Phone Photo Friday



Water Baby


We had a pool for the first five years of my life so my parents we adamant that my siblings and I learn to swim as early as possible. By preschool at our local YMCA, I was able to jump off the high dive fully clothed and swim the entire length of the pool for a water survival test. I loved to swim. I still do. My parents have a lovely pool in their backyard that I plan to use a lot this summer while we’re living with them. And naturally, I want to teach my daughter to swim as soon as possible. (It’s a life skill that everyone should have!) I hope she enjoys swimming as much as I did.

It’s been warming up and we’ve been in the pool twice so far this spring. Both times it was just the two of us so I couldn’t take any pics of her in the water.

I’ve watched a ton of YouTube videos on tips for teaching babies to swim, float on their backs, learn to hold their breath and put their faces underwater. We haven’t gotten very far yet but we’re having fun. The other day I found a swim shirt at Goodwill and a beach ball at Target each for $1. The ball was a big hit.

(Check out that new tooth!)

Prickly Plants


Normally this time of year, I’d be snapping pictures of our garden and the plants around the house. The pink dogwood behind our house… I missed it this spring. However, our new yard has a gigantic beautiful white dogwood out front. I wonder if our prickly pear cactuses exploded with yellow flowers this spring. I’m sure the azaleas were blindingly vibrant. And the gorgeous Japanese Flowering Plum—I missed that one, too. Is the new home owner keeping up with the weeding?

Jason did bring quite a few plants over to our temporary home at my parents’ in pots. Recently the spineless prickly pear has been having it’s spring grow spurt. I love this thing. It’s so fun! It grows these soft, thick “spines” that dry up and fall off, leaving a polka-dotted paddle. The spineless prickly pear in front of our old house was (and still is) getting huge. We hope to grow these salvaged babies big in front of our new house, too.

We recently bought a huuuuuuge round pot for this agave at Old Time Pottery. It’s happy.

A Mother for Choco


A sweet friend recently gave us a copy of this book, A Mother for Choco. It’s the best kids adoption book I’ve seen, not that I’ve seen many. (My bloggy friend and fellow adoptive mom, Annie, recently sent me a long list of suggestions so I have many more to check out in the future!) But back to Choco and his search for a mother. It starts out sounding a bit like the P.D. Eastman book, Are You My Mother?, which I loved as a kid, mainly because of the way my big brother would read it to me and “SNORT!” for the crane at the end. But then A Mother for Choco takes a brilliant twist when Mrs. Bear helps Choco identify the qualities of a mother aside from physical resemblance. I won’t tell you the whole story here but it’s super sweet. I just read it again to Precious yesterday and she humored me by acting like she really understood the story. At the end she looked up with her big baby browns and melted me. I’m so thankful to be her mother. We don’t look alike and it doesn’t matter.

“No matter where Choco searched, he couldn’t find a mother who looked just like him.”

Just in time for Mother’s Day: A Mother for Choco. I highly recommend this one for foster and adoptive moms or ANY moms, really.

BONUS: There is an Ally the Alligator character in this book! (Ali-gator is my favorite nickname for Precious, whose real name starts with “Ali…”, in case you hadn’t guessed that.)

Our Love Story – 1:5


I thought it would be fun to record Jason’s and my love story—at least the beginning of it—starting with when we met and fell in love back in 1999. This is part 5 of 6.

Monday after school I called my friend Lindsay to discuss homework, youth group, the usual…and why did she think Jay hadn’t called me yet? Was he going to ask me out on a date? We tossed around a plan that maybe we could invite Jason and the guy Lindsay liked, Matt, to hang out and make it seem like it was just a group of people from church hanging out…not a date or anything.

About that time, the call waiting beeped. Hang on, Lindsay. There is someone on the other line. Hello? Is Martina there? This is. This is Jay Ahlbrandt. Heart. Beating. So. Hard. His voice sounded incredible. So different than hearing my brother’s or my dad’s voice on the phone. He was speaking soft and clear, right into my ear.

We made small talk for a few minutes then he asked if I’d like to go to a movie the next Saturday night. I was glad he couldn’t see the ridiculous giddy grin on my face. I’d love to! Not sure if I was ready for a solo date with a boy—I was only 14, remember—I suggested we make it a double date and invite Lindsay and Matt. Jason was the only one of us with a license so he offered to pick everyone up. I arranged plans with Lindsay and then Matt (still letting him think it was just some friends hanging out).

The day of our date, my mom got a call from Lindsay’s mom. Karen had all kinds of questions for my mom. How well did she know this Jay? Was he a good driver? How old was he? Where exactly were we going? What time would we be home. My mom laughed. Lindsay is the first born in her family and I’m the youngest of three in my family. “Should I be more concerned?” she asked me jokingly. “I guess I’ve already been through this with your sister and brother and I just trust you.”

I paced around my bedroom, sneaking peeks out my window towards the driveway every 15 seconds. When I’m nervous, I have a constant urge to pee. I think I went to the bathroom three times before Jason’s blue Acclaim pulled into the driveway. Another quick swipe of deodorant. Check myself in the mirror one more time as the doorbell rang. I let my mom answer the door so she and my dad could fulfill their parental duty of inspecting a guy before he takes their daughter out on a date. I walked down the stairs a minute later, even though I knew my parents weren’t going to be obnoxious and intimidating; it just wasn’t their nature.

We picked up Lindsay and then Matt and headed to the dollar theater—the one that showed movies a few months late for a greatly discounted price. It was becoming clear that Matt still didn’t think this was a double date. While Jason bought my $1.50 movie ticket for She’s All That, Matt just bought his own. We sat in this order: Matt, Jason, Me, Lindsay. It was a cheesy high school romance movie but it totally spoke to me. It was about a cool, popular guy who ends up falling in love with a quirky, shy, artsy girl after a mean bet from his best friend who challenged that he could make any unlikely candidate the prom queen. There I was—a shy, nerdy, artist—being pursued by a cool, confident, rockstar. The song Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer that played at the end of the movie instantly became my new favorite.

We got a late dinner/snack at Burger King afterward and then went back to Emily’s house to say hi to some other friends. At this point, I think Lindsay was completely frustrated with Matt’s avoidance and decided she’d get a ride home from someone else. Jason took Matt home and then me. We both agreed we had had a really nice time and should do it again. After a friendly hug goodnight from across the car, I floated into the house. I don’t remember specifically what I did but I’m guessing I went up to my room and straight for my journal to recount the night and draw hearts around Jay’s name with colorful markers. Because that’s what 14 year old girls did back in 1999. Or at least one did.

Phone Photo Friday


Documenting an Adoption


A sweet commenter suggested that we hire a photographer to document our adoption day. I had thought about getting a photographer to get some family pictures of us around the time of the finalization but it didn’t occur to me to have someone document the actual day. She sent a link to the video that was put together celebrating their family’s adoption day. The audio from the courthouse really gets me because it stirs up memories from being in court with Ladybug and Precious. This brief documentary is so beautiful. I’ve cried every time I’ve watched it. (Fair warning.)

I am so looking forward to our adoption finalization day!