Phone Photo Friday


Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!


New Home Update


We have had a lot of work done on our new house the past couple weeks that’s not very visually interesting. We’ve had duct work run for the heating and cooling system. We’ve had gas lines run for appliances and vents for those appliances. We’ve had all the electrical work in the house roughed in.

Also, the courtyard leading up the front door got cleared out and a concrete footer was poured for the steps.

Next up: concrete for the front porch and steps, the garage and the back patio. I think. And soon after that: insulation, doors and drywall. Woohoo! We’re half way there.

I Just Want to Go Home


Have you ever had a “DUH” moment, when you realize God has been trying to teach you a lesson for, say, 7 months and then you finally get it?

The other night I was having a self-pity fest. It was just me and Ali hanging out for the evening and I didn’t want to be a bad influence so thankfully, this conversation was just in my head. I was so sick of living at my parents’ house and I was making a list. So sick of not knowing where the tomato sauce is. So sick of cleaning up other people’s drips on the counters. So sick of not having a big plastic serving spoon like the one we have in storage. So sick of storing dishes in my bedroom closet. So sick of this. So sick of that. So sick of feeling like I don’t have a home.

That’s when it hit me. My parents’ house is great and they have been so, so generous to let us stay with them. They provide groceries, many cooked meals, shelter, food, lights, help with childcare, and much more all for a little rent. They’re kind and they give us much grace. We’re getting a great deal and I know, I really do know, that we are very blessed to be here right now while our new home is being built.

Even with all that provision and all that love, its just.not.home. Not my home. Finally after all these months, the message was loud and clear:

Before you make your new home and open it up to more foster kids, I want you to truly understand how frustrating it feels to not have a home. Even with a cozy house, even with tons of provision, even with loving parents, you can still feel homesick—homesick for a place you cannot go.

BAS Lampshades


Have ever mentioned how much Jason loves lamps? I call him a lamp lover, because I think it’s funny. But he seriously finds the greatest mid-century modern lamps every time we’re out hunting. Recently, we realized we have 8 lamps that need shades. We’ve been trying to find simple white or off white cylindrical drum shades, with no bell. That aren’t super expensive. Why is that so difficult?

We decided to take matters into our own hands. I sent Jason a link to this tutorial and he ordered and shopped for supplies to make our first 4 shades. So far we’ve just made one, because half the lamps are in storage and the other half…we don’t have anywhere to put anything these days. We made this guy 15″ in diameter, 12″ high with white muslin. What do you think?

Lucy is in this shot for scale. A big lamp needs a big shade.

Otis the lamp got a fresh coat of paint. While painting it, Jason noticed it’s marked Quartite Creative Corp. 1959. Remember the original?

1st Familiversary!


Are you familiar with the term “familiversary?” I think Foster Parenting Podcast made it up. Some people call it “Gotcha Day” (usually when traveling to meet a child and bring them home for adoption) or “Family Birthday.” It’s not Adoption Day…it’s the day that we became a family unofficially, but a very real family.

• • •

On September 21, 2011 Jason and I were just sitting down to dinner on our back patio when my phone rang. I went in the house to grab a paper and pen and started repeating details out loud as I jotted down notes and shot some glances at Jason.

“Two-month old baby girl.”

“Bi-racial…white and hispanic…”

Umm hmm. Ok. Uh huh. I scribbled down information about her biological siblings and her situation.

“Can you hang on a second while I talk to my husband?”

It was just shy of 3 weeks from the day we said goodbye to Ladybug and we were still grieving. We thought we’d wait a month-ish before saying yes to a call. We had gotten plenty of calls but they were all outside of our parameters so it was easy (easier…) to say no.

Jason’s response to this call: “The only reasons I can think of to say no to this one are completely selfish.” Which meant yes. YES.


I let my dinner go cold as I snapped into hyper nesting mode. Are there clean sheets on the crib? Do we have any baby clothes? Blankets? How much do 2-month-olds eat? How often? How much do they sleep? I realized I was completely clueless. Remember all those What to Expect books you read while you were growing a baby for 9 months? Yeah, nada here. So I called my sister-in-law Ginger who had just had my niece 7 months prior and she gave me bullet points (which is all my brain could handle) on what kind of bottles to get, a typical daily sleeping/eating schedule, a few suggestions like bibs and burp cloths, and an invitation to call her any time of the day or night.

An hour later, this precious little peanut was delivered to our house. I’ve been saving this picture to share today. It’s the first picture I took of our beautiful girl to send to family and friends. I even managed to accidentally get our DCS agreement paperwork into the picture, too.

Our life will never be the same—it’s so much better now because of our dear little Alianna!

It’s a fun coincidence that I happen to have pictures of both myself and Jason on September 21, 2011. I was dressed up for a meeting and wanted to remember my outfit for future reference.

Jason was trying to help me to relax and calm down before my important meeting so he was playing his guitar for me, while I chilled out…in our nursery!

Favorite Moment: The Butterfly Effect


I wrote a guest post over on the blog of Farrah Frye today about one of my favorite moments as a foster parent. I just recently discovered Farrah’s blog. She’s a foster mama to four older kids and I love her positive attitude and adoration of her kids. I’m honored that she asked me to share a story on her website. I hope you’ll check it out!

Phone Photo Friday


Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!

Alianna at 14 Months


I’m not specifically doing monthly updates anymore (or maybe I just skipped 13 months…I haven’t decided for sure) but I do want to continue documenting her growth and progress, for my own records if nothing else. So here we go…

Ali-girl, you are 14 months old today! I don’t think you know that tomorrow is a very special day – it’s the 1 year anniversary of when you joined our family! But I’ll talk more about that next week. I remember reading somewhere that 14 months old is the average age that kids learn to walk. You, my dear, are right on time. You started taking steps for the first time on September 4th. I was so proud! You are very brave and a little bit reckless. You take a few steps and then dive into one of us with your eyes closed and your arms out. Except, you don’t always check to make sure I’m paying attention first and sometimes the diving ends poorly for both of us, especially if you have a book in your hand that you want me to read to you. The good news is, you’re gaining confidence and taking more and more steps at a time. Very soon you’ll be walking and running all over the place.

To satisfy your adventurous toddler spirit, I took you to the park the other day. It’s was our first time at this particular playground that’s designed for 2-5 year olds so the slides and steps and everything are shorter. You’re still a long ways away from 2, of course, but you seemed to really enjoy this slide. I’d set you at the top and say, “Ready, 1-2-3!” and you’d launch on 3, just like we’ve been being doing on the side of the pool over the summer.

Speaking of following direction, yeah…we’re working on that. You understand everything we say and you often listen. I have to keep reminding myself that you’re just 14 months old and not always mature enough to obey. When you do, we celebrate! Honestly, you’ve been surprising me with how much you do listen and obey like when I ask you to hand me your sippy cup (instead of dropping it off the high chair tray) or take the chewed up paper out of your mouth and you actually do it! It’s really a test of patience and parenting skills for the adults and you’re giving us all plenty to chances to do re-dos when we mess up.

You’re still eating well and sleeping well. I feel like a broken record saying that every time. You’ll eat just about anything. Your favorites are still peaches and blueberries but we recently rediscovered kiwis. You’ll still eat green beans and broccoli. You prefer beef to chicken because it’s easier to chew (I suspect). Scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches and PB&Js have been working into the lunch time options lately. Oh, and you still LOVE cheese sticks and yogurt. You had fun making a big mess out of this bowl of speghetti at dinner the other day. I think more ended up in your bib and on your lap than in your mouth. Soon enough you’ll be using utensils!

You’ve had a ton of new words lately. My favorite is that you’ve been saying Mama much more consistently now. Finally! We’re still working on “more please” instead of pointing and whining but sometimes you’ll point at what you want and say “Mama?” Sweetest thing ever. You’ve also started saying baby and you love to point out babies everywhere you see them. You love to look at pictures of your baby cousins and friends and most often say “Ice!” for your cousin Iris. You called your cousin Eliza Ice the other day but when I corrected you, you said Eye-za. You say/whisper stars when we’re putting you to bed at night (we have a turtle night light that projects stars) and you’ve said shoe a few times. I’m very impressed with the s’s! The other day you crawled over to your high chair, pulled up to a stand, looked at Jason and said, “Hungee.” I love that! Makes me glad we were too busy to bother with baby sign language. You’ve always been good at communicating your needs. You say baba for bottle when you want a drink. You have 3 6-oz bottles of milk a day before naps and bedtime, and are doing pretty well with a sippy cup for water at meal times. You say woowoo for “woof woof” when you see a dog or any animal resembling a dog. “Meow” comes out as ee or ow, and sometimes you also say moomoo for a cow. I’m sure I’m forgetting some words and of course there are instances where you repeat words once or twice and then ever again.

Clearly, we think you are the most talented, intelligent, precious girl ever to exist on the planet. You make life so much more fun and interesting. I’m thankful that God brought you to us one year ago. You are a beautiful girl, inside and out, Alianna.

Cincinnati Visit – September 2012


Besides checking out the Sign Museum, we also had some time to just chill out and hang out with our friends Sean and Renata and their crew. Their house is so cool! It’s like an MCM showroom. It’s fun to share that interest with them.

We also had a very important little dude that we were anxious to meet. Little Jonas and Ali are birthday buddies! They share July 20 and are one year apart.

Renata and her dad with Jonas. (Her mom was there also but not feeling well, so no pics.)

Ali and Olivia are very close in age and this is the first visit where they’ve really been able to play together. “Play” meaning mostly taking toys from each other…we’re working on sharing.

Ben has a special place in my heart. He was one of the first babies born to any of our close friends, right after this dear family moved away from Nashville. He’s a cool kid. My two favorite Ben quotes from the weekend:

1. Sitting around the table eating breakfast: “I have a lot of babies! Baby Olivia, Baby Jonas, Baby Alianna!” Yes, Ben, you have a lot of responsibility!

2. After his dad asked him if he wanted some coffee. “Noooo! I’m a boy! I’m not a man!”

A few more cuddles with our buddies before we left go to IKEA and then home to Nashville.

Good friends are a blessing from the Lord! We love you guys! Thanks for having us!

American Sign Museum


A few weeks ago while we were up in Cincinnati visiting friends, we went to the American Sign Museum. There were lots of signs and it was very cool, especially for this graphic designer. That’s about all I need to say about it.

Look The Erie Enameling Company from Erie, PA! That’s where we’re from.