Home-Free. That’s what I’m calling this combination of being homeless and debt-free. Last week we moved the rest of our belongings out of our house into storage and we closed on the sale of our sweet little green mid-century ranch. (I just updated my blog header, sniff, sniff.) I miss that house already. I’ve been driving past it everyday, just because, and I consistently have an impulse to check the mail or stop at the end of the driveway to pick up the paper. I have to remind myself, it’s someone else’s home now. We’re not really homeless. We have a home at my parents’ house for now, but it feels funny after owning a home for 7 years to no longer have a mortgage. Which brings me to…

We’re debt-free! We made a little money off the sale of our house. We put the first bit towards paying off the last chunk of our school loans and the rest we’ll set aside for the new house we’re building. I’ve been hearing for years, “The borrower is slave to the lender” but it’s still surprising to me how freeing it feels to no longer have any debts! And we’re soaking up the feeling because we’ll be taking out a construction loan soon. But you know, for the moment, we can shout a good ol’ Dave Ramsey style, “WE”RE DEBT FREE!”

Fun fact: Jason was out of town so I had to sign for him at the closing. Instead of just signing “Martina Ahlbrandt” on every page, I had to sign, “Martina Ahlbrandt, Jason Ahlbrandt by Martina Ahlbrandt his Attorney in fact.” And anywhere I had to initial for him, it was “JA by MA his AIF.” Isn’t that nuts?! I think he owes me a hand massage or something.

Eliza’s First Birthday


My first-born niece turned 1 on Friday.
It doesn’t feel like February 24, 2011 was so long ago.

On Saturday, we celebrated her birthday party out at my in-law’s house. It was a fun party.

Ginger makes the best birthday cakes.

Dan, Ginger and Eliza

Mmm… strawberry cake!

Aunties and couzies. Yeah, we’re nerds.

This sequence was funny. We were trying to get a good picture of the three 2011 babies together. Jaron started fussing…

Precious offered him her thumb. Works for her!

Jaron made a disgusted face. Precious looked at her thumb like What just happened? Eliza was impressed.

Three little buddies. Four months old, seven months old, 1 year old. Chocolate, Caramel and Vanilla.

Happy Birthday, Eliza! Glad we could celebrate with you!

Mushroom Shakers


Look what Jason brought me back from his journeys around the country—thrifted vintage salt and pepper shakers shaped like mushrooms. And they’re green! Carved on the bottom is “Pat ’76.” There is nothing in the photo for a good size references; they’re about 5 inches tall. I love them.

Phone Photo Friday


Front Elevation Photoshop Mock Up


We’re waiting for our architect to finish up the construction documents so we can find the perfect contractor and get started on our new house. In the meantime, I decided I’d take Ryan’s front elevation drawing into Photoshop and have some fun with it. I used a photo of the property from October (when the trees had leaves) and then added colors, textures and landscaping.

I don’t know how accurate this mock up will end up being but it sure does get Jason and me excited!

Precious: Monthly Portrait 7


Ali-gator. That’s your new nickname from our first vacation to Florida (and a hint at your real name). In your seventh month you flew on an airplane for the first time when we went on a fun mother-daughter adventure to Tampa and Sarasota to meet up with Daddy for a few days. You are a great traveler and such a joy to be around. You were called a happy machine because of how you affect everyone. Your first time at the beach was a disaster when you face planted into the sand. Sorry baby! But the swimming pool—another first—was refreshing. I am really excited about swimming with you this summer. You have been trying new foods all the time. I’m thrilled that you will eat just about anything and seem to especially love broccoli and bananas. Speaking of eating, your first two teeth came in within a few days of each other at 6.5 months old. You’ve been dealing really well with the discomfort and gnawing on everything, especially your hands or our thumbs if we’re not careful! Sometimes in the morning or after a nap I hear you babbling or cooing in your crib. When I go in to check on you, I see you’re playing with Little Lucy, the stuffed cocker spaniel Daddy and I bought a year before you were born—a special gift for our first baby because it looks just like our dog, Lucy. I used to hold Little Lucy and pray for you—before I even knew anything about you. It makes my heart happy to see you enjoying it. This month we moved out of our home and in with Grandma L and Grandpa. We’ll be here for a few months while our new home is built down the street. It’s exciting to think that our new home will be the one you grow up in and probably the only home you’ll remember from your early life. You get to see a lot of Grandma L and Grandpa now, and Grandma K has been babysitting you more lately, too. I’m so thankful that you get to grow up with your grandparents nearby. Also noteworthy, Daddy’s first solo album came out this month. It’s called Acoustic Lullabies and it’s dedicated to you!

You are a month behind on your check-up and vaccination appointments so you just had your 6-month well baby visit on your 7-month birthday. You are 26.5 inches long and weigh 18.25 pounds—our beautiful, healthy little girl!

Acoustic Lullabies


The CDs have finally arrived! Jason’s brand new instrumental guitar album, Acoustic Lullabies, was released last week. But, since he was on the road, he had them shipped to Arkansas. Now that he’s back I finally have a physical copy in my possession! Actually, we have hundreds of them. Which brings me to…

Acoustic Lullabies is on sale now at JasonAhlbrandt.com!

We’re selling physical CDs for just $10 with free shipping. That’s the same price as a digital download on iTunes or CD Baby. Amazon appears to be selling it for a dollar less…$8.99. Gotta love Amazon! But I know you want to see the lovely package design in person, right?

Those are Precious’ chubby little hands (and drops of drool if you look closely…) on her daddy’s guitar. There is a picture of her watching Jason play on the back and some more photos and a sweet album dedication to her on the inside of the CD package. You’ll have to buy it to see for yourself. 😉