Alianna at 18 Months


I am in awe of you, beautiful girl. You are full of joy, wonder and spunk. We have challenging days when you’re quest for independence pushes the boundaries of my patience. But more common are the days when I sit back and delight in you; when I thank God that I get to be your mom, that I get to hang out with you, that I get to receive your hugs and kisses, that I get to meet your needs.

I am so proud of the little girl you are becoming. You are extremely friendly but it’s more than that—you love people. I see you scanning the room when we’re out shopping or eating dinner, deciding who needs your sweet smile and “hi!” You’re never discouraged when ignore, you keep on going. You’ll smile and say hi for as long as it takes until the guy in line behind us (desperately trying to mind his own business) finally cracks a smile and says hi back to you. You are strong and confident. You are willing to try anything, and in fact would like to try EVERYTHING that you see us or someone else you look up to doing.

Including the potty…


Or the rhythmic cup thing that mommy does for you on the side of the bathtub.


You have no shortage of personality!

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Uh oh!


Or hair… Your hair is much longer than it looks because of all your curls. I’m still learning a lot about how to style and care for your hair. Thanks for being patient with me. Dad has even started helping a tiny bit and put your hair in a ponytail the other day.

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Oh look, I caught you in the act of breaking the coaster holder and I didn’t even know it! You love those coasters as much as any toy you own.


You’ve also started to really love your books. Or “boops” as you call then. You can say “duck” and “cacka” but for some reason you can “boop.” It’s cute.


You’re cute. Gorgeous.

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You also say “Bible” and like this version best.

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Spoons? Who needs ’em!


Taking the First Step … Again [Foster Parenting]


My phone rang and when I saw DCS on the caller ID I had an adrenaline surge. Do they know? Can they call already? Is there a  kid? All of that went through my mind before I pressed answer and said hello. It was our case worker, getting back to me. I had sent her an email telling her we’d be ready to reopen our home soon and I was wondering what all we needed to do.

We’re not ready but I contacted her because I needed a nudge. Not that I’m procrastinating, but there are just so many little things we still want to do to get settled into our new house – hang more shelves in the garage, figure out storage for my work room, landscaping, bigger art, hang the art we have … we’re pacing ourselves with time and money. Before we reopen our home we need to assemble the bedroom for “the next kids,” get a home phone, lock up our medicines, cleaners, knives, a whole list of little things. When I talked to our case worker, I found out their policy changed (shocker…). Originally she told me we could be in “closed” status for 2 years without having to redo our PATH training and home study but they’ve changed it to 1 year. I’m glad I called when I did because we’re 5 weeks from the 1 year cut off. Within that time frame we just need to amend our home study, not redo everything. (Thank God!!!)

That means we might start getting calls by March 1. So, I’m kicking into nesting mode again. But it’s so different this time around. I’m not sure if I’d call it excitement… We’re going to Disney World! That would be excitement. We’re climbing Mt. Everest! That would be adrenaline. I’m getting pumped up but I know it’s not going to be fun and easy; it’s going to be difficult and likely painful. There are a lot of logistics we don’t know and it’s impossible to plan for at this point… like how are we going to manage childcare for another kid (or 2?) during work hours. I don’t know. How is Ali going to respond. I have no idea. What are we getting ourselves into. Don’t ask me.

One thing I do know: we’re supposed to do this. God has called us to be foster parents and we will say yes. Again.

From experience, I can say with confidence that He will not lead us into something and then abandon us. He will equip us as we go and bring light to each step, one at a time. Here we go again!

Here’s my pictorial to do list.

This bed needs to be assembled, curtain hung, art hung, etc.:


I wish we could use this phone:


This drawer needs a child lock:

This closet (where we keep our cleaners and medicines) needs a locking door handle:

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We loathe these things… and need to cover about 5,000 more outlets:


The dept. is not going to like this:


Or this:


Phone Photo Friday



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

Treading Water


Let me tell you about this awesome guitarist I’ve been listening to lately. Maybe you’ve heard of him? His name is Jason Ahlbrandt. Of course you’ve heard of him! He’s my best friend.


You should hear that guitar resonate through our open home with the vaulted ceilings! It fills every pocket and corner of the house. About a year ago Jason released an instrumental album called Acoustic Lullabies. (It’s available on iTunes and lots of other online retailers, or on his website if you want a physical CD with lovely album art by yours truly…go get you one!)

Now that we’re in our new house, Jason has been spending a lot of time in his studio and I hear rumors of a second instrumental album in the works. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying these videos he’s been putting on YouTube. His newest one is an original called “Treading Water.” Please enjoy:

There are a few more goodies here on Jason’s YouTube page.

ReAbide New Photos


Remember that handsome Bassett dresser that we picked up a few weeks ago? Jason did an amazing job cleaning it up and restoring the top surface. It looks so gorgeous (and it’s also really functional storage for our master bedroom) so we decided not to put it up for sale on ReAbide for now. We’ll continue looking for more dressers because I know there is a demand… but for now, it’s ours.

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I’m working my way through rephotographing many of our items that were quickly and/or poorly documented during the time we were living in transition. Here are some new photos I added to yesterday:

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Tinkle Tinkle…


Guess who peed in the potty yesterday?!


Ali has been really curious about the whole bathroom process so we’ve been explaining to her how it works for the past couple of months. She’s not quite 18 months old and we weren’t planning on even introducing the potty seat until then. Since Ali got an Amazon gift card for Christmas, I went ahead and ordered the Prince Lionheart WeePOD seat attachment I had researched. One day after she was watching me go, I said “when you get bigger you can go pee in the potty, too.” She immediately tried to climb onto the toilet and I realized she may be ready to try this sooner than we thought. So here we are, after about 10x of practice/pretending on the seat, yesterday she told Jason “poop” and wanted to get on the potty. He put her up there and what do you know? She passed some gas and then peed! I don’t think she’s physically ready to be fully potty trained just yet (to be able to know and communicate that she has to go, and to be able to hold it until she gets to the potty…) however, we’re excited that she’s so interested and determined that she’s going to go how we go.

January Spring


Almost every January here in Nashville, we get at least one weekend of warmer temperatures. It’s a nice break from our [relatively mild] winter weather. Jason and I call it January Spring. Last week, we had a whole week of 60-70 degrees (…40s are more typical in January). It was AMAZING!

One day I took Ali out to draw with chalk in the driveway, blow bubbles and swing in her swing.

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Another day Jason did some gardening while Ali played in the dirt. Saturday afternoon while Ali was napping Jason refinished a table while I gave our cocker spaniel Lucy a haircut and a bath outside (using our warm/cold water tap).

Oh, it was a glorious January Spring! Thank you, God!

Now we’re back to winter. I feel like I’m fueled up and ready to face another month or so of cold weather.