thanksgiving, you know that we’re selling one song as a pre-release off the album, “Hush Little Baby,” for a minimum donation of $1 as our one and only adoption fundraiser. A bunch of you—near and far, friends and strangers—helped us out by buying the song with a donation. Thank you so much!

And I hate to bring it up again, but…we’re short. So far we’ve used generous donations to pay for our attorney, filing fees for Termination of Parental Rights/Petition for Adoption, a new birth certificate, publication for TPR of the biological father, fingerprinting (as part of our background checks) and a private home study but we’re about $500 short for all of that.

I may have mentioned before how much I dislike asking for money for an adoption. And now here we are, paying out of pocket for an unexpected private adoption and realizing we can’t do it alone. So, in case you missed it the first time around, here is another opportunity:

Click here to purchase “Hush Little Baby” from Jason Ahlbrandt’s forthcoming instrumental guitar album, Acoustic Lullabies, for a minimum donation of $1. Include your email address when you purchase and I’ll send you the mp3 within 3 business days. 100% of the money donated goes to paying for the adoption of our Precious baby girl.